# 135

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(Cross-posted from my blog)

The other day I made an advice thread based on Jacobian’s from last year! If you know a source for one of these, shout and I’ll edit it in.

Possessions

1 .If you want to find out about people’s opinions on a product, google <product> reddit. You’ll get real people arguing, as compared to the SEO’d Google results.

2. Some banks charge you $20 a month for an account, others charge you 0. If you’re with one of the former, have a good explanation for what those$20 are buying.

3. Things you use for a significant fraction of your life (bed: 1/3rd, office-chair: 1/4th) are worth investing in.

4. “Where is the good knife?” If you’re looking for your good X, you have bad Xs. Throw those out.

5. If your work is done on a computer, get a second monitor. Less time navigating between windows means more time for thinking.

6. Establish clear rules about when to throw out old junk. Once clear rules are established, junk will probably cease to be a problem. This is because any rule would be superior to our implicit rules (“keep this broken stereo for five years in case I learn how to fix it”).

7. Don’t buy CDs for people. They have Spotify. Buy them merch from a band they like instead. It’s more personal and the band gets more money.

8. When buying things, time and money trade-off against each other. If you’re low on money, take more time to find deals. If you’re low on time, stop looking for great deals and just buy things quickly online.

Cooking

9. Steeping minutes: Green at 3, black at 4, herbal at 5. Good tea is that simple!

10. Food actually can be both cheap, healthy, tasty, and relatively quick to prepare. All it requires is a few hours one day to prepare many meals for the week.

11. Cooking pollutes the air. Opening windows for a few minutes after cooking can dramatically improve air quality.

12. Food taste can be made much more exciting through simple seasoning. It’s also an opportunity for expression. Buy a few herbs and spices and experiment away.

13. When googling a recipe, precede it with ‘best’. You’ll find better recipes.

Productivity

14. Advanced search features are a fast way to create tighter search statements. For example:

img html

will return inferior results compared to:

img html -w3

15. You can automate mundane computer tasks with Autohotkey (or AppleScript). If you keep doing a sequence “so simple a computer can do it”, make the computer do it.

16. Learn keyboard shortcuts. They’re easy to learn and you’ll get tasks done faster and easier.

17. Done is better than perfect.

18. Keep your desk and workspace bare. Treat every object as an imposition upon your attention, because it is. A workspace is not a place for storing things. It is a place for accomplishing things.

19. Reward yourself after completing challenges, even badly.

Body

20. The 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes of screenwork, look at a spot 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will reduce eye strain and is easy to remember (or program reminders for).

21. Exercise (weightlifting) not only creates muscle mass, it also improves skeletal structure. Lift!

22. Exercise is the most important lifestyle intervention you can do. Even the bare minimum (15 minutes a week) has a huge impact. Start small.

23. (~This is not medical advice~). Don’t waste money on multivitamins, they don’t work. Vitamin D supplementation does seem to work, which is important because deficiency is common.

24. Phones have gotten heavier in the last decade and they’re actually pretty hard on your wrists! Use a computer when it’s an alternative or try to at least prop up your phone.

Success

25. History remembers those who got to market first. Getting your creation out into the world is more important than getting it perfect.

26. Are you on the fence about breaking up or leaving your job? You should probably go ahead and do it. People, on average, end up happier when they take the plunge.

27. Discipline is superior to motivation. The former can be trained, the latter is fleeting. You won’t be able to accomplish great things if you’re only relying on motivation.

28. You can improve your communication skills with practice much more effectively than you can improve your intelligence with practice. If you’re not that smart but can communicate ideas clearly, you have a great advantage over everybody who can’t communicate clearly.

29. You do not live in a video game. There are no pop-up warnings if you’re about to do something foolish, or if you’ve been going in the wrong direction for too long. You have to create your own warnings.

30. If you listen to successful people talk about their methods, remember that all the people who used the same methods and failed did not make videos about it.

31. The best advice is personal and comes from somebody who knows you well. Take broad-spectrum advice like this as needed, but the best way to get help is to ask honest friends who love you.

32. Make accomplishing things as easy as possible. Find the easiest way to start exercising. Find the easiest way to start writing. People make things harder than they have to be and get frustrated when they can’t succeed. Try not to.

33. Cultivate a reputation for being dependable. Good reputations are valuable because they’re rare (easily destroyed and hard to rebuild). You don’t have to brew the most amazing coffee if your customers know the coffee will always be hot.

34. How you spend every day is how you spend your life.

Rationality

35. Noticing biases in others is easy, noticing biases in yourself is hard. However, it has much higher pay-off.

36. Explaining problems is good. Often in the process of laying out a problem, a solution will present itself.

37. Foolish people are right about most things. Endeavour to not let the opinions of foolish people automatically discredit those opinions.

38. You have a plan. A time-traveller from 2030 appears and tells you your plan failed. Which part of your plan do you think is the one that fails? Fix that part.

39. If something surprises you again and again, stop being surprised.

40. Should you freak out upon seeing your symptoms on the worst diseases on WebMD? Probably not! Look up the base rates for the disease and then apply Bayes’ Theorem

41. Selfish people should listen to advice to be more selfless, selfless people should listen to advice to be more selfish. This applies to many things. Whenever you receive advice, consider its opposite as well. You might be filtering out the advice you need most.

42. Common systems and tools have been designed so everybody can handle them. So don’t worry that you’re the only one who can’t! You can figure out doing laundry, baking, and driving on a highway.

Self

43. Deficiencies do not make you special. The older you get, the more your inability to cook will be a red flag for people.

44. There is no interpersonal situation that can’t be improved by knowing more about your desires, goals, and structure. ‘Know thyself!’

45. If you’re under 90, try things.

47. Defining yourself by your suffering is an effective way to keep suffering forever (ex. incels, trauma).

48. Keep your identity small. “I’m not the kind of person who does things like that” is not an explanation, it’s a trap. It prevents nerds from working out and men from dancing.

49. Don’t confuse ‘doing a thing because I like it’ with ‘doing a thing because I want to be seen as the sort of person who does such things’

50. Remember that you are dying.

51. Events can hurt us, not just our perceptions of them. It’s good to build resilience, but sometimes it isn’t your fault if something really gets to you.

52. If you want to become funny, try just saying stupid shit (in the right company!) until something sticks.

53. To start defining your problems, say (out loud) “everything in my life is completely fine.” Notice what objections arise.

54. Procrastination comes naturally, so apply it to bad things. “I want to hurt myself right now. I’ll do it in an hour.” “I want a smoke now, so in half an hour I’ll go have a smoke.” Then repeat. Much like our good plans fall apart while we delay them, so can our bad plans.

55. Personal epiphanies feel great, but they fade within weeks. Upon having an epiphany, make a plan and start actually changing behavior.

56. Sometimes unsolvable questions like “what is my purpose?” and “why should I exist?” lose their force upon lifestyle fixes. In other words, seeing friends regularly and getting enough sleep can go a long way to solving existentialism.

Hazards

57. There are two red flags to avoid almost all dangerous people: 1. The perpetually aggrieved ; 2. The angry.

58. Some people create drama out of habit. You can avoid these people.

59. Those who generate anxiety in you and promise that they have the solution are grifters. See: politicians, marketers, new masculinity gurus, etc. Avoid these.

60. (~This is not legal advice!~)
DO NOT TALK TO COPS.

61. It is cheap for people to talk about their values, goals, rules, and lifestyle. When people’s actions contradict their talk, pay attention!

62. “If they’ll do it with you, they’ll do it to you” and “those who live by the sword die by the sword” mean the same thing. Viciousness you excuse in yourself, friends, or teammates will one day return to you, and then you won’t have an excuse.

Others

63. In choosing between living with 0-1 people vs 2 or more people, remember that ascertaining responsibility will no longer be instantaneous with more than one roommate (“whose dishes are these?”).

64. Understand people have the right to be tasteless.

65. You will prevent yourself from even having thoughts that could lower your status. Avoid blocking yourself off just so people keep thinking you’re cool.

66. Being in groups is important. If you don’t want to join a sports team, consider starting a shitty band. It’s the closest you’ll get to being in an RPG. Train with 2-4 other characters, learn new moves, travel from pub to pub, and get quests from NPCs.

67. It’s possible to get people to do things that make you like them more but respect them less. Avoid this, it destroys relationships.

68. Think a little about why you enjoy what you enjoy. If you can explain what you love about Dune, you can now communicate not only with Dune fans, but with people who love those aspects in other books.

69. When you ask people, “What’s your favorite book / movie / band?” and they stumble, ask them instead what book / movie / band they’re currently enjoying most. They’ll almost always have one and be able to talk about it.

70. Bored people are boring.

71. A norm of eating with your family without watching something will lead to better conversations. If this idea fills you with dread, consider getting a new family.

72. If you bus to other cities, consider finding a rideshare on Facebook instead. It’s cheaper, faster, and leads to interesting conversations.

Relationships

73. In relationships look for somebody you can enjoy just hanging out near. Long-term relationships are mostly spent just chilling.

74. Sometimes things last a long time because they’re good (jambalaya). But that doesn’t mean that because something has lasted a long time that it is good (penile subincisions). Apply this to relationships, careers, and beliefs as appropriate.

75. Don’t complain about your partner to coworkers or online. The benefits are negligible and the cost is destroying a bit of your soul.

76. After a breakup, cease all contact as soon as practical. The potential for drama is endless, and the potential for a good friendship is negligible.

77. If you haven’t figured things out sexually, remember that there isn’t a deadline. If somebody is making you feel like there is, consider the possibility that they aren’t your pal.

78. If you have trouble talking during dates, try saying whatever comes into your head. At worst you’ll ruin some dates (which weren’t going well anyways), at best you’ll have some great conversations. Alcohol can help.

79. When dating, de-emphasizing your quirks will lead to 90% of people thinking you’re kind of alright. Emphasizing your quirks will lead to 10% of people thinking you’re fascinating and fun. Those are the people interested in dating you. Aim for them.

80. Relationships need novelty. It’s hard to have novelty during Covid--but have you planned your post-Covid adventure yet?

81. People can be the wrong fit for you without being bad. Being a person is complicated and hard.

Compassion

82. Call your parents when you think of them, tell your friends when you love them.

83. Compliment people more. Many people have trouble thinking of themselves as smart, or pretty, or kind, unless told by someone else. You can help them out.

84. If somebody is undergoing group criticism, the tribal part in you will want to join in the fun of righteously destroying somebody. Resist this, you’ll only add ugliness to the world. And anyway, they’ve already learned the lesson they’re going to learn and it probably isn’t the lesson you want.

85. Cultivate compassion for those less intelligent than you. Many people, through no fault of their own, can’t handle forms, scammers, or complex situations. Be kind to them because the world is not.

86. Cultivate patience for difficult people. Communication is extremely complicated and involves getting both tone and complex ideas across. Many people can barely do either. Don’t punish them.

87. Don’t punish people for trying. You teach them to not try with you. Punishing includes whining that it took them so long, that they did it badly, or that others have done it better.

88. Remember that many people suffer invisibly, and some of the worst suffering is shame. Not everybody can make their pain legible.

89. Don't punish people for admitting they were wrong, you make it harder for them to improve.

90. In general, you will look for excuses to not be kind to people. Resist these.

Joy

91. Human mood and well-being are heavily influenced by simple things: Exercise, good sleep, light, being in nature. It’s cheap to experiment with these.

92. You have vanishingly little political influence and every thought you spend on politics will probably come to nothing. Consider building things instead, or at least going for a walk.

93. Sturgeon’s law states that 90% of everything is crap. If you dislike poetry, or fine art, or anything, it’s possible you’ve only ever seen the crap. Go looking!

94. You don’t have to love your job. Jobs can be many things, but they’re also a way to make money. Many people live fine lives in okay jobs by using the money they make on things they care about.

95. Some types of sophistication won’t make you enjoy the object more, they’ll make you enjoy it less. For example, wine snobs don’t enjoy wine twice as much as you, they’re more keenly aware of how most wine isn’t good enough. Avoid sophistication that diminishes your enjoyment.

96. If other people having it worse than you means you can’t be sad, then other people having it better than you would mean you can’t be happy. Feel what you feel.

97. Liking and wanting things are different. There are things like junk food that you want beyond enjoyment. But you can also like things (like reading) without wanting them. If you remember enjoying something but don't feel a desire for it now, try pushing yourself.

98. People don’t realize how much they hate commuting. A nice house farther from work is not worth the fraction of your life you are giving to boredom and fatigue.

99. There’s some evidence that introverts and extroverts both benefit from being pushed to be more extroverted. Consider this the next time you aren’t sure if you feel like going out.

100. Bad things happen dramatically (a pandemic). Good things happen gradually (malaria deaths dropping annually) and don’t feel like ‘news’. Endeavour to keep track of the good things to avoid an inaccurate and dismal view of the world.

# 135

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This is a great list! However, I was almost immediately turned off because of

2. Some banks charge you $20 a month for an account, others charge you 0. If you’re with one of the former, have a good explanation for what those$20 are buying.

Because this point is nowhere near top of mind for "tips for better personal finance". $240 per year should never make or break your life (among people who are reading these comments, anyways), so I'd suggest something more along the lines of: • Make sure you have 3 months of expenses in liquid cash • Store 90% of the rest of your money in an index fund • Experiment with the last 10% (stock picks, prediction markets, crypto, who knows) The cash-on-time return for getting these basics right is much much higher than switching banks to save a measly$20/month (or e.g. worrying about interest rates on your savings accounts)

$240 per year should never make or break your life (among people who are reading these comments, anyways) Well, that's a somewhat off-putting aside. I've been broke and reading LessWrong, had friends unable to pay bills or living on disability, etc, and there are definitely times your advice is impractial for people who may in fact be reading this site. Not getting into countries with different power-per-dollar or banking situations than the US who may nonetheless access it. When you are scraping the bottom of your bank account, fees can compound by hitting you with an overdraft fee when you don't have enough money to pay the fee. Bank fees tend to increase with low bank accounts. A$35+$20 fee when you have <$20 is very bad.

Sometimes $20 is your monthly expense budget. Maybe you have a source of food and shelter but need exactly one prepaid phone card for job searching. Maybe you have to spend it on food and are partly starving, but surviving. Your circumstances may not allow you to save over a certain amount in assets at a time without losing benefits, at which point, because those circumstances might be not being able to work due to disability, you can't earn much at all. You aren't guaranteed to be able to restore your income and liquid cash after having to spend it. You might need to sell your stocks in a downturn, and you know, stocks might be going down for the same reason you lost your job in the first place. There's good reasons to favor savings interest rates that reward you for existing rather than penalize you and to avoid fees that are there more to close their jaws on you in case of ill fortune than to buy you something useful. These reasons relate more to being safer in a bad financial situation than they do to earning money. While we all like earning a lot of money, prioritizing not losing money over gaining money at lower income levels is pragmatic. If you think you'll never be poor, financially strained, or have to worry about a stray$20 with 3 months expenses in the bank, you aren't most people and may be optimistic about how much emergencies can actually cost relative to monthly expenses for most people. My monthly expenses are, let's say, $1500, my insurance deductible is more like$8000 and if something happened to the person I split expenses with that could mean I suddenly suffered $11000 of expense in one month and lost my ability to work as a contractor. If the stock market also dropped steeply and cut my savings because, say, this was March and we'd gotten sick then (which we did, incidentally, just not badly),$4500 of emergency savings wouldn't have saved me from either a really bad loss on stock savings or notable medical debt.

I can see where the calculations might change a bit if I had a lower deductible and more expensive insurance - higher monthly expenses would result in '3 months' being more savings and lower one-time emergency costs - but I'm also not worried about a car, dependents aside from a cat, a house ...

(And if you have really low monthly expenses (own your house and do your own repairs, grow your own food) you may want a different number than monthly expenses to consider for your emergency fund.)

First off, I'd like to apologize; I wasn't trying to gatekeep LessWrong or anything like that. This is part of what's hard about giving advice online; my mental model of the audience is shaped by the few I know personally + myself, but it's by no means comprehensive. Some people need to hear "this is specifically how you can save $20/month" and not "this is the general way to approach personal finance"! That said -- I still want to push back. When it comes to personal finance, it's easy to focus on cutting costs and personal spending; it feels virtuous, and the benefits are visible. But the huge gains in personal finance come from a getting a handful of things very right, almost all of which are related to making more money rather than cutting your costs. In my head, these things are: • Earning a consistent high return on your cash (stock market's ~10% rather than saving account's ~0.5%) • Negotiating your salary • Working on your career capital and connections One intuition for this is the amount of money you can earn is unbounded; no matter who you are, I'd guess you personally know someone making 2x as much, and know of someone who makes 10-100x as much. But the amount of expenses you can cut is hard capped at 100%, and most people would have a pretty difficult time dropping it by even 30%. And again, it's hard for me to speak to your financial situation, not knowing you personally; it's possible your financial strategy matches well to your risk appetite and lifestyle, in which case, please ignore my musings! Hmm, I disagree with the "one intuition" way of looking at finances. Yes, you can't drop your expenses by more than 100%, and you can increase your income by more than 100%, but what you really care about is increasing the ratio of income to expenses. In this context, halving your expenses is equivalent to doubling your salary, and if you drop your expenses to zero, that's equivalent to increasing your income to infinity. That's a good point, actually; one takeaway from the FIRE (Financially Independent, Retire Early) community is that your retirement date is basically a function of your current expenses; assuming a safe withdrawal rate of 4% you "just" need 25x expenses to retire forever. But dropping your expenses to zero is fairly hard; in fact, dropping your expenses by any meaningful amount is hard since people have fairly sharp intuitions about where their money is going, and probably not wantonly spending it in the first place. And moreover, the goal isn't to extend your personal runway to infinity, but rather to improve the fuzzy metric of "living a happy, fiscally secure life". Presumably, most of your expenses are reasonably rational purchases on that axis, and getting rid of them would make you less happy overall. My thesis is that, for the same amount of annoying dealing-with-financial-institutions-effort, setting up an online brokerage account to put the majority of your money in index funds is like 10x to 100x return on effort for many, compared to saving$20 a month switching banks.

1. Some banks charge you $20 a month for an account, others charge you 0. If you’re with one of the former, have a good explanation for what those$20 are buying.

I think the reason that this particular piece of advice feels flawed is because advice is easy to generate if one understands the core skill behind the advice, but a single piece of advice is unlikely to bring about big change without an understanding of the underlying core skill. Consider these additional examples:

• Check whether you are using over $119 in Amazon Prime benefits each year. If you infrequently require two-day shipping for small purchases, and if you don't use other Amazon Prime perks, you could save money by not paying for Prime and just occasionally paying for two-day shipping. • If you are paying bills or rent using a debit card, check if any of these services charge a service fee for the monthly transaction. If they are, try to switch them to a payment method without a service fee, like direct withdrawal from a bank account. These pieces of advice were easy for me to generate, because I have a baseline understanding of the financial decision-making process: 1. Compute the cost (or benefit) of each alternative, converting abstract ideas into concrete costs as best you can, and seeking out more alternatives when needed. 2. Select the best alternative. This process isn't complex, but once someone understands how and when to use it, they can go through each area of their finances and find ways to reduce costs, saving far more than just$240/year.

I suspect that other types of advice are susceptible to the same effect. For example, I used to read a lot of social skills advice, but each individual piece of advice didn't make much of a difference in how well I could socialize and befriend other people. Then, I slowly worked through this book, which teaches the three core skills of how to reduce one's anxiety and shyness, how to enhance one's conversational skills, and then how to meet people and make friends. After about a year of work, I had a much more vibrant social life than I had been able to obtain before when I just read random advice on the Internet. Now, I can generate lots of social skills advice, like:

• Smile while speaking, even if your face is covered by a mask.
• Keep track of what people are doing with their time outside of when you see them, and then ask them about one of these things when a conversation runs dry.

Just as $240/year in savings may not be significant on its own for high-earning people, I don't think that this advice will be meaningful to someone who doesn't understand why smiling is helpful in a conversation beyond just appearing friendly, or that keeping track of what people are doing is just one way of demonstrating empathy. It seems obviously correct, just too specific; a more general policy like "be extra careful before signing up for anything with a recurring fee" would prevent this mistake, and also many others. Thanks! It's not near the top of my mind either, but it is something I feel confident recommending to almost everybody, whereas I don't feel confident advising people on their financial investments. This is a small fruit, but it's low-hanging. The$20 may be a stand in for consumer - hostile behaviors like bad customer service or high ATM fees.

With respect to (25) first to market: I have to disagree strongly. It's actually very rare for the business that first reaches the market with a product will be the one most successful with it, or associated. Often it's not even the 2nd or 3rd.

And there's a simple reason for that: Whoever reaches the market first can not from the mistakes of whoever came before, or get inspiration and/or ideas and/or customer reviews to take into account.

A few examples:

• Automobiles: The household names are Ford, Chrysler, BMW. The first to market manufacturers either didn't survives, or are low/er volume high end or luxury brands.
• Aerospace: de Havilland Comet was the first commercial jet airliner. However the household names are Boeing with their 7x7 and Airbus.
• Internet Search Engines: AltaVista was first to market. Hardly anybody remembers it. Google came only much, much later.
• Social Networks: Who remembers MySpace? Geocities?
• Computer Peripherals: Adlib vs. SoundBlaster

The list goes on and on. In general it's often the companies that later arrive to the market that have success, for they can learn from the experiences of their "quicker" competitors, and no longer have to do the legwork of making potential customers want a product hitherto unknown.

[Epistemic status: experience-based synthesis, likely biased]

Most of these seem reasonably sane, of course with varying levels of cultural and situational slant and specificity (as one would expect from any list like this). One of them, however, strikes me as actively dangerous in a way worth mentioning:

1. If you want to become funny, try just saying stupid shit until something sticks.

Doing this visibly in more sensitive or conformist social groups can be a disaster. Gaining a reputation for saying erratic things can make you the person that no one can take anywhere because you might ruin the environment at any time, and then you're in the hole. Depending on your interpersonal goals, it may be that exiting a group like that would be a net benefit for you, but even if that's true for you, you may want to examine those options first before playing roulette with your status.

Bouncing things off yourself doesn't have the same problem, but seems like a much weaker way of developing a quality which is fundamentally social; it can work if you have an internal sense of what's funny but haven't “found” it for conscious access, but it doesn't work if you were miscalibrated to start with. Bouncing things off trusted friends can work, but at that point you're more likely to have already had that option saliently in mind. (Well, if you didn't and you're reading this, now you do.)

More specifically, I think people who are socially oblivious and think that humor will improve their standing may be likely to jump at 52, and if they are in the above situation, get hurt, with the hazard having been invisible due to the obliviousness. One might then ask why they would get marginally hurt if they were already likely to make social errors—but I think it's possible to get by in such cases with (perhaps not consciously noticed) conditioned broad inhibitions instead… until you read something like this as “permission”.

These are useful criticisms! I'll caveat it later towards trusted friends, which I think cuts off much of the risks.

1. Establish clear rules about when to throw out old junk. Once clear rules are established, junk will probably cease to be a problem. This is because any rule would be superior to our implicit rules (“keep this broken stereo for five years in case I learn how to fix it”).

"Any rule is better than no rules" explains many things about junk I didn't understand before.

1. Food taste can be made much more exciting through simple seasoning. It’s also an opportunity for expression. Buy a few herbs and spices and experiment away.

Find a store in your city that sells bulk spices. Find another store that sells herbs without packaging. It'll be a fraction of the price.

1. When googling a recipe, precede it with ‘best’. You’ll find better recipes.

The best chocolate chip cook recipe I've ever followed really does have "best" in its name.

1. You can automate mundane computer tasks with Autohotkey (or AppleScript). If you keep doing a sequence “so simple a computer can do it”, make the computer do it.

You can take this to the extreme with a command line interface.

1. Learn keyboard shortcuts. They’re easy to learn and you’ll get tasks done faster and easier.

You can take this to the extreme, with Vim (or EMACS) and i3.

1. Done is better than perfect.

People who don't finish things is another red flag. (See #57 and #58.) People who finish some of their projects is fine. People who finish none of their projects is a red flag.

1. Keep your desk and workspace bare. Treat every object as an imposition upon your attention, because it is. A workspace is not a place for storing things. It is a place for accomplishing things.

This is good and goes with #6. I set the desktop wallpaper (background) on my phone and laptop to a black rectangle.

1. Exercise (weightlifting) not only creates muscle mass, it also improves skeletal structure. Lift!

2. Exercise is the most important lifestyle intervention you can do. Even the bare minimum (15 minutes a week) has a huge impact. Start small.

True.

1. Are you on the fence about breaking up or leaving your job? You should probably go ahead and do it. People, on average, end up happier when they take the plunge.

This has been true 100% of the time for me.

1. Selfish people should listen to advice to be more selfless, selfless people should listen to advice to be more selfish.

I need one of these bits of advice.

1. Defining yourself by your suffering is an effective way to keep suffering forever (ex. incels, trauma).

This is another easy-to-spot red flag.

1. Keep your identity small. “I’m not the kind of person who does things like that” is not an explanation, it’s a trap. It prevents nerds from working out and men from dancing.

This is another bit of concise, useful, layered advice.

1. If you want to become funny, try just saying stupid shit until something sticks.

Lol.

1. To start defining your problems, say (out loud) “everything in my life is completely fine.” Notice what objections arise.

Wow. That worked.

1. Sometimes unsolvable questions like “what is my purpose?” and “why should I exist?” lose their force upon lifestyle fixes. In other words, seeing friends regularly and getting enough sleep can go a long way to solving existentialism.

Many of my problems go away when I eat good food or go outside to exercise instead of fixing them.

1. There are two red flags to avoid almost all dangerous people: 1. The perpetually aggrieved ; 2. The angry.

2. Some people create drama out of habit. You can avoid these people.

I wish someone had told me these 10 years ago. It clearly and concisely states something that has took me way, way too long to figure out. Better late than never!

1. It is cheap for people to talk about their values, goals, rules, and lifestyle. When people’s actions contradict their talk, pay attention!

If someone says they will do and then does not do then ignore the stated reason for not doing . What matters is the person did not do .

1. Being in groups is important. If you don’t want to join a sports team, consider starting a shitty band. It’s the closest you’ll get to being in an RPG. Train with 2-4 other characters, learn new moves, travel from pub to pub, and get quests from NPCs.

2. Think a little about why you enjoy what you enjoy. If you can explain what you love about Dune, you can now communicate not only with Dune fans, but with people who love those aspects in other books.

These are interesting.

1. In relationships look for somebody you can enjoy just hanging out near. Long-term relationships are mostly spent just chilling.

2. When dating, de-emphasizing your quirks will lead to 90% of people thinking you’re kind of alright. Emphasizing your quirks will lead to 10% of people thinking you’re fascinating and fun. Those are the people interested in dating you. Aim for them.

These apply to making friends too.

1. Call your parents when you think of them, tell your friends when you love them.

2. Compliment people more. Many people have trouble thinking of themselves as smart, or pretty, or kind, unless told by someone else. You can help them out.

Good reminders.

1. Sturgeon’s law states that 90% of everything is crap. If you dislike poetry, or fine art, or anything, it’s possible you’ve only ever seen the crap. Go looking!

<fnord>This is another idea I've been dancing around but have failed to state concisely. Even though I've seen "Sturgeon's law" before, it never really registered.</fnord>

By the way, if you can live so close to work that you can cycle or walk to it, you can combine a lot of great things: more excercise, less commuting, more money. If you can then commute together with coworkers, even better.

To the author of this post: I continue to plead for help. If not from you, there must be someone that you know.

5. If your work is done on a computer, get a second monitor. Less time navigating between windows means more time for thinking.

Agree. I'm stacking two of these bad boys: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07L9HCJ2V

For most professionals, spending $2k is cheap for even a 5% more productive computing experience 1 .If you want to find out about people’s opinions on a product, google <product> reddit. You’ll get real people arguing, as compared to the SEO’d Google results. This used to be my go-to strategy. However, I think brands are increasingly catching on to this. Anecdotally, I have been observing an increased amount of astroturfing in reddit product threads. A good solution is to be skeptical and check commenters' post history. If the account is old, they are active in diverse subreddits, and generally seem like a real person, it is likely to be trustworthy. If the account only has a few posts and most of them are about <product>, that's a bad sign. Also, I feel like I just read a LW post which mentioned #69. Haven't been able to find it but I feel like the title may have been something like "The Curse of Optimization" (the point being the exact same one as #69). Maybe this will jog somebody else's memory? Yeah, I think the Reddit solution will lose its value over time. I think the important part is to find an argument (this applies to Hacker News too). I'd be interested to find another take on #69, I think that's one I came up with on my own through trial and error. "Remember that you are dying." 60. (~This is not legal advice!~) DO NOT TALK TO COPS. This one stood out as kind of puzzling. Especially as the link is to a 45-minute lecture whose thesis seems to be "one should always exercise one's 5th amendment rights when being questioned by authorities." I think summarizing that as an all-caps "DONT TALK TO COPS" is weird and inaccurate. By far the most common context in which anyone I know has interacted with the cops is when filing police reports for damaged or stolen property (stolen bike, car break-in, stolen phone, etc.) In which case... you kind of need to talk to the cops to get insurance coverage, even if they're not able to recover the item (but they sometimes are). Maybe this bullet would be more clear as "Exercise your right to remain silent if being questioned by cops" ? Though I suspect that that isn't a terribly common scenario among average lesswrong community members The advice is meant in the context of police investigating a crime. Because police can be very convincing that it will be okay to answer a few innocent questions, it seems useful to have this advice drilled into one's mind. By the way, the author of the linked lecture now recommends asking for a lawyer instead of directly invoking the right to stay silent, after some recent SCOTUS rulings. Potentially dumb question — but wouldn't refusing to answer questions just make one look more suspicious, which you may especially want to avoid if you haven't actually done anything wrong? It's pretty USA-centric, at least. Doing this in other jurisdictions where the balance of rights and the dominant informal relationship between the public and the police are different could be much worse. I'd recommend AutoIT instead of AHK. Not that AutoIT is a great language, but it's a better language than AHK, using more standard language constructs. Thank you!!!! I enjoyed every minute of reading this and sharing it with friends 13. When googling a recipe, precede it with ‘best’. You’ll find better recipes. Cooking tip from Twitter to complement this: "Use Google image search for recipe searching! Quality of the photography seems to be a good indicator of the quality of a recipe, maybe because it speaks to attention to detail?" 2. Some banks charge you$20 a month for an account, others charge you 0. If you’re with one of the former, have a good explanation for what those $20 are buying. I think an alternative that captures the intent might be: Know how you are paying for a service - watch for hidden/ambiguous fees, subscription changes, short-term discounts, sale of personal information - and what you're paying for. Everything costs something, and unless you're a contract lawyer who also barters professionally, you are not getting the better end of any offered deal. Read every contract and all terms and conditions. While you probably won't understand it all, with practice it will become clearer which are being up-front and which are planning your demise. Where is the tip when #57 and #58 are not avoidable and are #34 ? Many of those tips remind me of the famous tip "It's better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick" Its technically true but miss the point. I think it's sort of inevitable that general-vectors lists like this will have a lot of entries that have the “this is much easier to do when you're already in a good position” property, but that the underlying effect is much more a divergent-feedback property of the environment and not specific to the list. So I'd say something like: 1. It's important not to get stuck in the victim mindset where you give up and/or rebel because you can't do the same things to obtain wins that are easy for people in better situations. In more collective, adversarial situations, the balance of social emotions may skew toward doing otherwise as a tactic, but communities where that's a steady state trend unhealthy in the medium to long term, and I don't think there's a lot of cases where deciding it on your own is actually a win. 2. If you're in a worse situation than allows the direct use of an idea, but not so much worse that there's an uncrossable gap, most of these degrade gracefully to “maybe keep an eye out for this”. I can't afford a second monitor right now (this is true in reality), but I can remember to revisit the idea if I have more money later. But someone who won't realistically be in a position to own any computing devices for the next decade should discard that item entirely. 3. Adjacent to (2), if a gap looks uncrossable but you want it not to be, consider that some of that might be an illusion, and that you might be able to improve your imagination and look for possibilities you've missed. Extending your range of thought is something that's encouraged a lot here. If you hold on too strongly to “you shouldn't even be talking about things like that”, that can set you up to fall into #47 (which I think is one of the more universal ones). 4. All the same, calibration to “what level and type of things people are in a position to care about right now” is one of the big implicit cultural and situational specificity elements I mentioned in passing elsewhere. If you're way off from the implied target audience for too much of the list, maybe it's not worth bothering. #31 (which I also think is one of the more universal ones) sort of implies this. (However, I don't think it's practical to expect a list of anything more than platitudes to make no such assumptions.) 5. … but to combine (4) with (3), lines of thought go very differently depending on whether you use “you shouldn't even be talking about that” or “I don't care about this list right now” as an interpretation. The latter opens up more agency for doing something about it. 6. If what you mean is more like “hey, are you even thinking about the possibility that some of these might be impossible”, then I would agree with you that it's generally a good idea to notice the context dependence when composing things like this (which is in fact why I mentioned it elsewhere), but stopping at that idea doesn't lead to much. If you want a different outcome, starting by clarifying in your own mind what that would be like helps more; for instance, “I would like to see similar lists with different implied audiences” is not a bad idea (though there are ways of instantiating it unproductively). 7. All of the above, themselves, of course assume a certain amount of value compatibility… Great list and post. Thanks. I was with you until the relationships category. For 78. you encourage the consumption of alcohol, this can lead to issues down the line if you come to rely on alcohol. For 76. I personally disagree that a good friendship is negligible. If you're both willing to work at it and keep firm boundaries, you can have a great friendship in time. I've seen it happen, but it won't happen every time. I love #38 A time-traveller from 2030 appears and tells you your plan failed. Which part of your plan do you think is the one ...? And I try to use it on arguments and explanations. Ditto on Autohotkey. It's amazingly easy to learn and very useful. (eg. for making Yoda Timer windows anywhere with even the most basic of programming experience). I've taught it to quite a few people and would be happy to teach anyone if they want to schedule a call: calendly.com/meetsquid Booked! 65. You will prevent yourself from even having thoughts that could lower your status. Avoid blocking yourself off just so people keep thinking you’re cool. What does that mean? It's a statement about the dangers of self-censorship. If, for instance, your friend group has a common disdain for pop music, you might find that even in your private thoughts you are unwilling to consider whether or not you might like the latest Taylor Swift album. This type of thought avoidance can be very subtle and insidious, and difficult to notice if you're not actively looking for it. I wanted to say that I tend to disagree with 56, but I like the way you put the problem and you're definitely right. "Their force upon lifestyle fixes." Just that. Those questions are important, you don't want to get rid of them entirely or to forget about their essence - you just want them to stop having a negative impact on your life. 58. Some people create drama out of habit. You can avoid these people. Sometimes the people that are creating drama out of habit might be your family. And it's kinda hard to avoid relatives for a while. "If this idea fills you with dread, consider getting a new family. " - Not that easy, it's hard to think about other people as you'd think about your own family. And this might be wrong, as I wait and think about our ancestors and relatives, we're all an enormous family that was lost throughout over time. 15. You can automate mundane computer tasks with Autohotkey (or AppleScript). If you keep doing a sequence “so simple a computer can do it”, make the computer do it. It's not exactly the same, but IMO Keysmith and Keyboard Maestro are closer Mac alternatives to AutoHotkey than AppleScript is. (Disclaimer: I built Keysmith.) I don’t get #65, why it is in the future tense? And what does it even mean? This is awesome! Thank you so much👍🏿👊🏿✨ Response to #5 If you can't acquire a 2nd monitor for what ever reason you can make better use of a single monitor using a tiling windows manager. For Windows : https://github.com/microsoft/PowerToys (i use this every day) For Mac : https://github.com/ianyh/Amethyst (first google result, might be better) For Linux : hehehe, good luck These are also quite useful if you've got multiple monitors for linux, the put windows plugin works reasonably well for me: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/39/put-windows/ there's also writing wmctrl scripts: https://linux.die.net/man/1/wmctrl Great list. Thanks for posting. 20. The 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes of screenwork, look at a spot 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will reduce eye strain and is easy to remember (or program reminders for). I noticed my eyes were horribly bloodshot yesterday, so I just downloaded a Chrome extension that will remind me to do this every 20 minutes. (File under: Automate literally everything) 23. (~This is not medical advice~). Don’t waste money on multivitamins, they don’t work. Vitamin D supplementation does seem to work, which is important because deficiency is common. I would really really love for someone (Scott) to write "Vitamins: Much More Than You Wanted to Know", because I'm not sure I agree with this one. In particular, it seems like one of those areas where the science is all exceptionally poorly done. I take four vitamins (with a meal Soylent) daily, a multivitamin, a B complex, 5000 IU of Vitamin D, and a Algae Oil pill. I'm pretty confident in the research around Vitamin D and DHA/EPA (I am a vegetarian), but the Vitamin B and multivitamin I'm much less sure of, and I've heard this specific advice many times. But that being said, I can buy a year's supply at Costco for$20. If they're doing anything that's worth it. Health is irreplaceable in a way that money is not.

53. To start defining your problems, say (out loud) “everything in my life is completely fine.” Notice what objections arise.

This one is great. I come at it from a slightly different angle of appreciating what you have though. A couple years ago I formed a habit of, whenever I think about it, I take a deep breath and say to myself "I have a great life", and I think of all of the many satisfactions that I have that many people don't.

Regarding the multivitamins, since you said "more than you wanted to know", if you have the time it might be worth taking a look at something similar to these Nutrient Reference Values and comparing with the amount of the nutrients in the multivitamin: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/about-us/publications/nutrient-reference-values-australia-and-new-zealand-including-recommended-dietary-intakes

I had heard that multivitamins are mostly useless (but I can't remember where) because it is impossible/expensive to physically fit everything into a pill. After looking up the recommended intakes, I noticed that many of the quantities of each of the vitamins in the multivitamins I looked at were basically negligible compared to the recommend intakes. I stopped these multivitamins and started taking a few specific vitamins similar to those you mentioned. As you said, I have no idea if they are achieving anything.

Those recommended intakes are specific to Australia/New Zealand, but I suppose many countries must publish their own so you could pick one you trust. It does seem to be a theme that government health departments often don't recommend supplements (e.g. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/vitamins-and-minerals).

Some people think that multivitamins are actually harmful (or at least cause harms that partially cancel out the benefits) because they contain large amounts of certain things like manganese that we may already get too much of from food.

I don't know the best way to phrase this but some of this advice is really foundational (eg exercise, sleep, etc). There should be an item here about rapidly and persistently getting professional medical and mental health when you have trouble with the basics.