waking up


It can take me a while to make decisions. I've spent an hour deciding what pen to buy. It's worst when the different options don't seem to make much difference, but might. Different pens are pretty similar, but since I'll be using the pen so much, those differences might make a big impact. It's hard to know.

I want to make decisions better. I've considered going with my gut, but sometimes I don't know what my gut wants. I've also tried making charts with a row for each option, and a column for each relevant property, like color or size. But it is hard to know whether I've gotten all the numbers correct, and whether I've weighted everything correctly.

At some point I do make a decision, and it is a big mystery to me what threshold was crossed that made the decision happen. I think that if I understand this better, I'll make better decisions. So when I'm making a difficult decision, I end up doing two things: thinking about the decision, and introspecting about the decision making process.

Waking up

I hate waking up. Usually I get up because I need to. During holidays, I don't need to get up, and so I need to decide to get up. But this is a difficult decision to make, and I spend lots of time introspecting about it.

Today as I was waking up, I believe I had a revelation about making decisions. (Of course, I realize that it probably isn't quite right, and I'll fall back to square one soon enough.) The revelation was this: I am not consciously aware of all the factors feeding into the decisions I'm making.

In particular, I was thinking about whether it was a good time to wake up, and how to go about making that determination, when it occurred to me that some other part of my brain was aware of an additional meta-factor feeding into the decision. Namely, I wanted to spend time figuring out how decisions are made. And although I wasn't consciously aware of that desire at the time — though I was certainly acting on it — my brain was aware of it, and it was influencing the decision in favor of staying in bed thinking.

So, perhaps my brain does not make decisions consciously. Perhaps the mysterious decision making threshold is crossed within an unconscious part of the brain. Perhaps my conscious mind does something else, along the lines of applying symbolic/linguistic reasoning to certain ideas, the results of which may influence the unconscious decision maker, but not directly.

Perhaps a way to make decisions "better" is to act more as an observer of my unconscious decision maker, and look for inefficiencies or logical fallacies. Or rather, if this is indeed the role of my conscious mind, perhaps I'm already doing it, but it is "better" to recognize that fact.

Deciding to wake up

After having this revelation, I went over my thoughts so I could write them in a blog post. At some point, I had the idea of calling the post "waking up", which felt like the perfect title. It was a joke, since most of the content of the post was conceived while not waking up. It was also a metaphor, because I had a "revelation" in the post. I was so happy with this title that I finally "decided" to get up and write the post.

[I also decided to include in the post a snippet of my dreams, since dreams are relevant to "waking up", and I want to be recording my dreams anyway in the hopes of at some point having lucid dreams. What I remember of my dreams last night was as follows. In the first dream I was able to sort of fly, by gliding down a steep incline, like those people on youtube with the squirrel suits, and this happened in a city of steep inclines like an esher-esque castle. There was a room someplace I was trying to get to. A second dream included a field in the country, a horse, a rocket, flying into the upper atmosphere and watching things get smaller and smaller, and then falling slowly back to earth, the horse being able to talk, and running across a field, and my dad was there. A third dream involved a mario brothers setting, collecting strawberries instead of mushrooms, being in the game live, with another person, a strange prize in one of the levels where you won the opportunity to use a particular outhouse at a particular time. The outhouse was part of a circus ride of some sort that elevated a fighting arena high into the air, and there was a fight scheduled at some future time, and during that fight was the opportunity to use the outhouse, which was precariously attached via an arm to the arena, raised very high in the air. The bathroom did not have walls, and seems very rickety, and you had a choice of male or female, which would unlock a hole on the bench that you could sit on or pee into respectively.]

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