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Ask HN: What was your “why didn't I start doing this sooner” moment?
630 points by throw94 538 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 767 comments
I read a similar thread on reddit (https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/4v3ts4/what_was_your_why_didnt_i_start_doing_this_sooner/) and thought that it would be interesting to know such moments from the HN community!

3 things for me:

1) Meditation, I used to think it was something hippies did. I now think its worth 10 IQ points. I honestly can't recommend it enough.

2) Sleep, I'm getting close to 40 and the last 2 times I pulled all nighters I ended up deleting pretty much all the code I wrote from 11pm onward.

3) Occasional Fasts. I normally fast from 6pm until noon the next day but I now do one 3 day fast each month. I think this is going to become more and more common as a way to head off cancer in the body.

I'm not a doctor but my doctor friends believe that eating less is the secret to increasing life span and fasting is the secret to heading off cancer cells before they can really start to grow.

Also after 3 days of fasting I find that the mind becomes sharper.

Your millage may vary....

Agree with all three, but #2 for me has now become the very important due an incident last week.

I pulled an all nighter and next day rear ended a vehicle near a traffic signal because I dozed off for a second. The impact was minimal and no one was harmed. It was the first accident with my fault in 15 years of driving. I am approaching 40 and have 2 young kids. I cannot get my priorities wrong at this point. Many lives depend on me and hence it is imperative that I take care of my health.

I am sharing so people in my situation may recognize importance of our health at this stage in life.

+1. I had a similar experience - my one auto accident (though I am much younger than you) was when I clipped a mirror on a parked car after sleeping 5 hours.

I wonder if we as a society will ever come around to treating insufficient sleep similarly to drunkenness or distraction for drivers. My intuition says it's similarly dangerous.

I know that in North Carolina (I lived there a year and had to get a new license during that period) there's a section of the driving handbook that covers drowsy driving.

Here's some info from drowsydriving.org > "According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in (such) a crash as those sleeping 8 hours or more, while people sleeping less than 5 hours increased their risk four to five times."

http://drowsydriving.org/about/facts-and-stats/ http://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/summaries-of-cur...

> I wonder if we as a society will ever come around to treating insufficient sleep similarly to drunkenness or distraction for drivers. My intuition says it's similarly dangerous.

There are some regulations about minimum amounts of sleep for airline pilots.


I guess it would have a high cost and intrusiveness to try to document individual motorists' sleep, but I can imagine that if self-driving cars catch on as broadly and as quickly as many people have predicted, fatigued driving could become much more stigmatized and punished than it is today.

Also for truckers, bus drivers, people that drive for a living. Eg: http://ec.europa.eu/transport/modes/road/social_provisions/d... (although, its "rest" not sleep. I'm not sure how you would mandate sleep - or monitor it in a sensible manner).

We also don't document their alcohol consumption - only when a car is pulled over on specific suspicion (modulo checkpoints).

Perhaps a field test of some of the markers shared by alcohol and drowsiness. Maybe test for micro sleeps, concentration, etc. similarly to how the effects of insufficient sleep are measured in a lab.

When I feel sleepy driving, I get off the road and just close my eyes until I start to feel like I'm falling asleep. Then I am good to go.

Studies have shown waste products are removed during sleep by the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid. Perhaps even a short period of cerebrospinal fluid circulation is enough to stave off sleepiness.


That describes a moment, not just a list. Some wake-up calls are scarier than others; glad it worked out.

Good call. I'm curious, what is your solution to getting more sleep? Frequently those all-nighters come as a result of deadlines and pressure from work. The usual tradeoff is work vs family vs sleep, where often you only get to pick 1. Have you had any success in getting 2 or even 3 of those together?

I would say work vs kids vs wife (quality time) vs hobbies vs sleep vs income. I have prioritised kids, wife and sleep. I work as a deceloper contractor in Sweden and only work 80% (32hr/week) in order to ger everything to work. So income, hobbies and spending lots of time working is not what I'm doing right now. I try to see the big picture and might increase those three things when the kids are more independent. But right now they need their father and I want to have a goid relationship to them. Plus they are fun.

Just say no. You are better on a full night of sleep for both your family and your job. They need to be understanding there.

Totally agree. I worked on an app where we had customers who had installed our 'agent'. We were forced to do a late night update. Whoops - sent out a version that would never be able to update again - there went 100K customers we could never upgrade.

Wow, what went so wrong to the point that it blocked the update process?

In my case, there is lot of inefficiencies. I can easily cut down on few things

(a) I spend time browsing emails while lying down (easily eats 30 mins per night). (b) No meetups in evenings. (c) Excuse from business meetings after a certain time (d) Cut down on social events on weekdays. (e) Push all non-essential things to weekends.

I made this list for myself and it helps free up evenings. Your situation may differ.

I realized that my kids are my investments as well. In to someone's future/life (not trying to sound too dramatic). So, that's highest priority at this point and hence the sleep.

I see this all too much, my reasoning for working 8-9 hour days and nothing more is its being dishonest to the company to put in longer hours. Obviously estimates (and estimates always turn into deadlines) have been done wrong and by putting in those all nighters/extra hours you are only covering up those bad estimates. I find it much better to learn from mistakes so next time the estimates are done better.

> work vs family vs sleep

If I have to make a choice, I always choose sleep. Why? The other two priorities have a one-way dependency on it. I can sleep well while neglecting work or family, but I cannot make a decent contribution to work or family if I do not have enough sleep.

I'm only 28, but I pulled one this week. I don't ever drive until i can sleep again. This time, I had my boss drive me to and from the office :)

I'm glad you're alright and I wish you the best!

Not a hippie, but you do meditation and fasts...

Okay, that came out a bit incisive. Do you have any scientific backing to support those claims? I'm especially interested in fasting. Not eating for 3 days a month does not seem especially healthy. Then I see the claim that it cures cancer and forgive me if all my alarm bells go off.

Anecdotal, I was like you, extremely skeptical of meditation.

Seriously, try it, it's free!

Immediate benefits:

* Clear, focused mind. I stop hopping from topic to topic in my mind "oh should I tidy the apartment, work on my website, etc etc" to a far more focused state. What you should do next is there with extreme clarity. You stop reading random junk on the internet too, and get down to it

* Much better sleep (this alone is worth it for me)

* Much calmer, steadier mood (less ups and downs in a normal day, I'm normally quite content but this effect was noticable)

All you need:

* 20 mins in a quiet room

* Perhaps white noise on headphones if you need it, timer on your laptop or phone

* Sit comfortably, back straight against a cushion, and focus on your breathing, try not to have any thoughts

* You'll fail, over and over, and follow thoughts down the rabbit hole

* Let the thought drift away without getting annoyed, start fresh

* Repeat for 20 mins

* Do it once per day, everyday

It sounds ridiculous, but this is really powerful. You owe it to yourself to try, there's no spiritual voodoo or 50/month courses needed.

For those who are not familiar, or new to, meditation - I want to offer an alternative to "try not to have any thoughts". The reason why I never started meditating for a long time was because I felt it was too hard, and nearly impossible. Well... because it is very difficult. After years and years of meditating and practicing mindfulness, perhaps this is possible, but IMO not a good starting goal.

I prefer to just become an observer of my thoughts; to acknowledge and let them flow; I focus on accepting that they are only thoughts - little impulses. The imagery I often have is that I'm sitting in a clear bubble, and my thoughts are swirling around me: I can see them, and I know they're there, but I do not let them in.

Keyboardhitter is right, the vast majority of meditators recommend trying to observe and let go of thoughts that pass as opposed to trying to stop thoughts. The problem with trying to stop thoughts is similar in trying to not think of pink elephants.

Mindfulness one of the key skills(if not THE key skill) exercised by meditation is the ability to be aware of one's own thoughts and feelings, and this is practiced primarily by listening to what thought's were having, and letting them go.

I don't know if you are aware of it or not but what you are describing is called mindfulness.


Seems to mirror my experience. I try to nap in 15 minute breaks at work. 30-1hr at lunch break (I eat while I'm working) so I have mid day personal time. Seems like the same skills of quieting the mind. I do a relaxation breath of (in = 4 count, hold = 7 count, exhale = 8 count) 3x

I never fall into a deep sleep. Sometimes I trance out into heady thoughts where the outside world gets blocked off.

I don't really know where meditation ends, naps begin, and where legit sleep falls in the spectrum. My goal isn't meditation though, my real goal is to black out cold, but haven't gotten there yet. So ymmv for anyone else attempting but it seems I'm in the same field as you describe.

Then I tend to naturally snap out of it before my alarm rings me awake.

Tools: travelers sleep eye mask, comfortable silent area (my car in parking garage), phone timer.

That's the same way I see it. I would sum it up as becoming aware of the Proprioception of thought.

The same way we are aware of moving our arm when we are doing so, becoming aware of your thoughts while we are thinking. We tend to take are thoughts for granted, giving them automatic truth status

What an apt analogy...

The sense of self or the "I" is part of that stream of thoughts, that is why you can't stop thoughts except by fully concentrating in something; the intention of stoping thoughts and the self that wants to achieve something are thoughts themselves. An approach that I have found very powerful is to direct atention to nervous system activity which is an objective form of conciousness, something like the sense of touch but extended to the inside of the body (it is called kayotsarga in jainism), besides gaining the ability to fully relax at will all parts of the body it brings awareness to a whole new level.

Thanks. Trying different things to focus on. I'll probably forget the name, but I'll employ it all the same.

If you try headspace, (no affiliation) that's pretty much what they say to do.

Highly recommend the Headspace app.

A very helpful tactic I've learned recently is to not focus on not having any thoughts but instead - realize they're going to be inevitable, and when they pop up, acknowledge that it's a thought, a feeling or, an emotion - and let go of it.

Or acknowledge it, write it down if it's an actionable to-do, then let it go. It probably won't return, and you'll have a great list of things that were previously buzzing around in your head, taking up space now down on paper in front of you.

You're not meditating if you stop to write it down.

There is no single right way to meditate. My dad has been practicing Nichiren Buddhism for over 30 years and he taught me this. He chants twice daily with a gohanzen, sometimes writing, sometimes only reciting text.

This, and if you need further justification, think of this like any other skill. By practicing the act of intense (and nonjudgmental) focus, over time, your ability to focus intently will improve. In choosing to focus on something internal, you decouple this practice from any particular external context or environment, and any improvement you achieve will be applicable to the broadest range of tasks. In calmly accepting (and dismissing) any intrusive thoughts or feelings, you likewise improve your ability to remain calm in the face of unintended internal or external distractions, decreasing your stress levels (along with any of their negative health implications). Go into it without any expectations (as you might then stress if you fail to meet them), for the most benefit. Nothing else required, just the intentional and unimpeded practice of a particular skill.

I have been using Muse (no affiliation) which has a headband that measures brain signals, for me, it seems like it is able to tell when my mind has wandered off thinking about life's minutia, when I am supposed to be concentrating on breathing. It gives the feedback by stirring up the sound of waves and wind and really tries to get you back on track. This is my prompt to let go and recommit to focusing on my breathing and then the waves and winds will calm down again.

Not sure if this works, but I was using those sound entrainment binaural beats for theta deep sleep waves, or set to meditation. There's some free frequency generators online or app store. You should try it with your headband to see if there are increases in frequency of the binaural beat frequency you've chosen in app

That sounds really neat. I will give it a try.

I used to count the number of [slow deep] breathes I take to remove all thoughts. Once you master that you can stop counting and clear your mind.

For dealing with the thought-noise and physical discomfort, I recommend reading _Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind_. It's basically a pragmatic how-to manual for meditation. The book is refreshingly free of discussion of enlightenment and other spiritual matters - his attitude is just that if you can't even manage to sit still, what else do you expect to be able to do?

It doesn't sound ridiculous at all to me (as long as it is presented spirituality- and supernatural-free). I was mostly skeptical about the fasting. Meditation sounds all right, I just never got around to trying it, nor do I like very much the idea of doing nothing for 30 minutes out of each day.

Don't think of it as doing nothing. Think of it as spending quality time with yourself, just like going to the spa or hitting the gym - for the mind.

Here's a great intro you could try: https://youtu.be/D5Fa50oj45s

Reminds me about a quote from Firefly:

> Mal: …Could have been meditating on the wonders of your rock garden right now.

> Jayne: Beats just sitting.

> Wash: It is just sitting.

There's a pretty big spectrum of mindfulness and meditation including "just sitting", yoga, Qigong -- or even certain forms of martial arts (perhaps most famously certain forms of Tachi, but also Pa Kua Chang and others).

Or even just taking a walk in the forest.

"Just sitting" is probably the easiest way to get started, but perhaps the hardest to master -- or stick with. But I think everyone should be able to find something that works for them.

Do it while swimming. I found it works pretty well. And Don't stress about not doing it every day for exactly 20 mins.

I appreciate the list and encouragement, but "trying not to have thoughts" goes against most meditation teachings.

It's more along the lines of "trying not to react to thoughts"

From your description, it seems like I've been meditating in the shower for most of my life.

Hahahaha... A valuable note is that anyone can meditate anywhere... Someone in be stream above wrote about swimming... Others do it while hiking or walking.... A counterpoint was given that he felt no benefit from the practice... Maybe the point is to find your own place and practice .... It really is a unique experience... Doesn't have to be sitting in a cushion (though it can be )...

Running water has own relaxing sound to it for humans I think.

As an anecdotal counterpoint, I have tried meditation (both guided and solo) many times and have found it to have little to no benefit long term. I get none of the benefits mentioned above.

> * Perhaps white noise on headphones if you need it, timer on your laptop or phone

If you have sox[0] installed, just run

     play -n synth 20:00 pinknoise 
(or whitenoise if it suits your environment or preference better).

[0]: http://sox.sf.net/

What is the best time of the day to meditate? I used to do it right after I wake up, but I want to listen to other people's opinion on it.

Another tip regarding "not having any thoughts":

What helped me was concentrating on my breathing and heartbeat, and the fact that I'm concentrating on my breathing and heart. I had a really hard time completely clearing my mind on demand, but those two things are very easy to start concentrating on and other thoughts slowly slip away.

Does everyone tend to focus on the details of a specific method versus actually doing it?

> Do you have any scientific backing to support those claims?

Not OP but this is a good summary: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3946160/

> Then I see the claim that it cures cancer and forgive me if all my alarm bells go off.

I think OP was implying that it may decrease your chances of getting cancer not cure it. Everyone will get cancer if they live long enough (based on the current state of medicine, that may change in the future).

edit: I should say that personally I don't really practice intermittent fasting (at least not consciously). But I don't eat after 8pm either, so I tend to do at least a 12 hour fast every day because of that. Sometimes I also skip breakfast which makes it a 16-18 hour fast. My biggest meal of the day is usually lunch not dinner.

There was also some research suggesting that normal cells were insulated from some of the effects of chemo by a period of fasting. Tumor cells don't turtle up the way healthy cells do and so they absorbed higher relative doses.

I'm fuzzy on the details but I believe they were trying to explain why outcomes were statistically better for early morning treatments (people coming in with an empty stomach to deal with nausea)

Huh. Wow, thanks. I had no idea.

This was precisely what I was looking for. Thanks, I'll look into it.

Some scientific backing for the efficacy of caloric restriction, in ailment reduction and increased longevity:

Oxidative Stress, Caloric Restriction, and Aging[0]

Calorie Restriction Promotes Mammalian Cell Survival by Inducing the SIRT1 Deacetylase [1]

Gene Expression Profile of Aging and Its Retardation by Caloric Restriction [2]

Caloric restriction and aging: an update [3]

Calorie Restriction Promotes Mitochondrial Biogenesis by Inducing the Expression of eNOS [4]

[0] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2987625/ [1] http://science.sciencemag.org/content/305/5682/390.short [2] http://science.sciencemag.org/content/285/5432/1390.short [3] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0531556500... [4] http://science.sciencemag.org/content/305/5682/390.short

> I'm especially interested in fasting. Not eating for 3 days a month does not seem especially healthy.

I'm surprised many believe this. It seems self-evident that our bodies are well adapted to periods of starvation. Any biology that wasn't so adapted would have been out-competed by those did.

The link to cancer is typically due to free radical theories causing genetic damage, and caloric restriction is being employed to help cancer patients last longer.

Why do we eat food at all? It seems self-evident that a biology that didn't synthesize carbohydrates from carbon dioxide would be outcompeted by those that did.

>It seems self-evident that a biology that didn't synthesize carbohydrates from carbon dioxide would be outcompeted by those that did.

Their shortsightedness poisoned the Earth with the waste products of their energy production, changing the world's climate, and driving many of them to extinction. It also skewed the efficiency numbers towards organisms that didn't need to sit around synthesizing carbohydrates when there was so many free carbohydrates just sitting around for anything able to digest them.

It's more efficient to let others do the work and simply steal, which is what we are doing, up to the highest level.

I'm no biologist, heck I didn't even study science in college, but wouldn't entropy suggest that adding another layer would be less efficient?

"I'm surprised many believe this. It seems self-evident that our bodies are well adapted to periods of starvation. Any biology that wasn't so adapted would have been out-competed by those did."

I actually never thought about it from that angle. It seems like it should obviously be true now. Now the question is how true and if nuances exist where our bodies can take it but not optimal in health.

Yea, that's the key imo. Just because our bodies were able to deal with it does not mean it is optimal.

I think our current understanding of medicine and human biology is quite limited, so there may be tons of these little quirks - non obvious things that are actually amazing for us. But, i'm sure there will also be tons of things that are not directly related to what we did to survive thousands of years ago.

It's pretty well established that in animal studies, animals that undergo caloric restriction live longer. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calorie_restriction

I haven't kept myself up to date on it, but I think I remember that it was more about changing an organism's biology early in life. If you're an organism that is going to burn less energy per day, then you are an organism that just has less entropy per day, and less side-effect damage to your cells because of it. I think that the gist of it?

But calorie restriction isn't the same as fasting. I imagine the health effects can be different.

I just so happen to be currently reading about this in The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb. He says:

"From predator-prey models (the so-called Lotka-Volterra type of population dynamics), I knew that populations experience [potentially high] variability, hence predators will necessarily go through periods of feast and famine. That's us, humans--we had to have been designed to experience extreme hunger and extreme abundance.

... So where on earth does this idea of "steady" exercise come from? Nobody in the Pleistocene jogged for forty-two minutes three days a week, lifted weights every Teusday and Friday, etc... Not hunters. We swung between extremes: we sprinted when chased or when chasing (once in a while in an extremely exerting way), and walked about aimlessly the rest of the time."

That's what he thinks anyway. We are complex, yo.

> we sprinted

Are you sure? My understanding is that hunting requires a lot of tracking, where you are following perishable clues, which means a moderate sustained pace. And sometimes you are invisible to prey, but sometimes you just need to keep up. Notably when you have injured your prey but not yet killed it. On top of that there's persistence hunting, which is more like an ultramarathon than a sprint.

Also, when gathering you often need to move quickly. My chickens don't just move lazily all day, they often move around quite frenetically. When you find some good stuff, it behooves you to move quickly to gather as much as you can before others catch on. And when you're moving through barren areas it also makes sense to not waste time.

The idea that early humans rarely spent 40 minutes jogging seems like quite a bold assertion to me.

And anyway, even if we never jogged, we certainly migrated. An hourlong walk several times a week is a reasonable exercise regimen too.

Very interesting points! Thank you for that counter :) And yes, Taleb has shown to be a very confident writer...

> "So where on earth does this idea of "steady" exercise come from? Nobody in the Pleistocene jogged for forty-two minutes three days a week, lifted weights every Teusday and Friday, etc... Not hunters. We swung between extremes: we sprinted when chased or when chasing (once in a while in an extremely exerting way), and walked about aimlessly the rest of the time.""

Based on my own experiences, I agree with the main point, I find steady exercises like jogging much less exhausting than dynamic exercises like playing football (soccer) where you're frequently switching between exertion and rest. This also seems to tie in with High Intensity Training (though I've never formally tried it):


However, isn't weightlifting a couple of times a week an example of exercising to extremes? At least if you prioritise weight over repetitions. This is purely anecdotal, but I've heard from various sources that free weight exercises like squats and deadlifts are some of the best exercises you can do, as they work out your whole body and the proper form relies on getting different muscle groups to work well together.

One more data point about steady but intense exercise versus very dynamic exercises: I find 20 minutes of serious HIIT scarier than running for an hour at 160 bpm.

Even in the Pleistocene humans were hunter-gatherers, and signs point to a lot more gathering than hunting. Gathering food is a remarkably steady exercise. Have you ever tried picking berries for a day? Have you ever tried doing so while 'walking around aimlessly'?

And what was the average lifespan :)?

>Not a hippie, but you do meditation and fasts...

Two things not even remotely ONLY associated with hippies -- that have been practiced for millennia before the hippy movement ever existed...

>Do you have any scientific backing to support those claims?


>Not eating for 3 days a month does not seem especially healthy.

You'd be surprised.

http://www.translationalres.com/article/S1931-5244(14)00200-... http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/06/short-term-fasting-ma... http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17316625 http://www.jnutbio.com/article/S0955-2863(04)00261-X/abstrac... http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17291990/ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17374948 http://ibima.net/articles/ENDO/2014/459119/ http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/06/short-term-fasting-ma... ...

>Then I see the claim that it cures cancer and forgive me if all my alarm bells go off.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2815756/ http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/06/22/scientists-di...

"Head off cancer" != "cure cancer."

There's (growing) research to suggest it partially mitigates risk: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3608686/.


This was the first pubmed search result for "fasting cancer risk". I think your alarm bells are miscalibrated.

> Not eating for 3 days a month does not seem especially healthy.

I did this on and off (stopped eating Sunday after dinner and didn't eat until Wednesday or later in the week).

I was only 19 and 20 at the time and did it because I was bored but I remember feeling significantly more productive. Pretty sure I was but not sure if it had to do with a clearer head or because I suddenly had 1-2 extra undisturbed hours when everyone else was busy eating.

Stopped after an incident where I tried lifting weights after 2 days on a very restrictive diet and half a day with no calories at all. 15 minutes in I started seriously shivering and I never picked it up later although I am seriously tempted from time to time.

There is a great deal of 'scientific' studies from major universities in meditation, compassion, happiness... Yes seriously! And how these hanged physically change our minds and bodies (not to mention the ripple effect on our famikielues and neighbors and coworkers!) Stanford U has a whole department dedicated to these studies ( http://ccare.stanford.edu) as Harvard and UCal at Berkeley have also done great http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/11/meditations-po...) (http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/tag/meditation) .... The CCARE and the Greater Good Scuence Center have a whole lot f scientific data about the positive effects of 'mindfulness', compassion, etc. on our minds, dispositions, health, memory, etc..... Basically there is NO downside to meditation!!

I am a bit surprised that no one else has mentioned the "warrior diet" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrior_diet, explained in more detail in https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Warrior_Diet.html?i....

Basically, the idea is to divide into undereating and overeating cycles, eating a single big meal a day (or in more extreme instances, one large meal per 2 days).

Unfortunately, the book linked above does not have a lot of scientific backing. This may simply be due to how it deviates from a lot of conventional diets at the moment.

Nevertheless, personally I rarely trust "scientists" who work in the field of nutrition:

1. They tend to change their views drastically over time. See e.g the whole sugar vs fat issue.

2. They are often heavily influenced by corporate funding, and as such incentive structures do not align well with the goal of rigorous science. One personal anecdote: my extended family uses a lot of coconuts and coconut oil in cooking. Coconut oil was presented in many "scientific" publications as being one of the worst oils, and olive oil as the best (often by olive oil company funded research). Things are much more even now.

Basically, I believe in the following:

1. Following a particular ancestral diet is a pretty safe bet - it has been tested and refined over hundreds, if not thousands, of years. There is often accumulated wisdom in certain practices. See e.g. https://www.amazon.com/100-Million-Years-Food-Ancestors/dp/1... for a detailed discussion of this.

2. Intermittent fasting has been practiced in various cultures to different extents, often due to religious beliefs. Again, something that has persisted that long is likely fine.

In short, true science is usually lacking in nutritional work. As for anecdotal evidence, there is some, detailed in the book above. I also am skeptical about the extent of its benefits, but see no serious downside to the "one meal a day" idea.

Also, check out Vipassana meditation.... It is not a guided imagery meditation but rather the use of our breath and awareness of our bodies. I found it to be the answer for me (guided meditation felt to whooo hooey for me)... Star breathing technique is awesome because the control of breath helps us to calm ourselves in all situations and the awareness of our body gives way to knowledge of how we react to stress or lack of sleep, etc... Truly a valuable practice!

you seem to have deliberately misinterpreted what was said. there was not claim of curing cancer. the claim was that fasting is thought (by some researchers) to be potentially effective in preventing cancer from arising in the first place.

also, have you ever tried meditation?

Look at Valter Longo's research for a connection between fasting and cancer.

what could possibly be 'scientific backing' for meditation.

Sounds ridiculous to even ask.

This sounds as coming from the totally unscientific and non-experimental cult of "scientism" -- it's basically a pre-baked prejudice about what could and what could not have scientific backing.

One might as well be religious if they don't read scientific literature (which offers tons of studies on meditation) and don't at least keep an open mind and try to verify experimentally their claims.

Not only it doesn't sound "ridiculous to even ask", but there are LOTS of scientific studies on the matter.




If its effects are observable then it can surely be the object of scientific analysis?

>If its effects are observable then it can surely be the object of scientific analysis?

it can't be because all the variables involved cannot be tightly controlled. Same reason why all the Psychology studies have been lately relegated to snake oil status.

That's news for me. Link?

in fact there's a huge amount of research on this topic. try googling it.

so people are meditating for 'benefits', to make more money . seems so counterintuitive.

All those studies are stupid.

>so people are meditating for 'benefits', to make more money . seems so counterintuitive.

People have been meditating for benefits (including more money and better performing at their job etc) for millennia. It's not just for spiritual/religious purposes (and if fact in some cultures those can be mixed as well without any contradiction).

>All those studies are stupid.

Yeah, all those scientists are useless and their universities are full of idiots, nothing like an internet comment to put them in their place.

If you want to prejudicially exclude research, don't claim to speak in favor of science.

those studies are not 'science'. Have you heard of 'replication crisis'[1]? Also see the other top post currently on HN [2]..

And, Yes universities are filled with idiots, egotists and scamsters with their own nefarious motives. How do you explain the absurd 90% hypothesis validation? [3]

you have your own brain to observe and meditate on, why do you need some authority to tell you what to do.

>If you want to prejudicially exclude research, don't claim to speak in favor of science.

People like you who blindly believe anything a supposed authority puts out there in the name of science are real curse to the gift of science.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replication_crisis#Psychology

2. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12185845

3. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal....

>those studies are not 'science'. Have you heard of 'replication crisis'?

Just because there has been a replication crisis doesn't mean you can dismiss all scientific studies willy nilly.

Those are not some Deepak Chopra style BS, they are actual clinical studies (and I've just sent a sample, there are tons). And the "replication crisis" argument doesn't really hold up if independent studies reach similar conclusions (as is the case with a lot of these).

>People like you who blindly believe anything a supposed authority puts out there in the name of science are real curse to the gift of science.

I don't "blindly believe anything a supposed authority puts out there". I respect multiple teams working on a field and coming up with relevant results, and having their papers peer reviewed etc.

I don't use issues like the "replication crisis" to dismiss any study I don't like based on predetermined convictions.

Notice also how your links are irrelevant. We are not talking about Psychology studies but medical clinical studies. So whether "Positive” Results Increase Down the Hierarchy of the Sciences" (as another paper says) is irrelevant, as we're not talking about soft sciences and humanities here.

>We are not talking about Psychology studies but medical clinical studies.

I went to the first reference from your wikipedia link


Conclusion: Most clinical trials on meditation practices are generally characterized by poor methodological quality with significant threats to validity in every major quality domain assessed. Despite a statistically significant improvement in the methodological quality over time, it is imperative that future trials on meditation be rigorous in design, execution, analysis, and the reporting of results.

Second reference from wikipedia


The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness,

Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology

if you're determined not to learn anything then you certainly won't

Question for you and everyone else that recommends fasting: What sort of exercise regimen to you maintain? Mine is fairly active (~5 days per week) and consists of a mix of cardio and strength training (mostly running, climbing, and weights). I feel that any level of fasting would quite negatively impact my performance in all of these.

I don't do the days-long fasts that others do, but usually try and eat something with a relatively low glycemic load about once every 24 hours. Generally that meal comes shortly after getting out of the gym, so my workout is usually after 22-23 hours of not eating.

Exercise regimen is 3-4 days a week of strength training. Usually a moderate pace, 1.0-1.5 hours. Start the day with high-weight/low rep major lifts (deadlift, squat, bench), fill the middle with other high weight/low rep lifts, and towards the end as my energy is tapering off move to about 50% of 1RM and high rep sets of the same major lift until exhausted.

Probably more than you wanted to know. :)

So that all said, I've got the benefit of having maintained a more-or-less consistent workout regimen since before I started fasting and having logged every set along the way. When I started I was waiting for my performance to fall off a cliff... but it never came. My performance has remained steady and continued rising at close enough to the same rate as it was before that I'll call it "unaffected within some margin of error".

Same here. No decrease in performance during fasts and I push myself pretty hard on both cardio and weights. If anything, I feel a little bit better since I tend to be a little more alert and focused during fasts.

> Occasional Fasts

There was a white paper on /r/science about how decreasing amount of sugar one consumes, lowers chances of developing some kinds of cancer (can't find an exact link, something along the lines "less sugar starves cancer"). Pretty interesting, thanks s for sharing!

There's a lot of research coming out about sugar being one of the most unhealthy things one can consume.

Can you describe the basic structure of your 3 day fast? Do you not eat anything for 3 days?

Yes, you don't eat anything, just drink lots of water. You can also begin and end fast with freshly squeezed fruit or vegetable juices, which is important when the fast is longer.

I too am interested in the details. 3 days seems like it would be very difficult!

Any meditation tips? I've gone through multiple fits & starts but I just can't keep my mind from wandering.

I have a few tips. First, change how you look at meditation. Think of it as getting comfortable with being bored, instead of trying to clear your mind of all thought. It might help to count, or to use a mala by moving it through your hands, one bead at a time, and focusing on the sensation of it passing. It might also help to focus on the sensation of the breath entering the body and leaving the body. Some people focus on the very sensation of the air passing over the nostrils, and lips. You might find that it's easiest to focus on the smell of the air, in which case, creating a subtle smell in the room via incense or candles might help.

I would also be very considerate of posture, especially as you are learning. Eventually, the posture you select will become second nature, so it's important that you select one that is not going to cause damage, or pain. I would suggest an active posture - one where you have to focus, in order to keep yourself in the posture would be best. Then, if your posture slips, you'll know it's because your attention is elsewhere, and you can bring yourself back into your body.

Finally (because I have to go, not because I have no more to say) consider doing short length meditation at the start. You want to do 20 minutes, twice a day, but it doesn't have to be all at once, at first. In the morning and evening, set a stop watch, and let it run, until you feel you can do no more. Then subtract a minute or so from that time, and set a timer. For the first week, start the timer, sit with yourself, and when the timer goes off, get up, stretch, move around and do nothing strenuous for about a minute, then sit back down and start again, until you've done the equivalent of 20 minutes. After the first week, increase the timer. Just keep increasing it as you get more comfortable, until you can just sit with yourself for the full 20 consecutive minutes in the morning and evening.

Your mind is supposed to wander. That's what it does.

The key is to not beat yourself up about not being "good" at meditation. When you realize your mind has been wandering, take note of it, return your focus to your breath, and move on.

Count. Count each breath as you do it. When you get to ten, start at one. If you feel your mind wander, start your count at 1 again.

My 80-some year old long-term meditation practitioner says count from 1..4 and visualize the numbers as you breath in and out. He said ten is just too many, but four works rather well!

I do four, and I consider myself lucky if I get to 4 once in the 15 minutes I allot. If I could reliably get to 4 I might try 5.

This. Counting is the checksum. And what ever you do, don't blame yourself. The mind is supposed to work that way - and you are training it to be a more observant of itself.

FWIW: I have been told not to count and to try not to focus on your breathing, as both are distractions.

We use lots of props while learning.

A crutch is good for you as long as you stop using it when you don't need it anymore.

You can tell your mind wandered because you realize you're counting 14, 15, 16...

This may sound simple, but what's worked well for me is to "boomerang" (i.e. return this email again tomorrow morning) myself an email every morning reminding me to meditate for 20 minutes.

It works well with my procrastinating mindset because, even if I miss a day, I never do not boomerang the email to myself. It's important to learn to forgive yourself if you miss a day, which is why it works for me.

I also always zero my inbox which means I can't miss the email.

I haven't been meditating for long, but I prefer to think of it more as an observation of yourself. Just focus on your breath and maybe count. Count how long you breath in and out and keep that number the same, or count the number of breaths; I don't know if it really makes a big difference.

Your mind will wander, don't judge it, it's not good or bad. Just notice that your mind wandered and then focus on your breathing. Keep doing that until your time is up.

You shouldn't meditate with the goal of not letting your mind wander, and noticing your mind wandering isn't a bad thing. Just meditate by deciding to bring back your attention to your breath whenever your mind wanders.

Don't do an app. Get the Tara Brach podcast. I think the lightweight nature of a podcast is MUCH better than a nagging app. :)

I use the Headspace app and it doesn't feel nagging at all. No notifications, no remarks when I miss a day. I've tried a few other programs, books and podcasts and Headspace is the only one I've managed to keep using for more than a month (63 days so far). I also really enjoy the narrator, Andy. He gives a lot of helpful advice that has made me stop worrying if I'm "doing it right." A session where I just can't get my mind to rest isn't wasted, it's a learning experience. Maybe it's the app, or maybe it's because this isn't my 1st (or 2nd or 3rd) attempt at building a habit of meditation, but that idea just recently clicked for me and has greatly improved my enjoyment of meditation.

I'll look into the Tara Brach podcast as well though. More opinions never hurt.

Often all I do is sit on my meditation cushion and count to 60 deep breaths. The guidelines of it often distracts me instead of getting into it. I recommend that tactic after a big, hot cup of tea in the morning. Being near trees helps.

Check the Jose Silva method (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lutmDJtGKPw). It's the most controllable form I've found so far.

Bikram Yoga. I can't live without it even though Bikram the man is an asshole.

It's an open-eyed moving meditation. I love my 90 minutes of tech-free simpleness where I don't think, just react.

I can't recommend trying for 3 days straight enough.

Some people use walking meditation, kundalini yoga, chanting, or other methods that involve movement or action during the meditation. While the point of silent meditation is to get comfortable with just being, rather than doing, for some people repetitive doing is helpful in a similar way: that's why mala beads & the rosary could be considered enduring 'spiritual technologies'.

Try a guided meditation app like Calm or Headspace.

FWIW I find vipasana (just focusing on your breathing) so much more effective than those apps, particularly Headspace. Calm with a little background noise and timer is fine. But with Headspace I don't see how anyone can meditate effectively when the guy is talking to you the entire time. Especially when he counts your breaths occasionally and your counting is out of sync with his.

During sessions, he stops speaking for many minutes, to let you focus on the breath. I found it useful at first, because I saw it as hand-holding. I couldn't focus for very long at the time and this helped.

When I developed more focus, I stopped using Headspace, so I could have longer periods of uninterrupted silence.

Acknowledge that your mind has wondered (maybe say to yourself "thinking") and then don't make a big deal out of it and try to let it go.

Try to only focus your awareness on the part of your body above your eyes. Something that helps is to pretend like you are carrying a basket on your head.

Also look for meditation MeetUps in your area, maybe being in a group will help you.

This group and their app helped me a lot. http://www.10percenthappier.com/

Meditation for skeptics.

Wow, took the words out of my mouth. Mediation has been a game changer for me. Understanding the amount of sleep I need has been a big one as well.

Also, trying to optimise the way I do things / my systems. We all have them, whether we realise it or not. I'm just trying to better get on top of mine: wake -> meditation -> exercise -> breakfast -> office -- etc.

Honest question. How is meditation different from being engrossed with a hobby? Say doing gardening or fishing, and being totally mentally in it. Just wondering..

I've only been doing it for a few months now, so I'm not an expert, or even particularly proficient, haha. But the difference, as I understand it, is practicing the ability to be mindful in any situation.

It's easy for me to feel entirely "in the present moment" when I'm deeply involved in a craft or something. and everything is going nicely. But it doesn't help when I want to start the hobby on a Saturday, but am also too anxious about a deadline next week for work, or when I'm bored waiting in line at the bank, or talking to new people at a bar. And so on.

It's been really helpful learning how to be mindful using what's always available to me. The breath, physical sensations, flow of my own thoughts. I can't always pull out a guitar or sewing kit when my mind starts racing. But (typically), I'll always have my breath.

> it doesn't help when I want to start the hobby on a Saturday, but am also too anxious about a deadline next week for work

Wow I can really relate to that. Mind telling me what you do for meditation and/or mindfulness? Do you treat them separately, or do them train them together in one program. Any app, or something in particular I can follow?

I use the app Headspace. I've tried a lot of different things, and Headspace is the one that "clicked" for me. I don't really know how much of this is because of Headspace, and how much is just because the 5th try is a charm. The narrator is really helpful, and addresses concerns of mine ("is it ok to scratch this itch?") in the audio for the sessions. Some people have complained that this is distracting, but I've found it helpful. It also has an "unguided" option too, but if you only use that, it'd be cheaper to use a stopwatch app.

I'd suggest trying several different ones (probably not at the same time) until you find what works best for you. And give it a longer chance than you might be willing to at first.

It took me more than 30 days to get to where I could spend two minutes focusing on my breath and feelings and feel better and more in control. It's been a little over 2 months now, and I'm starting to notice negative or anxious thoughts as they happen or spiral into more and more negative thoughts.

Just yesterday at our company's quarterly meeting I had to speak briefly and one of my points was about an error caused by a client that delayed my team's project. I was getting very nervous, even though I knew 1) It wasn't my or anyone else in the company's fault. 2) This isn't new news, it's already been solved and management has known about it since the start. 3) All the other teams have some equivalent detail they're sharing, nobody is perfect.

Yet I was still panicking. I always get unnecessarily anxious in situations like that. Yesterday was the first time in my life I realized that rationalizing like that doesn't work, I was still expending the same energy and stress as if I were panicking. But now I'm stressing about those excuses, instead of stressing about the speech. So I just did my best to focus on my breath and whomever was currently speaking. It wasn't the same as trying to make my brain shut up, it was still furiously panicking and rationalizing, but I didn't have to listen and the thoughts didn't have to affect me.

Best of luck!

Mostly what the other replies have said. Personally I've just found everything a little easier to deal with.

Coupling with the meditation, I've also been doing a martial art. Apart from the useful Zen lessons (eg: stop seeing obstacles as obstacles - if you hit things head on, it's a lot harder than flowing around them), it's been equally wonderful for my headspace. 3 times a week for 90 minutes I have to think about something other than work, or life - because I'm rubbish at it and I'll get hurt.

I suspect you'd get a similar benefit from a team sport where you're being relied on and can't let the side down. It puts your head somewhere outside of its usual place. I find the 'space' of that, like meditation, invaluable - especially because life is so busy.

Mindfulness meditation is not unlike that, but the thing you get engrossed in is your entire mental experience: sounds, smells, the feeling of the air on your skin, even your thoughts (though you're supposed to let them go as soon as you notice them). It's a very different feeling than being engrossed in some single thing to the point where you lose track of everything else. It's more like being engrossed in _everything_ to the point that you lose track of all of the noise that's usually going on in your head, and on a good day, even your sense of self.

Also, most forms of meditation are very soothing and tend to get you into a hyper-relaxed state that you don't get from most hobbies, though I'm sure it can happen with some hobbies, like gardening.

Meditation can be aided by repetitive, relatively thoughtless [0], tasks. Fishing and (some) gardening activities would work well for some people.

[0] The task shouldn't require deliberate mental effort on your part. Initially, it may, but eventually it becomes something you can do without consideration. Fold paper cranes for hours and hours. At first you think about it, eventually you're just reaching for the next square and realize you've made a few hundred cranes.

I do both gardening and fishing and can say when I am doing both my mind is definitely not at rest. I am constantly scanning the water, thinking of a different way to retrieve my lure or present my bait. Hobbies are something you are interested in that excite you and I don't think are analogous to meditation.

There are lots of maladaptive tendencies that can go along hobbies, if they are just another form of escapism. Filling your time so you are never alone with your own thoughts is unhealthy over the long term.

But if you can crack walking/standing meditation, things like gardening or endurance exercise can complement rather than hinder your efforts to just be instead of trying to send your mind somewhere else.

If you can do standing meditation then it's a lot harder for someone to 'waste your time', which makes certain social obligations a lot less tense, because you're not resentful about not being able to 'get out' of the situation.

Does that mean that, instead of paying attention to what someone is saying, you are standing, meditating?

Unfortunately I don't have a solution for that particular problem. Forced interactions with no payoff are sticky. Maybe I should try switching the topic to religion or politics?

Same here. It helps me become more present at every single moment. It prevent me from going on autopilot, and things just "happening" by themselves.

One cool tip - you can meditate while running in the morning. That way you can do two useful things at once, and meditation doesn't seem boring.

It's also much easier to stop the thoughts, focus on the present moment, breathing, etc when you are running in a park as opposed to staring at the wall.

I do this whilst swimming for hour in morning. Just empty my mind and go, I find it's a halfway house between sleeping and the start of my working day proper.

Meditation while running sounds fascinating. Can you explain the technique? Any good sources of information online?

Pretty much the same as any other meditation - the goal is to stop your mind from racing and to clear your head, stop thinking.

As you run, you focus on your breathing, or on your body motions, or on the environment around you - whatever makes you feel "present", experiencing the moment around you instead of being in your head. And you just keep running without thinking for some period of time.

Couple more bonuses of meditating while you're exercising:

- You can focus on motions instead of breathing. That way you move better, and it's more fun, and it makes meditation easier.

- You don't need a timer, you can just meditate while running a certain distance. Since you're doing it every day the timing will be pretty much the same, and you aren't subconsciously wondering when the timer is going to stop, you can just focus on enjoying your jogging.

Does meditation have any benefit for people who don't have an internal monologue? As I understand it, meditation helps you to clear the voice in your head, but what if you don't have one?

Meditation slows down your mind. This allows you to become more aware of your thoughts. You start to discover your thought patterns, what you believe about certain things, why you act in a certain way in certain situations.

If you also practice something like loving-kindness (it sounds hippy, but it has scientific backing[1]), it can increase the quality of your relationships.


this is why I like mountain biking. You can't focus on other things when riding as fast as you can through rocks, boulders, and cactus (here in AZ).

> Occasional Fasts. I normally fast from 6pm until noon the next day but I now do one 3 day fast each month. I think this is going to become more and more common as a way to head off cancer in the body.

Lot of Indians fast. the reason is religious but many think the ancient just used religion etc as a tool to ensure their best practices are carried forward to future generations.

I think fasting is pretty interesting. I occasionally challenge myself with a ~24h fast and I think it's probably worthwhile. A three-day fast would be difficult for me socially -- I don't think I could skip consecutive dinners with the family (and attending the meal but not eating is IMO not polite). That said, it sounds appealing.

Could you eat less? Not an absolute fast, but more a minimal dinner. Have a salad and water, instead of whatever the main dish is.

Yeah, good idea.

my doctor friends believe that eating less is the secret to increasing life span

I've heard this before and it makes some sense. Don't know how to reconcile it against my desire to get out of the 17-18 BMI pit I've been in, and put on some healthy muscle (which requires a lot of food).

BMI means little for an individual. As an example, there are several world class athletes with high BMIs; according to the CDC dedinitions, LeBron James is "overweight" with a BMI of 27.5, and Didier Defago (one of the best downhill skiers) has 29 which is bordering on obese (according to the definition).

I'm not a world class athlete. I personally believe BMI is perfectly reasonable for ordinary people. If your BMI is 32, odds are very good it's not because you're actually a competitive powerlifter...

The point is, I'm too skinny, want to put on some muscle for general health, but have to eat a lot to do it.

Resonates with me, especially the importance of sleep. I was very pleased to see on TV here in Costa Rica the other day an advertisement on mental health awareness that explicitly tells people to get their 8 hours!

Diet and exercise have also been things I've been learning very belatedly to take seriously.

I'm currently trying to improve at listening, communicating, and reading instructions properly.

This is a great parody of Silicon Valley.

Did you have to work up to three days? How do you be social on fasting days?

Daily fasting and eating meat, fish and veggies makes my mind much sharper. I can see the 3 day fast improving cognitive performance but I can barely do the 20 hour fast as it is.

My entire body starts to shiver uncontrollably when I don't eat for a day (the energy throughput of my body is crazy throughout a workday), I can't believe it's healthy and productive not to eat for 3 days in a row. I'd even say this is quite dangerous and unproductive advice. I advise everyone reading this not to do multiple days of fasting without consulting a doctor.

Any reason/research why you decided on 3 day fasts?

Fasting has messed up my body. I DO NOT recommend doing this. Please consult a doctor first.

In what way has it messed up your body?

Messed up your body how...?

I imagine not eating for long periods of time may have some negative health consequences, potentially even very serious ones.

what kind of fasting did you do?

Just not eating for 2 days. It would throw of my "rhythm" and I would overeat for days until it balanced out again. Maybe my appetite is larger than most people.

Not a doctor and sample size of one.

What worked for me was resetting the rhythm itself, by under-eating over long periods of time, 2 weeks at least, up to 1-2 months. I keep telling myself hungry is the new normal, and in the long run it becomes the new normal. Under-eating is not even that hard if one goes mostly veggie, that is eat fruits / veggies / eggs / cheese / yoghurt / fish and skip sugar / meat / pasta / bread / rice / deep fried *. Few more tricks: always have a bottle of water nearby, take time to have a meal [15 minutes latency for full signal to propagate to the brain], snack lightly on fresh fruits, veggies and yoghurt along the day [never go crazy hungry].

I can do that during the day. How do you prevent yourself from having midnight snacks? I sometimes "sleep eat" -- Very bad habit that I NEED to spare.

If I'm fiending for late night snacks, it means I should have eaten a proper healthy meal hours before. It's easier to start from 3 proper meals, with fiber and vegetables, and cutting out sugar, and then go from there to skipping meals. If you are still on sugar, low-fiber carbs, and high calorie meals, then it's just going to be really hard to transition to fasting.

To me the transition order is:

Sugar + Simple carbs + High calorie meals -> No sugar + Complex carbs + Fiber + High calorie meals -> Smaller meals + letting yourself get hungry for an hour before you eat -> Skip a meal -> Skip multiple meals

Minimize (if you can) the amount of food you keep in your home. Ensure that what food you keep is healthy.

interesting point, this would also make mindless snacking more difficult

It's not entirely deliberate, more a consequence of my somewhat minimalist approach to life, but I do this and it works. In don't have chips or crackers or sweets or whatever in my home often. Typically specifically for a party or small servings for me. The worst is after a party of it didn't get eaten. But that's not terrible, a day or two of overeating quickly offset by my normal exercise routine and getting back to normal (low) levels of food at home.

That's very interesting.

I have done 3 day fasts and never had that problem, I essentially went right back into my normal eating habits. The first meals after the fast were usually much smaller than the usual meals I would eat.

I practiced vipassana for 30 minutes a day for months. I don't remember what happened in my life but I stopped meditation and haven't gone back to it since. I may have reprioritized my time as daily exercise was already eating away enough time.

I have become more mindful even without practicing meditation anymore so it seems I did pick up a new skill/habit from training.

I think I will give it another try.

definitely getting similar result from fasting. Even though it's not as extreme as yours(16/8 - only eating during 8-hour window in the evening) i also have noticed being more "lively" during the day; might be placebo but it's working out pretty well.

The beginning was pretty difficult but once you're used to it it's nice.

How does one fast for three days?

Simple. Don't eat.

Drink water. Some people will allow juice on a fast.

I find it strange that people allow juice. If the purpose is to get your blood sugar down for a consistent stretch then juice would mess that up. I'd rather it a small high fiber, low sugar snack, like some brown rice with vegetables, than drink an equivalent amount of calories in juice form.

I guess maybe the idea is the juice sugar gets digested quickly and you're back to empty, whereas the rice would stick around. I guess it's a question of whether it's better to go up to a 10 and then back down to a zero, or go to a 4, 3, 2, 1, 0.

I find it strange, too. I think it's more a magical-thinking issue, where juice is "liquid" and thus "water", rather than thinking about the nutritional impact.

I think fasting helps relax your digestive system. By drinking juice, you don't feel out of energy and still get some (many?) of the benefits of fasting.

Don't eat and you forgot a fundamental part of it: tell everyone else you meet that you're fasting.

The first day is hard, the second day is easy, and the third day is also easy, but gets a little harder as you get closer to the point you know you'll be eating again.

It's easier than most are conditioned to believe..

No 3. What procedure do you follow for fasting. Could you elaborate please?

personal experiences mostly match up with this even though I have no scientific evidence to back it up.

I do have a question though, a 3 day fast?!?!?!?! 3 days of no food? I'm assuming you drink water?

Do you drink coffee or use any some of stimulants?

>1) Meditation, I used to think it was something hippies did. I now think its worth 10 IQ points. I honestly can't recommend it enough.

I wish this was true && that there was well compiled evidence that could convince me that this is the case.

Why not just give it a try on your own? Do it for 21 days and don't let yourself have an opinion on it until that stretch of time is done. Then see how you feel and make a decision.

At least in the western Zen tradition, there's a strong element of 'try this and see if it works for you' which I deeply appreciate.

Empirical religion ftw.

Buddha, the first proponent of peer review?

> "Of course you are uncertain, Kalamas. Of course you are in doubt. When there are reasons for doubt, uncertainty is born. So in this case, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering' — then you should abandon them.


Given how complicated the brain - and its interactions with the body - is, and even how many successful medical interventions depend on placebo effect, it seems reasonable that the approach of "try it and see if it works for you" is quite effective.

I think it's just common sense. Sure, we could wait for science to prove XYZ fact about meditation...but if it makes you feel better today, why wait? You might be dead by the time the study comes out.

Sure, but my point is that this works beyond the expectations of "common sense".

The XYZ fact may turn out to actually not generalize. With mental phenomena, often how you got somewhere matters more than the thing itself. For a nice negative example, think about taste - many of us have strong repulsion towards some foods caused by random events in the past. Like, for many years parsley made me nauseous, and it started when as a kid I ate a broth and then threw up. It's a common thing that when you're sick your brain can create associations between how you feel and what you smell or eat. So you end up hating some food not because it's objectively bad, not because everyone else hates it too, but because of a random event in your life that happened to get associated with it.

I treat n=1 experiments as a way to probe such random associations. If you find out that something works for you, it doesn't matter that it isn't scientifically proven. It doesn't matter the effect doesn't generalize. It doesn't matter it works only through association and that this association was created due to you doing the experiment. If it works for you, it works for you.

But to be clear - "it works for me" is the only thing you can say in such case. N=1 experiments are ok, but trying to generalize from them isn't. Saying "it must work because it worked for me" based on such experiment is of course quackery.

What is the end goal? What is supposed to happen?

That's the question I asked before just starting and being consistent (which is absolutely key) about it. The answer was that I learned the mind could operate in a radically different way, and that malleability led to greater understanding of the dynamically different ways others can perceive the world.

But that was just my experience of it after a short time (one month)--it's an empirical process of consciously observing your own mind (and letting things go), which is fascinating, and leads to continuous changes in how you interact with the world and others in it.

Let's guess how much money has been spent investigating the possible benefits of meditation, compared to the research funds available for commercially exploitable therapies, I'm guessing it's probably similar to that spent on sleep, in relative terms, zero, what's the point of a commercial organisation showing something free has health benefits?

Who said it must be a commercial organization? Public universities and non-profit institutes do plenty of research.

Do they, care to cite some research on sleep or meditation?

thanks, useful list, still, if we added up what was spent in the same period on exploitable research are you arguing that it's a non-issue ? I think your list serves as more evidence for my case, these areas are very under researched especially in the light of the good outcomes that the research that has been done offers, no ?

The benefits of meditation have been studied (not the "10 IQ points" bit), are well-documented, and easy to find. The studies have been ramping up recently, too, which is great, and long-overdue.

Please don't get into a mode of thinking that I need evidence for everything. It is free, try it yourself and see it works, if it doing any good for YOU, then it's just immaterial if it was never proved or not worked for anyone else (coz everyone is different, something works for you may not work for them)

I'm saying this with first hand experience, I was skeptical (I think lazy is better word), but I started recently, been on four weeks now and it is working for me, never going back.

How about stopped doing? There was a weekend where I had spent close to 20 hours playing World of Warcraft to farm materials and reagents for the epic engineering mount. After I had finished it, and spent the requisite time showing it off in-game, I looked around and realized that all of thrill of lifelong learning and making things in the "real" world has been subsumed when all my spare time was consumed in a virtual world making vanity things. And it finally hit me how profoundly stupid that was. So I stopped playing WoW.

I'm trying to get myself to enjoy gaming again. I can't seem to just relax and play a game without thinking I'm wasting my time. It's also hard to get the same high in a game that I do when I solve a bug or add a feature to whatever project I'm working on.

I'm going through the same thing. Just bought my son his first console. I tried getting back in to it. No interest. The whole time I just wanted to put down the controller and go "actually" do something.

I can relate to this. I often feel like I should be doing "something", like I'm just wasting my time if I'm not producing something.

However I think it's good to get the balance right. If you're working full time then I think you deserve to give yourself a break when you get home from work and indulge in some escapism. Be that watching a film or playing a game. If not it often leads to burnout.

I think I'd often rather play a game as my mind is being kept partly active and I'm not just blindly staring at the TV. I've recently been playing "The long dark", it's a good way to chill, although it can be tense in parts.... ;-)

I can also relate to this. Especially when I was pushing through a period of unemployment (funemployment). I felt compelled to keep busy and regular hours of simulated work. Felt great until, somewhere between practicing interview problems and actually interviewing, I crashed and burned.

I remember it explicitly. Staring at a problem for almost an hour, not writing anything. Then just kinda saying screw it. I gave myself permission to just stop. Just started playing the first game I could find and sank a weekend into it.

I'm back to where I was before, but that moment is something I won't forget. Gotta give yourself permission, almost the way pomodoro gives you permission to focus completely for x time.

Try a competitive game. Something like hearthstone.

If you don't want to keep getting things done, that is.

I have no interest in a game unless I can demonstrably become very good at it compared to others. So, games like Skyrim (which used to be my favorite genre) are no longer very fun for me. Typically I don't finish them.

Yeah, I can't help but feel like I'm just 'walking the spreadsheet'.

I do find helping my kids to 'save the world' is still enjoyable!

Losing to my 12 y/o daughter at Rocket League (seriously trying my hardest) makes me wonder WTF is wrong with me.

Lol... sometimes I think 12 year old kids should be tasked with figuring out the hardest problems.

That's like losing at counterstrike to a 12yrold. At that point they have the knowledge of how to play and will out-class your reflexes by miles. I don't play competitive twitch games anymore (am in early 30s).

Check out the article "Learning Chess at 40" published by nautilus. It's just like you describe with the author's kid.

"Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time" - John Lennon

There's a lot of research and commentary addressing the benefits of play for adults. I'm having a devil of a time recultivating it for myself too though. I mean, I have hobbies, I have pasttimes. But "play," like it means for a kid, I am not there yet. I hope to get there.

Maybe not the right game? Try Dwarf Fortress. It's the only game that has addicted me past the age of 18.

For me, it is almost the opposite. I can't get into games that are highly "stateful" anymore. I find that the only games I can consistently play for relaxation are games like match-based FPSs that I'd call "stateless". The anxiety about wasting time hits me when I'm looking down at an empire in Civ or a growing base in DF or my stats pane in an RPG. When I can see evidence of how much time I've spent building an imaginary artifact, I inevitably come to the conclusion that I have better things to do.

Maybe another way to look at this is that I can't get into games that feel like projects. Building a base in DF is a project. If I'm going to be working on a project, why not a programming project that will actually create value in my life and others'? With something like Overwatch (team-based FPS with 15-30 minute matches) on the the other hand, it feels more like an activity, like watching a movie or playing a sport. I feel comfortable playing it for two hours one day and picking it back up the next day or the next week or just whenever I want to spend some time relaxing.

I'd never thought of it as stateless / stateful before but this is exactly my feeling, great vocabulary for it.

I still like building things so Age of Empires 2 is perfect for me - there's a lot of base / army building but it's ultimately a short stateless activity.

Get into a skill game, then you can say that you're improving your skills. Something like Go, Starcraft, etc. People are actually impressed even if you're only above average (dan-level Go player/Master or above SC2 player)

Same, any hour long competitive game is too much for me. It feels like a complete waste of time. I only have fun playing games like battlefield now for 20 minutes while listening to music.

MOBAs are pretty stateless, works for me :)

I'm on the other side of that wall. I never got into WoW or any similar game. So last year, my wife and I tried getting into WoW one weekend. It was awful, so utterly boring for both of us.

That said, we did get into Minecraft for a few weeks. It was a fun little way to build a virtual world together. But after an hour straight of playing, I would just get this deep sense of loneliness and depression, and have to turn it off. It's just not reality, and that makes it feel so empty, even when it's full.

Have you tried substituting with board games or tabletop RPG's?

I suggest this because they preserve the "game" aspect and give up a bit of the virtual world feel in exchange for having a strong social aspect (hanging out with friends in real life).

Either one is actually very conducive towards socially drinking with friends while doing something that isn't trying to hear each other at a loud bar.

Board gaming (ahem, euro-gaming) has replaced video games, and I feel better about it since I get to meet new people and converse. Social skills decline when not used!


Yeah we do games as a family, like cards or scattergories or pictionary, that kind of thing. Very fun for us all.

This I still do, get together with friends and play bridge (card game) for a couple of hours or more.

Ha, opposite of me. I've been glued to Pokémon games (SoulSilver, Alpha Sapphire) all day outside of work. I give my personal projects a few hours on the weekend.

To me, programming (on personal projects) is as fun, if not more fun, as games. I've played some great games that I was fully engrossed in, but for the most part I feel like I'd rather spend my time programming with a tangible reward (a program that does something novel) than gaming with a virtual reward (put there by the developers, they can't be entirely new things).

I am the same, these days everytime I try to load up a game I keep thinking I could have spent this time learning something new or building a game myself.

I'm making a game because I have this issue with many games coming out these days too. I actually like games that only last a few hours since they seem to respect my time more than others that pad for length (less "shit work" quests, creative stories given the lack of time for the player to get absorbed into them, etc.)

I thought I was the only one who felt this way. I used to spend many hours playing minecraft but now I just cannot anymore, nor any other games really

I so can relate to this.

It's a hobby, and like any other hobby, it's profoundly stupid. How stupid is it to build model railways? How pointless is it to collect stamps. How dumb is it to fix cars? All "stupid" things we do for pleasure and for accomplishment. I suggest not being so focused on what should be stupid or not, and instead remember that time enjoyed is not time wasted.

I have noticed there seems to be a lot of engineers that think life is an optimization problem, that time spent not working is time wasted. I don't understand it at all, the primary purpose of life should be in pursuit of happiness and joy. I don't get the people that deny themselves joy and happiness in lieu of slaving away with their work.

There are some people that genuinely find joy in their work, I have no problem with those people. They probably have a bit of a problem in their personal life with overdoing it at work, but as long as they genuinely enjoy it I can't fault them.

edit: I should say before somebody jumps down my throat, I'm not saying we shouldn't have to work, or work is so terrible. I'm saying work is usually a means to an end, and you're very lucky if you happen to enjoy what you do to any degree.

> It's a hobby, and like any other hobby, it's profoundly stupid.

I profoundly disagree with your definition of hobby. My "hobby" is writing a science fiction novel. I don't get nearly as much time to do it as what I do for my day job, but I try hard to approach it with the same degree of seriousness that I bring to my work. So far, I don't think I've written anything anyone else would want to read, but I've managed to get to the point where I actually enjoy the process of writing.

Even better, I can sit back after I've written a chapter and say, "yeah, that actually embodies what I wanted to say". There is a very profound satisfaction in being able to do that.

I agree that many things we do in our free time might not have the qualities I describe above. I do such things too. But I would suggest that hobbies can be serious endeavors, and that the very fact that we love to do them makes them powerful.

>>My "hobby" is writing a science fiction novel.

>>There is a very profound satisfaction in being able to do that.

For you its writing, for other its music, collecting stamps, playing games or whatever.

Why do you assume writing > everything else?

I'm not the poster you're responding to, but the difference between something like writing vs. stamp collecting or gaming is the act of creation. You're making something that others can enjoy and that you can look at and appreciate. It can live on when you've passed. When you play a game, you do enjoy the experience, but at the end of it all, you've not created anything of value.

You don't create anything by doing sports, but it is among the most popular and healthy hobbies. You don't create anything by playing chess. Is chess not a hobby?

And if you want to look at it that way, I can say you are leaving a collection of stamps, you are preserving little snippets of history and culture from around the world and through the years. In my case, I might be leaving sick replays of me beating SMW2 World 1 in record time, for other's to watch in awe as I do over other speedrunners' work.

>>You're making something that others can enjoy and that you can look at and appreciate.

If you kind of look at it, everything can preserved and enjoyed by those coming after us. Stamp collection too in many ways is preservation of history. A game of chess with all its moves recorded, or an epic game of tetris.

Or take food for example. No body can taste what you cooked, but you can write down the recipe and ingredients to the very last gram and people can enjoy it forever.

> You're making something that others can enjoy and that you can look at and appreciate. It can live on when you've passed. When you play a game, you do enjoy the experience, but at the end of it all, you've not created anything of value.

So you spend your time creating something for other people to consume, then note that the act of consuming it is useless?

You've enjoyed yourself. That is valuable to you and the people in your life.

>> "How dumb is it to fix cars?"

With that one you're learning skills which will benefit you IRL. Car breaks down? Don't have to pay a mechanic. Skills may applicable to other machines too. Plenty of hobbies have real benefits. Sports for example - health & fitness.

Sure, it may give some practical results, but that's not why we do it (much like sex :)). We do hobbies in our spare time, for their own sake, and for our own gratification. Whether they accomplish anything is totally irrelevant, in my view.

If that's true, I don't have any hobbies. I just have like four careers, most of which I do pro-bono.

I think that hobbies are ones where you're actually stretching your mind, even if they are "pointless". Building model railways and fixing cars can be fun and mentally stimulating for certain people. There's the challenge of learning new things, the satisfaction of making something new. Playing sports takes skill and physical fitness. There's the challenge of competition. Stamp collecting, yeah, I don't understand that, but I'm sure there's something to it. Maybe it's understanding the history and culture around the period and place they were created, or appreciating the artwork. I've never played a video game that felt as good as actually doing something in the real world. My accomplishments were entirely fictional, fleeting and ultimately unsatisfying. Maybe for some people they are legitimately stimulating, but for most people, they're just mindless fun. If they fell like they've wasted their time after doing it, it sound like they got stuck in mindless compulsion more than anything.

> Stamp collecting, yeah, I don't understand that, but I'm sure there's something to it.

> I've never played a video game that felt as good as actually doing something in the real world.

I'm a bit confused as to why you're not applying the same reasoning to video games as you are to stamps - that you don't understand it, but there may be something to it. Note that video games are often one of the cheapest hobbies imaginable, so they have higher reach overall than a lot of hobbies that require considerable prep, access to various resources, other people, money, etc.

There are a lot of very different kinds of video games out there, the variety is staggering. You have competitive games, which are in the same department as sports; you have complex creation games like Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress; you have virtual worlds like World of Warcraft where you can get immersed in the lore or tackle a difficult objective with other people; you have adventure games where you are taken through an interesting tale (ever played Siberia?). I could go on.

I think most people feel that they're wasting time while playing video games because there's a huge social stigma against them still, and because they're hard to connect to other peoples' experiences and expectations.

Sorry for not replying earlier. I never notice when I've got replies on HN. I guess I forgot to mention a big part of it: the original commenter said he felt like he wasted his time playing WoW. If that's how you feel looking back on the game, then that's a problem. But you're right, if someone doesn't feel like they've wasted time on games, then that's great. Most people I've known have felt like it was a waste, but I can see how some people would think differently.

I don't think there's anything profoundly stupid about most hobbies. Some might development a broader, or more useful, set of skills, but that'd be about as far as I'd go.

I had a similar epiphany when I started to learn programming (I was about 27 at the time). I realized I was spending all my time just incrementing numbers in a server.

Since then I've dropped almost all gaming, reducing it to about 4 hours a week of phone games and shifted to doing outdoor activities like running, biking, ect. PokemonGo has been a way to meld the two.

Well... isn't everyone basically spending all their time (working) to just incrementing numbers in a server (bank account balance)?

It scares me a little to acknowledge that despite how much I like the creative parts of being a developer, and love the craft to the point of being a code snob, if I could figure out how to make my hobbies and volunteer work keep a roof over my head, I'd probably stop coding.

Everyone wants to hire me to do a minor variation on the same shit ten other companies are doing, and I'm still having most of the same arguments with people I've been having for 15 years, sometimes using articles and books written 40 years ago.

Go outside, get your hands dirty, and stop chasing your tail.

The difference is that you can accomplish meaningful things in reality with those numbers.

I think it's very presumptuous to tell people what is meaningful and not. I have no interest in yachts or sports cars, something stereotypically bought by rich people. OTOH, I have great pride in my current DF save, and in being good at speedrunning some games, for instance. Neither of this things cost me a penny. What makes this less meaningful that something bought with money?

Yes, thank you!

If one's reasoning is reductive enough, literally any activity can be made "meaningless". I find it's best to ignore a third party's evaluation of how you spend your time in most cases; they have their own biases, their own dreams, their own definition for what success and self actualization means.

That is something that you, only you, the consciousness reading these words, can decide.

The parent comment didn't say anything about sports cars or yachts. Those are potential answers but lowest on list of meaningful things far as I consider. You could be investing in business, learning new skills/hobbies, going interesting places, forming lasting relationships, working on any number of problems in the world around you, working on problems in your life, and so on. Yet, your most meaningful moment is the numbers you've achieved in a virtual box a private company created for profit while they and the rest of the world keep moving on with such meaningful pursuits. Even these companies are rarely loyal to their virtual boxes.

So, certainly do it if you want and enjoy it. Some things do have objectively more impact than others, though, with your save and games probably not existing unless someone stopped playing theirs for a while to create them with expectation of such impact. That you even like it sort of endorses getting out to create or improve something similar as more meaningful.

I could be learning new things or hobbies? Like mastering SMW2, for example? :) Oh sorry, that's not meaningful enough for you, as opposed to investing in businesses (making money for its own sake, I can see just nothing wrong with that), going interesting places (sightseeing, such a productive activity), forming lasting bonds with people (lasting 80 years, tops).

And what makes you think that playing games and doing any of those things are mutually exclusive, I might ask? Is reading and writing mutually exclusive? Stop reading, I say! Is the most meaningful moment of your life reading something someone greater than you has written on a piece of paper or a computer disk for profit? (btw nowhere did I say my most meaningful moment was beating a video game, that would be my master's in physics, so far, but that's beside the point) I mean, to paraphrase, certainly do it if you want and enjoy it. Some things do have objectively more impact than others, though, with your book probably not existing unless someone stopped reading theirs for a while to create them with expectation of such impact. That you even like it sort of endorses getting out to create or improve something similar as more meaningful. Rereading this makes me realize how misguided this point is. I assume that it's all or nothing for you, indulge in a hobby and you are a leech on society, incapable of creation and mooching off the work of greater men. Lol.

"as opposed to investing in businesses (making money for its own sake, I can see just nothing wrong with that)"

Supporting your ability to enjoy games, funding better ones, funding your existing one which will have plug pulled, and any arbitrary thing you want in life. Money is a tool to acquire, create, or continue to use other things. I'm endorsing getting enough of it to do that rather than collecting it for its own sake.

" Like mastering SMW2, for example?"

I don't know what SMW2 is. More like any creative hobby that lets you put things into existence or push your mind/body further. People that start these things are usually glad they did. Programming as a hobby can help you build better games, too. Or at least mod the ones you have. Or port them when they're EOL'd.

"going interesting places (sightseeing, such a productive activity)"

How did you find out about the game you like? Doing the same thing over and over that you did as a kid? Or meeting some new people, going to new sites, and so on?

" forming lasting bonds with people (lasting 80 years, tops)."

8-16x longer than most games. Especially when they go abandonware. The people tend to be more useful in other aspects of your life when facing challenges, too. Something you're not so good at or can't currently handle because life just dropped bombs on you. Easy for your friend. Plus, activates those other parts of the brain and its enjoyment that the games can't. I'm saying that from perspective of an anti-social person who usually doesn't want to maintain relationships but knows they led to many rewarding experiences.

"And what makes you think that playing games and doing any of those things are mutually exclusive, I might ask?"

I don't. You just asked what could be more meaningful. I thought that might be easier than people were making out given specific activities led to what you find to be most meaningful. And had people avoided those activities in favor of what you were doing, those things you love would never exist. Each thing you dismissed above had a hand in bringing it into existence. And for many people's happiness and some's economic benefit rather than one person. Turns out those same things did that for other products, services, causes, and so on. Seems doing or building them is more meaningful given the results are what so many, yourself included, find most meaningful. They amplify people's experiences.

"nowhere did I say my most meaningful moment "

Great pride, it was. Glad your more meaninful moment was something that might create more meaning for you and others, though. Maybe money, too, but I don't know much about the industry surrounding physics degrees. I'd imagine research, teaching, and support roles mainly. Example of support would be domain expertise for simulation software for physical phenomenon.

"more impact than others, though, with your book probably not existing unless someone stopped reading theirs for a while to create them with expectation of such impact. "

Now you're getting it...

"Rereading this makes me realize how misguided this point is."

Then lost it...

"I assume that it's all or nothing for you, indulge in a hobby and you are a leech on society, incapable of creation and mooching off the work of greater men. Lol."

A mix is best. If we look at introvert to extrovert ratio, even nature puts it at about 1 out of 4. The brain was meant to both consume and create. Society's structures give different rewards for each in different contexts. So, doing both in an number of contexts is likely most meaningful pursuit if your aiming for best experience as a human. Modified by differences in how people's brains work obviously with some getting no benefit from activities that benefit others.

Yes! And it's just as sad. I think we will look back on this style of social organization as profoundly wasteful. I would much rather people spent their work time doing something that has intrinsic value beyond the salary.

A similar revelation made me start hating most webdev jobs - after all, all you're doing is writing yet another way of storing bunch of strings in a database.

I stopped using my computer after 9pm, that was hard but it makes a huge difference later when I go to sleep!

I've stopped using my body and brain after 9pm other than for vital functions.

The suggestion of stopping caffeine after 6pm helped me. Yet, I am on my computer late at night with HN and other places waking me up with ideas. So, yeah, that might be a great way to improve sleep. Might have to try it when I can muster up the willpower.

I traded in my MMORPG habit for real life crafting. I always loved building stuff, and its way more gratifying when you can actually see, , touch, and use something you made.

I sell small leather goods (wallets, belts, etc...) as a hobby now. Its been fun so far.

I had a similar moment a few years back when I saw a video of a WoW player quitting [1] that brought me to tears. I felt really bad for a while and slowly stopped playing.

After I learned to program a few years later, I couldn't enjoy gaming any more. I'd try to play an hour or two here and there, and would get bored pretty quickly. But I eventually got nostalgic of those 20 hours nights. I sometimes miss the focus and dedication I had, even if it was just for a game that didn't bring me anything real, the way I felt while being so focused was enjoyable, not the game itself.

I tried to get back into it now that my life is in a much better position. I know the time I would spend on that wouldn't be spent on anything more relevant as it's time to off my brain. One thing I decided though is that I would only play with my wife; if she'd stop playing, I would too. So far, it has worked great, we've been spending more time together with that and usually help each other stop when we've been playing enough.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0n_D_xc1Ug

This happened to me when I was introduced to the game. I was playing my class, working out different angles. Did a bunch of quests and leveling. A friend eventually asked, "Dude, you realize you've been at this for around 8 hours now?" I thought, "No way!" Sure enough.

So, I thought back on all I did in that time. I noticed the missions were all similar with slight variations. The levels, items, and so on gave me little accomplishments but mostly just changed the numbers or face of the enemy I'd fight. There was also enough time lost to make some real money or do something like apps in the real world. Last time I did MMORPG's.

Closest thing I do these days is Battlefield 4 since it improves my hand-eye coordination, assessment, and adaptation skills as I try new weapons. Plus diverse strategies available for various maps. Keep thinking I need to get back to RTS or TBS games to but I just have a console right now.

> I noticed the missions were all similar with slight variations.

Quick disclaimer: I'm primarily talking about WoW here, since that's what I have personal experience with, but most of it should apply in other MMORPGs too, to some degree.

That's absolutely not false, especially as a new player, but at the same time it's not really representative of the "true" experience that people play it for. Yes, questing (especially on low levels) is mostly the same fetch quests over and over with dull combat.

But once (if) you do get past that, there is a much more engaging endgame, where you have 10-30 people (20 at the highest level) who need to execute slightly different strategies, at the same time, more or less flawlessly. Plus, there's all the management stuff in trying to have all those people not get too angry at each other, while hitting their heads against the same boss for hours upon hours, over the course of several days.

So no, they're not flawless, and the levelling process is dull, but it's not really representative of what appeals to us that do play them.

"where you have 10-30 people (20 at the highest level) who need to execute slightly different strategies"

I ignored this possibly because I was playing it solo. Good catch. This is actually similar to the high people get in both RTS and FPS games when coordinating action. A friend and I were doing it last night so fresh on my memory. :) Going to have to redo my analysis of the digital crack aspect to factor this in sometime in the future.

"while hitting their heads against the same boss for hours upon hours, over the course of several days."

That's where I'm already calling it excessive. It's repetitive stuff where you're doing the same things over and over to get an arbitrary number down for ridiculous amount of time. At best, doing it once or twice for an endurance challenge could be a benefit. Past that, this is causing a net loss for the players as alternatives could be happening with better variety, personal improvement, and mini-challenges built in.

For instance, our run on Battlefield 4 last night was a good example. Matchmaking is so broken at our level that deck stayed stacked against us like a boss fight with just two of us vs 2-8 opponents with skill + supporting amateurs. We constantly assessed environment and strategies given we were on land, in water, flying through air, and so on. Buildings varied in whether walls were there, what could get through them, snipers/choppers having line of site, traps, and so on. Weapons were more complex than aim and click with specific wait time, angle, or area of effect. Pro's with vehicles (extra rigged) changed whole dynamic of the above where we had to use weapons, location, pacing, and so on to counter them over period of time with many deaths. The opponents, non being NPC's, had human-level intelligence with a combo of common behaviors and surprising behaviors that were novel + forced us to improve our own tactics/awareness. All of these circumstances and effects hit us over a period of 2 hours. I helped that along by leaving any server that was getting repetitive or too empty.

So, the above experience compared to a mostly-repetitive, MMORPG, boss fight is about a non-comparison in value for the player. I had more depth of gameplay, more novelty, used more of my senses, improved hand-eye coordination, required more strategy, and so on. The benefits of enough such games to me personally & to how I approach situations in future games (tactical strategy & FPS) is clear. Everyone wailing against a boss doing same stuff, it and them, for hours involving mostly some clicks or macros I can't see except moments of hand-eye coordination or improved ability to focus despite boredom or wear. I got those, though.

So, they seem weak for a value proposition vs alternatives. I could see ways to mix that genre with what I described in BF4 run we did. I believe some do already. Meanwhile, playing them sacrifices more experiences than it gains while the supplying organization's numbers continue to go up. :)

hah I had the same experience with the same game and basically haven't played a video game again in like 6 years. Once they perfect VR though...

This hit home close enough. But at least, your virtual activities didn't cripple your following social interactions, in the real world, for the next 8 years.

Exercise, though others have said that.

Personally, I'd say that the thing that changed my life for the best has been Not Giving Tech Support.

When I was a teenager I was kinda miserable because some people abused me for tech support. You know, it's nice to give favors, but at some point you're fed up of reinstalling every computer in your block every 6 months. People stop you on the streets and the first thing they say is "you know I think my computer has a virus...". Yeah, f* you.

I guess not many people in HN do this anymore, probably because we're kinda old, however, if that's your case, learn to say no. It's fine. You can still oblige for some people. However, never do it for free. With close family and some friends, they probably have had more deferences towards you than you can ever repay. For others, just say "I do this for a living, it'll be $XX, at friend's price"

Once I started charging, only a few people took me up on it, and they've always been happy with the result. Those who want tech support for free should give something in return besides a beer "for your inconveniences".

I could expand but I'm afraid it would be an ugly rant. If anybody wants any help on how to say NO, just ask :)

As for me, I stopped giving tech support by saying "I don't use Windows anymore, probably I forgot how to do it; if you want to install Linux, I'm happy to help".

That's exactly what I started saying! They always see me on a Linux desktop, too, so it's quite believable and has some truth. Like carlesfe said, it saves sooooo much time. The ridiculous thing is that people think having tech knowledge means we should spend hours solving their problems but they with their skills sure aren't going to spend hours on my transmission, running my retail operation, planning my estate, & so on. Ridiculous the expectation is so common for tech skills.

It doesn't work. I've been playing that game with Mac for the last eight years, and now I get "and I use a Mac" in my tech support requests.

"It doesn't work."

Mac != Linux

Worked reasonably well for me. My realatives support requests went down to about 1/10. Now they are only the serious requests left, like my backup stopped working.

Removing Windows Administrative Access from everyone's computer's whom I "managed", allowed them to never call me again. Now I just get bugged when they want a new computer! :D Switching everyone to Chromebooks helps too.

Because most of the people around me are on Windows, I simply say "I don't know your operating system, if you were on (GNU/)Linux I could have helped".

I am still in college (not so old) and I can relate to this.

A new variation is "I/My friend have this awesome app idea and we need a IT guy to code it out. Can you help?"

Someone in the family does this whenever I see him. Many ideas have some potential, given you put in enough hours of course ("1% inspiration, 99% perspiration"). So I respond positively and tell him I'm open for helping with it, never to hear about it again. Next birthday party we meet again and there's a new topic.

Lesson learned: just because you're family (or friends) won't mean they're going to uphold their end. Let them work for it first.

Agree. Apart from spouse and kids, the only others that get tech support from me are my parents (hey, they raised me and put me through school) and my in-laws (because I'm not an idiot).

I'm not sure… when I still helped out family I found often I would get blamed for things not working right. Ending that was beneficial.

> when I still helped out family I found often I would get blamed for things not working right.

I used to get this from family too but it's been a lot better in recent years. My advice: install the most recent version of their favorite OS and let them stick with it until the end of extended support (so 10 years or so). My people still have Windows 7, are perfectly fine with it and know what to click and what not to click.

Focusing on the technical side, yeah that’s not a bad approach. Mind you, my Dad’s PC just seems flakey that often… bloody Windoze. It died recently with an error message that meant basically, “you’re hosed, do a rescue install,” after which I pretty much had to reinstall and configure all the apps. Contemplating that, I decided there is probably an install of Linux in his not too distant future. 90% of what he uses should still work - and he is already using VirtualBox for an old business program that only works on XP, so there is precedent.

UltraVNC Single Click[1] makes a pretty good remote support solution too.

I’m seriously considering buying a chromebook, just so I can play with one and figure out how good it might be as a future replacement PC (I’m thinking mainly for my Mum — mind you, I set her up with Linux over five years ago, and it has run so smoothly ever since…)

[1] http://www.uvnc.com/products/uvnc-sc.html

All families are different, and if it was a big source of stress for you, then it sounds like you made the right call.

I don’t get blamed, but whenever my Dad has a problem there is a strong, unspoken pressure for me to drop everything and help him out. Have to work on managing expectations there just like with clients from my freelancing days.

I think I prefer unclogging people's toilets than providing technical support to your average Windows user. Pay is probably better as well

Same here!

Linux support though, I'd stay up all night for someone who's curious enough to use (or try using) Linux without being a computer guru already. Windows people bought a product, they can call the support hotline.

There's the benefit with toilets that they realise it's obviously shit that's the problem....

Related, when I started responding "I don't really have practice fixing computer problems other than the ones I've had." or similar, it's done a fantastic job of getting people to understand that "guy who works with computers" != IT.

> we're kinda old

I'm curious, what do you think the average age on HN is?

Not that I have the facts, but I don't think HN is such an old audience.

I think ~38.

For me, it was 100% weight lifting and dieting (aka: exercise). Pretty much everyone here has mentioned this, but I don't think anyone has really explained just how incredibly life-changing it can really be.

I've been programming since I was a kid. Spending most of my time at a desk eating Doritos and fast food wasn't really the best choice. I spent most of my 'good years' as a young guy being really overweight and hating myself. Being overweight led me to really not like myself, be afraid of going out in public, etc.

I spent a ton of time in my best years feeling lonely, hiding away in my room hacking on code, and generally not enjoying my life 100%.

After years of this, when I turned 25, I realized that if I ever wanted to look good and feel confident, I should probably just get started. I did some research online:

* Read the fitness subreddit. * Read some books about weight lifting and nutrition.

And... I just got started. It took a while to learn how to actually do things right, but over the course of the first year I lost almost exactly 100lbs not knowing what I was doing. The amount of self confidence that gave me was the single best gift I've ever had.

I didn't feel afraid to go out in public anymore, talk to people, give tech talks, or just generally interact with people anymore.

After that, I realized that if I could lose weight, why not take it up a notch? I've always liked the way professional bodbuilders looked -- they look like real life superheros. So, I figured that if I can lose weight, why not take it a bit further and try to get closer to what I'd really like to look like?

So, I started reading about bodybuilding, etc. I realized that it isn't that hard! So over the last 2 years, I've been doing a lot more weightlifting, eating better, etc., and things have been awesome! I feel way more confident, feel happier, have a better private life, etc.

Overall, getting in shape has been, without question, the best time investment of my life.

Here's me a few years back when I got married: http://i.imgur.com/NQ5dskZ.jpg Here's me from a few weeks ago: http://i.imgur.com/k6OzJoS.jpg

Holy hell, that's quite a transformation. Congrats to you.

Yes, that's the biggest thing that's under-stressed about exercise: the benefits are not just physical/health related. Like you, exercise has made me far less averse to interacting with people, and resulted in me being more outgoing, more open meeting new people, and just living a better life as a result.

There's a book called Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain that relates that if exercise came in pill form, it would be plastered across the front page, hailed as the blockbuster drug of the century – purely on cognitive/psychological benefits alone. That really drove it home for me.

Don't just workout for health reasons. Workout for life reasons.

100% Being healthy is great and all, but you know what's REALLY fucking awesome? Feeling confident and not being afraid to just be a person.

I can't tell you how many times I used to sit at home alone feeling bad for myself, vs now: I don't have the same fear. It's so much healthier (mentally) to be proud of yourself and just not worry about the way you look (or feel afraid of being judged by people) constantly.

I couldn't agree more. I think if everyone just got to experience this dramatic difference, even briefly, there'd be no obesity epidemic.

I wonder if the effect is a causal relationship, or just correlated. If you are the type of person that can be disciplined to work out every week, then you may just be able to train your self confidence. It's not that working out gives you it.

Congrats, but there is no fricking way you are natty. At 235lb 15% body fat, and perhaps 5'11" - ish?

Whoever is readying this, don't think you can get that amount of muscle in a natural way so fast. Only Testosterone, trenbolone and other stuff will make you that large.

According to a simple calculator, if you cut down below 8% fat (which is pro body builder territory), you'd still be at above 205lbs, which is no way achievable with normal/simple workouts.

I don't want to chastise you, but to whoever is reading this, make sure to have realistic expectations once you get into weightlifting. Getting below 15% while body fat, while having some decent muscle definition is a goal achievable by everyone. It might take a couple of years for some, but it is realistic. Trying to looking like the models in the fitness magazines, unfortunately is not, as 99% of them take hormones and other performance enhancing drugs.

I'm 5' 11", ~230 lbs, with ~20% body fat and I work out 4x/week at moderate/high intensity and don't eat very well. I ran cross country and played varsity soccer in high school. When I graduated I was 195 lbs and 6-7% body fat. I've never taken any supplements except for the occasional protein shake.

Also, 2 years is a very long time if you consistently behave according to some goal.

In my opinion, there's no need to publicly accuse rdegges of anything but hard work and discipline.

That's easily possible all natural. I have a few friends who look like that, and these people would never experiment with testosterone, etc. I'll add that having good genetics does seem to be a strong component for how quickly one can bulk up though.

>That's easily possible all natural.

I disagree. Research has shown that it is extremely rare for natural bodybuilders to achieve an FFMI (fat-free mass index) of 28 or higher. Based on OP's stats, his FFMI is 27.94. So either OP has godly genetics rivaling those of Mr. America winners, or he is using PEDs. I have no problems with PEDs, but it is disingenuous to claim that his results are purely from diet and exercise.

So sure, OP's physique is possible to achieve naturally, but it is by no means easy (requires winning the genetic lottery).

Source: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/natural_bodybuilding.htm

Uh I went from 305lb to 205lb in a year and at my lowest was around 17% body fat at 205lb 6'1" -- I really think you're overthinking this, it's very possible to look what he looks like in that last photo by just being consistent and caring about what you do.

Nature's on his side too. I do believe if you are prone to gaining a lot of fat you can turn that tendency into muscle instead.

Really? I'd love to learn more.

That simply means he ate a lot of food.

Nobody is prone to it.

I agree. I explain my reasoning which is backed up by research in a separate comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12190732

Honestly, I'd extend this to any serious exercise. I'm not a big fan of weights, but I run a lot and it's profoundly changed things. All the research into +20% cognitive, getting tired a lot less, everything you've read that's been peer reviewed has proven to be true in my case.

The before and after is basically me being completely pumped and half-dead after my 8h vs. me taking a happy stroll out the office at the end of the day, going for a run and still putting in 4 more hours of whatever else I'm doing, easily. With 0 signs of burnout, when I was skirting the line for years before I started cardio.

So exercise, can't stress that one enough.

Was honestly expecting an obese -> skinnyfat runner body transformation. Pleasantly surprised. What's your diet look like nowadays and what are your lifting stats/height if you don't mind sharing? Thanks.

I just posted some diet stuff up above. But I'm 5'11". Lifting stats? Nothing terribly impressive, I'm afraid.

I don't really care about strength much, I try to focus on slow, controlled movements, and being really safe. But, with that said:

- bench: 400lbs

- squat: 315lbs for reps (been a while though, I recently hurt my back)

- deadlift: 585lbs (before I hurt my back, now I don't do them)

If you are truly natty, it would be absurd to call a 400 bench and 585 dead "not terribly impressive".

Btw, crazy gains. You look big in that second pic

Thanks ^^

Oh wow, you weren't joking. I've been lifting weights since I was a teenager. I'd only consider myself an intermediate, but pretty good on strength scales and general fitness. At 180lb and 8%-9% body fat, I was expecting to see someone well behind me in terms of physique. Not so much.

Thanks! I've still got a long way to go towards my goal, but still happy with progress! I'm about 235lbs at ~15% BF as measured by DEXA.

Holy shit, dude. Those guns!

I'm just starting the lifting thing. Not looking for the bodybuilder look, but definitely working toward being more muscular! Great job!

I know you talked mostly about fitness, but what's your diet like these days?

It's not too bad. I cook every Sunday. I eat roughly 6 -> 7 meals per day (every 2.5 hours).

My first and last meal are:

- 50g protein - 16g fats

The rest of my meals are:

- 50g protein - 16g fats - 50g carbs (rice)

That's about it! If you like chicken and rice (like I do), it isn't too bad. On Sundays, I take about 10 hours and 'carb up' as well, just eating lots of sugary low-fat foods: frozen yogurt, candy, etc. Helps keep you sane and balanced.

The 'bro science' of bodybuilding diets is that by eating small, frequent meals, you train your body to digest food faster and use it more effectively after training. It works well for me, so I've stuck with it.

Body builders look like that because they swallow a ton of protein pills and other shit that eventually take a toll in their health. I hope for your sake you're not going down that path.

There's a lot of negative stereotypes out there about bodybuilding, but it can for sure be done in a healthy way!

Protein, etc., is not bad for you: it's just food. Eating 1/2 pound of chicken breast, and drinking a hefty protein shake are roughly equivalent in terms of nutrition. There's nothing wrong (in my opinion) with maintaining a relatively high protein diet, unless you're eating far more than 2g per pound of body weight (at which point you're going to unnecessarily tax your kidneys to break it all down).

Many bodybuilders eat around 1g of protein per pound of body weight, which isn't terribly much. People like me, for instance, eat mainly 'clean' foods: chicken breast, brown rice, green veggies, etc. I get my bloodwork done every few months, and have never had any issues.

Nothing wrong with protein supplements. There are far more dangerous things body builders ingest that you would've been better mentioning.

There are many different types of steroids each with their own protocols, pros, cons, and effects. The type of 'steroid cycle' you run can range from very casual to really complex and dangerous.

You're correct that top level bodybuilders are taking a toll to their health, but running a casual cycle really isn't anything to write home about. Combined with a decent body fat percentage and a few hundred worth of Test-E, you too could look like him.

There is a world of difference between the lifestyles of top level mass monster Olympia bodybuilders and casual steroid users.

Protein pills? Seriously? There is nothing wrong with lifting weights and getting big.

But what about your calves, Degges? We all know why that photo is cut off at the knee. It's OK to feel comfortable with your calves as they are.

Nice work M. muscle :) I should probably do that too, I'm somehow staying skinny despite eating a lot but I know I'm not healthy.

You should just get started! It honestly isn't that hard. If you can write software, you can get into amazing shape =)

You are not a role model (anymore, at least). Don't set up people for failure, or alternatively, an unhealthy lifestyle like yours.

Whatever phisique requires steroids to achieve is literally too big and anyone who is not into bodybuilding will think that.


Wow, rdegges that's very impressive! Congrats on your transformation.

I'm curious what your routine is like. If you don't mind, could you share how many days a week you train/rest as well as how many hours on a good/average day? Thanks.

Thanks! And sure, my routine is pretty standard for a 'bodybuilding' split:

I go to the gym 4x's per week, for roughly 2 hours each.

Day 1: Back & Abs + Cardio Day 2: Chest and Traps + Cardio Day 3: Legs + Cardio Day 4: Shoulders and Arms

For cardio, I do 30 minutes of moderate intensity stuff: elliptical, bike, stairmaster, etc.

For training, I do about 6 exercises per body part, with lots of high intensity (till failure) stuff. It's hard for sure, but works well.

For sleep, I try to get 9 hours per night. This one is really important. Without sleep, the rest doesn't work so well :(

As someone who knew you somewhere in the middle, totally didn't recognize you in the first pic, and the guy in the second pic looked really familiar, then I checked the username!

Do you need special keyboards with those arms? :-)

Yves! Long time no see =) How are you doing these days? <3


Wow, you actually look younger and way more badass. Good job.

That's impressive. Nice job.

Amazing transformation! Well done, sir!

Declining to reveal my previous salary when negotiating a new job.

I ended up with a significantly better salary than they originally offered and never even said a number. Just built a good rapport with the hiring HR rep and agreed that the offered amount would be totally reasonable for [someone else with good experience]. Then I pointed out that I also bring to the role [additional, relevant, and desired experience] and gently asked what they could do to make the number better?. (Then I kept my mouth shut and let them think out loud for a few minutes)

I reckon if you don't do negotiation on a regular basis, learning to keep your mouth shut, as this post says, is the single best and easiest thing you can do to improve your outcomes.

When you ask your question (this one is great btw - what can you do to make that number better), the other side may, subconsciously or (for more experienced negotiators) consciously just say nothing for a while. They're waiting for you to crack - to immediately fear the silence and blurt out something like "if that's possible of course" or "it would really help me, I've got 3 kids to feed". Following up your own ask with an immediate mini-backdown like this - without even making them say their piece - will lose you $.

Just wait. Silently. Lock eyes with them, not aggressively or weirdly, but patiently. After ten seconds (which may feel like 60), if the heat gets too much, raise an eyebrow slightly, clasp your hands, something.

Nothing's guaranteed but if you can do this you'll get better outcomes more often. And that's especially true on larger deals with very elastic prices (like selling an expensive piece of software) than something like your salary which often has real and hard bounds around it.

Keeping one's mouth shut after asking a question is a great skill in general.

When buying used cars, I will often just ask, "Is there anything else I should know about the car?" and then wait.

It's also good for extracting confessions ("What can you tell me about this broken cookie jar, son? [long pause]").

I'm not a dishonest person in general, but I have zero problem with lying about my previous salary in order to gain a negotiating advantage. I feel that it's simply none of their business how much I used to make, and that if they're presumptuous enough to ask then a made-up number is what they deserve.

This. Always add on at least 15-30% if they ask. Has worked very well for me.

Lying about your previous salary may open you up to a lawsuit. It's sort of a grey area, but some consider it fraud.


I think that realistically it would only come up as an issue if you were looking a c-suite position. For joe or jane programmer, I doubt they would go through the effort of taking you to court in the unlikely event that they found out about it.

Except the company that hired you can then request a w2 and see your previous salary

They cant demand that. If anybody tried to pull that I would be outta there.

Saving for FI (Financial Independence)

If I save at my current rate I will achieve FI in 2022. If I had started saving aggressively sooner I would already be FI (I'm in my mid forties). I hate answering to other people and would rather work on my own stuff. FI will get me there.

Read the book The Simple Path to Wealth to understand the process. Or this blog post is a good start: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/02/22/getting-rich-from-...

Another great resource (read the sidebar and FAQ on the right) https://www.reddit.com/r/financialindependence/

Step 1:

Have a job that allows this to be feasible.

You'd be amazed at how many people have achieved Step 1 already, yet who are completely oblivious to the follow-on steps of achieving FI -- or even just saving, living well below your means, etc.

Some people only realize 15 years later, after their industry tanks and they're laid off. Then they think, "If only I'd been more aggressive about saving early... I could 'soft retire' now instead of stressing like mad to find gainful employment." The good news: if you're still in your working prime, you might still have time.

The really shitty situation is folks who hit retirement age and only then realize that their savings are insufficient. Govt welfare won't cover you, and you may be past your prime working years (depending on industry or type of job), and instead of having an enjoyable retirement around grandchildren, you're stuck worrying about how you're going to pay for meds. Then you're just fscked.

TL;DR: Even if you don't think you need it now, your future self will thank you!

Since most everyone can live on less than they have, this is already the case for almost everyone.

Deciding to live permanently at your current level is actually step 1. If you can't do that, then you'll have to increase salary, yep.

what does FI mean in your case -- retirement? i would think that means something different to everyone

The FI half of FIRE is generally not about retirement. (RE = retire early) but rather getting to a point where you have enough money that you don't need to go work a 40-60 hour a week job. Maybe you could retire but choose not to, and instead take long periods of time off and/or work something part time while pursuing other interests.

FI means different things to different people, but generally just means you have some FU money.

So... describe the moment you realized this.

probably May 2014 when I plugged my spending and net worth numbers into https://lab.madfientist.com/ and it came back with: 9 yrs until FI

I had always been a guy who spends less than he makes but that kicked my ass into gear.

here's similar calculators without needing a sign-in: http://mustachecalc.com

I like the default assumed 7% interest

That's pretty standard as the assumed interest rate for investing in index funds over a long period.

The figure of long-term 7% real returns is accurate assuming a 60-40 stock bond portfolio, averaged over around 100 years of US stock market. This estimate does not include the information about the current over or under valuation of the stock.

However, if you start investing now, in 2016, not at some average starting time in the past 100 years, note that the US stock market is over-valued according to the CAPE metric. As well as average real returns of 7%, historical data also makes a strong case for CAPE valuation being a good predictor of expected market returns over the following 10 years.

If your long-term forecast takes the additional information of the current over-valuation of the US stock market into account, the 10-year forecast of expected real returns for a 60-40 stock bond portfolio is roughly 4-4.5%.

One fairly obvious way to mitigate this might be to over-weight your portfolio to focus on stocks that are currently regarded as under valued by the CAPE metric instead of simply investing according to current market capitalization weights.

Further details in this article from 2012 (things look slighly more over-valued 4 years later): http://www.researchaffiliates.com/Production%20content%20lib...

That's a moment I wish I could relate to ;)

I find it really reassuring to see you saying that while in you mid-40s. Due to a series of stupid financial decisions in my late twenties I'd kind of given up on the thought of doing anything much more than getting by, guess I should do some reading and get that sorted.

Writing programs that people actually use.

I was a hobbyist programmer for a long time. Then my father passed away, and I went through his computer and saw all these projects that would never see the light of day. That gave me the motivation to choose one project and see it through until it was good enough to have actual users. Programming is much more satisfying and meaningful now.

Do not overlook this comment. Between a flood destroying all of my physical property, a minor health-scare, a few far-too-early deaths in my friends and family, and having a kid, the concept of my own mortality is now firmly established. I started thinking about the few things I did have, and who would take them. I realized the vast majority of my "stuff" is parts and code for nascent projects. There are a lot of them. And they will get thrown away. They are valueless to anyone else.

So to me that means that I need to focus and do one thing at a time.

We are a sum of our parts and I probably wouldn't have as great of an appreciation for the time I have left if I hadn't wasted so much time. I still get a lot of time to code, but damn, my single 20s were a whole different world.

After supporting a side project that had hundreds of users, I was actually relieved to go back to projects that had at most only a handful of users. Support requests and demands for bug fixes can get tiring if you don't have an apparatus to help control and triage them.

I can understand how you feel. I made a chrome extension for fun and one of the user claims my extension has malicious tracking code and ads injector out of the blue (perhaps he got the malware from other extension and blame it on mine). Way to kill motivation :/

Did you finish that project yet? If so, would you mind sharing it?

It took two pivots to find a project I could "finish". I've been a math and science teacher for a long time, so my strongest projects are education-related. I spoke about a project that would allow people to write and maintain education standards on an open platform. People were really interested in that project, and it led to an invitation to write a book for No Starch Press. I outlined an intro Python book, and the proposal was accepted.

I spent two years writing, and Python Crash Course was published last fall. It's been really well received, which is tremendously satisfying. I've enjoyed the steady stream of emails from readers since it was published. Finishing the book has opened a number of doors, and it's fun to be working on a second career at this point. I like the mix of programming and writing.

No Starch Press page: https://www.nostarch.com/pythoncrashcourse

Amazon: amazon.com/Python-Crash-Course-Project-Based-Introduction/dp/1593276036/

I just finished reading your book. Too many programming books focus on answering "how does this work?" I like your book because it focuses just as much on answering "what can I use this for?". Good work and congratulations on having it published!

this reminds me of the "what makes work meaningful" thread on hn a few days ago! https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12177747

Switching from Python2 to Python3. I never had a strong preference for either (most of what I write are short, throwaway scripts), so just stuck with Python2 out of habit. After implementing a basic static site generator, seeing it explode when I put "naïve" in the database, and then discovering the awkwardness of using Unicode in Python2, I decided to port it over to Python3. Using Unicode by default was a huge advantage.

Interesting, opposite experience here. My life became much easier when I decided to start new projects in python2 rather than starting under 3 and switching back in frustration after fighting with 2to3 for hours at a time. Even now I think there's enough libraries that just don't support 3 to make a case for using 2 as a rule (I do mostly machine learning/optimisation).

1. Good diet, exercise, and generally taking care of my health. Seriously, this should be the top priority, if you know that you're being stupid about how you treat your body - fix it as soon as possible.

2. Writing regularly(fiction or nonfiction). I think it's one of the most awesome skills you can develop, and the younger you are when you start practicing - the easier it will be. Just create a blog, and try to regularly post something valuable there. It's truly awesome, in so many ways, and the longer you keep doing it - the more awesome it gets.

3. Reading and information diet. Trying to minimize inane internet browsing, news, social media, and maximize the healthy information that I consume. Audiobooks are the best thing ever. Enjoyable and satisfying to listen to, and incredibly valuable. Just get in a habit of reading/listening, and you will soon learn a massive amount of great information.

I wrote a little piece (http://www.nikitavoloboev.xyz/post/news/) on my approach to reading and information diet.

The way I do it is just by blocking all the websites that I tend to lose my focus on and have only two times in the day when I can visit these sites to get all the information I need.

p.s. it's really strange that hacker news doesn't support sharing of markdown links :(

This is really great. I use the Pomodoro Method and only check distracting sites in between, but maybe I need to be even stricter and limit it to 2x/day (considering I'm wasting time right now).

I think I'm in the same boat. Maybe you need to pick better rewards for your breaks. I've really been trying to focus on rewards that are better for long term than short. Getting a dopamine rush is definitely short and without much benefit, it's an addiction...

I personally prefer cold turkey, but it's hard. It's probably better to pick something in between. I.e. something that you can see fairly quick results to. I.e. browsing reddit gives you extremely quick results. Maybe learning a skill like cooking or writing and tracking progress.

Regarding #3 do you have designated times that you read, etc? I find that I end up spending a lot of little chunks on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and HN when something is compiling or deploying or starting to run. I keep saying I'm going to stop checking all of these inane things, but I always fall back into it with these 5 min chunks where it would be hard to do something else.

HN has a fantastic no-procrastination mode(enabled in settings), it locks you out after 20 minutes of browsing, for the next 3 hours, it really helps. Since I don't feel like fb/twitter are adding anything to my life, I just blocked them in my router. I still end up there occassionally, but it's not an addiction. I still do spend too much time on reddit, but I'm trying avoid it as well. I'm getting better at it, but slowly. It's mostly a matter of my brain gradually comprehending that it's a pretty joyless activity that adds very little to my life.

I don't have a designated time for reading, I'm just trying to avoid the "bad" kinds of information, and since my brain keeps craving it, audiobooks end up being the best way to satisfy it.

Thanks these are great ideas.

I've found that logging off of Twitter and Facebook make a difference for me. My password is in a password manager so that adds yet another step. Anything to break the "muscle memory" and habit of reaching for a procrastination fix.

Yea, good ideas definitely. I try this but I end up reading the twitter home page, lol. Maybe I will try blocking them using /etc/hosts

To point 3, I've built a playlist of podcasts that I enjoy. A good way to stay up to date on current events and get different points of view.

If you like listening to your news instead of reading it, you would probably like something I've been working on: https://narro.co

That's neat, I've bookmarked it for now, and will have to find some print to run through it.

Maybe you could share the playlist you created? If anybody has suggestions about good podcast, please share them :)

I used to have more, but have dropped a bunch to keep it sustainiable.

Broken into financial and non-financial ones from another thread:

Listing my financial ones:


Marketplace weekend

Radical Personal Finance

Slate Money


Planet Money

Non-financial ones:

Parent Savers

Intelligence Squared

Intelligence Squared US

HBR Ideacast



Common Sense with Dan Carlin

Dan Carlin's Hardcore History

NPR Politics

The Economist Radio

Stuff You should Know

99% Invisible

My favorite podcast is Harmontown. It is an incredibly brilliant improv comedy by Dan Harmon(creator of the tv shows Community and Rick and Morty). This guy is a genius, I highly recommend to listen to this show.

I maintain a list of my past, present, and future podcast subscriptions on my personal site: http://www.andjosh.com/lists/podcast/

Hope it helps.

I like them all, I just recently figured out #2. I will add: writing about what you are doing/learning is a great test of weather or not you ACTUALLY understand it. Can you communicate it in an intelligent manner? No? Go back and figure out what you don't know.

I sometimes feel like I spent half of my working time writing down notes. I find having a buffer opened to write my thoughts down to be helpful in maintaining focus. At this point I'm often unable to get through some harder tasks at work without doing that.

That said, I still haven't figured out whether I've found a way to focus better, or whether I handicapped myself by unlearning the ability to think without writing things down.

Every time I start seriously exercising this hits in about week ~4. Sadly, I only generally keep it up for 6 months before falling back to old habits.

Professionally: email lists. If you have any reason to have a blog, you should have an email list. It surfaces the identities of the people who are actually interested in what you have to say, and ties people to you much, much tighter than "Oh yeah, that thing you wrote in 2011 that I read, that was a cool thing."

Businesswise: man, so many things could go here. How about "Put our sales process in a flowchart and execute from the flowchart, not from I'm-smart-and-can-extemporize-in-real-time. Adjust flowchart as required." Relatedly: answer common objections once, offline. Cache the answers. Repeat back from the cache, not from "best halfway decent thing you can remember to say in real time."

« Relatedly: answer common objections once, offline. Cache the answers. Repeat back from the cache, not from "best halfway decent thing you can remember to say in real time."»

Can you elaborate on that? I'm wondering to what situation you are referring to and what kind of objections you mean here?

Sales objections. "Your software sounds good but $199 a month is high." "recite answer we have prepared for this thing we hear 3 times a day"

Ah thx for the clarification. That makes sense indeed.

Surely you've seen it here on HN. People will find a way to bitch about anything. Criticism is a signal that people care about the issue you're trying to address, but you've just failed to communicate your values correctly. Turn that criticism into an opportunity to correct that failing.

Applies pretty much to anything. Basically, it's a self-maintained FAQ, and you realise that the first law of the FAQ is that people won't read the FAQ (well, some do), but you can point them there when they ask a FAQd question.

I've approached this variously and at different times on stuff I blog, mailing lists, or just maintaining my own offline factoid / response collections. A filebase you can quickly query and recall is good, my current subreddit is useful as I can keyword search it and pull up articles for reference in other discussions.

A real key is that not only do you not waste time on repeated answers, but you get the opportunity to improve your responses. If information changes, or you find a better reference, or you see (or come up with) a better argument or example, you can include it.

I've applied this in programming, hobbies, economics, politics, and other fields.

> email lists

Yeah, these can be great. Don't, however, be aggressive about it. Nothing turns me off faster than being a paragraph into something to have the page dim and an overlay appear asking me to sign up for email updates.

Also, if you have a blog, offer an RSS feed.

The reason people do this is that the list gets bigger far faster.

Don't make decisions on aesthetic sensibilities alone.

I think the opposite approach is better. One list I'm on unsubscribes you every year and if you want to keep getting it, you have to resubscribe.

Another has tracking and if I don't read the email, after a few months I'm unsubscribed.

Bigger isn't necessarily better.

woah. What kind of lists are those? How do you benefit from having fewer readers?

If you want better luck making the exercise (or any other) habit stick better. Try one or more of the following:

* reduce the habit down to a ridiculously small subset of the habit. Eg. "I will floss every day" becomes "I will floss my upper, front two teeth". Or "I will exercise every day" becomes "I will change into my exercise clothes and step out my front door.". You don't have to floss all your teeth... just one. You don't have to actually exercise, just change and step outside

* put the habit trigger (your floss, your running shoes, whatever) where you have to trip over them during your regular routine. Eg. keep your exercise clothes on the chair where you sit to use your laptop or watch your tv

* put up a calendar where you have to see it every day (like at the dining table) and a red marker on a string (so you can't "lose" it) and make a Seinfeld chain

* enlist the aid of your family and friends. "Spouse... I'm doing this thing that's hard for me. I need you help. Please help me. And let's have a reward... if I [perform habit] for [reasonable time period... say daily for 6 weeks] I will take you to (or make it possible for you to) do [some activity spouse likes but doesn't get to do often]"

* have a big reward to work towards, but also lots of little rewards along the way to reenforce the good behaviour. Just make sure they don't undercut the habit

* make a consequence for failure. Something that won't really hurt you but will definitely sting. Make sure your friends and family know about it so you feel social pressure to go through it. "If I break the chain more than twice, I will publicly donate $1000 to [political party that I hate]... and the money will come from my budget for [hobby I love]"

* remove triggers for the habit you want to replace. Eg. If you want to eat healthy, then remove all non-healthy food from your home... don't hide it, don't put it somewhere out of reach so it will be inconvenient... get rid of it completely

* don't give yourself any wiggle room. Make your rules absolute. If you think you need an out (eg. might need to break $diet_plan due to business dinner) then explicitly give the authority to someone you trust and who has an interest in your overall success. Eg "I will strictly follow $diet_plan. My cheat day is Saturday when I can also eat [list]. Any other time, $spouse (or $friend) has to agree. Even so, I will stay within the following limits: $list"

* Plan out in advance how you will handle the curveballs that life throws at you (especially important to learn from the ones that caught you the previous times). How will you respond to $X? ... Decide now instead of hoping that future you will be able to detangle from the stress of $X enough to think clearly

* Take on only one habit at a time. Start the next improvement only after the current one is firmly entrenched. If you have more then one, choose the one that makes the other ones easier

TL;DR; Assume you will be weak. Assume that it will be hard to walk the path of $good_habit and fall back into $bad_habit. Do everything you can now to set future you up for success by removing decisions, removing temptations, getting help from others, and making it more painful/embarrassing to give up than it is to simply do the new habit.

That sounds very similar to BJ Fogg's tiny habit's program. He adds in the idea of tiny celebrations and doesn't talk much about consequences or including other people. But he runs a free email program nearly every week that you might be interested in. http://tinyhabits.com/

Great tips - I especially loved the 4th one. Thanks for writing it up.

If you have any reason to have a blog, you should have an email list.

Is it better to write posts for a blog than an email list, then? I feel it's better for someone relatively unknown to start out with a blog, then perhaps switch to a mailing list when you're better known. (Case(s) in point: you, Jason Calacanis, etc.)

It doesn't have to be an either-or thing. Use the blog to collect emails, then send occasional announcements / links or particularly high-quality content via the email list.

Hey Patrick, I posted this on another thread, but try focusing on flexibility first. Strength will come later. You can pretty much always stretch and will start seeing feedback. If you get into a routine, you will feel MUCH better and more alive.

Click through for my last comment.

This is very good advice. I've had trouble with flexibility for as long as I can remember. I've recently started some light exercise again and including yoga for just 5 to 10 min has made an enormous difference.

I'm currently at that 6 month point in my exercise program for about the 5th time. Anybody have any hints for pushing through it?

For me, seeing progress towards my goals is very helpful. This can be snapping a photo once/week in a mirror, recording your lifting progress, etc.

Another big aspect is sustainability (just like with your work life). You can make yourself train really hard for 2 hour workouts, 6 days a week and see massive progress, but once the progress starts to plateau it will be very difficult to stay motivated if your workouts aren't actually enjoyable. A good workout partner will give a lot of encouragement and enjoyment out of workouts.

Another option is to do activities that you find inherently fun - join a rec sports league, take up cycling, play racquetball, etc. Rather than zone out playing video games or watching TV, put on your headphones and go for a hike. Variety is a good thing.

What works for me is exercise that is also really fun (I skateboard).

What's your motivation for exercising? If it's for its own sake, or just yourself, it can be very hard to maintain (my gazillion attempts at starting in the past demonstrate this).

Find something to exercise for. It's not: I want to exercise for me. It's not: I want to exercise to exercise. It's: I want to exercise to reduce my cholesterol so I live past 50. I want to exercise so I can participate more fully in (rec league sport, martial art, hiking), and not be the slow guy that gets gassed after 5 minutes. I want to exercise so I can keep my weight under 200lbs (creeping back up, but that was adding in a strength routine so good weight, waist is still slim). It can be vanity. It can be to take care of someone (ever had a sick or injured friend or family member and been unable to help them move? It's not a pleasant feeling, they need help and you're there but can't offer it.).

Someone else suggested below to get a personal trainer just to get over the hump. Alternately, schedule firm dates to exercise with someone else as a change of pace.

What happens in week 4?

His “why didn't I start doing this sooner” moment.

1) using git (or source control, more generally). One day, I figured all the devs (most better than me) around me were using source control. I asked a few why, and why I should use it. Now I realize I was treading a dangerous path before using git.

2) using the command line freely (ie : not being an expert, but being able to use it a bit and automate some tasks). At some point, I maintained several apps at once, and it became too much of a burden to do the builds myself and install it one people devices several times a day, every day, so I decided to use a CI tool (Jenkins). To do the builds, I had to learn how to do everything in command line, and that's how I got started (now I am able to handle my own server and do some simple sysadmin).

Since I have an IT degree, I blame my school for not teaching me both of them, which I picked up after graduating: not mandating source control is to my eyes a big failure, and while I had some Unix courses, they never taught me WHY I should take the time to learn the command-line (and thus, I didn't).

The `git` thing is huge for me, too. It kills me thinking back to all those CS homework assignments where I had a build working, but then broke it adding the next feature. Spend the next 4 hours frantically Undo'ing and copy-and-pasting from "copied folder" backups. That's no way to work. Source Control should be taught on day 1 of any CS class.

Goodness me... I've had discussions about this with local folks, and - it's all over the map.

I've had people with CS degrees confidently tell me all this stuff is taught - it's part of their classes from day one, and they know all that like the back of their hand. But only a few seem to walk the walk - others blank out on basic questions. Others from local community college "web tech" programs mostly don't even know what I'm talking about.

Documenting code, knowing how to document your regular activity in such a way that other team members and management have a clue what you're doing, beyond code comments. Decent commit messages, using an issue tracking system, ideally some project management tool, etc.

While many dev problems do stem from actual technical issues, far too many I see stem from poor communication between the team members and the external clients/stakeholders. Few devs, especially younger ones, have any clue as to how important those skills are, over and above the raw dev skills.

For #1+#2-- I'm also a convert, which is sadly still not as prevalent in my field (computational science) as it should be.

I always tell people: its a good 10% extra overhead you add to a project during design to be careful with regression testing and source control, and that is paid back many times the first time you avoid a dangerous bug or bad tarball that goes undetected for 3 months.

Reducing my carbohydrate intake, limiting workouts to 20 high intensity minutes, practicing better sleep hygiene, asking more questions and arguing less, taking vitamin D supplements, setting limits on gifts and travel, avoiding alcohol and limiting to 3 drinks maximum on any given night, cutting my own hair, buying rental property, realizing that absent mindedness is a symptom of poor planning, focusing on problems that matter, asking for help when I am guessing for solutions instead of working towards them, practicing empathy, abandoning black and white ideologies, setting clear limits with family, time-boxing HN and internet activities.

Could you please expand on "realizing that absent mindedness is a symptom of poor plannning"? Also limiting gifts and travel?

The problem with absent mindedness is that is it dismissed as just part of one's personality. Being an absent minded professor is almost a badge of honor. "It isn't my fault that I have such a brilliant mind that it is exclusively focused on important matters". I missed work meetings (people would just call me), I forgot final exams in college, I'd walk out of my house leaving the door wide open. When I forgot things that were important to others, it caused them pain and burden. But I dismissed it as "not my fault" because "I have a bad memory" or "I am always thinking about more important things and most people just can't relate".

Having a bad memory is easily remedied using notes, day planner (look at it each morning), smart phone apps, habits, etc. Using these tools will declutter your mind and inherently make you less absent minded. I have a fantastic memory now. And when I find my old ways creeping up (usually because I am short on-time or moving too fast) I immediately remedy it with planning.

Ultimately being absent minded implies "I don't care". I don't care enough to write things down or plan, or who I burden. If you think of it that way then you are more likely to improve. And if you are enabling someone who is absent minded, please stop. Tell them it isn't a symptom of brilliance or a genetic quirk. Every one has a smartphone. So it is a problem of not caring, lack of empathy, and irresponsibility.

As for gifts and travel, these are the major reason people fail to save enough money. If you are going to help someone in need, set a limit before you start helping. I've seen people self-destruct their high-paying careers because they felt too guilty to set limits. But without the high-paying job they can finally say no, without guilt.

Finally, you should travel because it makes you happy. Every year people joke that the holidays with the family involves getting the flu and intense family fights. If you are having this problem, explain that next year you won't travel if anyone in the house has a cold or until you personally establish habits that reduce your susceptibility to colds. When a fight gets out of control with your remote family explain that you might not visit next year until we can learn to be more civil. Establish a boundaries but also lower them once you as you build trust and respect.

Hope this helped.

The odd one out here is cutting your own hair, which seems like a very minor choice (you can usually find a decent haircut for $15-30), especially since you do it so rarely. Do you have an explanation for why this is significant, or why you bundle it with a set of life decisions that arguably look much larger?

Bit late to the party, but for me (not OP), deciding to cut my own hair was about rejecting perfectionism and learning something new. The money saving is a relatively minor. I get to sit in my bathroom for an hour or two and think.

I'm actually happier overall with my hair for two reasons: 1) barbers never completely did what I wanted, 2) I cut my hair more often (2-3 weeks)

Don't disagree with a gift limit, but the travel note probably deserves clarification. If we're not living to experience things (including the world around us), what are we living for?

Learning Python! I've been a C#/Windows developer for years. I then switched to Ruby, which for some reason inevitably means you switch to a shiny mac, and then your work paradigm changes revolving around the command line.

One day a quick task came up, and I decided to hack it out. The only library I could find was a python library, so that's what I used... and it was so quick to get something. 10 lines later my boring task was done. Impressed, I started looking for other things to put this new super power of mine to work, and it's been spiraling out of control. I still use the other languages I know for the majority of my work, but things I might have just never done because I wouldn't have had time are now getting done. It's so great to get things done.

To the parent, and all the siblings of this comment:

If you're fast/productive in C# and you're looking for a good way to accomplish quick tasks or experiment, LINQPad (http://www.linqpad.net/) will become your best friend very quickly. It would probably be faster to list the things I don't use it for than the things I do. The premium license is worth every cent.

Python is so great for getting small tasks done in less than 30 lines of code that would take 5-10 times as much code in most other languages. I wish I had learned it earlier too. Still my favorite language to code without an IDE (C# is pretty great as long as you're in Visual Studio).

I remember when I first learnt Python. It seemed so similar to the pseudocode that I was taught to write first when I was working on a problem. As a result, I will often prototype an algorithm first in Python before I try it in something else.

I wish visual studio wasn't a requirement sometimes for writing C# - although it makes make it a decent experience.

Well, it isn't. But you need to have autocomplete for a better experience.

There's Xamarin and other IDEs as well (I'm sure there's an Eclipse plugin but I wouldn't go there)

There's Project Rider in the making.

Xamarin Studio - based on my experience from about 4 months ago - is beyond awful at the moment

Visual Studio Code now has IntelliSense for C#[1]. I'm just starting with Python. Code supports it as well[2].



Bah! IDE's seem always to be stifling, and they create complicated projects that are not readily usable outside of the IDE. For instance I often need to build software on a server, and naturally do not wish to install some enormous program to accomplish this. I don't use Eclipse for Java or Visual Studio for C#. I did not use the Racket IDE when I was writing a lot of Scheme code. I do like the new Visual Studio Code editor however. Caveman that I am, I use plain old makefiles.

My breaking point came almost a decade ago, but it was a similar story. I tried ruby out of frustration, and in a single afternoon as a brand new ruby developer replaced a week's worth of date parsing code written in c++. Easy integrations of regex, a repl, nice text parsing, etc. I've never looked back. The only downside is the rest of the world discovered ruby and python so I can no longer just be a 10x developer by not using windows/c++/mfc.

These stories are great. Java dev here. I love that you can do almost anything with it but this is such a strong case for deciding on Python as my second language.

This is good to hear - I recently graduated and took a C#/.NET job (which I enjoy)...but Python and CLI work always is more enjoyable for me than the MS stack. A big worry of mine is not being able to switch between languages, and getting ~stuck~ with one.

I'm a C# developer at the moment, but I use Python at work for pretty much anything regarding parsing or file manipulation that I need to do, or to hack out a quick proof of concept.

I wrote a client/server crypto system on Windows. The client was in C, the server code in Python. The Python code took maybe 5% of the time for a similar amount of functionality as in the client. No discernible performance impact from using Python. C was not in of itself a bottleneck in this case, rather the complexity of the Windows crypto API was.

Listening to other people more. I'm the youngest of six children, and it's hard for me to get a word in edgewise when I'm at home.

Then one day I realised that women thought I was sexist and men thought I was an asshole because I dominated the conversation. I'm a grown man and don't need to take advantage of every opportunity to speak.

Leaving aside the gender politics because that can be controversial on Hacker News, I heartily agree that listening more is beneficial. It can be extended as a philosophy. Reading more and publishing less — though not necessarily writing less. Feeling more and judging less. (Please don't be pedantic about this, anyone; you know what I mean.) Giving other people the space to teach you can be a wonderful experience.

Walking alone in the woods. I only started doing this regularly a few years ago, and although I do not regret how I spent my time previously, I instantly realized that I had been missing out on something wonderful.

Whenever I take a walk, even if it is a place I have been to dozens of times, I always find something interesting that I hadn't seen, heard, or noticed before. I have literally never gone on a walk and later wished I hadn't. I spend a lot of time alone anyway but there is a huge difference between being surrounded by a static, simple rectilinear enclosure and being surrounded by a living, breathing dynamic ecosystem. It is incredibly soothing. I do not regularly meditate, but I will often find myself sitting quietly in one spot outside and letting the sights and sounds wash over me along with the thoughts and feelings they evoke.

Seeing a psychiatrist to be diagnosed with AD/HD and, later due to life circumstances, depression and anxiety.

Seeing a developmental pediatrician for my son when he was younger to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Seeing a rheumatologist to discuss ramifications of the HLA-B27 gene and the family history of spondylarthropathies.

What's the common thread?

See a doctor when you have any health concerns, physical or mental, no matter what others may tell you about it being a waste of time. And not Dr. Google, M.D., but a doctor that you trust. Google their credentials, sure, but don't google a diagnosis.

How do you find a doctor who you trust?

Mine was making sourdough bread. I had no idea you could catch wild yeast in your house and use it to make amazing loaves of leavened bread with just flour, water, salt and captured yeast.

I haven't had store-bought bread for 6 months, and each loaf I wonder why I didn't know about this earlier! (Here's a good starter on making a starter! http://www.theclevercarrot.com/2014/01/sourdough-bread-a-beg...)

Stopped playing computer games. I played Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone a lot. Like almost every evening when I had nothing else to do. I noticed over time two things:

First, I can't play such games in a non-competitive way. While some seem to play Hearthstone for fun, I play to win and I want to figure out how to do so.

This leads me to second: Ultimately, for an hour's worth of gaming time, I had a few feel-good moments and the rest was emotionally stressful. I hated the luck of Hearthstone, I hated random assholes in Heroes of the Storm who'd destroy the game.

When I realized that my emotions were determined by a random number generator I had no control over (matches and card draws), I finally decided to quit playing games for 30 days. After this month, I didn't really miss anything, used the free time to do other things and removed the Windows Bootcamp partition of my Mac with all games and never looked back.

A few weeks back, I played Hotline Miami 2. A single player game. It was okay, didn't waste endless hours of my time and had a definite end – not like multiplayer games where there is no end. But single player games won't cut it for me anyways and haven't for a long time already. I think they're mostly boring.

Just a heads-up, but if you ever take interest in card games again, I'd recommend giving Magic: The Gathering a try.


• There are no cards with the words "random" on them

• Of the cards you draw, you can mulligan several times to get a better hand

• Many cards let you search your deck and pull out what you need, or something similar, further reducing "chance" being a factor

• You play a game of Best-of-3, and on your following turns you can choose any cards from a "sideboard" to slot into your deck to adapt to the current match, again, reducing chance, and reducing Rock/Paper/Scissors fights

• You don't simply play your cards, push "Done", then go grab a drink. You can play cards DURING the other player's turn to manipulate and overcome their strategy. (This is the REAL reason I can't play Hearthstone. It lacks an entire other dimension of play.)

• Magic has more resources to draw from (cards, life, graveyard, mana, tokens, creatures, artifacts, equipment, etc), and more resources to consider, making the strategies much more varied

• The complexity of Magic cards is on the order of about 3-5x more than Hearthstone. The cards used in Hearthstone compare only to beginner decks designed for kids to learn MTG, whereas MTG cards can be incredibly complex in the strategies they afford you: http://magiccards.info/scans/en/m13/220.jpg

The list goes on, but coming from MTG, Hearthstone felt like playing a very limited, aggro-focused, RNG-dependent game designed for quick matches with simple strategy and little thinking, versus Magic, which you can play on paper with your buddies, at a table, and have fun drinking and joking around. (At least that's how I play it.)

Eeeh. Don't start with MTG. Its a big time and money consumer. It's super fun! But soon your apartment is going to be flooded with half made decks, binders you ment to sort and every few months you just have to buy the new set. It's a brilliant game, and I still play it from time to time. But it can get a bit to involving. Case in point; I recently bought 50packs of a 100 KFC perfect inner sleeves so that I could start double sleeving all my cards..

Yea, I know what you mean. When I first played I got into it and burned out fast. Now I just play pre-made Duel Decks with my buddies, or we go out and do a draft at a store. Just $10 and half the time I break even from selling the cards I drafted/won right after we finish.

I mostly posted my comment because I saw he had the same complaints about the RNG in Hearthstone, which personally drives me crazy. I figured he'd enjoy MTG more because it doesn't have such flaws.

And also, there is probably a strong MTG community in your area, regardless of where you live. That makes any game 10x better.

Hey thanks for mentioning it and your detailed introduction. I actually played MtG before Hearthstone for a while. Never played competitively, but I think I should take a second look at MtG now since I grew tired of Hearthstone :)

Reading Hacker News. Seriously, this place from an intellectual point of view is the most important aspect in my life. It has opened my mind to so many viewpoints. It's one of the few healthy places on the Internet where you can have a decent conversation without things getting out of hand, while in the same time learn something new.

I'd clarify this as reading Hacker News comments, something I've only started doing recently. Its turned an adventure in increasing my browser tab density (shiny articles), to a deep discussion on the finer points of an important knowledge item (Implications of Oracle buying NetSuite).

i.e. Depth of knowledge rather than breadth of shallow knowledge (reading the headlines only).

Nowadays, I almost never click the links in HN and only read the comments. Most of the time, they give a good summary and additional insight. Only if I find the comments interesting, I click on the original link.

But it helps to live in a different time zone (Germany) than most HN users.

Looking up the keywords in one headline I don't understand every few days alone is incredibly helpful.

Hmmm, hate to admit this: Use a Mac for work rather than Linux. The unixness combined with availability of the likes of MS Office, together with the genuinely beautiful interface has really increased my throughput.

Secondly: Doing 1.5 hrs exercise daily.

For me, it's using Linux instead of Windows for coding (at least back then when I was learning to coding). It was so much easier to start a quick C++ project using an editor and g++ than fiddling with VisualStudio. Not to mention Python.

Even just for daily, non-project use, nuking my Windows install was the best thing I've ever done to my computer.

Coding on the same platform that I deploy to has increased my productivity.

I've used Linux full-time for 11 years; booted into Windows about once or twice a year to try out a game, and had a Windows VM for photo editing (DxO doesn't work in WINE, and afaik, there are no good replacements for it). Just a couple of months ago I switched to Windows as the host OS and Linux in a VM running in the background 24x7 (off the raw disks, so I am virtualizing the same system that I ran as my host OS, which meant I didn't have to spend time re-installing and re-configuring everything).

As a long-time Linux die-hard who passed so many applications by because they didn't work well in WINE and/or virtualized Windows, it pained me to switch, but Linux is much more cooperative as a VM than Windows is (and it also pains me to "reward" Windows's bad behavior with the position of host OS). With appropriate tweaking (Dexpot) and a good terminal (ConEmu+Cygwin for SSH to my VM), Windows is basically just like a DE that can play new games (Overwatch, woot!) and run my photo editing software 5x faster than it ran in VM.

Seems like OS X is the perfect solution to this. I used Linux on the desktop exclusively from 1995 to 2002 but haven't run it on the desktop since. (I still manage fleets of Linux servers of course).

I simply don't see any value in desktop Linux for my job, and using Windows makes it too hard (like trying to build a ship in a bottle).

YMMV, of course, depending on your work.

I've had occasion to use OS X here and there over this time period, and unfortunately I don't think it's a great solution.

The first problem is that I'd be locked into Apple hardware, which is not something I'm interested in. Nothing personal against Apple hardware, as there are certainly pleasant things about it, but it's not what I want. For example, one of the only reasons I can do this is because I have a custom x86 build that accommodates it with a lot of disk space and a lot of RAM.

The second problem is that I've found OS X kind of inhabits an uncanny valley, where at first glance it looks great, but after using it for a while, you find a lot of small tics that are offputting. It does provide some nice traditional star-nix utilities and has some POSIX compatibility, but many things seem to have a bunch of little problems and incompatibilities that one has to get in there and address if the project doesn't already provide a Mac installer that does this for you. This may not sound like a big deal, but sometimes these "little incompatibilities" are showstoppers and sometimes they just take extra hours to get working. And each year, OS X is getting worse; the compatibility takes a hit, the system gets more and more locked down, and sometimes management scripts have to be totally rewritten.

The end result of that is that many of my colleagues that use OS X end up with a very similar setup to mine, where they have a Linux VM running in the background 24x7 to provide those needs.

Thirdly, OS X is a neglected middle ground in terms of testing and application compatibility. Devs prefer to work on Linux and users prefer to use Windows. That means that user-oriented applications, like new games, always work on Windows and that most dev-oriented applications work on Linux (and many depend on Linux-specific functionality like the proc subsystem which make it more difficult to port BSDs or OS X). Even if the code is compatible as-is on both Linux and OS X without changes, OS X is often the least-tested platform for relevant applications. I know there are a few vendors that release Mac versions of their games, so there is frequently a bit more availability on OS X than there is on Linux, but it's far less than there are on Windows.

I don't really see what I gain by using OS X instead of Windows. With Cygwin, I have star-nix utilities in Windows too, and I get immediate compatibility with practically every user-oriented application out there.

If you don't mind going a little deeper on this, what program do you use to run your VM? Do you only access your VM via SSH? What kind of development do you do? Do you have an internal IP for your VM or do you just redirect the ports?

Do you think you could replace your VM with Bash on Windows?

>If you don't mind going a little deeper on this


>what program do you use to run your VM?

I use VirtualBox. I want to try VMWare, but I'm doubtful the difference will be very significant. I tried VMWare to host a Windows guest back when Linux was the host OS in hopes it would run DxO fast enough. While it was faster in some things that Virtualbox did slowly, it also did things slowly that Virtualbox had no trouble with, making it a net neutral, and not worth the license cost. If VMWare had full DX11 acceleration, it would've been different.

You can do raw-disk passthrough with VBox by creating the appropriate files with VBoxManage. Must be careful with this, as there is a risk that you can destroy the data on the original drives. I do this so that I can switch back to Linux as the host OS without hassle, should the need arise.

>Do you only access your VM via SSH?*

I primarily access it via SSH, but the VirtualBox windows are on a secondary workspace and I can switch over and start an X server and have my full desktop environment should I need it. I try to avoid the need, but I have done this a handful of times since switching in order to access or run graphical programs.

I've found that VirtualBox's 3D acceleration doesn't work properly. It was a pain to get it to work properly on my Linux system (which runs Arch) in the first place, but once I did get vboxvideo loading and glxinfo reporting Chromium as the renderer on a semi-consistent basis, the desktop environment would suffer corrupted draws that make it useless. I turned off 3d acceleration in the VM settings.

>What kind of development do you do?

Kind of all over the board. I maintain applications in Python, Ruby, and Java. I scratch my itch with other software which leads to occasional C or C++ development. I administer many servers and make use of Docker, Kubernetes, Ansible, and other devops stuff.

>Do you have an internal IP for your VM or do you just redirect the ports?

I have it configured as bridged network and it has an internal IP and acts like a separate machine on the network. This was important because many things in my home environment are dependent on my workstation and have that IP hard-coded (DNS is not justified for my house yet).

I have a Samba server running in the VM and exporting the frequently-used local filesystems, including my home directory and some btrfs storage (bulk storage goes on a separate Synology NAS, so I access that directly from Windows through its own smb server). My past experience with VBox's Shared Folders is that it's pretty unpredictable, and that it's usually just better to use smbd.

>Do you think you could replace your VM with Bash on Windows?

I wanted to try Bash on Windows, but it said I had to be part of the developer preview program, which I didn't want to do since it apparently involves registering with Microsoft and a bunch of similar stuff.

I am optimistic that Bash on Windows may be able to take some functions out of the VM, but I don't think it will be able to eliminate the need for it. It would be nice if it could replace Cygwin.

So... describe the moment.

Not OP, but for me it was purchasing a laptop where every single component had Open Source, in-mainline kernel modules, significantly losing out on performance, and then STILL compositing didn't work on an external monitor.

That was 8 years ago, really enjoyed using Macs since. Now Apple quality is going down, and powershell is getting really good, slowly moving to Windows.

That's a moment I think a lot of us can relate to.

I love Linux/Linux-like OSes. I also like stuff working without having to tinker with it--not that I dislike tinkering (it's great fun) but time is more of a factor now than it used to be.

Commuting by bicycle.

Fresh air and exercise, all packed into the same amount of time it would have taken me to drive and park, even enjoyed the thrill and mental challenge of forcing myself out in the rain and snow. Took some shortcuts and explored areas I've never been to before.

The great thing about biking is that it opens up your route options. Almost any street is as good as any other - you'll make just about the same time on a residential street as a main street, so you have an almost infinite variety of options without much sacrifice in team.

Contrast with a car, where taking side streets will slow you down significantly.

Same here. I was cycling a lot until I got my driving license. Then it was only 10-15 later that I got into the habit of using my bike again. The less I use my car, the happier I am. Now I really wonder what prevented me from doing it sooner!!

I need to get back into it. I'll bike to work for a week or two, then fall off the wagon. That said, I LOVE cycling, have always loved it, and am glad I rediscovered it a decade or so after getting my driver's license.

I still love cars, a huge hobby of mine, but I actually enjoy them more when I'm not driving every day.

Same here. Living in a city with many hills it was a chore at first. But now it's pretty great.

What about sweating?

It's summer here. Even so, in the morning it's cold. When I get back is hot but I arrive at home and take a shower.

Then it depends on how you bike. Most people use a too low speed. This is like driving a car in first gear all the way to work. You will sweat. I use the highest gear comfortable. If it's too high my knees hurt.

Another thing is to find a slow constant rhythm. Do no "accelerate" on a bike. You will use a lot of energy and so you will sweat.

Interesting! Thank you.

For my own particular case, I would have been getting soaking wet on a regular basis anyway from rain, so I showered and changed in a gym near my workplace that rented lockers. But in certain climates, and cycling cultures you can just go slowly, same as how in certain happy circumstances people can walk to work without having to change into Lycra. (Some people do commute via jogging, and that's cool too)


Stop working out. Blasphemy, I know.


A decade long love-obsession with "health and fitness" has taught me that 99% of what our health industry says is nearly-useless or unhealthy.

Half the battle of "health" is to stop self-destruction: drug-abuse (obvious), working out "hard" (less obvious).

Replace gym and repetitive activity with natural exploratory movement. If you are "supposed to stretch" after, the workout wasn't healthy.

The other half is basic. In gentle regular moderation: sleep, eat decently and drink water, go for a walk outside, have some friends and some activities you enjoy.

Everything else is minutia and can be left to bodybuilders, professional athletes and fighters, and military personnel.

Can you share some examples of what to replace exercise with?

I guess he means "functional workouts". These workouts exercise your natural movements: standing up, sitting, laying down and getting up quickly, push, pull, etc. All done with your own body, no extra weights.

I've done them for some time and you quickly notice the difference. Instead of inflated biceps which hurt when you stretch them to grab a jar on the top shelf, you'll squat without hassle, jump, get up from bed, and have better core strength.

This is the program I've followed and I'm happy with it: https://mhunters.com. Check out their videos on youtube and decide for yourself!

Seeking goals and life satisfaction outside of work.

I generally enjoy my development work at bigcorp, but I found my mood swinging hard based on whether or not I was intellectually engaged at the office. If I wasn't working on something interesting and making progress, I became very sluggish and unmotivated outside of work as well.

I discovered indoor bouldering (rock climbing low to the ground over thick pads; no ropes/harnesses/training required) a couple years ago and it's been a revelation. I talked about it in an old HN thread about exercise [1]. It's a great source of goals, steady improvement, and overall "doing something besides work." I have since expanded to top-rope climbing (taller walls, ropes, harness), which is also ton of fun.

Baking is fun too. I have never enjoyed cooking very much, but baking caters to the engineering mindset: very focused and rewards preparation and attention to detail. Baking, at least at the amateur "I want to make something tasty" level, has fewer "patterns" than cooking and more subtle variations on those patterns, which means you can bake lots of different things without having to find some new piece of equipment or exotic ingredient every time you try something. And baked treats are fun to give to friends.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9354393

About a year ago I started moving towards not selling my time. It has taken a while to wind down all of those relationships, etc. but it has been the best and most lucrative decision I've made in my professional life. I now have just a single commitment where I sell my time and I've got it down to 2-3 hours per week. It will soon be zero as well.

I definitely wish I would have started this sooner or actually never started selling my time at all. I worked only for myself for the first 5 years out of school then the last 5 mostly for others (as a contractor - never an employee).

This is an excellent point. Can you give any more detail on what you are doing instead of selling your time? I don't want specifics per say, just general ideas about what you have switched to and how it has been lucrative. I find the idea quite interesting.

I bought a really small business in the translation industry late last year. Since purchase our monthly revenue has grown ~ 190% and we have solid plans to continue the growth. We have 4 people on our internal team, but everyone works remote and part time (approx. 20 hours/week) including me. Our main workforce is made up of freelance translators (about 45 of them at the moment). I handle development, marketing, strategy, etc. and the other internal staff handles operations and customer service.

Our translations are mostly used for immigration purposes so it is a really gratifying business as many clients go out of their way to express their happiness with our service. We are dead serious about our business though... lots in our niche are not, but I won't bore you with the details.

How do you handle the separation between home and work? I've noticed that when I am working for an hourly wage at a business I appreciate not having to think about work after I leave.

I've never really had separation between home and work. I started my first business in college and have worked for myself ever since. I've had offices/warehouse related to some of the ecommerce stuff I've done, but even then I'd work from home a lot. My brother is a developer at an agency that I sometimes consult for. They keep a desk open for me there too so if I want to work around people I'll go in there.

So there isn't much physical separation of home and work and there is really no mental separation either since I own my own business.

For the most part I'm able to turn it off when I need/want to. If I'm not feeling productive or just want to do something else I can set the work down and pick up a guitar, go work out, ride a motorcycle, go see a movie, etc. and not think about the work until I get back to it. If I couldn't do that I'd probably prefer more separation of home and work.

So an LSP?

What do you sell now instead of your time?

Eating something similar to a keto diet (Mostly eggs, milk, coconut oil). Once you get past the adaptation phase, it's almost impossible to overeat. Starches (on their own) taste bland and the mix of fat and protein has such a saitation value that it's impossible to overeat to any near extent that a modern diet provokes.

Weightlifting but focusing on the work my muscles are actually doing as opposed to seeing a high number go quick. Three warmup sets and a high intensity failure set, with the warmup sets just training you to do the exercise in the proper form before you do it. Because a lot of people cheat the work their muscles are trying to do by crutching on momentum instead of letting their muscles have control of the weight. That would be a thing I wish I could indoctrinate into every every beginner. (DON'T COAST ON MOMENTUM)

Former smoker who has occassional cravings, liquid nicotine has been a life saver. Properly distributed, a giveaway of a three month supply would probably be the most cost-effective humanitarian mission for the homeless in the US.

Ignore most news. A radical acceptance that there's no point in paying attention to the equivalent of amateur illusions. It's a lot of central nervous system parasitics.

Learning the very basics about typography. Matthew Butterick created an online book called "Practical Typography" [1] that's a pretty quick and easy read. I've found that what he says about people being more likely to read attractive documents is true. Duh.

It's even made me think about making my source code more attractive.

The added bonus is that he also talks about his publishing system Pollen and that lead to me learning about Racket.

[1]: http://practicaltypography.com/

Great book - sent the typography for lawyers book as gifts after reading it.

Thinking about hard problems in terms of lambda calculus. I took a day to read about all that stuff and at some point so many things fell into place. I learned CS theory in school, learned ML, but it's not the same as being confronted by a seemingly monstrous software project and then realizing ... omg, everything is relational and I can just write an interpreter. No longer asking "how do I write this in ruby/java/js ..." but how do all of these things relate to each other and if which language would be best for encoding my invariants. All kinds of ML and AI fields go from "data science, math stuff ... disregard" to a fascinating universe of answers to questions that you already have in your head for how to solve your real world software problems. The usefulness of macros became obvious and custom monads are rewarding achievements. Closures, instead of being occasional conveniences, became a swiss army knife for eliminating explicit data structures.

Not for all projects of course, but when building something enterprisey, simulated, or creative where users can model their own domain I believe that at least being familiar with the theory is not optional. I'm also somewhat convinced now that most "10x programmers" are maybe ~2x programmers who have simply encoded their expertise into a private DSL using JetBrains MPS or something. Allowing themselves to spend more time snowballing their skills and knowledgebase, and less time doing repetitive tasks and managing incidental complexity.

Oh also, I started using linear constraint solvers for automatically solving small to medium sized problems. You'll usually see them used for UI layout constraints, but that's just the beginning! For example, say you're building a small scheduling system, or a lightweight recommendation system that lies somewhere in between an if-statement and a full blown classifier, or you're writing some arbitrary last-minute business rule for a client where several things depend on each other with varying levels of weights/importance. If you know some things are linear, and the problem is unlikely outgrow the solver, then save yourself hours or work and just solve it at runtime!

You should write some blog posts or something about this. As someone just finishing up their undergrad I'd love to hear about these applications and detailed examples.

Do you have any good sources for reading up on lambda calculus?

I started here http://worrydream.com/AlligatorEggs/. Great intro article and my favorite visual explanation.

The alligator system helped me visualize the dynamics of the system. However, about 3/4 of the way down, the pictures start being harder to follow than the bottom section of the page where he notates Church numerals and the Y-Combinator (without even defining what they are, which I find hilarious given how "for-dummies" the article starts out as). So what are Church numerals? And what's so important about the Y-Combinator that pg would name his company after it? I didn't know either, and the journey begins!

But also, just download clojure to mess around with a Lisp. Once you feel comfortable with the basics, check out core.logic.

I really enjoyed An Introduction to Functional Programming Through Lambda Calculus - by Greg Michaelson

It helps you build it up through basic building blocks

Describing myself as gay. After so much self-torture it's one of my favorite parts of my identity now.

Here's my list:

- Using Vim. Just do it. You'll be more productive than in most other editors, and you can use it over ssh on pretty much any machine.

- Using Python. Batteries included means less work for you to do.

- Using Django. Ditto

- Stopped chasing the latest and greatest JS framework and just use what I know (jQuery and Angular lately). Not worth my time when I already feel very productive.

- Use puppet for every server configuration, from my home NAS to every production server.

- Learned 3D printing/joined a hackerspace. Working from home sucks for social life and for developing business connections.

- Learned some basic UI/UX ideas.

- Started sleeping more. This is huge for productivity and my happiness.

- Realized that buying off-lease/gently used cars is much more economical than brand new. You can drive a 3 year old BMW for the same price as a 2 year old Honda Accord.

- Listened to Roll Play, especially Swan Song. Better entertainment than most TV shows.

- Stopped paying for cable and signed up for Prime, HBO Now, and Netflix. This isn't even to save money, but to not have to watch commercials.

- Discovered polyamory.

- Realized that I can build electronics on the cheap.

- Hired a personal trainer to get in shape, instead of trying to go it alone.

- Bought a double walled steel water bottle.

Sorry if this is too long.

I've been using Emacs for about 20 years, and whenever I found myself on a headless or embedded system, I would fumble along in vi using h,j,k,l,w,q,i,x, and a. The bare minimum.

Spending a couple days getting more elaborate commands under my fingers ('cw', 'dt)' has been totally worth it. I could have saved dozens of hours over the years if I'd learned the commands earlier.

Now that you've discovered polyamory, I'm amazed you have so much time for the other stuff

Hah. Love is unlimited. Time isn't. But I make do.

I don't understand the hype behind vim. The biggest productivity boost I find is having an editor which has great code completion and error squigglys as soon as you cause an error.

I'm trying to fix this part of my workflow myself. I'm a hardcore vimmer, trying to branch out into Java with IDEs. Every time I do it, the IDE brings in more headaches than it saves, by far. Plus, they almost seem to "break the abstraction" and make it less clear what's going on.

I'm sure if I made a dedicated effort (ideally with a human present to answer the hard-to-phrase questions) I could work out all the kinks but it's a big hump to surpass.

For example, Eclipse requires you to re-setup your workspace every time you start a new one, and doesn't even have defaults for switching code tabs from the keyboard. The "find in project" feature is cryptic.

And IntelliJ doesn't seem to actually know how to run code; it always wants a "build configuration" that it gives a cryptic interface for and which the tutorial steps aren't very helpful for.

I google to get around the above problems but the answers don't seem to work.

I'm kind of like that, only using plaintext editors, except for Java. I learned Java on eclipse, and there is no way I could do Java without it.

I think it has to do with Java having a lot of boilerplate that an IDE helps a lot with auto-completion, and Java allows for a lot of static analysis, so IDEs can add a lot of value.

> For example, Eclipse requires you to re-setup your workspace every time you start a new one

I have "misc" workspace, where I keep all my small projects.

> and doesn't even have defaults for switching code tabs from the keyboard.

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2332330/eclipse-hotkey-ho... ?

Maybe I should be opening all projects in the same workspace.

In any case, you have to add the keyboard shortcut:


My work environment consists of <UNIX-like OS> + Vim + Tmux + whatever language/domain specific tools I need for the task at hand. I'm really interested in hearing success stories from people who were like me but switched to working in an IDE.

I would like to have better auto-complete in Vim, but to a certain extent I think I might just have been too lazy to go out and find the right plugins. I'm also working on a hobby project text editor where I hope to explore this problem a bit more... but I can't deny that an effective solution would be better than my current solution which involves a lot of Googling and many open browser tabs.

I use Vim myself but I recently learnt about EVIL mode in emacs which makes emacs like Vim and in emacs you can add code completion etc.

Having used Visual Studio, I can totally see where you are coming from. Here's my experience:

- I used Visual Studio before using any command line thing at all.

- Later I learned to use Linux and Vim.

- Then I had an internship where I needed to work with Visual Studio again (VS projects and TFS, not using VS was not really an option).

I ended up installing a Vim extension for Visual Studio. In Vim, I don't install autocompletion extensions. For me this is good evidence that Vim's hotkeys are more important than the autocompletion a good (arguably the best) IDE brings.

Now as for why, I can only guess and rationalize. I'm guessing that when you're in the flow, you know the names of the functions you want to call anyway, and if you're not using C# or Java with libraryname.classname.veryDescriptiveMethodName it's not going to save typing either.

They aren't mutually exclusive. Use whatever editor you like, but make sure it has vim emulation. I use VsVim and it's the best of both worlds.

It's the little edits that add up. It's like seeing someone drive a whole UI with only the mouse, no shortcuts - hurts. Likewise it feels infuriatingly slow to see people edit without vim.

The biggest advantage of Vim, IMHO, is that it's available on almost all UNIX like systems.

All interesting, but don't really seem to be "the moment".

I didn't want to go into detail since that'd make this post huge, but each one of these had a definite moment of realization.

Cool, but... wasn't the question explicitly to describe the moment(s)?

Where's your moment? Who appointed you guardian of the topic?

Nobody. And nobody has to, either.

Saying "No" and giving back.

Constantly remind yourself that "this is entirely optional," whether it's a lunch meeting, a product feature, or your entire career. It helps you be more present—in the moment. If it doesn't excite you enough to be in the moment, say no next time. Eventually, your schedule will be more and more interesting and engaging to you. We become a slave to "yes" without realizing it. Derek Sivers has a good piece about this: https://sivers.org/hellyeah

Give back; or even better, practice preemptive giving. Not to be manipulative or trying to find some sort of karmic success; just because giving itself feels good and it causes you to start thinking from a more empathetic, gratitude-focused state of mind.

I think the world needs more of this, and hell... it's easier to handle stress when you default to finding the positive in a situation than actively looking for something to be critical of.

That all sounds great, if you're independently wealthy or at least have a well-padded bank account. What if the "option" you have is turning your entire family out onto the street if you decline?

The "give back" mantra is a bourgeois affectation.

There's a lot of things one can give that don't require buckets of cash, perhaps they meant something along the lines of:

* time (contribute to a project, help a neighbor paint their living room, teach a friend to weave baskets or something)

* kindness (listen to a friend's troubles over a beer, or assume the best in someone else's efforts, as opposed to criticizing)

I agree that when I practice those things I am happier for it, anyway.

After a single week of using a physical daily planner, I realized I'd accomplished more in the previous week than I had in the past 6 months. No looking back.

Every Sunday I write down a single thing to accomplish for each day of the next week: Read a chapter of a book, Write a post about a specific topic, etc.

Procrastination is super dangerous when there isn't a deadline. Way too easy for "tomorrow" to turn into never. Professional/Personal development stuff seems to fall into that trap pretty frequently.

I tried tracking things with all sorts of different software, but nothing clicked for me like pen and paper.

(Field Notes 56-Week planner pairs well with a uni-ball 307 Gel Pen.)

My biggest problem with planners and to-do lists is I don't consult them. I've tried evernote, I've tried google notes, I used a Palm Pilot 20 years ago. I think technology is better for me because it's always available, but simply having a todo list doesn't cause me to remember to check it. I never think "hey, I'm bored, I wonder what's on the list!"

Any advice?

Don't wait for boredom before you check. For me, it's declaring something as priority for the day that otherwise wouldn't have made the cut at all. If I don't get to something, I put a line through it and write down what I did instead.

For this week, the list has Code Complete - Chapter 4 Brain Bugs - Chapter 2 Don't Make Me Think (reread) Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chapter 1 + 2, Economist + Web presence (read economist, write/email/etc deliberate internet stuff)

For the most part, this stuff happens after the kiddo is in bed, but before I sit down to watch something with the Mrs, or tuck into fiction/games/etc. Everyone's schedule is different, but everyone has some time they could be spending a bit more carefully.

Meant to get to Chapter 4 of Code Complete last week, but we wound up with a kid free weekend (thanks Grandma), so I took the Mrs. to dinner instead, and we followed up with GOG (1954).

Easy to burn out quickly if you're switched on and going at it all the time. Just as easy to let all of the extras fall off the edge while you're floating through seasons of whatever HBO's current thing is. There's not a line where activities are either relaxing or productive, it's a grey area, for sure. Need to find the right balance.

Grow a habit of checking some (any) system first. BJ Fogg's Tiby Habits program is a good start. And make sure it's a tiny investment of time/energy at first so no full-blown complex planning right off the bat.

Generally reading 'Making it all work' from the GTD guy also helped with just wanting to get everything into some system; which I developed bit by bit using tiny habit changes.

By now I have an amazingly complex system involving a Google Sheet, Workflowy and Evernote that would be just about ready to be turned into a professional product... but getting there I went through dozens and dozens of little improvements of just getting everything out of my kind and into some system.

I've had the same problem you describe and think it has been partially solved since I'm using Inbox instead of the classic gmail. All Reminders are sitting between the mail I've got to do and so I'm actually forced to look at them and deal with them. Of course this only works if you don't spam your Inbox with things you need months doing or don't do at all. But the "delay" feature is great for that as well.

Same problem, I never check any notes I write on a computer or phone. A physical planner for me is the way to go, I'm not sure why I tend to check it more often but I do. I also enjoy writing in it quite a bit more, I can draw diagrams or doodle if I feel like it. I bought a notebook with a dot grid for this reason.

Same here. Digital lists are never reviewed. I carry one or two scrap envelopes in my back pocket (or a skinny notebook) at all times with a list of things to do. In the morning, when I transfer my wallet, keys, and envelopes to the pants that I'll be wearing, I check my list and see what needs doing.

I put stuff I really need to get done in an Email to myself. Then I dont mark it as "read" until its done.

I use a calendar app instead of a to-do list. I just put notes to my future self.

Using a daily planner (on paper, not a app). I figured this out about 2 months ago.

Being able to write down the tasks and scan back through my backlog has helped me be more productive. For me, using a calendar service or task manager app just does not work as well... BTW, I am a millennial.

edit: I am 10 years younger then everyone else at my company and get questioned all the time about "why I use a day runner" when everyone else is on a smartphone.

Silly question but what exact notebook are you using?

I'm, personally, a fan of the Staples Arc notebooks (similar to the Levenger Circa notebooks, but cheaper). Like a cross between a 3-ring binder and a spiral notebook. Makes it easy for me to start writing on the front sheet of the notebook, and move its proper section later.

Could not possibly agree with OP more. I'm using a Field Notes 56-Week planner.

Podcasts! I was considering jobs on the buy-side and a friend recommended a couple of financial podcasts. Knowing that part of the interview would be about my financial style and what industry leaders I followed / read I had a strong incentive to give them a try. I quickly became hooked.

More convenient during my (on-transit) commute than a book and there's such a vast range of topics available to keep you interested.

I got started with podcasts about a year ago. Great while I'm working on things I don't need to really focus on, walking the dog, driving, etc.

Listing my financial ones:


Marketplace weekend

Radical Personal Finance

Slate Money


Planet Money

Non-financial ones:

Parent Savers

Intelligence Squared

Intelligence Squared US

HBR Ideacast



Common Sense with Dan Carlin

Dan Carlin's Hardcore History

NPR Politics

The Economist Radio

Stuff You should Know

99% Invisible

In addition to these,

Value Investing Podcast (John Mihaljevic) would be my top pick. The host can be slow so I tend to listen on 1.5x speed but the interviews are often fascinating.

InvestTalk I find more mixed but generally pretty solid round-up, usually gives me ideas for follow-up reading

Similar with The Investors Podcast, good introduction to some interesting people

LSE has some public lectures, also fairly broad range of topics (http://www.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/videoAndAudio/channels/pub...)

Cruised through a couple episodes of Value Investing - good stuff. Might be a little in depth for some listeners, but I enjoy it.

I'll have to add value investing. I listen to all of them on 1.5 or 2x, though sometimes I have to slow the Brits down to understand!

Would you mind sharing some of these podcasts? I work in software and I'm very interested in eventually making the switch into PE :) .

Names of podcasts are very welcomed :-)

Could you list the financial podcasts?

When a local company saw a talk I did and offered to sponsor the continued development of the open-source project I'm building. If I had started doing talks a year earlier, I probably could have picked up such a deal a year earlier. I missed out on a lot of great opportunities to get my name out just because I erroneously thought not being anywhere near finished meant I wasn't ready to show anything.

It's a really, really hard decision to make, to sink your time into something, and I can't recommend for everyone by default. Most people start projects on nothing more than a whim and will give up on those projects when they hit the technical-debt weeds. I don't think of that time as a waste, I think it's incredibly important to the learning process and I encourage people to start as many projects as possible. You just need to be honest and understand about yourself whether or not you're in it to win or just having fun, before you jump into a project head-first. I've seen a lot of people do that, and I've done it more than a few times.

This time is really different because this time I really have spent 2 years on the project and forced myself through multiple come-to-Jesus moments on my code. Everyone will have those sorts of moments as it's impossible to have such design foresight to predict all the ways you will want to use your software in the future, or that you won't change your mind on how you want to use it. And I think I needed to go through it to prove to myself that this was something I was going to be able to continue to work on. But I really wish I had known sooner.

Starting to do burlesque dance. I had to go downtown for a doctor's appointment, and on a whim, I scheduled it so that I could go check out a school whose calendar I'd subscribed to a month or so earlier.

I had fun, I kept going back. Got myself in great shape, got incredible amounts of confidence and charisma. These days I don't do it any more; the school moved to a less convenient location, and I ended up doing pole dance instead.

Getting in shape is great but it's boring; doing it with the context of learning something on top of it works amazingly well for me. And as a bonus, now i have no fear of looking stupid on a dance floor - I know a lot of interesting things to do to a beat.

> Getting in shape is great but it's boring; doing it with the context of learning something on top of it works amazingly well for me.

Bouldering worked the same way for me. I don't do it anymore for stupid reasons and I should get back into it, but for a while I was in amazing shape from doing something not only physically but also mentally stimulating (and fun!).

Bouldering looks both awesome and scary to me. If I didn't mind the thought of probably breaking all my nails I'd be tempted to try it. Get back on those rocks!

Automated testing.

There's loads of stuff written about dos/don'ts, TDD, etc. but doing some testing is better than none. It's not a silver bullet, and it's possible to get too caught up in tests to the detriment of the system; but you can cross those bridges if/when you get to them.

I was looking for someone to write this answer. I admittedly don't write tests and have been seriously questioning this lately. Maybe it's a desire for confirmation bias, but I'm glad someone said this.

Beekeeping. I go to sleep thinking about the little bugs, and wake up with them on my mind. When I'm bothered by work or life I think about the colony doing it's thing and feel better. They're awesome.

Vertical tabs for web browsing.

It lets me keep everything in one window, and reveals the true nature of internet browsing (an ever expanding tree, rather than a randomly edited list).

You can see which page spawned which ones, which is a blessing for keeping the structure organized.

Plus the vertical list is much more readable than microscopic tabs or ones hidden with horizontal scrolling. Also, horizontal screen space is cheaper!

I use the Tree Style Tab add-on with FireFox, it's the most solid one I've tried.

I would add tiling window managers. My computer feels different. Tech literate people even ask what OS am I using.

1. Ditching people who were emotionally abusing me pretending they were my friends to take advantage of me (financial and/or emotional)

2. Switching away from Windows to GNU/Linux

3. Investing in stock market

4. Eating organic and vegan only

5. Drinking only bottled water

6. Working out and learning martial arts

7. Working on my self-esteem

8. Believing in myself

9. Keeping small paper notes for everything I do and have to do

10. Avoiding crazy girls/women like every other good boy/man should

11. Being honest with myself

12. Taking care of the future me (then thanking the past me)

13. Fixing my teeth

14. Attempting to leave my country of birth

15. Realizing that being either depressed or happy are choices every human has to make for themselves

Why the switch to exclusive bottled water? It might be worth looking into getting a high quality aluminum water bottle. You could still purchase purified water or water in larger containers. Personally after the sun touches plastic water bottles, I think it tastes funky. Plus, reusable water bottles can be better for the environment.

Is 5 and 14 related. Does your local area have terrible water? If your local water is okay I don't really understand the benefit of bottled water only.

Why are people listing random things they've done instead of what the moment was that led to whatever random thing is listed?



I've asked a few people to describe their moments instead of just listing what the change was. YMMV, but for me, these are far far more interesting than random lists of things.

I may have mis-interpreted the OP's intent, but it sure seems a lot more compelling when you know the catalyst as well as the reaction.

My grandfather passed away. It inspired me to take more control of my life and to start enjoying things I was afraid of.

I didn't realize I should have been using him as a a role model until he passed away, but when it happened, it was very powerful.

It is also the first death of a relative I've had to deal with in my life.

That is a moment. Thanks for sharing.

Death often has that effect, for sure--it's painful, but can be inspirational at the same time.

Honestly, the same experience verbatim.

While visiting my parents a month ago, they had a scale sitting out in the bathroom. My five year old daughter exclaimed, "Daddy, look how much I weigh! ... How much do you weigh?"

If you had asked me without a scale for reference, I would have said 160 pounds.

It was 172.

172 isn't a crazy weight, but not realizing I'd made it into the 170s (which I'd never been before) while simultaneously believing I was 12 pounds lighter was definitely a "moment".

After a month of very low carb diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes, I'm down to 153 and feel much better too. :)

19 pounds in a month! That must have been a very low calorie diet, not just substituting other things for carbs.

People are interpreting the question as generally "what's something you wish you started doing sooner", which is similar and more commonly asked. People in the reddit thread did this also.

What you're really after is more like "what is a moment in your life that made you rethink things and change your behavior".

I think they're both valid interpretations of the question. There's a common idiom, "an aha! moment", which can refer to either the source of the revelation or the revelation itself.

Create a topic for your own question.

I don't have a question; I have an interpretation of the OP's question that may or may not be correct. I took "What was your moment" to mean "tell me about the moment" rather than "tell me what you did".

For me, it was getting into IT when I was 30 (4 years ago) and for the first time in my life, I loved my work. I did not do it when I was 20, when was deeply into programming. Instead, I feared math in computer science studies, which led me to work as a car salesman (one that read HN all the time). When I was really broke and unhappy, I met a guy who introduced me into IT contracting for big companies. I just did what he said and instantly landed a long term gig that quadrupled my income. This, in return, made me read, read, read to learn as much as possible. Besides work, I now do Computer Science courses at university. Boy, had I known I could do all this, I would have started a decade sooner...

I'm going to +1 this hard. Generally same story... when I turned 30 I managed to switch from my very niche career field of designing submarines (working for the navy/government) to doing what I loved (coding/computer stuff). I was a hobbyist for a while before... I took the leap and switched and now I'm happier and enjoy my work. I used to work 15 minutes a day working for the government and hated it (only so much internet you can surf/too bored). Now I work ~50 hour weeks but love what I do and I'm a lot happier doing it.

> I met a guy who introduced me into IT contracting for big companies. I just did what he said and instantly landed a long term gig that quadrupled my income.

Would you mind sharing some of the tips the guy gave you? I'd be really interested. I'm doing small-time IT contracting but looking to grow the business.

He told me: for your first gig, fake or optimize your CV as much as needed(I know this was not ethical but it was better than robbing a bank or being broke). Then, go to Xing (the German Linkedin, which is a gold mine if you know where the Freelancer group is). Then if someone picks you, learn and study as if the devil was behind you. So I did, applied for a lot of Linux administrator jobs, had interviews and it took me about 7 days to get hired by the first company for a long term admin-contract (I already knew my way around Linux, but had no enterprise experience). After a few months, this guy started his own contracting company and instantly got me a job. Nowadays, I am best friends with the guy who introduced me and even the poor guy who recruited me for the first job (I told him my lies later, which did not change his opinion that I had been a good pick for the customer). Nowadays, I keep it all real. My experience and field of work is good enough to be able to tell I had been a car salesman before. But to get good jobs in Germany or Switzerland, use Xing, freelancermap or to a lesser extend, use Linkedin. And know exactly what you want to offer.

Learning to use my brain while I ran.

I started out running for exercise. It would take a lot to convince myself to run, and then keep myself from wanting to quit. I got really good at tricking myself or rewarding myself after a run.

At some point, I think it was that I got in better shape, I didn't need that much motivation. I could go for a run and not think about the physical work of it. I could think about whatever, either letting my mind wander, or think through an issue I had run into. It became much more enjoyable.

I wish I had gotten to that point faster.

Many responses here about exercise. (Not surprising, because I suspect many of us here were NOT the most physically active types in school or college :))

But yes, I too discovered running rather late and realized it took me only about 3-4 weeks to overcome the initial discomfort, inertia and struggle. That was one of my "why didn't I start running sooner" moments.

If any of you are waiting to start running, I'd say, start now. No reason to fear it.

Same is true for having a regular meditation practice. It makes a world of difference. Don't wait to start it in your thirties or forties. That's another practice I wish I had started in my twenties.

The couch to 5k program worked very well for me. Have kept running 5k and 10k events ever since. Recommend it to everyone.

Absolutely. I'm training for a half-marathon and the Hal Higdon program has worked well. Same principle as C25K.

Leave London.

I moved there when I was 26 and left when I was 40. I should have left at least 5 years earlier. It took a marriage and imminent birth of a child to finally push me into leaving.

I now live in a small city (250k-300k people) in a great environment with plenty of outdoor space, mountains, rivers, lakes etc.

I am not paid nearly as much as I was in London, and it took me a good 12 months to establish myself. However, I don't need London rates of pay to live here comfortably.

I feel my quality of life has drastically improved in the last two years since leaving London.

Move to London.

I moved there when I was 44 and wish I'd done so earlier.

much more to do, pay is better. I feel my quality of life has drastically improved in the last two years since moving to London.

(But probably I'll want to move away some time too!)

It is true that the grass is always greener on the other side.

Most of these haven't become second nature yet, but I'm getting there. The hard part is having momentum and flow. But, generally, my day works out great if I can do all of this in a day.

1) Meditation

2) IFTTT that syncs trello and google calendar

3) Eating Healthier

4) Running

5) ABC: Always be coding

6) Talking to people who are really good at their domain

7) Sleeping: Flux helps

8) App that tracks how much time I spend on websites and apps

9) Pomodoro

10) Reading fiction from a good writer

11) Reading good blog posts

12) Having a lunch with different people

13) Finding people who just started programming who I can help out

14) Not having decision fatigue

I have more, but these are the main one

Can you elaborate more on 14 (decision fatigue)? It sounds like something I've encountered recently (as autonomy increases) but never pinned as a concept that I can talk about.

Most of us have to make multiple decisions in our day-to-day lives. Decisions that varies from a range of very important decisions to less important decisions. From what I can recall we have a limited energy pool to make and execute decisions. Decisions that fall under different categories of importance. I've recently had to set up my day wherein, I don't have to make many non-important decisions and have them instead set-up for me automatically. This way I'll have more energy in my decision-making energy pool. This energy can then be used to do more important stuff that I care about. I hope this helps.

That helps immensely. It also follows the implied definition I had conjured when reading your initial term. Thanks :)

10) Reading fiction from a good writer

anything you can recommend ?

I usually follow people's top list. I like this one:


and this:


Getting regular deep tissue massages. It does a reset on all the little aches and pains I build up during long work sessions. I stopped for a few years and I started again and it was a "Wow, I forgot how much I need these" moment.

Daily exercise, forgot about this for years. I think more clearly, feel better during the day, sleep better at night.

Home cooking, so easy to lose this joy when busy.

Swimming in the water when ever you go on vacation, whether is a pool, or stream, or ocean.

Seconding this one. Focusing on stretching and mobility is the BIG one for me.

After 12 years of coding professionally, move from development into product management/ownership.

It's like playing an instrument versus playing the orchestra. It ain't for everyone, and I won't claim I'm particularly good at it, but it's a fascinating new kind of creativity.

Who's doing the coding now? How does it feel to you if you have to "outsource" it and pay for every small bugfix?

I'm asking because on the one hand, I enjoy coding. On the other hand, it might make sense to work ON the business, not IN the business in the future.

I'm a Product Manager inside a software company, which means I work with an internal development group to actually execute my ideas (certainly some POs/PMs work with outsourced staff, but that's not the case here, with the exception of one product where the outsourced staff are largely treated as direct team members, so the dynamic is largely the same as with our internal staff).

That means my job turns into talking to customers, collecting requirements and authoring user stories, prioritizing the backlog, and generally giving the developers all the information and guidance they need to build (what I hope is) the best product we can, with the right feature set, executed with the right timing.

Of course, I still enjoy coding, but what I enjoy about coding isn't the hammering of the nails, but rather building a finished product from which users gain benefit. In that respect, what I'm doing now is leveraging an entire staff of people to achieve a vision I couldn't possible deliver by myself, which is pretty damn cool!

The role itself is multi-disciplinary. I have to understand the technology in order to adequately gauge cost and complexity, technical tradeoffs, and so forth. But I also have to understand the business impact of those decisions, and the way those decisions affect the customer.

In my particular case, we're in a B2B environment where we do deep technical integrations as part of product deployment. So my customers are individual business owners and technical operations staff that I interact with directly on a very regular basis (as opposed to, say, a consumer product where you're dealing in aggregate customer behaviour).

Start waking up at 5am. To see the sunlight all the day give me a lot more energy and time for my personal projects and physical training. I spend now less time on useless relaxing activities after the job because I go to sleep at 9pm. Sure, hanging out with friends during the week is barely impossible, but I have now so much more energy that I'm more pleasant during the weekend.

Using screen in daemon mode.

    screen -dmS myservice /blah/start.sh
Fit that line somewhere in a properly constructed init.d file and you're good to go. And if you need to execute a safe stop from that program through some interactivity:

    screen -S myservice -X stuff "stop\n"
And voila. It sends a line of text over followed by an enter key. Elegant, useful. You can reattach session to see what's happening at any time. Love me some screen.

When the process exits in that screen session, screen session is closed so that you can rely on screen -list.

Not to start a flamewar, but have you looked at tmux for this kind of thing?

"Daemon mode" is the mode for tmux, and the whole stack is designed to be extremely scriptable. "tmux send-keys" does what you're referring to, here, but essentially anything you can do interactively, you can do via the command-line.

Not to say you shouldn't just keep doing what works for you! But figured I'd at least make mention of tmux as an alternative... I'm a fan. :)

Many ways to accomplish the same thing in Linux, starting with a popen() call. ;) so thanks for pointing out tmux.

Since I use screen fairly often, it had never occurred to me (until fairly recently) that you can rely on it to start with a machine reboot -- and yet have the very familiar interface available to you when you want to intervene. Something to be said about muscle memory.

Ctrl-B is the _worst_ shortcut ever devised (which is why it is used rarely... except on tmux). Just _thinking_ about it gives me the pain. My hand hurts.

And yet, this is a default shortcut for command mode in tmux. "But you can configure it!" — one might say. No, I won't be doing it on every system I manage, I have better things to do.

One of my "Why didn't I start doing this sooner?!" moments was copying my config files to all my machines.

It all started with less(1)... Configuring it is a pain in the butt. One day, I couldn't remember how to do it on a new machine, so I just performed the following command...

    scp ~/.*less* ~/*less* newmachine:
It was wonderful! Now I do the same thing for my emacs config, and my .xsession, and my hosts files, etc.

https://github.com/nugget/netskel is excellent for this; or you could always put everything in to a "dotfiles" repo that the cool kids are doing now.

Have you ever tried using the alt/ctrl/shift keys on the other hand side? So for Ctrl-B you would use the right-hand pinky to hit ctrl and the left-hand index finger to hit B.

Eh, fair enough. I just reconfigure it and move on, but I grant you that doesn't necessarily work for everyone. shrug

Learning how to say no and not feel guilty about it.

I think there's a weird superstition that many of us have where we feel as if we don't deserve and won't achieve success unless we do everything we possibly can, across every vector of life, all the time. And this causes us to have "yes" as our default response, sometimes to our own detriment. And it often takes a big cold bowl of reality (death in family, getting fired, relationship breakup, physical injury, etc) for us to realize that it's OK to say no sometimes.

Will I write a glowing intro email for a passing acquaintance's friend who wants to work at company where I used to work and still have strong relationships? No, sorry.

Will I miss a scheduled workout so I can sit in on a conference call that got scheduled at the last minute? No, sorry.

Can you borrow my phone charger? No, sorry.

Writing these out, I get the visceral feeling that it will come off as selfish. It is selfish, I guess. But learning to say no to things I don't want to do has been a big step for me.

Exercise often - keeps me sane, makes me look good

Cooking from scratch - keeps me healthy, is delicious, rewarding, impresses others

Not letting job define me - keeps me from getting disappointed when companies make decisions that doesn't align with what I want, removes emotion from decision making, my life on my terms (I'm moving forward whether or not the company is)

Started wearing expensive perfume that I really like. (I'm a man.)

It's stupid how much of an effect that can have on my mood, and I never thought about it before, since guys aren't supposed to.

I go through phases of no screens after 10pm. It mostly applies to Code/playing games, but I've found it also applies to HN and reddit. My quality and quantity of sleep improves drastically every time I do it, results visible from day 1.

Good diet. I've been underweight for years! Thought it had to do with genes or fast metabolism but turns out I was just a lazy person. Started cooking meals and stopped skipping them, it was hard at first because it's easier to skip dinner than to go out shop for groceries and make something. The effort has been worth it!

I've been studying for the CCNA and I've been having that moment ever since I started, there's so much to cover and so little time.

Taking a sabbatical. I was burnt out from working, and I was getting that "unfulfilled" feeling, feeling a little lost. I took a 2 month "trial" sabbatical, then quit my job for good after coming back for a few months. That was a few years ago and I'm now on my second sabbatical. I'm poorer financially of course, but much richer personally, having a more positive outlook on life, and most importantly much, much happier.

I wish I engaged in Silicon Valley and venture-backed startup culture sooner. If I had, my first startup might've had a better chance of success. Instead, I bootstrapped and ended up with a lifestyle business. I also started it at age 19, just as the '99/2k bubble burst, so I can't take it too hard...

I did finally begin integrating into the larger tech scene around '07 with the introduction of Twitter. This and other factors led me to deciding to exit the business and join startups (Cloudscaling, then Docker). I had, however, passed up on offers to join early-stage at a couple companies that had mega-exits... so there's certainly a bit of, "what-if?".

That said, perhaps if I had more early success, I wouldn't now be founding my current company (IOpipe, Techstars'16: www.iopipe.com)

Learning how to learn. Could have saved myself years..

Agreed. This was a wonderful course: https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn

Thanks! Signed up now.

Testing code. I was completely against the idea of writing more code for my code that "worked". But as releases came out validating everything was in order became a pain.

1) quit smoking

2) quit drinking alcohol (as a daily habit, I still drink an occasional beer with friends)

3) a whole foods plant based diet (https://medium.com/@borkdude/tl-dr-of-my-long-term-weight-lo...)

4) meditation

5) regular exercise

Joining a good Crossfit gym.

I was usually skeptic to crossfit. Have been doing weightlifting and overall weight training for 2-3 years and was used to pushing myself at my own pace and setting goals myself. Was afraid to turn my training into a cookie-cutter group class and be forced to do movements that are outright dangerous.

All the injury stories, the "cult" thing, etc. is all bullshit from my experience. No, you do not have to kip anything. At least on my "box" they frown upon kipping. To me that was amazing.

If you have any sort of training experience or some moderate fitness level you will be OK and will probably push yourself to do things that will make you see really fast progress.

Hang snatches, overhead barbell lunges, Wall Ball Shots, etc will make you stronger, bigger and more agile.

Just being on a floor where it is normal to drop a heavy barbell from a missed snatch is worth it. You will push yourself more and try heavier weights. Can't do it? Just hop over and take out some weights and try again. You don't have to wait for the frigging squat rack to be empty. That hour on the gym is for your group only. No waiting around for that dumbass tweeting while resting on the rack.

You will also have a coach (read good coach) that will sermon you and make sure you do things right. Last class I was doing some deadlifts and the coach started pushing me around and manipulating my torso and thighs to make sure I did it correctly. This went on about 3 different times in 2 minutes. It's good, when you are lifting and fatigue sets in you start faulting form.

Only been 3 months now, but man, it's frigging good. And the girls are hot and strong too. It's good motivation.

All in all, don't believe everything you read online. It's overdramatized.

Then again, if you haven't done ANY excerise at all in your life, it's probably better to start slowly on a normal gym. But not because crossfit is dangerous, but rather because you need to get used to your body and understand how much you can push it. It's easy to get injured doing any type of physical activity if you don't have experience and push too much, too fats.

I very much agree with this. I have been doing crossfit for about 2 years now. I had never really lifted seriously or correctly before, but very on again, off again with gyms doing machines, running, cycling. None of that every fit me nor could I stay motivated. Having a group, all doing the same thing, all cheering you on, with a coach always helping you get better is amazing. It doesn't matter that I am slower or not as strong because at the end of the class, all of use are just as tired.

As for beginners, I would recommend crossfit, but only if the gym has experience with complete beginners. Ours is great with it and go out of their way to scale everything and include everybody. If the coaches and other athletes are not inclusive, find a different gym. A good coach will teach proper form as best as someone can do it in their shape.

I agree with everything you have said.

Start working remote. But I think I couldn't have done it sooner. Times are changing if it comes to remote work, but not as fast as I want :\

Doing polyamory. I always was in love with multiple people, but most of the time I was bound to one. I never cheated, but I felt bad often. Should have done this earlier, but only with the rise of the Internet I was able to find enough people to share my thoughts with.

Started lifting weight. This I really could have done sooner, but I always was kinda nerdy and weights were for buff cool dudes. It got me rid of back-pain and I generally felt better.

Functional programming

Sleeping 8 hours a night, even when behind on work

I've been struggling with the sleep as well.

Research sleep hygiene, for starters.

Set yourself a "no screens" curfew every night. After that time, don't touch anything with a screen (or anything else that causes stress and mental stimulation). I set mine about 2 hours before I go to sleep.

I use that time to clean, cook for the next day, read, and walk my dog. I often think about increasing it to 3 hours, since it boosts my quality of life so much.

And the two go hand in hand. :)

1. Getting more sleep.

2. Spending more time with family.

3. Finishing projects I start.

4. Solo traveling. I'm done waiting for others to get off their ass.

+1 for solo traveling. done waiting for others and done not being concerned about making other people wait

+1. Great for self awareness and discovery.

Stopped watching TV. Can't even think how much time I spent on TV before.

I can see within a few years from now I would have similar moments for stopping to use facebook and twitter

I wonder how many of these answers are real and how many is something people want/value but don't actually do in reality. But then again, a fake story from one person that makes two people change in a good direction is better than truth, no?

Focusing on stretching and mobility instead of strength when working out.

My #1 priority right now is becoming a breakdancer. Flexibility is such a huge component—you end up feeling lighter on your feet and incredibly alive. Changing my workouts to flexibity first almost make them philosophical.

The easiest way to do it is with Yoga—but it might get old quickly because there are many poor teachers.

Want to start doing it and feel like you always have so much to learn? Look up Ido Portal. OMG. :)

I've been a bboy off and on for almost a decade, good to see more people getting into it lately, dancing is the healthiest thing I do by far. Some unsolicited advice, there is more to it than just the moves, you'll enjoy it more/longer if you develop a deep appreciation of the music and culture as well.

Any literature / movies you would recommend for a deeper dive into that?

BTW, what do you mean by bboy?

A b-boy is a term for a male breaker. Wikipedia does a pretty good job explaining "breakdancing" and "b-boying":


Freelancing. Had I started just 2 years earlier (when I started grad school) I would have been able to knock out my debt much faster by the time I graduated.

Where do you live?

In SF, it seems most freelancers are in it for the lifestyle benefits, rather than the pay. When you factor in the lack of vacation time, no benefits, often worse career development and networking vs. working at a proper tech company (one that hires good people, pays well, encourages learning/skill development) it seems a losing proposition. But then, this assumes you have the right kind of companies around, which most people don't.

In London it's the reverse. Anybody who's any good at their job and has a few years of experience under their belt, would be crazy not to give contracting a try. You make almost twice as much as an employee doing the same job if you're full time, or you can choose to earn the same but take months-long breaks regularly instead. If you like variety or get bored quickly, it also allows you to justify switching jobs without anybody raising eyebrows on the short stints in your resume, because hey you're a consultant.

The downside is worse career/skills development if you're not careful (you need to keep up and go to lots of meetups), you tend to get hired for the same jobs as an expert and not ever move up the management ladder, also some of the best companies and top positions won't be available to you as an outsider (big tech names, CTO roles, early stage startups offering equity over pay)

I always find it instructive to look at how the economics of an employer/client align with the economics of the contractor.

Example: at mass-market product development/distribution companies (Google, Apple, etc.), the big money will be made on a great product launch. In that kind of situation, you need to find a way to get some equity or some piece of the big launch. This -- big companies launching scaled platforms to lots of people -- is how the biggest fortunes are made in tech. I find these places aren't great for high-$ contracting because the economic incentives are so misaligned, all the way up to the CEO.

If, on the other hand, the business is some sort of intermediary, like a realtor / ad agency / investment bank, or uses an agency model (lots of cash comp, little equity value, big cash bonuses but nobody's building anything with stock/ownership) that might be a better place for a contractor because they have the cash to pay, but, I have to question whether that's going to make for a satisfying career.

Surprisingly, the older I get, the more I realize how much (1) the salary-optimization game (vs. being part of a big company/product/launch) is a sucker bet in tech and (2) so much of life is about relationships, network, and reputation. I guess it's different from person to person, but, still, I've done contracting and I'm not going back.

I've lived a few places on the east coast basically, all lower cost of living. But I've been freelancing with folks in SF and Chicago, so the differential is in my favor.

I started freelancing in grad school, so I've pretty much always been moonlighting and choosing my own hours (in addition to the "day job" of grad school).

Learning new things that I didn't care about previously: machine learning, game dev, web dev, and high level programming. Lots of fun!

Running... outside... I didn't start until I was like 26. It feels great.

Lucky people who felt the joy of running immediately. I tried to start running many times. I got myself to 5k. But I hate it, it is boring, and just about any other physical activity feels better than running for me.

Have you tried bike riding, like with a good road bike? I find it a great deal more fun and exhilarating than running ever was.

Yes — hated every minute of riding uphill.

The greatest outdoor activity I ever had was skateboarding (I am 33, and started two years ago) — I really really loved it, could do it for hours, learning tricks and just moving through the city — right until I broke my ankle. :(

You might try adjusting your pace some. If you are 100% spent after your runs you should slow down a lot and see if that helps. Alternatively, if you aren't dying at the end of your runs maybe try and run a little faster. A fun workout to do is to start slow and warm up for 1-2km then pick out a landmark that is relatively close like a telephone pole or a tree and then sprint to it. Once you get there show down to a recovery pace and pick out another landmark at which you begin sprinting again. This is called a "fartlek" it is characterized by sprints and recovery periods that are irregular distances. You are not sprinting for 400m every time.

> it is boring

It might not work for you, but for me, the joy in running comes from using that time to let my mind wander. Sometimes I use it to think about work and sometimes I just daydream. It can be a great meditative conduit.

I run for 45-60 minutes and it's perfect podcast time. (I only enjoy running on the treadmill, so earbuds are no safety hazard and I can tune out the standard exercise music in the gym.)

I would suggest you to try swimming. So much fun compared to running .

Listening to podcasts. Perfect for when both your eyes and hands are occoupied, but your brain is bored.

To put in in less nerdy terms, cleaning, ironing and other housework, exercise and walking will never be boring again.

When I am working on something and need to break for the day, I try to stop at a point where I am enthusiastic about continuing (i.e. not experiencing writer's block or confused as to how to proceed). This means I will be able to pick up the next day write where I left off, immediately get back into the flow of things, and I will look forward to doing it.

I've also heard that it's a good idea to stop at a point where there are some very easy things that you need to do, even if you might need to introduce some errors to get to that point.

For instance if you were writing a paper, and hadn't ran spelling/grammar check for awhile leaving that as the first thing you need to do the next time you start work would be a good idea. That's an easy fix that doesn't require much thought, but gives you the immediate feedback of getting something done.

For me, it has been reading books. Although my reading speed is very slow right now (hopefully it will get better with time) but i still manage to read a book every month. So much to learn from them :)

My reading speed is slow and my to-read list is long. I used to force myself to finish every book I started but now I'll happily give up on anything that doesn't grab me fairly quickly.

I've also been working on only adding things to my list that I actually want to read and avoiding books that I add only because I want to have read them.

Is there a title in particular that triggered your interest in reading?

I started by reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Reading it was such a wonderful experience that I have read 2 more books since then. (Started reading 3 months ago)

100% agree that the point of reading is not anything to do with finishing books!

Learn to speed-read by learning from a couple of speed-reading books. I recommend the Evelyn Wood system to get you started.

What kinds of books have you found yourself reading? Fiction? Non-fiction?

Mostly non-fiction right now as my reading speed is slow and any good fiction book will probably take a lot of time.

Yoga. I sit at a desk all day. I've been in a couple car wrecks. I had to do something about my back. Now I have a regular practice and I regret not picking it up MUCH earlier in my life.

I've only recently started to check in my dotfiles.

Using Bitbucket's issue tracker to track bugs/features in my personal projects. Previously I just used a todo text file, but there are a lot of advantages to have it online.

Riding a bike.

Learning how to draw (I was trying to start several times, but always give up at some point).

Using source control, specifically git. Programmed for a couple years before I got on board.

Learning to read Ancient Greek. The insights into language and culture just keep coming...

What have you been reading? I loved Anabasis (not too tough for a beginner like me), trying to read Ethics.

I'm still mostly working through my textbook, but I've read part of an interlinear translation of the Anabasis. I'm reading through parts of Plato's Apology with a group. My goal is to be able to read at least one of Aristotle's books, and perhaps Herodotus and Homer.

Regarding Anabasis, the scene in which the 10000 put on a show for the Queen of Kilikia (who is rumored to be sleeping with Cyrus), ending it with a fake charge scattering the onlookers struck me as profoundly humorous.

Cooking: a life skill which I regretfully learnt very late but its something which I completely immerse-and-enjoy myself now.

1. Elimination diet to find out which foods make me feel horrible (quite a few). I feel great now after a lifetime of sinus headaches and poor digestion.

2. Programming. It's been 7 years now, but when I first started it felt like an instant fit.

3. Currently, Unity 3d. I've tried to write games before and always gotten caught up doing graphics by hand. I'm doing a Udemy course on it and omg can't believe how easy / powerful it is.

4. Using my tax advantaged savings accounts. Why haven't I been maxing out my 401k every year? Not sure, but I am this year!

Using GPG more. After all the recent email leaks and privacy breaches, encryption and verification of plaintext communications is more vital than ever. If only it didn't have such a steep learning curve.

I spent about 2 years harping on everyone I know to use this, including clients, bosses, friends, colleagues, and everyone else I would send more than 2 or 3 emails. I was only able to get a couple of people using it (and that was probably mostly because they were worried I would be able to get them fired if they didn't keep me happy). I eventually gave up.

Crypto is super important, but it's way too hard to get practically anyone, even technical people, to use it. This area is ripe for disruption I think, especially as more and more high-profile leaks get released. Someone could sell some great, easyish-to-use crypto software and get a lot of money.

I have some spare Keybase invites. Drop me an email if you want. Maybe it'll help.

I've never had one of these moments. It's just been shit my entire life, then when it seemed as though things were about to get better, the sea of idiots descended again and shit even more, leaving me here 6+ years later constantly getting harassed, as I'm living with my mother, while being unemployed and low functioning, because the harassment and torture makes it impossible for me to think, progress, or move on.

Reading Atlas Shrugged. I never felt any pleasure in helping others or making a personal sacrifice for someone else. Traditional morality of course taught me that this is bad and so I did it anyway even though it hurt me. Worst, other people would shame me using this to their advantage. After I read Atlas Shrugged I realized that there is nothing wrong in how I feel and it's perfectly okay to be selfish. Not being a doormat does wonders for one's self-esteem.

Working/studying abroad. I had many options when I was a student and right after graduation but for various reasons (esp. lack of confidence) I didn't seize the opportunity.

Mmm, charging more for my intelectual, creative and logical skills in graphic and web design...

Now I'm losing all the way by just doing anything for any price :/

Two current answers:

- Learning to say "no" easily

- Leaving a bad/so-so situation sooner rather than later


Two future answers:

- planning for the future (I'm an "in the moment" type)

- moving out of the city (and into the countryside)

Using an electric toothbrush. (It's the little things)

Programming. Started at 19. Wish I would have started at 10.

It quite possibly might have held you back.

Why so?

Language choices available at the time and/or locking in bad habits which made sense as a 10 year old, but not so much as a 19 year old.

Totally agree. I started "programming" at an early age which just made me feel like I didn't need to pay attention when I took actual CS classes. The results were that I missed out on learning a lot of lessons the easy way (in school) and had to learn them the hard way.

1) Stopped reading and watching the news.

I found myself growing angrier, frustrated and confused by world events and world events as they are portrayed by the media.

I realised so much of it simply did not concern me or was just outside my sphere of influence. So I tuned out completely. I have no idea what is happening around the world.

I know that wilful ignorance has it's drawbacks but I have never had as much peace of mind.

2) Setting several alarms every night.

I usually have 3-4 alarms that go off between 1h 30m - 2h intervals every night.

By breaking up my awareness of sleep into segments I find it so much easier to get up in the morning feeling that I've slept for a long time.

I hated that feeling of waking up after 7hrs sleep feeling as if I've been sleeping for no more than 10 minutes.

3) Brush my teeth whilst taking a 5 minute power walk in my bedroom.

Nice burst of exercise before going to bed and my teeth have never been whiter :)

This falls under a host of other habit stacking things I do to combine tedious everyday activities.

Taking writing more seriously and approaching it with more rigor.

Everything and everyone interesting in my life from the past six years can be traced directly back to writing. Jobs I've gotten, deeper relationships with people whose work I love and respect — all tied together by words.

In my life, I can't think of a single thing that has a better return on time in to value out. (Outside of family / children.)

Actually learning how JavaScript works.

Do you have any recommended resources? I "know" javascript, but I feel like there's so much more to learn.

"You Don't Know JS" is a great resource to start off with.

I am reading the second edition of "The Secrets of the JavaScript Ninja" now and I am learning a lot of what goes on behind the scenes. Highly recommended.

What finally got you to dive in?

I had a lot of "why doesn't this work" and "why does this work" moments. I knew there were gaps in my understanding, especially when I started developing NodeJS applications.

After I read "You don't know JS" I was really kicking myself for going so long without having a fundamental understanding of the language.

Thank you for your recommendation. Do you know if the github repo include the entire content?


Yes, as far as I know the repo includes everything.

I wish I played street fighter earlier than college. Programming I've been doing since fifth grade. I think that's early enough

Switching from employee to freelancing had the biggest impact in my professional life. It's not for everyone but definitely for me.

I have been thinking about doing this for a while now but don't quite know how and where to start. Do you have some pointers? I have seen this posted a bunch of time by various people but never really got up to asking them.

Things I am uncertain about: * Organization/Admin set-up required to get going with me being the only person * Finding programming projects, clients * A good hourly rate to be charged

A little about me: I have been working as a Software Engineer for a few years now with a very good understanding of python, java, C/C++, javascript (learning React these days), databases, bash scripts. Have some experience with elasticsearch, big data (hadooop/hive), scala.

My steps were :

1. Save enough money for 3 months before I quit

2. Start looking for freelancing projects locally by asking companies that are looking for employees in my area to hire me as a freelancer instead of an employee

3. When you have 3 "yes, we can work with you on a freelance basis", I quit the company and approach the three of them until my first working day in that company.

I'm pretty sure these depend on your location ( I'm living in Berlin ), so you can ask around in some freelancing meet-up how can you start.

You can start with any number of popular freelancing websites. There are specific sites for programming jobs and other sites where you could do all kinds of contracting work. A good overview can be found in this quora link - https://www.quora.com/Which-are-the-best-freelancing-sites

Getting past Excel and learning SQL and then Rails

The moment my girl was born. I now regret waiting so long to be a parent.

If you dont mind me asking: how old were you when she was born?


Leaving negative people and environments behind and moving on with life.

Getting all the junk out of my apartment.


Getting a housekeeper to save time and do all the things I didn't want to.

Although it failed, letskudos.com was born.

Lost my job in technical recruiting.... I've always wanted to travel and live and work round the world... Seemed a pipe dream with costs, family obligations, financial obligations holding me home.... My daughter said to me, "Mom, you can look for a job and network from anywhere in the world... Where do youngest to be? Just go there and work from there!"

Holy cow, could I actually do that?!

I began to change my limiting thinking, and tweaked the way and with whom I was networking with.... I began telling people what I desired in the way of working and living abroad... Low and behold I am recruited for a position abroad!

The company sponsors my visa and I leave in 2 weeks!!

My aha moment came with the encouragement from a lived in line to follow my dream, my desire, with the thought that it all was actually possible... And it is!!

1) Programming in Smalltalk in 1998 2) Having beard 3) Freelancing with multiple tech 4) Understanding Conspicuous Signalling Theory (read Spent from Geoffrey Miller) 5) Since I've got meditation early I'd add trying to master lucid OBEs younger, they are uber cool. Neo mastering The Matrix kind of cool.

I buy refurb/secondhand high quality items. None of them have failed me. When you don't buy retail you can often negotiate, especially when you're not dealing with commercial/institutional sellers. Frugal living without compromising quality is art and science. I love it!

Switched jobs.

I was living and working in a town that's somewhat boring and not the most inspiring. I came to the decision I needed to leave when there was a restructure going on and I realised that I wasn't learning anything and didn't really have anyone to learn from as well as the fact that the company wasn't really investing in learning and progression.

I've been at my new job for just over a month now and have been learning loads. The company actively invests in learning and personal development, with one of the benefits being a fund to spend on that as well as them providing training needed for my role. We've also recently been allocated some time to spend on personal learning/development.

I now work in a city so it also got me to move out of that town and closer to the city which has been good for my social life.

For me it was psychotherapy / dealing with both my physical & mental health.

I now meditate 2x a day, run, and lift weights.

Any advice on how to seek it out? I'm at the point where I want to try it but I don't know exactly what to seek out. Should I talk to a general practitioner and get a referral? Just google some stuff and pick somebody close to me? Any kind of "yelp for therapists"?

Your insurance may or may not require a referral and may or may not restrict the available mental health professionals you can see, so check with them for their policies first. No need to be shy about it; they'll see the bill after your clinic visit anyway.

Finding a mental health professional is kind of subjective, so recommendations are not necessarily helpful. (Do pay attention to negative ratings though.) Even the most qualified ones can't help you if you don't "click" with them, so you may have to shop around a little. Don't be shy about switching if a psychiatrist or therapist isn't working for you; they're used to it.

Lastly, and this is my opinion only, if you have a teaching hospital nearby (e.g. at your nearest major university) with mental health services, you probably have a better chance of not getting a psychiatrist/therapist that's incompetent. No guarantees but a better chance. (Depending on your confidence in this thesis, it may even be worth paying out of pocket if they're not in your insurance network. After all, what is your sanity worth?)

Good luck.

Thinking about and trying to fix my posture. Sitting in a chair to much causes something called "anterior pelvic tilt", almost everyone in the modern world suffers from it more or less.

Writing a diary with the stuff that i have on my mind, it is easy to forget who you where before, and why you changed.

I noticed this in myself but never knew the name for it! Thanks

Leave Texas and go to a real tech hub.

Where did you end up going?

Tracking the amount of time I spend on various tasks at work. Here's a blog post I helped edit which explains the benefits in detail: https://blog.toughbyte.com/how-to-boost-productivity-with-ti...

Another one is tracking personal expenses. I was looking for a solution for a while and even built something of my own, but in the end ended up using YNAB (https://www.youneedabudget.com/) which I found out about in an HN comment.

Platform as a Service. (specifically I use Azure App Services, but AWS Lambda has got to be similar). Not having to worry about managing a VM is such a delight. I had that nitty gritty bullshit. Now I just deploy my code and I can focus on features.

1) Fixing my worsening health symptoms which started almost 3 years ago. It had gotten to a point where I could no longer think or be productive for the past 6 months. After spending every waking moment researching every ailment that matched my symptoms, I eventually discovered I had Hashimoto's and had been hypothyroid for a really long time. This was after making the rounds with several specialists who had no idea what was wrong with me. My recommendation is to take charge of your health and be the best expert of your body. Being healthy is extremely important not just for the obvious reasons, but because everything stems from it. Don't take your health for granted, ever.

2) Learning German which taught me important memorization techniques to carry over to other areas of my life.

3) Stretching & flexibility exercises. I've been a heavy weightlifter ever since college but only began to realize recently that lifting weights can have detrimental effects on your body if that's the only thing you do. You'll become less flexible and more rigid which makes you more prone to injury. Especially with our profession where we're propped on a chair for most of the day, it's important to make sure our bodies can achieve a full range of motion to prevent any skeletal or joint issues down the road.

4) Cooking and eating a ketogenic diet. I'm much more satiated and rarely go hungry throughout the day. Cooking was extremely daunting at first but not so much when you really start doing it. It's an essential skill to have, ensures you're eating whole foods and putting nothing processed in your body, and gets you invites to more potlucks.

5) Writing everything down. My Evernote has exploded within the last year. I keep everything there and it's saved my ass countless times. You'll thank yourself later when you get into the habit of writing everything down.

That's all I can think of right now. What's exciting to me after having wrote this is that all these things were realized only within the last year or so. It's fascinating how much we can improve in such a short amount of time as long as we are consistent with always trying to grow and learn.

Stop working at home (where my PC / funbox is a massive abstraction).

Start reading slashdot and later hackernews. I am still a CS student, these news sites allow me insight into the world after college, allowing me to plan and visualize my future better.

1) TDD, I get SOO much more done, & with a greater level of confidence. 2) Exercise, I'm not tired all the time anymore. I'm losing weight. I'm happier. I no longer have an all comsuming need to feast on human flesh.

Do you mean that exercising led to you becoming vegetarian or cutting down meat?

Edit: lol looks like I should get some sleep

Becoming a cyborg. (Yes, seriously. But not relevant to 99% of the people here.)

Cochlear implant or something more exotic?

Insulin pump.

Clojure (LISPs, more generally)

me too

Switch jobs. Was in the same company for 8 years. Learned everything they had there, liked everyone. But decided try to interview a few places, due to my buddy nagging me, so gets some credit. But once I started, got some good offers, a good raise and now like the new position. Thinking back, I should have done in maybe 3 or so years back.

It is just that there is so much stuff happening in technology that it is almost a disservice to yourself (if your goal is to explore and learn new things) to always just stay in one place. It also happens to be one of the best way to get a good salary bump.

Becoming "paleo" (I prefer the term 'evidence-based diet'). Transformed my body composition, energy levels, and overall health. Introduced to it through the wonderful nomnompaleo app.

Reading a book about willpower and how it works in the brain.

Two years ago I started running once a week, I hated it! But I knew it's a good form of exercise. Now I'm running 3 times a week and I love it! I'd like to run 5 times a week. I could just push myself to do it for a time period but I know right now this would eat away to much of my willpower and I'm ok with that. I know I'm gonna run 5 times a week in a year or two.

I learned how I can increase my willpower but it takes time.

UI/UX Design.

I started designing as a hobby. Just started making designs focused on superheroes, comics, etc. A year later, one of cousin's said he is starting a new project, for which he needs some designs. I randomly started designing it. The UI/UX of that app ended up so well that he's still using the same design concept for the app, and since then I have been learning more and more about UI/UX and I have completed more than 7-8 UI/UX design projects till now. :)

Be faithful or at least try to have an intellectual discourse on religion without devolving into bigotry. Even just learning about another religion can be so enlightening.

I wish I bought a ton loads of bitcoin just a few years ago.

Exercise, even simple stuff that doesn't require going to a gym or expensive equipment like pushups and squats. I started doing those every day since the start of this year and I can't believe how much it has improved my fitness and health. Squats in particular gave me a lot more stamina with running, climbing stairs, etc. It takes less than 10 minutes a day to do a few of each (I worked up to doing 50 of each) too.

Learn to play the Guitar or I guess any musical instrument. I've been playing for the last 1.5 years and it's a great way to relax, clear you mind, prove to yourself that you're capable of taking on new things. It's a lot of fun too!

EDIT: The actual "why didn't I do this sooner" moment comes after a month or so where you get fast enough with chord changes that you can actually play something :)

Using vim, and learning it in depth.

I'm an old AIX/HP-UX hand, and stuck to vi and clones because I was afraid I'd start using a vim-only command that wouldn't work on vi.

Then Unicode became more and more prevalent and vi and it's clones didn't support it well + I started doing mainly Linux, so I switched to vim. Then finally I started learning all the vim-specific extras... Yeah totally wish I started earlier!

OP asks for moments, gets things people started doing with no description of the moment.

For me it is taking extensive notes. Over the past year I started pay attention to the mannerisms, behavior, and personalities of the people whose position I wanted to take in the near future. One commonality among almost all of them: they take notes during almost every conversation and write notes throughout the day as they think of things.

Having a much needed conversation with my cofounder. There wasn't a fit, and this was in the back of my mind very early on, but didn't bring it up. When circumstance brought pressure on the company, I had to ask his resignation and take over his job when I wasn't ready.

He was a very good friend of mine, but my negligence definitely took its toll.

Squat, Deadlift, Press and Bench a lot of heavy weight. OLY lifts as well. It's the only thing that's helped deal with stress.

Observing the world: Before I just wanted to apply models to the world and morale. Now, I just want to observe, if l like something, I continue else I try to stop If possible.

Journaling/writing: Writing is really usefull. It helps: remembering (the brain just distord) taking things out of your head to take some distance.

Don't believing in truth: There is no such thing as that.

And posting on HM! :)

About six months back I started at my first job after being unemployed for the last six years and weirdly enough did not experience any “why didn't I start doing this sooner” feeling. Guess a really supportive family and the knowledge that i would be inevitably starting at a job some day made the transition almost a non event.

I don't think I've ever had such a moment. I've never had anything in my life work out so unexpectedly well that this thought would have entered my mind.

I am rarely surprised by the consequences of my decisions... When I am surprised it's usually not in a good way. I guess that makes me an optimist? I'm a cynical optimist.

Blues dancing. It's a partnered social dance that focuses on musicality, improvisation, connection, and quality of movement. It's done wonders for my confidence and my sense of being "embodied". Like, I know I used to walk around without ever noticing where my hips are, and that just seems really really weird now.

1) Playing guitar. 2) Moving to a nicer part of town, closer to my work. 3) Re-connecting with old school chums thru FB.

1) Yoga (or just breathing better). If you're a shallow breather your entire life this will change so much. 2) Stronger-typed javascript. I can't imagine not using Typescript at this point. I would lose so much productivity without the proper intellisense, among other things.

Listening to non fiction audio books. Since I've started half a year ago I have "read" over 16 books while commuting or exercising.

1. Reading Good Books (One of the best habits that keeps on adding value )

2. Meditation

3. Exercise & Good Nutrition (Health is your greatest wealth)

4. Sleep (Turning Off Blue light 3-4 hours before has had a very positive impact on sleep quality and general wellness / productivity during day )

Taking musicianship seriously. I started playing piano and taking classes when I was 15 but didn't pay enough attention to it. 15 years later, I'm angry at my past self at being so lazy and wasting time on things that are now utterly irrelevant.

Starting my own business in I.T. I spent years struggling with unemployment and job hunting after a decade and a half of solid real-world experience. Starting my own company was the best thing I've ever done and I wish I'd done it sooner.

Getting out of a relationship with an abusive (and stunningly good looking) woman...

reading The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu.

The book was published in 2008 and I just finished reading the book a couple of months ago. It was a wild journey into the land of science fiction. Highly recommend if you are a fan of Asimov or Phillip K Dick.

Unit testing

Definitely learning to program. I now separate my life into before and after learning to program. It really is like becoming literate in a world of people that can't read. It's the most powerful knowledge in existence.

When I started lifting weights.

Each time I plant a fruit tree.

Shameless plug:

I feel like I have those pretty often, with the most recent being yesterday: https://github.com/nkantar/GHT.vim

Using Vim, it's really allowed me to be more efficient as a coder.

Earn my salary in bitcoin.

How has this benefited you?

I hate dealing with banks. Plus, my holdings grow in the long-term.

Charging for (optional) yearly support for my B2B software, and giving away the first year for free to everyone. Given a decent retention rate, this makes a huge difference down the road.

- Exercise regularly

- Introduce more technical leadership roles to my engineering team

Managing energy instead of time produces huge gains when done right.

Can you expand on this?

Eating in the morning. Started at 25 years old. Never did before.

Same here. I was never hungry. Now, for some reason, I really like breakfast :O

Listening to podcasts while I work. I used to be a music only person, but I have enjoyed mixing it up lately and listening to topics/people that interest me.

Can you really listen while working? i'm having difficulty listening to anything with words and working, I can't focus on both and I find I don't want to miss anything.

a fade up daylight alarm clock best £130 I've ever spent

Learning vim commands

Taking a 10 min break from everything and being quiet.

Lifting heavy weights on 5/3/1 or Starting Strength or similar. I'd be a BEAST by now.

Cold showers! My inspiration to start was Wim Hof

Are they bad side effects to meditation? I've read a study that found out that can trigger depression in 7% of the people.