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Ask HN: What was your “why didn't I start doing this sooner” moment?
630 points by throw94 on July 29, 2016 | 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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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