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Jakub Petrykowski
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Hey Igor. Thanks for sharing your experience with us here :) Yeah, 15 minutes is sooo long for us technofreaks. I set an alarm for 15 minutes and turn off the ringer on my phone. How can you meditate with open eyes? To me visual distraction is just too much for now... unless I sit in front of a blank wall perhaps. I'd be careful about consequences of meditation over just a few days :) The shortest "programs" I am aware of consist of 2-4 weeks of daily practice. Ideally you'd meditate until the end of your life (that is what some people preach!) Like you wrote -- keep us posted.
Summary: Short introduction to mindfulness meditation - with instruction sets for breathing meditation and body scan. I've had lots of conversations recently which at one point or another led to topics like mild social anxiety, procrastination, perfectionism, and interpersonal communication. I suggested that there are ways to change the way... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2013 at Jakub Petrykowski blog
Definitely. I have also enlisted a couple of friends to give it a try. If you've been trying Tiny Habits after reading my blog post, please share your results with us here. I'm very curious to see if it works for you (and if it doesn't what goes wrong?)
If you want to learn a reliable method to build new habits into your daily life, I strongly suggest you enter free Tiny Habits workshop. It is designed and run by B. J. Fogg, a Stanford scientist working on behavior change in both academic and business settings. Tiny Habits is... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2012 at Jakub Petrykowski blog
I recently read a book titled "The Power of Happiness: A Comprehensive Guide to Daily Joy and Well-Being" by Timothy McKinney. If you're looking for an introduction to the topic of happiness from the point of view of science, this book is a decent place to start. It's a light... Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2012 at Jakub Petrykowski blog
One more thing about "pharma and doctors will simply adapt". That is exactly my point about incentives! It's good [for us] if we force them to adapt by becoming smarter and living healthier; it's bad [for us] if we remain ignorant and let them get easy money when *we* could adapt a bit and live a better life. When you know something that you can offer for a long time and its value doesn't diminish that is a very comfortable position, isn't it? I believe there are lots of people who don't seem to need to learn much, they work in entrenched systems that protect them from change. They also do a lot to make sure that people are dependent on them. These are some of the most destructive systems you can imagine: corrupt governments, bad governments (lazy, not doing their jobs), lobbies, monopolies, cartels. Some fields of professional services may behave in a very similar way, leading to bad results for people who rely on them.
The fact that CURRENTLY old people consume more per person in healthcare doesn't mean that EVERY or even AVERAGE older person does, and even more important - it doesn't say anything about what is the relation of lifestyle to healthcare costs. Also, people who care for themselves spread the costs into many different kinds of goods and services (e.g. more expensive food, more frequent vacation, 'well being' practices like yoga, sports, travel, massage etc.) and in total they may be spending more, but actual healthcare costs could be lower. 2. It's true, but doesn't prove that neither your point nor mine. I think we'd need more data here. But honestly I am not that interested in disproving myself here :) 3. I agree that industries will adapt by selling other things to people. However, this actually proves my point :) My point wasn't that "people will spend less money on health-related goods and services". My point was that "[various] experts and pharma companies will lose business". This means they will lose business in some areas, which they will naturally try to fix by making new business - adapting. In other words, a lot of the money now goes to doctors and pharma companies that fix issues that can be avoided with lifestyle, and that can be avoided with better knowledge (provided people have that knowledge and that they use it; both are difficult though :( ). When people start to live a healthier lifestyle, they start spending money on other things. Now, maybe to wrap up this discussion, I'd say that you have a good point that doctors and pharma won't simply go out of business becuase they will adapt, and sure enough even in optimistic case it may take decades or centuries before current major lifestyle-induced disease is no longer a society-level concern (as it seems to be now in the US for example). I think I really wanted to make a broader point -- that for a non-expert it's really hard to know what to do, and experts thrive on that.
@Cezary Everything that I write below is my best effort done this evening to justify my position. I'm not an expert on healthcare costs :) so perhaps someone with the right facts could disprove what I say. Until someone does, I stand by my opinion :) Details below. There are two sides to my argument that "healthcare industry would lose money if we lived a better lifestyle". One is that people who live 'well' don't get sick as much (and as severe), and the other one is that they also self-treat much more often because medical knowledge is not limited to doctors. You seem to be saying that the first part isn't right :) You wrote: "They would buy more drugs. (...) consuming lots of drugs along the way... Could die from exactly the same heart attack" -- would they? Drugs for what conditions? People who live a healthy lifestyle get ill considerably less; both age-specific and life-long incidence of serious conditions like various types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes is much lower for people who exercise and eat well. Also, when a person dies, that actually means the end of healthcare costs related to that person. Living long with a serious condition costs real money, and emergencies/surgeries do. I don't have hard data to support this claim right now, but I believe that there are EXTREMELY high costs of living unhealthy life as compared to a healthy one -- here's why I think so: I agree with you that avg. life expectancy would grow further (it's been constantly growing anyway for many decades), but I'm speculating (key word: speculating) that total medical cost per person (over their lifetime) is smaller for people who live "well". So again, the kinds of diseases people get DEPENDS on lifestyle. People who live well get diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some kinds of cancer not nearly as often as people who live an unhealthy lifestyle. These lifestyle conditions cost tens-hundreds of dollars over many years before the person dies. Yes they may die suddenly as well; but that seems to be a minority, let's consider diabetes alone: - there are estimated 25 million people with diabetes in the US in 2011 ( - ~11 million of people above 65 years old in the US are known to have it in 2009 ( - another ~80 million are in pre-diabetes stage. That's more than a 100 million total in the US alone, but only less than a million a year dies from diabetes or cardiovascular disease ( So it seems to me that with this kind of disease spends money on healthcare for several years. This is a very rough thinking, but I'm guessing that people who live healthy lifestyle don't incur large medical costs over increased lifespan, not even close to what they do now. @Cezary Do you still think I'm wrong? If yes, which part of my argument doesn't convince you?
Professionals or experts have much more at stake than just money when they help their clients. It may be about the perception of being needed ("I have something to offer"); or about their perception of job security ("I have a job, I don't have to worry about my future"). The need for money, or even greed, are not the only factors here. I think it's extremely difficult as a professional to avoid conflicts of interest, because they are built into being an expert. When clients rely on you making recommendations, and they get paid for result of these recommendations, that is a place where conflict of interest is inherent. Imagine a dentist who says: "you should treat that tooth". You agree. Then he starts treating that tooth for you, so he reaps the benefit. What if it was another, randomly chosen doctor, unaffiliated with him, that would get the job and the money? Or a psychotherapist, to whom you go for a 1 hour consultation. He listens to you carefully, and provides his evaluation at the end. "It seems to me that you have some deep behavioral problems, and your best bet is entering therapy." He then goes on to say how he will provide such a therapy service for you, which, by the way, may take several months or years. What if you went to another therapist with that evaluation, and the current one would never see you again? I believe that many doctors or therapists would think twice before suggesting treatment if they knew someone else would reap the benefits; they'd have less (conscious or subconscious) motivation to say "yeah you should do something about it". It's the same in B2B. You talk to a salesperson or a consultant; they tell you your website is really bad and you should improve it. You are convinced. Then they go on to selling you a new website. Now I'm NOT saying it's bad that professionals of any kind both convince you about a need and sell you something. What I'm saying is that as a client, you'd best be aware that often they may have reasons to keep you uninformed, and guide you (or manipulate you) into buying whatever it is they are selling. They can do it precisely because they know so much more about the topic than you do. If you happen to meet professionals who are "moral" in the sense that they often say "you don't need what I have to offer" or "there is another, better way for you to solve your problem than by paying me", then you are either skilled at choosing experts, or lucky :)
Summary: It's hard to make informed decisions. Sometimes experts aren't your best allies. In this post I share examples of "good" experts, and a few tips for making better decisions in key areas of life. In Part 1 I described the problem of making informed decisions. I used health &... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2012 at Jakub Petrykowski blog
Summary: Most areas of knowledge are so big and complex that most people will never know anything about them. This includes some areas that affect everyone every day, like health/medicine. Non-experts have a hard time making good decisions. In Part 1 (this article) I describe the problem, using health &... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2012 at Jakub Petrykowski blog
Two books I highly recommend if you're interested in how personal /organizational habits can be instilled, and how you fool yourself on a daily basis probably without knowing it (and what to do about that): "Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg Many case studies of how various individuals and organizations... Continue reading
Posted Apr 21, 2012 at Jakub Petrykowski blog
@Kamil Careful with this notion of "limited willpower". In my most recent blog post I share a link that suggests maybe research on depletable willpower is bogus:
Toggle Commented Sep 25, 2011 on More on self-discipline at Jakub Petrykowski blog
Oh, there one more brilliant example. I've read some books by Paul Ekman on emotions and the expression of emotions, and even took virtual class on recognizing microexpressions that he makes available on his site. Thanks to these sources I am now better able to recognize how people I talk to are feeling. It's not foolproof and it doesn't tell me why they feel certain way, but it makes communication much deeper and smoother. it takes some effort though, and requires focused attention on my part. If I'm distracted or tired it doesn't help.
Hey Al, You asked about advice I successfully implemented in my life. I'll mention some things below (in no particular order). They were all taken at least in part from non-fiction books and similar materials on the Internet (blogs, videos etc.). This includes both popular science books like Emotional Intelligence and more "hand waving" books by motivational experts, and also "productivity gurus' " books. The list does not include tons of advice I ignored or tried but failed to apply with success. Also the list below is not about the last year, rather 5+ years. So, here's some things I did through self-education: -- project thinking, elements of Getting Things Done: ever since I read the original book by David Allen I've been thinking about lists: lists of projects, actions, waiting-for etc. This was implemented in terms of my thought process, structuring days, structuring notes, even writing my own software for this and doing my own experimentation with improvements to the method. -- Emotional Intelligence - I've read the book by Daniel Goleman when I was in need of instruction in the world of relationships and managing my own emotions, and I'd say I implemented at least two things: awareness of certain conditions in myself, and improving self-regulation (mood control, relieving stress). But this was a big effort spanning several years, including therapy, training at work and other activities, so it's hard to draw the line anywhere. -- diet: based on several sources I pretty much stopped drinking sugar, limited coffee (which was causing lots of issues), this year I'm slowly transitioning to a much better diet overall; again there are many sources, I must have read hundreds of articles over the years, but a book by Tim Ferriss was a motivational hit, and a friend who's very knowledgable and whom I respect was also the trigger and great source of high quality information and motivation. -- communication & relationships: lots of it through relationships and soaking in comm patterns while working at Google, also training there, but lots through reading countless business books and Polish Blog Alexa, by far the best source in the Polish Internet on the foundations of modern independent life etc. This includes learning how to set healthy boundaries, and some elements of assertiveness (though I could still improve here I'm sure ;P) So there are some examples.
A few random thoughts: Willpower - is it a depletable resource? Or maybe it isn't? The article suggests it's probably a dead end. Based on my small experiments with diet changes, changing habits in my case requires environment control, self-education, self-awareness and planning. No moment-to-moment willpower necessary, and in fact... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2011 at Jakub Petrykowski blog
@Wiktor How would you ensure people don't get distracted after they started the task? What would make them start on a task? What would be the role of an instructor, i.e. how would plan of day be enforced exactly? Can you give some specifics? @Michal You wrote "I am also very interested in some practical methods of reshaping this personal "happiness curve" to reward any longer term efforts more than easy immediate pleasures." This is exactly what I'm after. You seem to be suggesting that if we get presented with some information / visualization, it might influence us so that we start to prefer larger-longer choices more often? Is it something you tried on yourself? I do think that for me, the greatest value of wisdom or knowledge I acquire by reading (books, Internet,, etc.) is that I get *motivated*, i.e. I slowly get my mind to attach higher values to long-term rewards. (Plus it's pleasant to read and think sometimes, but not always. It's a lot of effort as well.) So this is one way. But it's a slow effect, and not strong enough to defeat some habits. It's inspiration + motivation + information, and over time there are effects. Do you know of a particular example of an infographic that worked on people? I.e. made them choose the LL option more often? All this sounds, still, as form of education :) Remember we had a discussion about change, and you said there were 2 phases: 1. the "wow" moment, when someone becomes aware of a phenomenon or rule he didn't know about (often enough to trigger change) 2. the "how" phase when someone gets specific advice and help with implementing the rule or embracing the phenomenon. What you seem to be saying is that infographics, type 1 tool, could help with shifting preferences towards LL?
Summary: the way people choose smaller-sooner rewards or larger-later rewards is well modelled with hyperbolic discounting, as opposed to exponential discounting known from the world of finance. I am wondering if there's a technology we could use to make people choose larger-later rewards more consistently. I did some reading on... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2011 at Jakub Petrykowski blog
Summary: As I promised to Greg last week, I read through six old articles on self-discipline by Steve Pavlina. Here's detailed comments on these, and how I think his ideas relate to my earlier post on methodical work as a habit. Note that I am not familiar with scientific research... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2011 at Jakub Petrykowski blog
@Greg The one you linked looks more reasonable and promising. I'll read it and share my thoughts here or in a new post.
Toggle Commented Jun 22, 2011 on Methodical work as a habit at Jakub Petrykowski blog
@Greg I treat anything by Steve Pavlina as possibly very dangerous manipulation, since style is riddled with fantasy and even worst kind of self help, akin to "The Secret" franchise (e.g. Pavlina's "1 million" wish and people "wishing" to bring into their life 1 million dollars, along with a list of people declaring to have collected certain amounts of money, obviously "thanks to" the wishing). That said, I have looked at his "Self-Discipline" blog category, it contains 73 posts. Anything in particular you recommend looking at?
Toggle Commented Jun 22, 2011 on Methodical work as a habit at Jakub Petrykowski blog
@Jo Yeah, I'm in Wroclaw. I think most people subject themselves to deadlines, unless the punishment for late delivery is severe in comparison to gains from deferring work. If someone is only motivated by deadlines it's probably extremely hard to get great results at work.
Toggle Commented May 30, 2011 on Methodical work as a habit at Jakub Petrykowski blog
@Arek Flinik Thanks for the references, will come back to you once I've read them. @Igor Can you give example of 2 boring tasks that you tend to procrastinate with and 2 boring tasks that you complete ASAP without procrastination? (the last kind you describe) I am trying to see what you mean by "perfectly measurable in terms of progress".
Toggle Commented May 23, 2011 on Methodical work as a habit at Jakub Petrykowski blog
Methodical work leads to success. Methodical work means being disciplined, working a lot, staying motivated, persevering despite setbacks. Methodical work brings results, but the work itself often stays invisible to others. My personal challenge - and in general the key to long term growth of any person - is to... Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2011 at Jakub Petrykowski blog
@Igor I'm careful not to suggest generic solutions for a situation when someone has too much on his plate. I have found some ways to deal with this kind of situation, but I'm not sure they will work for anyone else. With that in mind, here are some ideas: - above all else, it is important that I recognize the situation -- I need to be aware that there are several difficult things to handle in the next few days or weeks - whenever I can't move forward / finalize something today but it keeps bugging me, I use calendar. I say to myself "alright, next action for this is X, and the earliest date when I'll be able to do something about it is Y, now stop thinking about it". A typical example is a decision that requires meeting with someone that I just can't have today. - about decision making: as long as I keep getting new input and new perspectives, it's fine to delay them. But when I have been having identical doubts for a few hours / days, often interrupted with other duties, it's time to set aside a day just to make the decision - any decision. Does this answer your question?