Re: Having a life
Sun, 27 Jun 1999 13:37:40 -0700

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky, <>, writes:
> I don't have a life. I have a job.
> [...]
> But I will take out a few seconds to decry this cultural imperative that
> says you need to have a life. I *need* what I *decide* I need. If I
> decide that my life doesn't need any fun in it, not even the smallest
> second, then I don't see why anyone has the right to tell me otherwise,
> any more than they have the right to tell me to live for their church or
> their cult.

I completely agree that you have the right to live your life as you choose. Nevertheless I think there is more to the "get a life" advice than you are giving credit.

When you say "I need what I decide I need," this is something which many people have found to be an illusion. Can you really decide your needs? Many people have tried to do so, only to find that needs that they didn't want to have were still present. In many cases, you can't decide your needs.

What you can decide is what you do. What you can't decide is what you need. This is something which many people have found to be true.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Most people can control their needs for a limited period of time. The soldier in combat or the athlete on the field has trained his body and mind so that he is truly in command of himself. But maintaining such a state for weeks, months, years, is far more difficult.

You are obviously exceptionally intelligent and motivated, and it may be that you will be able to decide and control your needs for a long period of time. But you should be aware of the risks involved. It is particularly dangerous to lie to yourself, to deny your feelings. It's one thing to say that you have needs but you are choosing to ignore them; this is honest self-sacrifice. It's another to claim that you don't have needs which you actually do; that is self-delusion, a denial of reality, and can lead to further disconnection between your mind and reality.

> As it happens, I'm neither strong enough, nor stupid
> enough, to live my life without fun. But that's my own business.

Right, this is a good attitude. You need to have fun, to relax, to enjoy life. This is part of what you are. The degree to which you give in to this need is your decision. But recognize the need, don't deny it. That's the only advice I would give.