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Wellness Wednesday for September 21, 2022

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

Might have to make a hasty escape across the border. The plan to emigrate "properly" was the wrong one, in hindsight.

My current employer is going to protect me against mobilization, but that doesn't mean I want to end up locked inside the country.

Do it. If putin keeps marshalling all resources of your nation for his bloody charade, you’d inevitably become an accomplice by providing them in one form or another.

I had no idea you were Russian, thought ilforte was the only Russian poster. Best of luck.

There are more

Where are you fleeing to? Relatives abroad, a hotel booked in advance, or just straight across the closest border and see about where to stay afterwards? How do you strategize? And are you even willing to post about that or would that violate OpSec?

Well, my old strategy was not decisive enough. But crossing the land border has become practically impossible in the last 24 hours, with gigantic queues that won't clear in the next four days, so I am staying put for a while, as I have enough savings for an emergency plane ticket. Gotta use this time to establish something of a foothold somewhere.

I’m sorry to here that, practically speaking if your employer can keep you out isn’t it a lot more dangerous and uncertain to just flee?

Yes, kinda? Fleeing is super uncertain, but it's an upfront lump of uncertainty taken when I'm ready to take it. Staying at my cozy job means it can be introduced into my life rather unexpectedly.

Online therapy services (like BetterHelp) are basically mental health fast food. I tried one because it was so convenient and cheap, and I quickly realized that my therapist was unlikely to tell me anything that had not already occurred to me.

I finally found a psych professor at the local university who sees a few patients on the side (I basically had to audition to get accepted). It's pretty damn expensive, but I'm getting much more out of it. I guess it's good that the fast food option exists for those who can't afford anything else, but I wonder how much people are getting out of it.

I tried BH and was extremely unhappy with it

I’ve heard Better Help is particularly bad. Can you say more about what went wrong in your experience?

There really needs to be an easier way to access therapy, but these services are not hitting the mark. There’s also a part of me that wonders if the problem is just that most therapists aren’t very good.

I told them I hate business speak (and this is a problem itself), but consultants didn't answer (no scripted answer for it)

In the end I got "tell us how we should help you". What?

No, I think it's general problem with medicine where feedback loop is slow and weak.

Medicine is one of oldest sciences around but a lot of its arsenal was quack interventions, for centuries.

I am too addicted to this thing. Even more frustrating, if I decide to comment, then no matter how much time I spend composing comments I get "low effort" materiel and it only makes my life worse.

Why would it make your life worse? "Practice makes perfect" may be a little too optimistic but practice is definitely necessary for improvement. So if you are unhappy with your posts writing more may be necessary. If you are too embarassed by your comment you may just keep it in your "writing drawer". But I remember Zorba said something along the lines of "if in doubt post it". What is the worst thing that can happen? If it is against the rules the mods will tell you. And if people don't like it they may leave a critiquing comment (that may actually help you improve).

I on the other hand try to post only what I think is necessary. I feel like my writing is not on par with what I enjoy reading here. Maybe I do not have interesting or unique insights and knwoledge. And maybe I am just not that talented at writing. That is fine. I am here because I enjoy it (and maybe a bit of addiction too). But there are more important things in life than having the most coolest comments on an internet discussion forum. So once again: Why would it make you life worse?

Is it possible yet to determine paternity using photos and AI?

I doubt it ever will be. I had a roommate and if we went somewhere together in public people would often insist that we were brothers. We weren't, and we weren't even of the same ethnicity. I have cousins who are of typical American mixed ethnicity and siblings can look wildly different depending on whether the German side or the Italian side is predominant. Facial features just aren't that predictable.

I'm kind of underwhelmed by the Huel Black Chocolate flavor. It's... very okay. Any suggestions on things I should add to it for additional flavor?

At the moment I'm just mixing it with whole milk.

Add salt.

At a Q&A I asked Scott Alexander if he was going to circumcise his kid and said he was in favor of it and his wife was against it. I'll be honest, I'm kind of shaken. I'm sometimes able to argue persuasively against male genital mutilation, but I wasn't on that day. I sort of made a fool of myself, I guess. It's a painful subject for me.

It's also just kind of shocking and dismaying, because I think that noticing that male genital mutilation is bad is something almost anyone with basic rationality skills should probably be able to notice, and he didn't. Now I want to ask Yudkowsky. I'll choose my words more carefully.

He mentioned the adversarial collaboration on SSC on the subject, which to me had a lot of obvious holes and flaws in it.

Purposes of the foreskin:

  1. Prevents the covered skin from contacting clothing. Clothing contact desensitizes the penis through a process called keratinization. If you're circumcised, you'll notice that the circumcision scar and the places below the scar are what's sensitive, and everything above that isn't very sensitive. That's not normal.

  2. The foreskin has densely packed nerve endings.

  3. The foreskin provides lubrication, both through natural lubricant and through a gliding motion.

  4. Protective against health conditions including meatal stenosis.

I can also rebut the purported positive outcomes of circumcision, and talk about the risks of the procedure. I have videos of men with botched circumcisions talking about their suffering.

I don't really want to get into a debate about circumcision here. I just wanted to provide an example of what someone arguing the point looks like.

My question is this: Is anyone else shocked/saddened that Scott is pro-cutting?

I was circumcised at around 7 or 8 due to phimosis, or so my parents thought. I don't really recall being inconvenienced in the least, so when I had surgery for appendicitis, and woke up missing my foreskin, I certainly was bemused to say the least! My brother had a similar issue, but he grew out of it, and still rocks a hooded cobra.

I don't know if it had any effect on sexual enjoyment, I still enjoy it as much as any red blooded young man. I am mildly thankful that I don't have to worry so much about keeping a foreskin clean, the idea of dick cheese/smegma is a nightmare haha.

Since there's no tradition of circumcision in my culture, I have little to no interest in circumcising my kids, unless medically indicated. However, it wasn't too painful, I had to go around for a week holding up my pants till the skin healed and the crust fell off, but overall it's not a particularly traumatic event or one I worry about. As a doctor, I certainly appreciate my circumcised patients, much easier to insert a catheter without faffing about retracting the foreskin!

Next time you're masturbating, pay attention to what parts are sensitive and what parts aren't. I think you'll find that only the circumcision scar and everything below it are sensitive.

As somebody who did it after puberty, this is definitely not true, at least not for me, and I didn't feel any noticeable loss of function after, compared to what it was before. Of course, individual effects may vary, I can only talk about my own experience here.

Hmm? Not really. I have sensation in the glans, it's much less sensitive than it used to be (I remember the sensation of it rubbing against clothing being unbearable just after the circumcision), but it's not numb, far from it.

I prefer being stimulated on the shaft, by a large margin, but I wouldn't say that the glans or the margin is useless. I'm pretty sure uncircumcised guys also use their shaft more than the glans, not that I was old enough to try that when it happened.

Scott hosted an ACC about circumcision several years ago, where IMO the pro- side came out stronger.

Life is suffering -- might as well get used to it early. (I speak from experience, and not circumcision related either -- circumcision is trivial compared to the pain experienced by some infants.)

The sense in which life is suffering calls us to be terribly careful, like trying to solve an almost impossible problem that you can’t help but accurately register your current progress at.

Craving for a lack of suffering is still a craving -- not to mention impossible to provide. The (physical) suffering only increases as you age. I say again, you might as well become accustomed to it as soon as you can.

This seems like a fairly distorted rationalisation for circumcision. I experienced quite a huge amount of pain myself, both in infancy and in adolescence (neither of the instances I'm referring to were circumcision-based either, since I haven't ever had it done to me), yet I would not in any way condone a situation where suffering is purposefully inflicted on an infant. Especially by the very people tasked with caring for it. That is effectively what circumcision is, regardless of the true intent of the individuals involved.

The idea here isn't "It is feasible to eliminate every source of suffering from a person's life". Even if you hold the belief that some amount of suffering is inevitable in any human life, that's not incompatible whatsoever with "You should not be intentionally adding to that by inflicting suffering on someone against their will". Any line of reasoning that states that suffering is inevitable, thus it is trivial and of no consequence whenever it is inflicted, can literally be used to justify not only circumcision but also torture and all manner of atrocities.

"So what, I pulled off your fingernails? That's trivial compared to the pain experienced by other people!" Technically true, but it makes it no less morally reprehensible. And disregarding the physical and mental toll it can take simply because of the existence of other potentially unpreventable sources of suffering is incoherent. If someone had to endure one painful, traumatic event as opposed to two, I think anybody would prefer the former.

Good catch! I should have done a twitter search.

How this is "Wellness"? It smells a lot like CW.

Not really shocked or saddened. Scott may put his rationalist persona in the foreground, but in the end he's a human like any other - unreasonable to the extreme in any area he's not actively dedicated to reasoning his way through. And people usually avoid reasoning out anything if the process would be painful to them, which I guess it would be for someone who is likely circumcised himself and has a strong cultural attachment to the practice.

This doesn't really change anything. I'd never circumcise my child, advise anyone to do it or even condone it...but it's one of those little atrocities that people commit daily that's also just not significant enough to not tolerate. As long as they only do it to their own children I can live with it, and hope that they get a ton of value out of it. Any pro-circumcision propaganda is detestable though. Since Scott doesn't seem to be doing that - correct me if I'm wrong here, as if that weren't the whole purpose of the Motte - I'd say consider the man on those merits of his that are actually relevant to our interests.

Most people who are in support of circumcision absolutely aren't doing it for logical reasons, they're doing it entirely because of emotion.

I have a friend who's very pro-abortion and very much in favour of the idea that you should let people have their Bodily Autonomy, but then he also believes that circumcision is "no big deal". These two positions ("Abortion should be allowed because bodily autonomy is such an important right to preserve that it trumps any moral status the foetus might have", and "Cutting off parts of non-consenting infant boys' genitals is perfectly fine") are clearly incongruent positions, but he holds them anyway. I've seen him mercilessly make fun of a guy who was a bit touchy about the topic of circumcision, having had it done to him.

A good amount of the most entrenched supporters of circumcision are culturally attached to the practice, and they're more likely to have had it done themselves (or had it done to their own kids). So they're more likely to already think it's normal, and additionally if they accepted that circumcision was a bad thing they'd also have to entertain the idea that they have been "mutilated" and that their parents actually did something to them that wasn't good (or, worse, they'd have to accept that they mutilated their own kid). There's also the paediatricians who carry out the procedure, who have a financial stake in it and also who I would expect would probably not be able to live with themselves if they realised that it was a moral wrong.

That's an uncomfortable thing to have to face, so they end up rationalising it to themselves in a variety of ways. "Well, I had it done to me and I'm perfectly fine". That's like me being locked inside a room since birth and then me saying that I'm fine with not seeing the outside world. Now, I don't have the full information here, do I. It's mainly because I have no point of comparison that I can say I'm okay with it - just because I don't know I've been deprived of something important doesn't mean I haven't been. Then there's "Well, it's yknow, not a big deal and lots of people have it done" as if the commonality of a practice has any bearing at all on its moral rightness or wrongness.

Anyway, I sympathise, and I'd recommend you take a look at a very long thread I wrote about the topic of male genital mutilation with circumcision as a main focus. I think you might like it.

Most people who are in support of circumcision absolutely aren't doing it for logical reasons, they're doing it entirely because of emotion.

To be fair, I'm "against" circumcision by default (being uncircumcised myself), and this feeling is also based purely on emotion rather than reason. However, I don't really understand where logic comes into the picture anyway. There are very few things whose mere verbal descriptions are enough to make me wince in pain. Circumcision is one of them, and "having my fingernails yanked out with pliers" is another. My opposition to these things is not based on any rational argument; it's as close to a terminal value as I can think of.

This is one of those areas where I have a severe empathy gap - I can't even imagine what it's like to have any other perspective. Reading arguments about it causes me anxiety, not because I feel personally attacked by either side, but because I feel like I've been transported to some incomprehensible alien planet. I would never in a million years have invented the idea of circumcision, and even having consciously learned about it I still intuit that it must be some massive joke that everyone but me is in on. ("You actually thought it was a real thing! You should've seen your face!") Even so, the anti-circumcision arguments also seem like the writings of aliens because they present the view of someone who could have supported it but decided not to.

Circumcision in the religious context is an initiation ritual, it's a mark of belonging to community. Initiations often contain an element of sacrifice. This can be derided as mere exploitation of the sunk cost fallacy or a way to trap people, (eg when the mafia requires that you commit a crime to enter the org, so they can be sure you won't go to the police as you'd also implicate yourself), but it can also be seen more charitably as a test of commitment, a filter for serious loyalty etc.

Circumcision can be seen as a symbolicized, minimized form of child sacrifice. Now you don't sacrifice your firstborn (who would be your main inheritor), you simply ritualistically chop a bit off of your kids most valuable part, the one that will continue your genetic lineage. It's symbolic but sort of indicates your willingness to sacrifice for the community and that you have skin in the game.

Why secular and Christian Americans do it is more complicated and circumcised people come up with a jumble of nonsense post hoc reasons. It's almost as worthless to ask them as asking single women how to be successful in dating as a man. Tons of mental stopsigns involved.

I would assume it's probably some sort of judaizing Protestant Christian influence originally.

Is anyone else shocked/saddened that Scott is pro-cutting?

Kinda surprised, in that it's highly irrational to cut an infant boy. Kinda unsurprised, certainly not shocked, because Scott's been on a Tradition turn lately where it fits right in.

And anyway, penises just seem to be one of those inconsistent things for a lot of people. Not to get all CW in WW, but my wife and I were listening to the newest Meg hit in the car, and the chorus is all about a guy having "Big Dick Energy," and I laughed that small dicked guys need their own Meghan Trainor in pop music. And she said "Well it's not about the dick it's about the personality." Which is like, even more offensive, you end up saying that their body is defective and as a result so is their brain! Imagine the tweets about a modern top-40 song with a guy saying he wanted a girl with a "skinny personality" as opposed to a "fat personality!"

Imagine the tweets about a modern top-40 song with a guy saying he wanted a girl with a "skinny personality" as opposed to a "fat personality!"

At least that's a controllable trait. I can imagine what "fit girl energy" might mean when applied to a girl that's kinda chunky. Isn't the appropriate analog "big tit energy"?

There is no analogue, because generally men describe ugly women as having good friendly open personalities, and thin women as having relatively arrogant personalities. A guy might reasonably be said to want a thin girl with a fat girl's personality: a hot girl who eats whatever she wants and isn't stuck up or chilly. From La Boheme

a lively woman... a bit...

well, not a whale exactly

or a relief-map of the world

or a face like a full moon,

but not thin, really thin. No!

Thin women are worrisome

and often... a nuisance...

always full of complaints,

While it's nonsensical to say a girl wants a tall man with "Short man syndrome," or a guy with a big dick who is yet still "is compensating for something."

The conventions are just all out of balance. Much as I recall Elliot Engel pointing out in a lecture that the worst thing (outside slang) you can call a woman acting like a man is Masculine (which has no negative connotations) while the worst thing you can call a man (outside slang) that is acting like a woman is effeminate (which has no positive connotations).

There is no analogue, because generally men describe ugly women as having good friendly open personalities, and thin women as having relatively arrogant personalities.

What makes you say this? Sounds more like a media trope than anything else, especially when attractive women benefit from the halo effect.

Yes, I'm talking about media/linguistic tropes and connotations. Shallow Hal doesn't really get gender-flipped, the closest I can think of is probably that one episode of Sex and the City. Or think of a stand up comedian, like your generic mainstream dirty comic, a Dane Cook and an Ali Wong, saying the same thing but gender-flipped. It doesn't land.

It's relationship to reality is secondary, it's still relevant what the media is saying, in the same way it is relevant that the media will say "LOL straight white men are the worst!" even though various metrics will tell us straight white men don't face problems in real life.

Not shocked at all. Circumcision is an ancient sacrificial ritual. People do it for the traditional, cultural reasons, and justifications like hygiene etc. by Christian or non-religious Americans is just post-hoc. People do it so the son matches the father, because that's just the effortless default in the area etc.

The fact that it may be somewhat inconvenient in later life could be seen as a feature too, it's supposed to be a sacrifice, an expression of having gone through something hard just like your whole community.

If you expect that rationalists only do things that can be derived from first principles based on logic (objective things like medical reasoning and studies) then you're in for more surprises.

You went to a Q&A event to ask someone you don't know personally about his newborn son's penis?

To be fair, the guy he was asking invited a guy to come bite a bit off of said penis (unless SF's more modern mohels use scissors or something), so "if you can take the tip of a dick you can take a question" seems like a reasonable assumption.

Pretty sure mohels have never used their teeth to remove the foreskin -- they use their mouth as a suction device after cutting it off some other way.

Still kind of weird ofc, but not as weird as rabbi's sharpening their incisors for a nice clean cut.

Also, I'd be somewhat surprised if Scott were planning a traditional bris rather than just having it done at the hospital -- but anything is possible I suppose.

Oh, thanks, I'd forgotten about that little cheese knife. In my defense I've got zero knowledge of or experience with circumcision, other than a lurking suspicion of gentiles doing it. Because that didn't work out so well last time.

I have a response to this, but we shouldn't be having culture war talk in the wellness thread.

And yet the post practically invites debate while saying "I don't want to debate..."

If you are "shocked/saddened" that someone might disagree with you, this community may not be for you.

Your post is a central example of attempting to build consensus and trying to enforce ideological conformity, which is against the rules.

Scott's opinions are not above criticism, but this forum is for discussion and debate, not emotionally-loaded attempts at shaming.

I'm in the Wellness thread though. I'm fine with debating it in the culture war thread. If anyone disagrees with me they can just ignore this post, or make your own post in the culture war thread. I'm not trying to start a debate in the wellness thread! That's not why I made this post

Seriously, when posting this you didn't expect this will come out as a debate? If that's the case, I think, as rationalists say it, you should seriously adjust your priors.


I just included the list because I felt frustrated with myself for not being able to summon it earlier. There should be a guide for how to talk about stuff like this in the Wellness thread.

To what end? To get emotional support without the burden of having any sort of discussion that challenges your view? By listing your rationale but then immediately quashing any debate by stating "I am not interested in debating, just commiseration" your post seems disingenuous.

Never meet your heroes. Scott is, to put it politely, not the kind of person to model your own intimate affairs after. More to the point, he is a Jew, so you can't expect much here. It isn't coming from a rational place.

More to the point, he is a Jew, so you can't expect much here.

The most charitable interpretation of this comment is something like "He is a Jew, so you can't expect him to be anti-circumcision."

The less charitable interpretation would be to read it exactly as written, as in "Don't expect much from Jews."

Given that your entire post is a personal attack, I am less inclined to be charitable.

1-day ban.

More to the point, he is a Jew, so you can't expect much here.

Wait, is this a joke? And with 10 upvotes? Sometimes I wonder WTF forum I am in.

i mean he was banned for it

We're talking about circumcision here; it's not that unreasonable.

The mention of the Jewish origins is not a problem by itself, the "don't expect much" part is the problem. It's certainly not kind, it doesn't make any important point (unless "Jews are by default people that you can't expect much from" is the point, hope it weren't) and it was much more antagonistic than necessary. That's breaking 3 of the first rules right there. If it were expressed as "he is a Jew so it is understandable he is inclined to follow Jewish tradition" then I think it'd be much less objectionable.

It's definitely not a great comment; I just don't consider it particularly antisemitic.

Where is the cheapest place to travel where you can do a lot of walking, and be relatively safe?

Romania probably, not counting the cost of getting there.

What are you trying to be safe from? Who are you?

I'm the kind of person where I've worn a thrift store tux walking drunk 80 blocks through the Bronx and it was fine, so it's tough for me to even figure out what safety means in the eastern USA, walking anywhere should be safe.

That said, my pick would be this time of year an off-season beach town. Cheap, relatively pleasant, not a lot of people, and you can be fairly certain there's no criminals lurking.

I was thinking about traveling to inexpensive foreign countries. Maybe there’s an inexpensive South American country that is safe for walking miles a day. Beach towns are easy and accessible, not a bad idea.

Gotcha, cheap foreign country to hang out in. I'd go Greece! The food is fantastic and easy to find, monasteries make good hikes, and with the Euro/$ price your money goes further. The Lepanto area is amazing! Also, once again, off-season is cheaper and emptier.

The parking lot in front of a police station, or a mall in a nice neighborhood. Early morning mall walkers still exist.

Depends where you’re traveling from! Are you in US? Europe?

Eastern US.

State parks

You got some PARKS near you.

two biggies are Shenandoah NP and great smokey mountain NP; they have tonns and tones of really cool hikes and sections of the Apalachian trail in the.

If you want to go further afeild, any of the west coast NPs will be really excellent. I strongly recomend the Olympic rainforest in washington, the Sawtooths in Idaho, and the Mammoth/Mono Lake/ Bristlecone pine area in California as really good parks that aren't yellowstone or yosemeite or the redwoods.

Those last parks are also really good, but they might be really crowded too.

For anyone that needs advice, it seems there's a universal template invented by GPT-3, as I found out in a recent ACX post. Here's some examples.

It's hilariously and obnoxiously snarky and mocking, while also maybe weirdly encouraging and motivating (and it seems like it isn't from an actually existing copypasta or meme template as far as my google fu goes).

The template goes:

[person] stubbornly postponees [...] citing [...] reasons despite [...]??? negatively effecting [...] both [...] and [...] thoghtwise? want change this dumbass shitty ass [...] now please pls halp

Fill in the blanks for your situation and be enlightened.

Was having pretty insane eye strain issues that bled into a sort of chronic fatigue situated in my head that made me want to do nothing but lie down after my WFH programming job was done for the day. All post-work hobbies and even weekend hobbies were kind of a drag because I had this head thing going on. Tried all kinds of things like keeping the night filter on my work computer at all times, which maybe helped a little. Was worried I might have to get into another line of work.

Then I serendipitously discovered that of all the screens I own, precisely one of them uses pulse width modulation for dimming, and that's my iPhone 13 Mini. Years ago I had some problems with a PWM device and ended up getting rid of it. Was very surprised to see it on an iPhone. Last week I resolved to not ever look at my phone except for necessities like texting (and I don't hold long text conversations). So basically barely ever looking at my phone.

After a week the issue is almost completely resolved. It's ridiculous how well that worked.

So far I have no plans to get a new phone either because I kind of like being forced to look at my phone less. Win/win.

Reddit has some info on this here in case anybody else is dealing with something similar:

In my experience, eye strain issues are massively helped by short breaks scattered through out the day. Is it possible that you were filling the natural breaks in work by looking at your phone? If so, maybe it’s not about PWM, it’s about the fact that not having a phone means you’re not staring at screens 100% of the day.

Somewhat possible, definitely true for when I go out but when I'm at home (which is most of the time) I am extremely good at just pulling out the laptop when I get the impulse, even started taking the laptop into the bathroom with me with a tiny table to set it on.

Would agree there is definitely less overall screen time than before.

I regularly code PWM drivers to control LED brightness at work and have never ever heard of this before. Is there some proposed mechanism that this creates the headaches in some people?

No idea, I just know I have a personal 100% n=2 now of removing PWM from my life totally fixing eye strain issues.

The concept is also widespread enough that monitor manufacturers use phrases like "flicker free" or "flicker safe" to advertise that they don't use PWM.

The AQI in my area is bad due to a nearby forest fire. I'm a running enthusiast and this has made me cancel outdoor runs 5 different times in the last two weeks. I tried running while wearing an N95 mask but that's really hard and I'm a little worried I'm suffocating myself.

Do they make masks/filters specifically for outdoor physical exertion?

(I realize I could find a gym and try to run on a treadmill but it's not the same and I don't totally trust the gym has good indoor air quality filtering in-place anyway)

EDIT: alternatively, am I taking that much a risk by running when it's over 150 AQI out?

I’m frankly impressed that you can run in 150 AQI.

Yes, it is a lifetime risk.

Also, I find that doing heavy exercise in an N95 or while carrying on a conversation is kinda fun, makes it a better aerobic workout. Maybe reframe it in you head as weighted clothing?

EDIT: lifetime, not acute. Still probably a good idea not to do it for unimportant shit.

Just run with an N99. The extra breathing exertion is no biggie imo.

Long and important post about my interaction with the head priest, likely the most important religious figure alive and some other important thoughts about life. Maybe one of the most important posts I have written. tl;dr I found god and finally am happy :).

I got to visit the Shankaracharya ji of Puri. Shankaracharya is the title given to the head priest. There are 4 Mathas(Monasteries of sorts) for Hindus, each assigned one of the 4 vedas, with Puri being assigned the Rig Veda.

He arrived on Monday and leaves today. I have been listening to their YouTube channel (Govardhan Math) where his public interactions are put up for the world to see and was hence excited to finally see him in flesh.

I arrived early at 11 and he was busy at the time so I could not meet him but I did get to interact with one of his young students. His student was tall, fairly lanky and good looking. His head was shaved with just a shikha (some hair at the middle of the head tied up). He was dressed in white robes instead of the usual saffron with white tikas on his body. He was also an engineer who was in a uni as good as mine for his undergrad (i am at a low tier 1 uni in India) who later went to the best Indian uni for his grad school (IIT Kanpur). His first question on knowing that I was an engineer in my final year was about my job situation lol.

I talked with him for a good bit and he was extremely nice to me. He saw the good in me, the kind I did not think I possessed and told me to focus on sorting my life instead of becoming a monk given I am not a brahmin and my role in this world is to hence lead the life of a family, in fact that most brahmins themselves should not become monks. My role is to become good at my craft and help others like him with the preservation of our customs. He was very youthful yet felt extremely grounded and wise beyond his years.

I got back home given that Shankaracharya ji would begin his public interaction at 5 pm, studied some nlp and later went back again to see him. I finally got there and was able to meet other great priests of high knowledge who were extraordinarily humble. One introduced me to Aditya Vahani, a group of sorts that organises these events nationiwde for the matha and do so despite not even having an office. The young people there were very competent and took me as thier own, we later went to the hall and the program began.

Shankracharya ji was greeted with the chanting of ancient mantras, likely the vedas of some sorts and sat on the stage with everyone else sitting below as a sign of respect.

People asked him questions about many different things, from personal issues to politics to theology and he was quick witted, erudite beyond belief and always courteous in his responses. I asked him about whether the Kali yuga is inevtiable and he replied back stating that a good monarch can stop it.

He answered questions for 2 hours after which the event ended and everyone went for dinner that was served as prasada (food that is considered holy, that is the rough translation).

I stayed back and chatted with his student who was recording everything he said on the tripod to edit it later and upload it. He remembered me from my interaction earlier and chatted for a bit. I helped them wind up and he handed over a case to me, instructung me to carry it on my head. When i arrived outside the empty hall, everyone started looking at me as it turns out the case contained Shree Narayana paduka. The sandals of Vishnu would be the english translation. most never get to see them despite years of deovtion I got to carry them so that was something. After that I talked to him for a bit and he told me to do well in life, act like a good devotee and meet him in prayagraj in January for my Janeu (sacred thread ceremony).

I felt amazing, it was the first time in over 18 months that I felt genuinely happy. The colleague of my father who arranged this meeting met me yesterday and told me that god has a plan for everyone, that I should just work and not give up on life given that something good will happen. This got me thinking about my first post I made in January of 2019 and how 4 months later I ended up being in the newspapers for my academic efforts, from a failure to a success of sorts.

The girl I had a oneitis for got a boyfriend and it hurt to hear that but in reality I am glad she is happy. Not getting with her forced me to discover the ways of PUA and that led to me finally not being bitter about women and life. I read this book called the Tyler Digest and two posts I recommend that everyone read from it are "Points of change" and "How you perceive the world".

Girls did not like me, this was not due to my looks (I look alright I think) or because of my status but because I was bitter and they could sense it. I have always had a superiority complex and in 2019 wanted a transfer outta the country because I thought that I was too cool for my uni, actively looked down on literally everyone i met and had a sense of entitlement to compensate for my own inferiority. It failed and now 3 years later, all the kids who I made fun of have job offers and here I am still a month or two away from hitting 200 questions on leetcode. I say this because I am glad that all these bad things happened to me. Bhagwan (hindi word for god) does everything for a purpose and I needed to taste the humble pie to see my shortcomings. I was kicked out of high school and went to do better than all my classmates, I lost the only girl I ever felt anything romantic for and now have the tools to never have issues with dating ever again, I may be down now but but I trust god that things will get better soon.

The two posts are about two important topics. The latter is what I will describe. My younger brother just began uni here and is extremely bitter about life so was mocking the priests but I could see that he did not hate them but rather like me, hated himself which made me re read these posts.How we see the world and other is a reflection of our own selves. This forum and everyone here has always, always said good things to me, at times when i was clearly wrong, genuinely depressed and likely saved my life. People saw the good in me that I was sure I did not have and that is because you people are good. The priests I met have all the reasons to act high and mighty yet they don't.

It is easy to judge others, call people losers and feel that I am higher value than them, my knee jerk reaction to sharing about anyone was trying to demean them so that they would seem less cool than me as my own sense of value is low.

A person who is high value does not act that way, there is some good in everyone we meet and no amount of tactics can make a girl like you as much as genuine happiness that leads to a fun and playful time with her.

The head priest, my father's colleague, my family, my psychiatrist, that girl I liked, all saw the good in me despite there being none and and today I am alive, getting to appreciate little moments of life.

Only Bhagwan can judge people, not me. There is good in everyone, bitterness is never good and there are ways to change this. I do not have any concrete progress this week but I am finally happy in life.

The hole in my heart has been filled, I accept my lowly place in society and am looking towards working my way up. I read Kierkegaard, Nietzsche etc was always sad, accepting that I will never be happy in my baseline but here I am actually happy just to be alive.

All those bad things I did were not so bad after all, I found god and I am glad he chose me. Puri has kept traditions that began thousands of years ago alive and these priests are the only Indians I know who are proud to be indian instead of copying euros. Indians copy them out of a complex that is why girls mock my religiosity. People speak English as a signaling mechanism of where they are socio economically and pick up whatever americans do to look cool, afterall, this is also why I refuse to watch sports or TV shows because it goes against my ideals. I was like this too but have changed quite a bit now given my recent insights. I am proud of my way of life, my forefathers, the culture they left and the ideals they want me to live by.

I have not cussed at, mocked or thought low of people since yesterday and life has been much better. I smile and feel happy just to be alive, just to be able to do all the things I can and to be where I am in life. Sure, I am still fucked in the short term but I finally feel at ease with life.

You are entitled to your labor, not the fruits it bears said Lord Krishna to Arjuna. Took me 2 decades to understand that.

So yeah, even though bad things happened, I got to see the head priest and my life changed completely. I still like that girl but that is more because of neediness, that is fine tho, I do have a feeling I will meet her someday, BF destroying is quite easy given I have done it before lol and I will be a tier 1 lothario after I manhandle the academic and discipline issues in my life starting now. Life has meaning. I look forward to studying and acting how Lord Krishna would want me to act. Instead of my oneitis, every song and thing reminds me of Lord Krishna. I am not lying when I say that. I feel happy.

I finally grew up.

May you find Bhagwan too, may all of us get the best that we deserve.

Narayana Narayana.

side note, I was in the dorms for the first time in my life past Friday for my department day, was out for cigarettes with my friend, we reminisced over our oneitits, hung out with others in the dorms and talked a lot. I do not smoke regularly but it was great. I had fun, slept in his room on the floor, it is the little things in life man, walking aimlessly at night and seeing others go about their life. I finally love uni.

Great to hear you're doing well. I can relate to a lot of this, went through something similar during my maturation to manhood.

Also... do you think it's healthy to relish destroying another person's relationship? Is that what god would want?

I'm still not a man, for that I'll need to voluntarily take up pain and suffering only to withstand it and finally overcome only do it with higher quantities daily. Ersnt Junger like there. All this happiness should be enough fuel.

My adventures with women is the only thing I do where I do not take God's name. As far as sleeping with women in relationships goes, every girl I sleep with or even engage in any kind of degenerate behaviour in with is not chaste. She would cheat with someone else, might as well do it with me.

I wouldn't have done it had she been chaste and we're all in our early 20s.

It's hard to describe, I should not want bad for others but somehow I sense she'll always be this way or in reality I won't be alright until I sleep with her.

She would cheat with someone else, might as well do it with me.

I understand this thought, I personally felt the same way for many years. To put it another way, I ultimately realized that I didn't care too much about the girl but that I lost respect for myself when I indulged in this sort of dalliance.

I generally think it's healthy to try and respect monogamous relationships. Then again I have a typical white western viewpoint so not sure if yours is different in this regard.

You mention not following god with regards to this topic, does that mean Hinduism has a similar rule to "thou shalt not covet another man's wife?"

no, it is a sin but a forgivable one, most indians are not hindu, at least not like me. They are actively ashamed of their own religion and are the cause for our low position in society, I do not think that doing anything to the outgroup is viewed as severely as being done to the ingroup. I may get over her the moment I move out to the large town i desire to as then I would have abundance and logistics both but I still do wish for her.

I dunno, it is hard to describe, maybe by the time i meet her, she may be single again, she may not even be in a relationship given this is second hand info.

Fair point! Well hey again I wish you well on your journey. I think it’s great you’re defending your culture and heritage, it is definitely a shame. I personally find India culture quite fascinating.

May be a throwaway point, but I’ll say the thing that helped me deal with my issues towards women was learning to dance. Personally I did ballroom/swing etc, but dancing in general is an excellent hobby. Very high value, partner dance especially has a lot of traditional gender roles, plus it’s a creative and physically demanding hobby. Might be worth giving it a shot.

I want to learn the Melbourne shuffle personally before I shift to more trad things like kathak. I really like the energy of Melbourne shuffle but for now, need to become competent.

This was beautifully written! I feel more optimistic about life just by reading this. The happiness almost radiates from your writing, well done!

You should be man. Life itself is a gift, most of us are above average at literally every singel metric and human beings are the only creatures who can understand divinity, I want to obviously use this happiness to take on more pain in my voluntarily only to withstand and later overcome it. The world works on vae victis but just feeling divinity makes it clear why I have to do what I do and the consequences it has.

It is ones divine duty to do some things, good chance I may the world's worst genetic makeup for anything related to discipline but that does not mean I will stop trying.

I trust Bhagwan enough, I will get where I need to, I hope the same for you.

I am pleased to hear you're doing well.

I am glad you found it pleasing.

Good to hear that you're doing well. I'm not religious myself but I can see how it can really be life-changing for some people. Best of luck.

Yeah, do try it sometime tho, many things do not make sense but that is the essence of being human after all. Things do not have to make sense to the rational mind to be correct. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith, I may never feel romantic love ever again but my love for my god and the culture built around him is beyond anything a man can feel for his woman.

Like a guy I used to hate a lot once said "Leading a life for the pursuit of values higher than life itself is more romanctic than anything one can experience in a romantic relationship of any sort." I think he got this right :).