Choose Values over Discipline
Lately I’ve been struggling with self-discipline.
I’ve been giving an ungodly amount of my precious attention to YouTube and Reddit. The outside world induces so much anxiety; the Internet™ is an anaesthetic. Rather than spending my attention on something uncomfortable for 90 seconds, I spend my attention on easy/novel/funny/exciting/unoffensive/comfortable content for hours.
I’ve tried to ditch YouTube many times. I’ve blocked myself on
/etc/hosts and installed browser extensions and employed all the psychological tricks. But I always come back.
Luckily, I recently stumbled upon Bryan Lunduke’s video, Giving up YouTube for New Years.
The surprising thing about the video was that it wasn’t actually a New Year’s Resolution. It was a simple conviction: “YouTube conflicts with my values and I’m done supporting them”.
Reasons to Quit
I have many friends who successfully quit smoking. None of them quit for selfish reasons:
- “I don’t want my kids to see it.”
- “My girlfriend didn’t like the smell.”
- “I want to live long enough to meet my grandchildren.”
In all three cases, my friends identified that smoking harmed their precious people.
Rather than saying “I should quit smoking because it’s bad for me”, they said, “I quit smoking because it’s against my values”.
Make goals a matter of values rather than discipline.
Following your values requires minimal energy.
I don’t murder people. It’s not a matter of self-discipline; it’s simple values. Because it’s against my values, my brain doesn’t even provide it as an option in day-to-day life.
I love being the center-of-attention. I have to exercise self-discipline, because humility is not really a value of mine yet. I’m just faking it until I feel it. And being humble will require discipline until it becomes a true value of mine.
I don’t steal things. I don’t have to exercise self-discipline, because stealing doesn’t even occur to me. Because it’s against my values.
I have trouble taking care of my body. I frequently start and stop going to the gym because I rely upon self-discipline, which wavers. Health and fitness are not values for me yet.
As of today, quitting social-media is a matter of values for me.
- Social-media is engineered to be addictive.
- Social-media’s censorship policies are bad for public discourse.
- Social-media silos communities and encourage echo-chambers.
- Social-media exploits our hard work and attention for ad revenue.
- Social-media radicalizes society’s most susceptible people.
- Social-media perpetuates a culture of self-entitlement and narcissism.
- Social-media encourages vicarious living rather than actual living.
This is not a New Year’s Resolution.
Stop using self-discipline.
Think about your values and let yourself do the right thing.