Manipulate your self perception

Is it possible to manipulate my perception of myself?

If you ask me about my perception of myself, I will probably tell you something like: I’m happy and playful, find sitting 9–5 painful, love learning software engineering recently but still not good at it, need to sleep 8 hours a day, and exercise every day……

However, as I notice I have much more potential over time, I start to feel curious if they are just some assumptions that I tell myself. For instance, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) already tells us that reframing your thoughts can reframe your feelings, meaning that perception of self might be more fluid and flexible that we think.

I recently encountered a podcast called 100-hour work week by Jeremy whom I met in the AGI house. He is one of the few people that I genuinely like in the city. Lots of people learn, grow, and work to achieve higher social status or boring success, but he learns to let the knowledge transform him as a person.

It’s super fun to hear that he self-studied machine learning for 3 months and got into Google Brain research. Because his experience teaches me three things:

  1. SF is a meritocracy place where “prior experience” doesn’t matter that much if I can quickly accumulate my skills.
  2. It’s possible to get myself to the frontier of a field in a short amount of time if I can really focus.
  3. It is possible to have a full-time job while allowing personal creativity to sink in.

My perception of society and myself, such as “I need to have lots of validated research experience to get into a good institute,” “I need years to be good at something,” “I cannot experiment with my ideas if I have a full-time job,” are all falsified instantly.

I’m super interested in his idea of working 100 hours a week. Working a 100-hour week is shockingly similar to working a 4-hour work week because both of them are experimenting with different ways of working! Working 9–5 is just a social standard after industrialization.

My curiosity about working 100 hours a week is not because of the pursuit of productivity but because of my curiosity about my personal limit. How will my mind and body react to it? Miserable? Or will I solve problems really fast because I’m deeply sunk into it?

I believe that even if I cannot be as good as he is, if I try to learn something as intensely as he does in 3 months or attempt (not achieve) to work 100 hours a week, my perception of self will be greatly challenged. Because I’ve been noticing that I do have lots of ability to speak the language or think in the way of the frontier of something if I’m in some special state of mind. I will feel that I’m a complete unity with the knowledge and I find nothing that difficult to understand. At those moments, I have no resistance but letting the knowledge reshape me as a new person.

That’s why I wonder if learning is really related to intelligence, or actually self-perception and state of mind. Because if we think deeper, the self isn’t something consistent or constant as we usually imagine; the self is just a story that we tell ourselves and how people tell us. But neither of them is real. If it is imaginary, why couldn’t we shape it as the way we want to? And learning is just the process of reshaping. Interestingly, even the perception of how much and how fast you can learn shape your learning too.

You must think I’m talking nonsense. Yep, because I don’t really understand what I’m saying too. But I’m very excited to find people to experiment with working 100 hours a week, and see how Esther will feel.

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