The role of education

An individual can be changed through education.

We have so little control over the biology that determines our desires. But the part of our biology that is more malleable is our brain.

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Problem Solving

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We have hold self-control as a high virtue since the earliest times, and that's why it is a staple in most religions and the moral of many myths.
We usually use this term when we describe a person that makes positive long-term decisions, by overcoming short-term temptations.

We associate this process with some sort of "will" or "willpower", though what these really mean is not that obvious.

In every moment of our lives, we are making decisions on how to act. Problems arise when we have to choose between what's immediately gratifying and what is not, but will be in the future. 

The difficulty thus lies in delaying gratification.

There are different factors behind every decision we make: genes, hormones, social environment, physical environment, past experiences, the context of the situation, etc. 

But the most immediate cause of any of our actions can be traced back to our brain activity.

The neurotransmitter called dopamine is more about the anticipation of a reward than it is about the reward itself.

Some specific cues found in our environment hint to a potential reward and dopamine starts to raise anticipation. So dopamine is the one responsible to make us take action towards a specific goal.

When we're deciding between immediate and delayed rewards, our brain chooses how much dopamine to send to each part of the brain (the limbic targets for immediate rewards and the frontocortical targets for the delayed ones) pragmatically by how pleasurable the reward is and how much time would take us to get to that reward.
Habits are the ones that mediate the relationship between our desires and our environment.

To change a habit, both we and the environment have to change, and that's why self-discipline is so hard.

Self-discipline is both an environmental and an individual problem: we can change our behaviors and beliefs through education, but the resources available for education are provided by our environment. Also, our habits are a product of what's available in the environment.

By acknowledging this, we can start finding alternative opportunities for learning and for satisfying our needs.

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RELATED IDEAS

Thinking from first principles is not a new idea. It's actually the single most consistent factor among great thinkers.

For example, Aristotle believed that you could not possess true knowledge without first understanding the first principles. He thought that everything could be divided into categories and sub-categories (the smallest of them being the equivalent for first principles).

7

IDEAS

Action Dissolves Fear

You want to feel the fear and do it anyway.

When you're sitting there doing nothing, only thinking, you allow your thoughts and your fears to run how you feel about yourself.

When you are not taking action, you live more in your mind. It's all really an illusion in your mind. 

When you're taking action, you're focused on the external world and it kind of takes your mind off things because you're focused on taking action. 

Start With Baby Steps

After you've given yourself rest and you're ready to take some action, start small. 

Break down your tasks into the smallest easiest chunks you can. 

A small effort is still an effort.

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