I grew up playing chess professionally.

In chess and most other games, you have to make a move. You can’t just pass.

Chess is a very complex game (it may be super hard to find the best move) but it’s mathematically discrete, if you find the best move every time, you’re likely to win and a draw is guaranteed.

Computers find the best moves almost 100% of the time, the human world champion nails around 70% and an amateur club player may get it right 30-50% of the time, depending on the complexity of the position.

This discrete structure can be projected into the continuity of life for the purpose of simplicity. Let’s say you take a meaningful decision every 1 minute on average while you’re in an active mode. What meaningful thing to say or write. What article or social media post to read/not read. What to share. What to explore further.

As your work is probably in active mode (otherwise you’re simply a bot and may lose your job to robots), you have 8+ hours a day of choices, including your non-work ones. Lets say 10 hours = 600 minutes = 600 choices a day.

You probably heard that if you get 1% better every day, this scales up pretty quickly, resulting in a whopping 37 times improvement in a year. However, this inspiring statistic is not the one I have for you. Mine sucks.

Let’s say you have an idea for an improvement in any area. For example, something easy to do that you know will increase productivity slightly, say 1-2%. How much time does it take you to execute it? How about 2 days? Seems good by most standards? After all, we have delayed similar stuff for months?

2 days delay (1200 minutes of choices, 1 a minute) is 1200 bad choices in a row. 1200 bad moves by chess standards.

If you played so bad in any game you would never ever win. You could be playing against monkeys making random moves and they would still beat you hands down. How can we suck so badly in this, WTF was evolution’s idea to get you stuck in life 99% of the time? Meet Inertia.

As the only goal of Evolution is the pass your genes on, stability is mandatory. Being smart is only an evolutionary advantage if it increases your chances of survival or finding a mate. The rest is governed by the simple principles:

1) Do stuff the way your predecessors did. They survived and procreated. Nothing more is needed than to be stuck to what works.
2) Changes in behavior are already tried in many ways. If they didn’t become the norm (bring an evolutionary advantage), they were a failure.

=>

Change nothing except when a threat (lion) or reward (food, mate) is visible

As living creatures experience mostly the current moment and it’s hard to hardcore complex principles for the future (like “don’t ever change, unless under threat”), evolution just made all current moments follow the same rule.

If it more or less works, don’t change it.
If it more or less works, don’t change it.
If it more or less works, don’t change it.
If it more or less works, don’t change it.
If it more or less works, don’t change it.
If it more or less works, don’t change it.
If it more or less works, don’t change it.
If it more or less works, don’t change it.
If it more or less works, don’t change it.
If it more or less works, don’t change it.

This is Inertia, the most constant force in your life. It just wants to keep you in line so you can survive. You’re stuck and it doesn’t feel bad at all. Feeling stuck is even called “The comfort zone” 🙂

However, our environment has changed a lot recently and Evolution hasn’t had time to react. We have new goals in life and they require being adaptive not just when evading danger or chasing food or mates. Inertia is massively in our way, Both in the Game of Life and Game of Self.

How to overcome Inertia?

Structure cannot really help here. We need inspiration and motivation to overcome the resistance and make a change.

The natural enemies of Inertia are Love and Chaos (a usual precursor or creativity).

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