Ch Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes

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I never could’ve predicted that one of my more popular posts would’ve been about dieting.

Anyone who knows me knows that that is severely ironic.

One of the benefits of writing such a post, however, is that it elicits some really interesting comments.

And one such comment came from a friend in Hawaii.

Her comment was detailed and thought provoking, but one thread was that the thing that she responded to most in the post was the idea that we are capable of change.

I found this very interesting, because in general, I think of myself as a bit of a fatalist. My feeling is that there’s a lot of our life story written in DNA, and opportunity, and chance.

I’m also not really sure that I believe in our ability to will ourselves toward specific destinations.

On the other hand, and it’s right there in the post, my experiences in learning and playing the miles game, and pursuing early retirement have made me realize the potential I have for rapid philosophical changes in perspective and possibility.

Again my experience was more that these changes happened organically to me, and were not expressions of my own free will.

But change happened nonetheless.

So the question is, what do I attribute the change to? And is there the possibility of using this agent of change to consciously affect other positive changes in my life in the future?

That seemed like something worth investigating so I thought I’d start here with my hypothesis number one.

Hypothesis Number One: Play Is Powerful.

This is my first hypothesis, because it comes closest to what I experienced as my life changed for the better.

How my metamorphosis felt to me was something like this.

1. “Hey I just spent $8000 on plane tickets. That really sucked.

I could’ve bought the outdoor pizza oven I’ve been dreaming of for 5 years for $8000.

And I’ve got to do it again next year.

There must be a better way.”

2. “Let’s do some research. Why don’t I type in ‘travel with miles’ into Google.”

3. “Holy shit, this miles game looks crazy! It also looks fun.”

4. “Getting six credit cards at one time was pretty cool! I can’t believe I got away with it! I can’t believe my credit score is still great. Now to meet my signing bonuses…”

5. “Boy, Walmart smells disgusting. This place is depressing. But it’s pretty cool that I can now pay my mortgage with my credit cards.

I’m also pretty psyched that I just saved $16 filling up my gas tank.”

6. “Hey what’s the deal with these affiliate links on blogs? I wonder how much these guys get paid. What is this site… Mr. Money Mustache?

7. “That is mind blowing. The only thing that affects my time until financial independence, is the percentage of my take-home income that I save and invest? I’ve got to think about that some more. That is beyond interesting.”

8. “Wow, these investment books are really cool. I never realized how philosophical economics are..”

9 . Etc. Etc. Etc.

Alright that’s a bit of a simplification, but the salient point is this, I received tremendous positive reinforcement from each small step of transformation. And this pleasure seeking kept me moving forward

In a way I was like a mouse in a maze chasing the next piece of cheese.

john-t-wong-mouse-flying-on-piece-of-swiss-cheese_i-G-26-2680-IHIUD00ZProfound Thought Break:  But what if all we are is just a mouse on a flying  carpet of cheese?…

And in this metaphor, whoever the scientist was, who was placing the cheese pieces in front of me, was incentivizing me to move along a pathway towards a place of greater murine happiness.

I mention the scientist, because I certainly wasn’t placing the cheese pieces. I had no master plan. I was just following my bliss, or my nose for muenster, or something.

And this pleasure seeking impulse is very important.

A lot of times when we hear about personal finance it sounds an awful lot like something we should do.

“You should save more.”

“You should spend less.”

“You should invest your money wisely.”

And when I read those phrases I perceive a nagging and whiny voice. And my first instinct is to just walk the other way.

But when we’re following our bliss, each next step is irresistible. We are compelled to move towards our destination. No one has to prod us.

So the real question is this. Can I become my own scientist?  Can I make positive change pleasurable, consciously?

And in a way, that’s what I’m trying with this little VB6 experiment.

I have a goal in mind: I’d like to be less fat, and a little more healthy.

So I’m trying to turn it into a game. Do I have the skills to cook and eat delicious vegan whole foods each and every day until 6:00 PM?

Can I do this without sacrificing my love of food (ie a large part of my form of happiness?)

We’ll see how well it works.

If not, there’s always hypothesis number two…

But before we get there, what’s your theory?

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