« Past experiments you didn't know about? You bet! | Main | Towards a calculus of happiness »

The Experiment-Driven Life Universe v0.1: What do you think?

Pocket Buddha in his garden

Following up on my last post (Towards a calculus of happiness) I want to share a condensed version that I think is converging on something tasty. Again, this is the TTL/Matt's view of the world. I'm not sure if what I'm doing is making sense to you, but here goes!

nature of world

  • the world is constantly changing
  • our knowledge is always incomplete
  • we are limited in what we can control


  • the world is unpredictable (META!)
  • perfection is impossible (META?)
  • there is no true stability
  • there is no true safety
  • success is never guaranteed
  • mistakes are natural
  • things never work out like we expect
  • no choice/decision can be perfect


metaphysical truths

  • attachment -> suffering
  • being present/mindful/in the moment -> happiness
  • the only way to improve is to change something (thinking, acting)
  • reality != desire (what is vs what ought to be)
  • observation -> awareness -> change


human nature

  • we are born curious :-)
  • we are all different
  • we like feeling light (not too serious)
  • we feel good around supporting people
  • we feel good around beauty
  • we are happier when we feel safe/unafraid
  • change is scary
  • we are prone to feeling certain, have all answers, ...

Reader Comments (5)

Oh, man. I have been away for far too long. I am going to bookmark this and come back to unpack it this weekend. I have been spending a lot of time thinking about the Metaphysical Truths that you mention, and obviously need to spend some more. Thanks for sharing this.
October 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStephen Smith
Hey Stephen - I'd love to hear your thoughts. I think you get what I'm looking for.
October 21, 2010 | Registered CommenterMatthew Cornell
Hi Matt,

This makes sense to me.

1. What separates items into the "nature of the world" and "implications" sections? I can't tell.

2. Many of the items in the human nature section read like the list I come up with when trying to explain to friends why our kids go to Sudbury Valley School. I guess I just feel like schools should honor our human nature.

3. Are we really prone to feeling certain?

"The mark of a free man is that ever-gnawing inner
uncertainty as to whether or not he is right."
-- Justice Learned Hand
November 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterErik Haugsjaa
Hi Erik!

> 1. What separates items into the "nature of the world" and "implications" sections?

Yes, you caught it - this one I struggle with. It seems like "nature of world" is really general (and true), and the "implications" are derived from it, but are central too. I wasn't able to merge, separate, or condense them, so this is the v0.1 basis for my latest writing prototype.

> 2. Many of the items in the human nature section read like ... Sudbury Valley School.

I totally get it re: school; I'm glad you liked them. I'm shooting for the very essentials, and they always bring me back to things we were more connected to when kids. Curiosity, exploration, wonder, and joy, for example.

> 3. Are we really prone to feeling certain?

Definitely. I found this book, for example: "On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not" by Robert Burton - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/031254152X?ie=UTF8&tag=masidbl-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=031254152X . That said, I'm not sure it's a crucial point for the book, and I took it out for now.

Thanks for writing. FYI here's the updated list. Hopefully getting there.

The world
o The world is constantly changing.
o Our knowledge is always incomplete.
o We are limited in what we can control.
o The only way to know something is to try it.

Implications for living
o The future is unpredictable.
o Success is never guaranteed.
o Perfection is impossible.
o Reality will never perfectly match our desires.

Human nature
o Change is scary.
o We like things to go to plan.
o We are born curious.
o We are social creatures.

Philosophy of Happiness
o Healthy detachment gives us perspective.
o Understanding better the world and ourselves gives us realistic control.
o Acceptance of reality gives relief and realistic practical expectations.
o Mindfulness helps us fully experience the world.
o We savor rich experiences.
November 8, 2010 | Registered CommenterMatthew Cornell
Erik: Thank you *so* much for questioning "implications." This stimulated me to slash out that entire section, which I realized I'd covered in the discussion of these "truths." A big help!
November 9, 2010 | Registered CommenterMatthew Cornell

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.