Sunday, January 22, 2017

Saving ideas

People often try to save ideas.

Like when a person has an idea that he’s not fully satisfied with, thinks is wrong, has some benefits but some flaws too.

For example, say you’re married with kids and the idea you’re trying to save is to stay married. You see pros with staying married but you also see some cons with it.

Trying to save an idea that you see pros and cons with is ok as long as you’re using good methods. Using bad methods is what makes things go badly and causes suffering.

Here’s a bad way to try to save an idea.

Convince yourself that the pros of the idea outweigh the cons. This is no good. It means sticking with what you already know to be wrong. It means settling. Sacrificing yourself. Notice that this isn’t about creating new options that could work to meet your standards. Instead it’s about trying to fool yourself into picking an existing option that you already know to be a bad one.

Using the married with kids example from above, it could be that the person cares about staying married because he thinks it’s best for his children. So he thinks that a pro of staying married is that his children get to have a better life than compared to what it would be if they divorced. This actually doesn’t work. He’d be a bad role model for his kids, teaching them that life is about sacrifice for the “benefit” of others.

Here’s a good way to try to save an idea.

Try to create a new idea from the flawed one with some changes. Focus the changes on parts that are flawed. Aim for creating an idea that isn’t already criticized by criticisms you already know of.

Still using the married with kids example from above, the person could try to save the pro from the old idea (good life for his children) while changing some other parts. For example, instead of staying married, they could get divorced while trying to continuously improve their parenting relations so that they are better parents to their children. In this way, the parents have decreased their interactions, limiting them to just things about the kids. So they would have removed a huge source of fights while also shifting their time and effort into helping their kids.