How to get rid of boredom and monotony in life

Who is Max Hawkins and why he gave up a stable life in favor of uncertainty

Max Hawkins workedThe Value of Uncertainty. Aeon an engineer at a dream corporation (Google), lived in a dream city (San Francisco), and his daily routine was strictly regulated. He got up at 7 a.m., had a cup of coffee at his favorite coffee shop, and then rode his bike to work.

Everything was wonderful, but Max Hawkins gradually came to believe that he had standardized his life to the point that it began to bother him. He felt that he was thus limiting his freedom, trapped by his own preferences, and living a life that was not his own. Max's reading of the studyLimits of Predictability in Human Mobility. Science that a person's movements can be accurately predicted by obtaining geodata from his smartphone only reinforced his anxious thoughts.

As a programmer, Hawkins decided to diversify his life with technology. He developed an application - a random choice generator, quit his job at Google, switched to remote work and lived "chaotically" for more than two years.


The algorithms chose what to eat, what city to live in (Max moved every two months), compiled playlists for him on Spotify, and helped him choose a random Facebook event he attended.

For example, Hawkins visited acrobatic yoga classes in Mumbai and a goat farm in Slovenia, a school flute concert and a cat cafe in Taipei. If an app suggested he go to a humble grill bar in a tiny Iowa town, Max listened. He even got a tattoo on his chest with a randomly selected image from the Web.

Quite quickly Max began to feel comfortable in unfamiliar situations. According to him, it helped him to feel like a more complete person, not tied to certain places, as well as to get to know the world much better.


Here are some of Max Hawkins' projects:


The Third Party: Random Public Events - a Facebook group with random events you can attend.

Dialup - an app that allows you to connect with random people with similar interests.

Daily Random - A playlist on Spotify that is randomly collected daily.

Why do we live a monotonous life?

The reasons for the routine nature of life lie in the very mechanism of the brain. It is the most energy-consuming organ of the human body: despite its relatively small size, the brain consumes the brain's energy budget. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America about 20% of the oxygen and calories that go into the body.


Our body, on the other hand, is always trying to reduce the waste of resources. That's why the brain carefully learns past experiences in order to use them to make decisions in similar situations in the future - to doClark A. Whatever next? Predictive brains, situated agents, and the future of cognitive science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences. "predictions". After all, it is easier to assume that everything will happen again than to re-evaluate the situation. This develops in us a sense of control over the course of events, which is pleasantly comforting in a routine way of life, but is lost in unfamiliar circumstances. This process is detailed in the theory of predictive coding, or predictive processing.


Scientists from the U.S. and China tried to demonstrate the predictability of human behavior in the studyLimits of Predictability in Human Mobility. Science in 2010, the same study that Hawkins reviewed. The experts analyzed the data of 50 thousand mobile devices on the movements of their owners. It turned out that in 93% of cases their route didn't change over time.


In 2010 the politician, businessman and head of, Eli Paraiser, introduced the Filter Bubble: How The New Personalized Web Is Changing What We Read and How We Think. - Penguin Books, 2012 the concept of a "filter bubble." By this he meant a limited number of Internet sources that users trust more based on past experience with them. For example, a person can read news on one site for years and be skeptical of other resources, even if they can find additional information there.


Monotony and stability are the most comfortable states for the brain.


It affects human behavior, interests and actions: we form an opinion about the "rightness" or "wrongness" of a way of life. It is supported by the opinion of others, as well as social networks that tell us what content we need to see.


We talked above about how routine and consistency give us a sense of control. However, our preconceptions about the world and other people can be mistaken. These misconceptions can turn into false faith and lead to the opposite - a feeling of inability to change something in the routine of life. And this state, in turn, borders on learned helplessness.


Why Uncertainty is Good

There is a lot of talk about stepping out of your comfort zone, and in fact, it can be useful. In theory, for example, stepping away from mental stereotypes helps one look at reality from a different angle. A person can enrich his picture of the world and become more ready for the unexpected. This theory of controlled uncontrollability is going to test the specialists of the universities of Sussex (England), Edinburgh (Scotland) and Wellington (New Zealand) in the project xSPECT.


As the researchers note, the same body's energy savings have the value of uncertainty. Aeon the flip side is a passion for research. You can only stay within the expected if you know what to expect. Our brain therefore seeks to find out as much as possible about the world around us in order to reduce uncertainties and make our predictions as accurate as possible.


In fact, this means that the more often we step out of our comfort zone, the more comfortable we feel. Perhaps this explains people's desire for science and creativity. For example, research provesMasy B., Donahue C.H., Lee D. Volatility Facilitates Value Updating in the Prefrontal Cortex. Neuron, that only uncertainty allows us to learn new things. After all, all the knowledge we have is past experience. But when we find ourselves in unfamiliar circumstances, the brain has to look for other ways to solve problems.

How Hawkins' experience can help diversify your life

Hawkins' experiment in its original form, of course, will not work for everyone. But in fact, he simply put his beliefs and interests to the "stress test" to explore his limits. The algorithms helped him break his stereotype of a "normal" life and gain new experiences. And in this sense, his experiences will be understandable and useful to almost everyone.


To follow Max's example, you don't have to turn your life into chaos - two simple steps are enough.


First, you need to "decode" the problem, that is, admit to yourself that your current way of life is boring and you want a change. Admitting monotony is the first step to change. When you see the problem and can look at it from the outside, start looking for ways to solve it-something that will help you verify the truth of your beliefs and break the routine.


You don't really need absolute unpredictability. Hawkins, even though he couldn't guess where the algorithm would send him, knew that it would happen consistently every two months.


You don't have to do the same thing and move immediately. It's enough to make a new habit with an element of surprise. Say, cooking a new meal every Sunday, or signing up for interactive online music or dance lessons. Meditation and mindfulness training are also helpful for developing mindfulness.


This controlled uncertainty seems to be the secret to overcoming boredom and routine.


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