Son, go clean your room!

This looks like notes to myself, written during 10th grade study hall. At the time I was first trying to answer questions like, who am I, who do I want to be, how do I think, etc. The form is strongly influenced by Mr. Smith's 10th grade English class. Mr. Smith was the debate coach.

I still agree with this in large part. Perhaps because the majority of thought I've spent on these issues were spent then. One modification I'd make since then is I've had three children, and on the day of birth they had very different desires for how to approach life. One wanted to do the minimum possible. Another protested if they weren't near where people were talking. Another wanted to squirm and kick. Perhaps techniques are learned, but people are born with different goals.

When presented with a problem, say, cleaning a room, people will respond to it in different ways. Some people seem to keep everything clean and never need to be told what to do. Other people will clean a room immediately when asked, but would never clean it on their own. Some people would agree to clean the room, but they would not get around to doing it. Others would do it while complaining loudly about what a hard life they have. Others will simply complain with no intention of cleaning the room unless forced to do it. Almost no one would always respond in exactly one of these way. Instead they would react in combinations of these methods and other methods that I have not thought of. People do not respond teh same way every time, either. Each time they take a slightly different approach to the problem. What causes this great variety in people? I shall attempt to find a useful answer. My hypothesis is that people do what works.

People do what works. As toddlers they see how other people get what they want. They try to apply these methods to their own problems, usually with very limited success. Through observation and the technique of trial and error, they learn how to conquer each obstacle in their way until they can actually reach their goal.

For example, a child might be told to put an object away. If he has already seen that his brother says "O.K." yet does nothing in a similar situation, the child will try to reach his goal (doing as little work as possible) the same way his brother did. If he finds this doesn't work, he is likelyto modify the theory. Say, he will take it to the correct room and leave it in the doorway. If this still doesn't satisfy his taskmaster, he will probably put the object away correctly. One theory is edited and appended until a method is reached which works.

After a method is discovered which can adequately handle a problem, that method is kept and remembered. Usually, no other method will be found since there is no need to look for one. It is much easier to keep something that works fairly well rather than search out the best method possible. (It seems reasonable to assume that for any given situation there exists one and only one best solution to it.) As a child grows up, he encounters hundreds upon thousands of new situations. The solutions he finds for them will be modifications of previous solutions. Since everything is built on everything else, an outside observer (who is aware of different solutions) would see a pattern in teh child's behavior. That pattern is called his personality.

Now for the useful part. Say someone was not satisfied with their personality. Too extroverted, introverted, wild, predictable, stubborn, meek, whatever. They are what they are because they have found this to work. If they learn another method which produces better results and they set their subconscious to accepting the new method as better, they can change their personality. The old method will still be better in some situations, but the new alternative will be used where the old one had trouble.