(1) GOOD changes are rare but deeply significant in altering human behavior: "we need for a new goal also a new means- namely, a new health, stronger, more seasoned, tougher, more audacious, and gayer than any previous health." (Nietzsche, Ecce Homo) Two to three GOOD changes a year- truly learned and experienced- would be an impressive accomplishment. GOOD changes often "kill" 5-10 "birds with one stone." These are changes that affect behavior across many aspects of life, over many decades. These changes ripple outwards rather than being confined to their small area.
Most changes are not GOOD changes. Most changes are trivial changes that don't stably affect even one aspect of a single human life, let alone 5-10 aspects. They are adopted at random and then abandoned at random, with no discernible purpose or point: "without meaning, without substance, without aim." (Nietzsche, Untimely Ones)
(2) GOOD changes are driven by MIND and usually involve some alteration of an infantile belief to a mature one that has a chance of surviving the requirements of the GOOD. Examples of GOOD changes driven by MIND include:
- "I am the center of the world and the world should serve my needs" TO "I AIN'T MUCH. I am a very small part of this world and can hope to contribute to it only through the cultivation of human excellence"
- "If I am nice and kind to other people the world will reward me in the end, in some way or another" TO "THE ALWAYS NICE AND KIND ARE A NAUSEATINGLY BORING HUMAN TYPE WHO EXCEL IN PUTTING EVERYONE AROUND THEM TO SLEEP. If I cultivate human excellence I can hope- but am never guaranteed- to make some non-trivial contribution to the world. Whether this contribution also involves reward- financial or otherwise- is always uncertain."
- "I will be happy if I make lots of money, own lots of expensive things, have many people look up to me, and maintain a vibrant sex life." TO "GETTING BLING IS DAMN HARD AND MAY NOT DO A DAMN THING FOR ME IN THE END. I will be happy if I maintain balance AND depth across all my human needs, from material to sexual to reputational to aesthetic to moral to social to athletic. None of these needs contributes more to human happiness than the others. They are each equally important to cultivate and maintain across decades of life. I will be unhappy if I neglect many of these needs for one or two of them."
- "I should get married and have kids because it's expected of me and everyone else seems to be doing it" to "I CAN DO MISERABLY UNHAPPY ALONE. I will ONLY get married and have kids if I believe I can build and maintain a better life with a partner and kids than I could on my own."
- "I will maintain relentless optimism in the face of any challenge or reality I face." TO "OPTIMISM WORKS FOR ABOUT TWENTY MINUTES. I will maintain optimism ONLY when the facts and circumstances of the situation warrant it, which is MUCH less than all the time. I will maintain pessimism in the face of realities that have always been negative and have given no indication that they are intent on changing for the GOOD."
- "It is important that I make ALL my views known in public and communicate everything on my mind to everyone at all times. All of my views and public statements are articulate, coherent, and worthy of everyone's attention." TO "Most of my views are TRIVIAL UNDT BANAL. Accordingly, it is important that I listen to the views of those around me that communicate coherently and seriously and with concern that the statements they make are true. Public expression is important and a value but usually only to express some viewpoint that is either totally new or expressed so differently that it casts the issue in a different light. If there are infinite truths out there for all to discover, humanity- either as a species or as individuals- should feel no compulsion to continually repeat the same ones over and over again.
- "I wish to gain power, reputation, money, and other competitively pursued social goods without stress, without anxiety, without exhausting often non-fun "boring" hard work, without sacrifices to my health and relationships, without HUGE sacrifices to personal freedom and core authentic identity" TO "WAKE UP TO REALITY, SON! WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? I must make a mature choice. Either I live a relatively obscure life lacking the competitively pursued social goods (above all, reputation and money) OR I pursue reputation and money knowing full well I will have to sacrifice many other equally good things merely in order to have a "shot" at getting money, reputation, and power."