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Keith Tse


  • Writer's pictureKeith Tse

Magic Fuel

Why do we do what we do? Naturally, we do something because we want to, though there are inevitably many things in life that we do not necessarily because we want to but simply because we have to. There are many forms of human will and obligation, but we may be able to broadly classify what we do into two categories: those that are done voluntarily and those that are done by necessity. The former type is naturally appealing, since it consists of things that we do by our own accord, which in most instances include hedonistic pursuits (even unhealthy ones), while the latter probably consists of important things that need to be done, whether we like it or not. In the midst of all this is human reason, which controls our mental processing and whispers like a soft voice whenever we make a decision, and there is often a battle between what we rationally think and how we sentimentally feel: ‘I really do not want to do it but I have to or else…’, ‘I really want to do it even though I know that it is bad for me’ etc. We all know what the correct decision is, but we are often held back by forces pulling us the other way, and as we are trapped in these moral dilemmas, precious time is being lost, which may do serious harm to our busy lives. What if we reformulate these questions slightly by setting ‘I have to do it and I also want to do it’ as the optimum and ‘I know that it is bad for me and I do not want to do it’ as the pessimum? These two statements should set us off into doing things that absolutely need to be done and wand us off from touching things that should never be touched, since, in addition to recognising the importance and urgency of the task(s) at hand, we may also be able to persuade ourselves that whatever needs to be done is also what we want to do and vice versa. I mentioned before that there were two ways to beat procrastination, one by sheer mental will and brute force and the other by enticement, and this bipartition seems to correlate with the many tasks in our lives. I also mentioned that it was possible to blur the boundaries between these two seemingly incompatible extremes by convincing oneself that this seemingly impossible task which is long overdue is actually quite fun to work with. In an analogy of driving a car, it is usually essential to get it moving by using maximum force (first gear etc), which is often painful and fuel-consuming, but if we use some magic fuel on it just as those who are addicted to drugs pursue pleasure in substances such as magic mushrooms, we may be able to get going faster and smoother, since energy consumption is no longer a painful experience but a highly pleasant one to look forward to. As ever, don’t give up.

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