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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Algorithm of Life

Ok, I am on a very tedious process of discovering myself to know what I am, what I can be, what I was and what I've become. In this process, I have discovered some truths of life. As I am programmer, I am thinking of this as a "Algorithm of Life". Everyone's life has a different algorithm. And, this is mine.

Why Algorithm?
An algorithm is a sequence of decisions that make up the program. Similarly, my life is a cumulative process of the decisions I've made. For e.g. I am an Engineer because I choose to be one, I am a Christian because I choose to be one. So, it makes sense to look at the process of these life transforming decisions as a algorithm.
NOTE: I am aware that some of the decisions of our lives are not taken by us which means that all these different algorithms are intertwined to create a giant program called the Universe. But, lets start with one at a time.

The way I seem to live life is by being reactive more, than being pro-active. I seem to react to the problems that I face with and life happens when attending to these problems otherwise its just plain old boring with the never changing routine. Look at it this way, I am driving straight unless I am faced with a junction. At this junction, we have to make a choice whether to turn left or right or go straight or turn back. I call these junctions - Problems. When I say problems, I mean decisions that are abit more serious than what to eat now and whether to watch movie or sleep. Problem sounds a bit misnomer but its not actually.

A problem is a decision to be made in the Algorithm of Life.

According to the wiki, A problem is an "issue" or obstacle which makes it difficult to achieve a desired goal, objective or purpose. It refers to a situation, condition, or issue that is yet unresolved. In a broad sense, a problem exists when an individual becomes aware of a significant difference between what actually is and what is desired.

My desire is to go on with my life without interruptions and when I am faced with an issue, I have to make some decisions. And hence I call this situation a problem. Since, we agree on the definition of the problem and the algorithm - we can proceed and see how they relate.

As I explained earlier, life goes on with the routine unless we face problems. So, its not totally crazy to say that Problems determine life. As the junctions determine the course. So, it is very crucial to understand how we deal with problems in order to understand life.

I seem to be the best expert out there on me and also the only person I seem to be knowing inside out is me so who's a better guinea pig than me for this kind of experiment right? So, lets start the experiment.

Every problem I've faced seem to be a composition of emotion and logic. Sometimes, it's more of emotions for e.g. my dad's passing away and sometimes its more of logic - e.g. my decision to migrate to USA. So, it is fair to say that a Problem in the Algorithm of Life has two constituents - Emotion and Logic.

Emotion - The feeling inside that drives your actions and is also driven by your actions. i.e. Reaction from the Heart to a Problem

According to wiki, Emotion is associated with mood, temperament, personality, and disposition.

Logic - The motivation/reasoning behind the action stripped of the emotion. i.e. Reaction from the Mind to a Problem

According to wiki, Logic, (from the Greek λογικός logikos)[1] is the study of reasoning.[2] Logic is used in most intellectual activity, but is studied primarily in the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, and computer science. Logic examines general forms which arguments may take, which forms are valid, and which are fallacies. It is one kind of critical thinking. In philosophy, the study of logic falls in the area of epistemology, which asks: "How do we know what we know?" In mathematics, it is the study of valid inferences within some formal language.[3]

So, when you deal with problems - you deal with the emotion and logic. Sometimes, emotions blind you to bias your solution certain way that it does not make any logical sense but seems to satisfy you regardless (or make someone else happy). And sometimes logic drives you to act like a machine than a human.

In other words, Emotion is the input from the heart and Logic is the input from the Brain - you need both to process the information and come up with a decision for the problem at hand.

Lately, I have been pretty good at making decisions that seem to have the desirable outcome i.e. my routine is not disrupted. Which is pretty good considering my history. That is to say, I have taken emotions out of equation in most of the things and looked at it as pure logic. Then analyze it and come up with solutions and then apply emotions again to get the complete picture.

If I have a problem at hand, here's a brief list of questions that I ask myself :

1. What is the problem at hand (after removing all the emotions from it)?
See, emotions blur everything in the way. Emotions are like colored (and broken) eye glasses that would only let you see a part of the what is shown and even if you do see through them you would not see it in the right color. Its hard to get the complete picture with emotions involved. So, thats why you have to take them out of the equation to understand the naked problem.

2. How would this problem affect me?
This is an important question to ask yourself as the impact drives the reaction. If you are aware of the extent of impact then you can prioritize accordingly in order solve this problem at hand with the right amount of attention it deserves, too much attention on an insignificant problem is just a waste of everything and too less attention to a potential disaster is stupid too. You are your first priority most of the times and its ok to be a bit selfish as long as it does not affect others. So, know the impact on yourself first before you go and sacrifice yourself for no good.

3. What would happen if I dont solve this?
Not every problem is meant to be solved, and not every problem has a direct affect on your routine. It's very important to know what would happen if you dont solve it before you actually try to solve it. You might just get away by not solving it, you never know. Also, think of others too, what if you dont solve this problem and it becomes a huge burden to someone else? Take into account the impact on others before you dismiss a problem.

4. What would happen if I do solve this?
This is the part where you think glory. You might get a Nobel Prize for solving this or you might get a cross. Some solutions might start a chain reaction. The solution to your problem might trigger a explosion of problems to some unlucky being. Its important to understand the impact even when the problem is solved i.e. know your solution and its impact too.

5. What are the possible solutions?
Explore the solution set. Every problem has more than one solution. Its true. The right solution and the wrong solution and occasionally the "ok" solution. All of them solve the problem. All of them are solutions. You have to take into regard all of them before you can make judgement.

6. Which solution best suits the problem given my current context and the parameters for this?
Evaluate/Gauge your solutions within the context and the parameters. That's how you know which solution fits the bill. This analysis is very important without which you might end up with the wrong solution that could potentially land you in more trouble than before.

7. What are the tools available to devise a solution?
Not all the solutions are free. Everything has a price. And everything has a catch. Sometimes, the price is not so much and sometimes the catch is negligible. But in any case, you need tools to devise the solution. The tools determine the price for the solution in association with the impact later. Some solutions use inexpensive tools but cost later. Some solutions cost more for the tools and you might never have to pay later. Know you tools before you devise the solution. Study them along with the impacts to know the price of the solution.

8. What is the picture with emotions in place?
All problems are not logical. Most of the routine problems of life are emotional. They donot have much logic to them. For e.g. you are pissed at your friend for not calling you on your birthday - there's no logic to it. He might have been busy with more important things or may be he's just a dick. May be thats your gift. Who knows? So, the point being there's no logic to emotional problems. So, when you strip down these problems off emotions then there isnt much of it left to analyse. So, you have to put them back in context to know what really is going on. Also, in the case of problems that do have logic it helps to get the complete picture by putting back the emotions in. You will know what I am talking about in a second. Dont worry!

9. How can I manipulate it to fit my solution in or how can I sell my solution to the emotionally blinded parties involved?

With the problems that have both logic and emotions in high proportions - there is a certain advantage to analyse them without the emotions i.e. you get to see the naked problem. But logic without emotions is more of scientific experiment rather than life. Life is drama, we need both of them in their own proportions. After you analyse the problem minus emotions, you put the emotions back in and see the complete picture. Think of it this way, say you are contracting to renovate an old house. If you look at the house as it is - with the paintings and stuff, you will have no idea of what's beneath it. You have to forget the color of the walls are and how beautiful the paint is to really think whether you need that wall or not. Once you figured out what you wanna do with the walls then know what you need to do. But if you tell the customer that you wanna tear the beautiful wall apart - its getting emotional now. So, you have to sell it in emotions, you have to tell them what is gonna be there instead and how beautiful it is gonna be. Then the customer might like the whole idea. So, there is a lot of selling and buying when emotions are put back into picture. You might actually use this to your advantage. There is nothing selfish about it. Well, there might be but its good to have things work your way at times. But do not exploit this. Use this with caution.

10. What is the extent of bullshit I can deal with for this solution sale?
Some sales are easy and some are not. But in both cases, there will be bullshit. You have to know the extent of bullshit you can put up with in order to deal with the sale. Some sales are not worth the bullshit that goes into the sale. Know the extent and keep the conversations to the length that fits the bill. NO more NO less. You are all set!


These are the main questions I seem to be asking myself lately whenever I have a big problem staring right at me. I have given the reasoning behind the questions. It was not always like this. I used to think "Oh my god, OH my god" first - then freak out a little bit more and then when I am done freaking out - I'd sit and think about the solutions within that emotional chaos. Which did not work very well as you might have guessed.

Lately, I am faced with too many problems and there was a constant freak out period and I didn't like that. I thought to myself, there has to be a better way to deal with chaos and I started observing myself more. It did not take that long to figure out how I reacted to problems. With the help of some good friends, I have been observing my behaviour abit more carefully and started realizing patterns in my behaviour.

There is a pattern to everything in life. There is a pattern to my sleep, my walk, my laugh, my cry, my thoughts, my ideas, my moods, my lunches, my dinners, my workouts, my work, my talk, my breathing and my being. I am a composite being of my patterns. My behaviour is a collection of these intricate patterns. My brain is a collection of these patterns. My being is a collection of my behaviour, thoughts, physique and conscious which have patterns in themselves.

A pattern in the Algorithm of Life is a repeated sequence of actions/characteristics which tend to describe the being. Although, these patterns are not the core of the being but the repetitiveness of these patterns makes them look like they are. The outer being is what is projected as the entire being but in reality more often than not - the inner being is very different from what you see. For e.g. some people might come off as arrogant but in reality they are very shy or insecure that makes them act that way at times.

More on the Patterns later. Please feel free to comment and chip in. Thanks!
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