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Applying the AJATT Learning Philosophy and How To Know If You’re Doing It Wrong

OK, so, against my better judgment, I’m going to engage in a lot of very cruel (but relatively subtle) stereotyping here. But bear with me, because it’s all for a good cause: you.

Here’s the deal.

You don’t need to be a masochistic Confucian 1 or a fatalistic Darwinist.

Be Loki, not Zeus. Be a trickster god, not a top-down creator. Never use force, always finesse — trickery. Be mischievous, not imperious. Be Bugs Bunny, not Yosemite Sam, not Foghorn Leghorn and definitely not Elmer Fudd. Don’t command yourself or other people to act a certain way. Trick yourself into it.

  • If you’re bored, you’re doing it wrong.
    • Converse: If you had fun, then you won.
    • If you’re laughing, then you’re winning.
    • If you’re playing, then you’re winning.
    • If it’s all a game to you — if it feels like game — then you’re winning.
    • If you see and act on the world in simple, straightforward terms, then you’re winning
  • If it feels bad, you’re doing it wrong.
  • If it feels like work, you’re doing it wrong.
  • If you’re not making progress, you’re doing it wrong.
  • If you’re angry at yourself for not making any/enough progress, you’re (wait for it…) doing it (here it comes…) wrong!
  • If you’re yelling at yourself, you’re doing it wrong.
  • If you feel like a schmuck, you’re doing it wrong.
    • Corollary: If you’re misusing what little Yiddish you’ve picked up from movies, you are, almost by definition, doing it wrong 😛 .
  • If you’re trying to work harder, you’re doing it wrong.
    • If you find yourself using phrases like “I need to work harder”, you’re doing it wrong.
  • If you’re hating yourself, you’re doing it wrong.

If you’re doing it wrong, switch up your methods until you’re not doing it wrong any more. You want to industrialize (that is, systematize and mass-produce) both your learning and your enjoyment of that learning. When both these things are being mass-produced in industrial quantities according to a reliable and more-or-less repeatable system, you’ll find yourself in a self-improving virtuous cycle, an upward spiral of pure awesomeness, from which much good and mastery will come.

But you need to industrialize both simultaneously. That’s the trick 2Industrialized joy alone is mere entertainment. Industrialized learning alone is just school/torture. Compromise when timeboxing, but don’t compromise on this. Get both!


  1. Confucian values are awesome, but as with many philosophies whose founders aren’t around to correct wild misinterpretations, the implementation and link layers (respectively) often have serious issues.
  2. Eeeeeenh? Eeeeeeenh? See what I did there?

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