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Why is Hedonistic Learning Good for You?

If your process sucks, then your life sucks.

And if your life sucks, then (get this…wait for it…) your life sucks.

And no milestone can change that.

No milestone will erase day-to-day suckage.

No peak of achievement will make it taste sweet. Not for more than five minutes. Maybe an hour of afterglow. And if you think about it, it’s really awful math…s…to spend thousands of hours in pain just so you can bask in five minutes of grudgingly given public glory (which you can’t even enjoy properly, because success has a hundred far king fathers, so you’re supposed to act humble and give credit to all the people who helped you along the way in your masochism).

Or maybe it will; maybe the peak will make it all worth it; I dunno…many mothers talk about childbirth as having an amnesiac effect, erasing all the pain that went into it.

But I’m not a mother and your brainchild isn’t a human baby, although we’ve previously discussed how it is a metaphorical one. It’s just a game. It won’t make you lactate or forget the pain.

Speaking of games…I have played PlayStation until my thumbs swelled to (I kid you not) twice their normal size, but I did eventually stop when I got my fill of beating my friend, Ngoc, at the boxing game we were playing. And I didn’t really take the swelling as a badge of honor, just a funny sign that Ngoc and I had played far too much PlayStation that January morning. And I was having fun the whole time, so it didn’t hurt; the sight of my hands was somewhat alarming, but not painful. Adrenaline, I guess. Did I mention I beat Ngoc at the game? Yeah. Wonned him. Trounced him. In his own house. Multiple times.

And each time I did it, I danced to the game soundtrack and vaguely humped the air, just to make him angry 😉 .

So I’m not saying don’t go all out, necessarily. I’m saying…don’t suffer. Not worth it. You won’t build character: you’ll just build a track record of suffering. To top it off, you’ll build a reputation as a sufferer, and people will come to you to suffer for them. So now, you’re not just suffering for yourself, you’re the village suffering bicycle and everybody wants a ride. Kind of like how I rode Ngoc at boxing on that PlayStation. Did I mention that I beat him?

Why suffer for 10,000 hours just so you can enjoy 1, when you could enjoy all 10,000? I mean, are you seeing the exchange rate here? Are you seeing how bad it is? When you trade time away, you are trading life away. Now, unfortunately, you can’t hoard your surplus time and not trade it, it keeps very badly, but you could at least make trades that don’t suck. Hint: when you get more suffering than joy on the trade, leading experts consider that a bad trade.

Any time spent learning how to make a long-term learning more fun is time well spent because the stakes are so high. Life itself is at stake.

Instead of just having a goal worth having, have a process worth living. That way you win three times: you win at the beginning; you win at the end and you win all through the middle, which is the biggest part.

You can be winning literally the whole time. 1

And sometimes, all it takes is a mindset change. Here’s one: don’t view learning Chinese as a step toward learning Chinese, but as itself a part of already knowing Chinese. To know Chinese is to learn it, is to be learning it; it is not a state; it’s a series of dynamic state transitions; it is a process, a way of life. And after all, if you started to neglect the language today, you would start sucking today…Live it, don’t “learn” it.


  1. There’s a Charlie Sheen joke somewhere in there; we leave it as an exercise for the reader.

  1 comment for “Why is Hedonistic Learning Good for You?

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    April 24, 2014 at 20:32

    Khatz, thanks for the article.

    I’ve got a pretty steep request, (which you can turn down, and I will still love you) but recently I’ve been finding myself at crossroads of a kind.

    You know, the easy learning/easy doing process that you teach here definitely works for language. But I’ve been trying to get my head into building some sort of a business. So, I read a bunch of books, entrepreneur forums etc etc. And everywhere I go I see this ‘grind/sleep is for the weak/all work no play is life’ type of mentality. As I am right now, I get really turned off by that. Motivation videos don’t do it for me. Every-time I try it, I three-day-monk.

    There’s a certain sort of ‘barrier’ I have towards making other life activities fit the AJATT method of ‘make the process enjoyable, so you won’t have to deal with motivation’. The feeling is akin to ‘guilt’. Like, ‘that’s not real work, that’s you f***ing around.’

    My question/request is if you could write a post some-day about how you applied the AJATT method to other aspects of life (if you did). You obviously have a website going, and presumably are at the point in life where you are living on your terms.

    IF you did it the AJATT way, I’d love to get your insights on applying it to other aspects of life, where conventional wisdom states that ‘hard work’ (I’m not mocking the original concept, but the connotations that come with it) is the only way.

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