The red pill path vs the blue pill path

Every choice we make has 2 sides; a cost and a reward, and 2 impacts; an immediate one and a non-immediate one.

The red pill path vs the blue pill path
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Publish Date
Jul 25, 2021
Every choice we make has 2 sides; a cost and a reward, and 2 impacts; an immediate one and a non-immediate one.
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1. Every choice we make has 2 sides; a cost and a reward

On one side of the choice is its reward (or “benefit”), and on the other is its cost. The reward is the desired outcome of the choice and the cost is the price that has to be paid to get it.
This is similar in concept to Newton’s Third law that says for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.

2. Every choice has a “front” & a “back”

The front of the choice is the present moment, and the back of choice is the future

3. There are 2 general strategies we can play

In every moment we can decide which “side” of the choice will want first, the cost or the reward. The second “side” may not be immediately obvious, but it will eventually emerge. Whatever strategy we choose we also have to live with the consequences.
We can either choose to have more comfort in the present moment and pay the costs of this in the future, or we front-end the costs in the present moment and have the rewards in the future.
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  • The ::short game vs the long game:: or ::”short cut” vs the “long cut”::
  • In our culture our lives are optimised for comfort, convenience and reward in the present and not for deeper meaning, the capability and responsibility to realise this, and the acknowledgement of life’s finiteness

Strategy 1: The Blue Pill Path (
Dependable practice

Presentist bias is reflected in (choices) that “front-load” the benefits and “back-load” the costs
  • What we call habits are never things that are based in an "investment" (versus "indulgent") strategy. Ref operant conditioning and why it doesn't make sense to use it for (investment based) practices

Strategy 2: The Red Pill Path (
Rusty Autopilot

  • When I make sacrifices now for a benefit tomorrow then something magic happens.
  • Sacrifice lies at the core of the path of investment
  • A feature of “big-now” care is that it generally involves immediate-term discomfort, self-denial & delayed gratification
  • BNc builds capability (ref “practice pays twice”)
  • “Perception is as much created as it is received”
  • Delayed gratification works because the benefits compound
  • tangibility and multi-selfhood
  • When I pay the price of indulgence today for an investment in my well-being tomorrow then I feel energy flowing into my will & intention & self-pride. It feels like it will fuel my intentionality tomorrow. “A feeling of sacrifaction”. This insight that came to me when going to bed earlier (at 10pm) & not watching a TV show I wanted to otherwise I would compromise my ability to wake up tomorrow to exercise. This is the opposite of the tendency to gain an indulgent reward now at the expense of a price paid tomorrow.
  • It speaks to the first aspect of [[Discipline 🔘]]


  • Mechanism vs Living autonomous purpose
  • I think part of my intended utility of this distinction is pointing at the cultural values that undermine self authorship & genuine trans-moment meaning and consciously creating value.
  • I can imagine writing lots of articles from this theme and using it as a starting point for many narratives.
“Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life” - Jerzy Gregorek
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Day 15 of Smartstart

So looks kinda even right? Well not quite. And the reason for that is that practices (that is paying the cost in the present) have not one, but two rewards. When we perform practices regularly they not only build the reward we employed them for in the first place, but they also reward us in building the fundamental capability of the author of that outcome. Us.
Practice pays out twice. It not only brings us closer to what it was we wanted in our life, but in the process of stretching for it, makes us fitter. That is our Self authoring fitness is developed. And self authoring fitness as I explained a couple of days ago is a capability that we can apply to any project in our life where we want to build more of what is important to us. And the only limits to how fit our Self author might become is how good we can become at meeting that moment of uncomfortable stretch, without turning away. We’re talk more about this tomorrow.

The Marshmallow test suggests that the capacity to put immediate rewards aside is critical to success in life. Angela Duckworth in her book Grit talks about passion and perseverance.

Another term
  • “Small-now care” vs “Big-now care”
  • “Now-care vs Future-care”?
  • Pleasure vs capability
  • “pathway”
  • “causal” (ref Newton’s 3rd law)
    • something “law”
  • ::A beautiful metaphoric name would be nice::
  • The hidden choice
Mitch Olson

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Mitch Olson