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Thanks for the thoughtful reply. That makes sense. I don't consider myself an EA, and read EA Forum 80% out of intellectual interest, 20% out of altruistic motives, so I'll leave my end of the conversation here (and perhaps subscribe to your blog!), but from the upvotes on your suggestion of a blog update, seems like it met with significant interest among EA Forum readers, so I'd encourage you to do that!

It would be worth cross posting each blog post here!

Fair point. Is there a consensus within EA that EA should only be focused on what are the most effective causes in terms of increasing total utility, vs there being space to optimize effective impact within non-optimal causes?

My personal interests aside, it seems like there would be an case to address this, as many people outside the current EA movement are not particularly interested in maxing utils in the abstract, but rather guided by personal priorities -- so improving the efficacy of their donations within those priorities would have value. And there to my knowledge, there is a vacuum in analyzing the impact of charities outside of top EA cause areas. I would imagine that on net, it's a loss to allocate non-trivial resources to this away from higher impact cause areas... arguably asking people to share the information they currently have in low-effort ways would be positive on net, though I can see why one would want to promote conversational norms that discourage this.

Maybe I'll take this to LessWrong, where I'll hit many folks with the same knowledge base, but without violating the norms you put forth?

Great advice! I recommend Lori Gottlieb's "Marry Him" for more on what standards are appropriate (it's aimed at hetero women but I found it useful as a hetero man), and Logan Ury's "How Not to Die Alone" for more on a number of these topics.

Thank you for doing this!

My questions:

  1. Where did the time come from? What activities did you have to give up? How did that feel, emotionally?

  2. How did this change in going from one kid to two?

(I say this as someone who:

  • Can't really imagine working less and still being reasonably successful in my current line of work
  • needs a certain amount of sleep to be productive and happy
  • has a life full of other things that bring me joy and feel important to me

At the same time, I have a strong felt sense that I would like to have a child. So I am currently betting that I will find the time mainly by cutting out most of my time with friends / other leisure activities, and that the meaning and joy of raising a child will make this worthwhile. But I worry that I will feel resentful / inclined to prioritize my needs over my child's fullest flourishing.)

Siebe, thanks for this, and sorry to hear you're suffering from long COVID! Would you be open to posting a link to this on LessWrong? I think the analysis would be of personal interest to many there, independent of its merits as a cause area.

I've been thinking a lot lately about whether I want to have kids given I also want to have a life beyond my kids, and this was very helpful!

Answer by sjsjsj2

As someone who is not very empathetic by nature, I found Authentic Relating practice (check out, for example, www.authrev.org) very helpful for cultivating empathy, as it literally focuses on and trains "getting someone else's world." It also trains awareness of and ability to share your own emotional and somatic experience, which is central to emotional intelligence more broadly. I liked it because it was fun - it felt very connecting (I would leave events with a feeling similar to having cuddled with people, even when no cuddling had taken place - oxytocin something something), and I found exploring my and other's experience to be a rich and interesting experience.

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) (check out the book by Marshall Rosenberg, and also the online pay what you want Communication Dojo classes by Newt Bailey) is also very helpful for both empathy and emotional intelligence, as it systematically cultivates a empathy for your own and others' feelings and the needs behind those feelings. It was less rewarding as a recreational activity than Authentic Relating, but Newt is hilarious and lovely so his classes are really fun (and you can attend them on a one-off basis without committing to a series).

Both those practices have had a major impact on my ability to navigate relationship challenges (romantic and familial) with less anger and irritation and more success, as well as my own well-being outside of a relational context.

Lastly, I've read in passing (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nrHi6vTRJI_MELW_gtTiEaaYwK8I82ytMIpHbmM0KNY/edit?usp=drivesdk) that metta (loving kindness) meditation improves empathy. In my experience, it does cultivate a feeling of wa friendliness and care towards other people, but is less helpful in providing insight, compared to the other practices I mentioned. My experience with it is more limited, though. A neat bonus is that once you get some experience with it, it's like a "muscle" you can use in situations where you might otherwise feel anxious or irritable - e.g. I've silently wished loving kindness while going through an airport, listening to a crying baby on a plane, in an annoying or frustrating meeting at work, and before parties where I didn't know too many people, and it really improved the way I felt. It can also feel more immediately rewarding than some other types of meditation.

All these sound super hippie, I grant you, and you may have to hold your nose initially if you're allergic to that sort of thing (I did), but they're well worth it.

You may want to look at Teach for America and Venture for America as potential models

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