The Joy of Hacking
Why I love to solve hard problems
At some point in time I realized, that doing something rewarding does not necessarily lead to an achievement. And most of the time achievements are not the result of rewarding work. I tried to fix this by changing my attitude towards this fact, but it did not work out for me. So why do something, that is not rewarding in the process or does not lead to anything?
It feels like a waste of time. I sat down, reflected and looked for activities that are rewarding in the process and have a high probability to return achievements. These activities are heavily individual, so here is my list, that can be very different to yours. (Reward / Achievement in parenthesis)
- Sleeping (Feeling like a stone right before falling asleep / Good sleep, fresh start into the day)
- Thinking (Getting into the state of flow / A ton of results from thought experiments)
- Writing (Letting out all thoughts and bringing them to paper / Checking the understanding of the learned)
- Learning / Reading (Experience fresh ideas, concepts, etc. / A wide variety of ideas, concepts, etc.)
- Gaming it (Challenge myself with unfamiliar situations in a fun way / Checking if the application of my knowledge is working)
- Programming (Challenge myself with chosen problems / Stay fluent in abstract and formal notation of problems and solutions)
- Hacking (Challenge myself with hard problems / Checking if the combination of all above is working, resulting in a very confident state of mind)
- Meditating (Feeling the freedom of an empty mind / Getting ready for new challenges)
As you can see the list has a rough order and is cyclic. Every item enables the following item in some respect. The meditation at the end is the preparation for a good sleep. Please also note, that sleep is the first step, not the last.
This list is kind of my daily (meta-) routine for the week. At weekends I try to give myself time to rest. Of course life finds a way to distract me, everyday. That is normal and should be expected. I take this into account, when I plan and map out activities. Over time I learned how to focus better, this helps a lot.
I said that I love to solve hard problems. For me the hardest problems are those, which need both sides of my brain at the same time. The creative right and the analytic left hemisphere are connected through the “corpus callosum”. This is a very interesting part of the brain, that works as a big interconnect between both hemispheres.
I would say, that my left hemisphere is the dominant one, but I can make good use of my right hemisphere. Thinking laterally is really big sledge hammer for hard problems. I solved a handful of problems with that. Hacking is one method to use the brain to the full extend.
Using both sides at the same time is pure joy for me. Why? I really don’t know, besides knowing the effects of serotonin and state of flow. Science has also no clear answer to this, as far as I know. You can call it passion, if you want. I feel alive. That’s it.