Local minima theory

The great thing about travel is that it takes you out of your comfort zone.

A friend of mine had a theory once: she used to talk about how people "get stuck in local minima". This is a loan from physics and mathematics, where a local minimum means a place where you need to use extra effort to get away from. For example, rainwater collects itself as ponds in local minimums: you need to actively send it to the global minimum: the storm drain. This is the same reason why proper design is important in a bathroom!

Anyway, people tend to get stuck in a local minimum: they find their comfort zone, and stay there. Many people never bother to take the extra effort needed to climb out of the hole they've dug, and see if there would be a better "local minimum". It's uncertain effort, because you could be in a global minimum, and every other option would be worse...

I'm not saying that people are bad because they do not seek life outside the comfort zone. But I am saying that it's important to realize when you are in a comfort zone, that there could be other options as well - but that it will require conscious effort to get out of them. And if you're happy with the decision to be wherever you are, all power to you. But, in my opinion, you need to make the conscious decision. Maybe you are already where you want, or maybe the walls are just too steep to climb out. But sometimes you see people stuck on what is essentially a flat area, and they just keep complaining, but they don't seem to have the ability to start finding something better, just because it will make your life slightly worse for a while.

I guess there's a law in there somewhre: "In the absence of external forces, people get stuck in their comfort zone."

That's why I love traveling: it provides constant nudges which keep putting you to situations you're not comfortable in. If you choose to look, you will see.




Comments

I take it you're having a good time, then? :)

--Outi, 15-May-2007


Or then he's really homesick and just tries to make it look noble and sound brave

--AnonymousCoward, 15-May-2007


Oops didn't mean to be AC

--Tuija, 15-May-2007


No, I really am as dumb as I sound...

--JanneJalkanen, 16-May-2007


Heh. I like you theory.

There was one thing funny in your choice of words: that you call it local *minima*.

In biology, they consider evolution as a competition for a (constantly changing) local *maxima*.

Maybe the evolution has finally peaked in the form of an lazy engineer, like you and me, who is seeking the local minima instead of maxima ;)

--Tommi Vilkamo, 21-May-2007


But I'm a physicist, and so I think in terms of energy ;-)

--JanneJalkanen, 23-May-2007


mornin' boys.

indeed in biology we also spoke of local minima. in biochemistry, especially, when describing solutions to formulas of systems.

there are sometimes many local minima whose parameters fit the model equation. one way to test robustness of the answer (other than first seeing if it makes sense) is to put 'energy' into the system to 'shake' the parameters enough that the solution would have to try once more to find the best local minimum.

heh, i see this way of looking at issues all over the place, much like janne has seen it in 'comfort zone'. and in all cases, the idea of putting 'energy' into the system seems to make sense.

heh, aren't we such geeks.

--charlie, 24-May-2007


heh, aren't we such geeks.

Well, when everyone around you has a hammer, it pays not to think like a nail... ;-)

--JanneJalkanen, 25-May-2007


Add comment.
More info...     Comments?   Back to weblog
"Main_blogentry_150507_3" last changed on 15-May-2007 13:56:08 EEST by JanneJalkanen.

My latest photos

www.flickr.com