Reverse engineering, aka when was the last time something worked

. 2 min read

Let's assume that you have something in your life that isn't working. You can't put your finger on it, but it itches. Something isn't right. You're not 100 % content. (Or even: now is the winter of your discontent.)

If you can't identify the problem, perhaps you can imagine the last time you didn't have it.

I know that time changes the way we remember our past. A time that felt sad when you lived it might feel glorious in hindsight. Or a time you thought was the happiest ever could seem like settling in comparison with where you are now. But for the sake of the experiment, don't let the knowledge of this effect affect your perception. Remember the memory as you remember it, however it seems now, with the effect of time.

When was the last time you didn't feel that something wasn't working? When was the last time everything was just great? Do you see the time, yourself, the events, the weather, the surroundings, the environment, in your head?

Who were you, what did you do every day, what wasn't there, what was there?

I'm in my office.
I'm in a good mood all the time.
My butt looks good in jeans.
My skin is perfect.
I have a project that I'm committed to.
I have no time to watch TV/movies/YouTube.
I finish.
I have routines.
I have these glimpse moments of sheer joy for no apparent reason.

Of everything in the memory, is there something you can affect directly and easily?

I could get an office again.
Since I know my mood is directly caused by what I eat, I could eat whatever I ate back then. Same goes for the butt and skin, I guess.
I could start a new project, something that combines what I'm good at and what I'm interested in.
I could work on that project every day as many hours as I can.
I could figure out how to divide that project into finishable parts.
I could create a new routine for myself, one that I really enjoy and that gets me in the mood for work.

If you recreate the essential parts of that memory in today's setting, you could, hypothetically, recreate the feeling of everything working, everything being right. This, hypothetically, could allow you to see exactly what wasn't working, and eliminate or fix it.

Unless, of course, in the process of recreating the perfect life, you forget you had any problems in the first place.