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The journey of a self thought person

The Bettering Human – what it is and how to be one


A bettering human is a person who tries to make herself and the world better. It’s a term I came up with in 2021 when I was trying to make a life plan. It helped me describe what I wanted to accomplish in life: I wanted to be a better person and I wanted to make the world a better place. In other words, I wanted to be a bettering human.

As I thought about specific things that would make me feel I was a bettering human, I realized they could be grouped into three categories:
  • learn
  • contribute
  • live
Each of these categories has its own subcategories. In this post, I explain the categories and I give some examples on how they apply to my own life.


1. Learn

Learning is the effort we put into gaining two main kinds of knowledge:
  • general knowledge: this is the kind of knowledge any and all humans should have about the topics covered in grade school and high school.
  • This knowledge is not optional. It is the kind of knowledge that is both a right and a responsibility. It is a right because it is essential to feeling confident about the choices we make and about our ability to shape our own lives. Without this knowledge we feel lost and powerless. If we want to have a world of equal opportunity, we need to make sure all humans have access to this kind of education.
  • At the same time, general knowledge is a responsibility because our choices always affect other people and the world itself. It’s our duty to understand enough about the world to be able to reasonably predict the effects of our actions. Without this knowledge, it is likely that, when trying to change what we don’t like about the world, we end up making things worse.
  • If the world owes each of us the education that makes us aware of our power, each of us owes the world a true understanding of the consequences of using that power.
  • expert level knowledge: this is the kind of knowledge we pursue because we’re very interested in a subject or because we really need that knowledge in order to solve a problem or a set of problems. This knowledge is optional, but critical to feeling good about our lives and to being bettering humans. It gives us a way to see what’s the best we can do and to constantly push ourselves beyond current limits. It also gives us a way to do challenging work, the kind of work that’s deeply satisfying.

This is how I’m applying learning to my own life:
  • elementary world knowledge: this is the general knowledge I need to have. It is high school AP level knowledge of the main academic disciplines. For this part of my learning I’m building a website to post interactive textbooks and other learning resources that cover the main academic disciplines.
  • I borrowed the term elementary world wisdom from Charles Munger and changed it to elementary world knowledge to make it clear that knowing math, physics, biology, chemistry, and so on doesn’t make us wise. Elementary world knowledge is not wisdom. It probably isn’t a prerequisite to wisdom, but it certainly is an enhancer of it.
  • 6_in_5: this is the expert level knowledge I want to have. It involves studying at undergraduate level the topics covered in six different majors*:
    • political science
    • neuro- and cognitive science
    • economics and finance
    • the human experience
    • bioengineering
    • computer science
  • It also involves applying this knowledge by working on useful projects and by creating useful products or services. I don’t want to be just a polymath. I want to be a useful polymath.
  • This project is called 6_in_5 because it covers six different majors and my goal is to finish it in five years. Once the five years are up, I’ll decide which topics I want to study at graduate level or even Nobel-prize-worthy level.
  • LHOWW (Learning HOw the World Works): this is a slightly confusing part of my learning plan since it doesn’t belong to just one of the two kinds of knowledge I mentioned above (i.e. general knowledge and expert level knowledge). Rather, LHOWW is combination of those two kinds of knowledge and it is applied to understanding the world.
  • For this project, I’m making a web app and, later, a VR game, to show one possible way of making sense of the world.


2. Contribute

Contributing is what we do not (just) for ourselves but for the world. It is made up of three subcategories:
  • civic duty: this is not optional, and it includes staying informed about current events, voting, and working in public office (e.g. school boards, local or national government, etc.). As citizens, we have an obligation to give some of our time to the institutions and systems that try to make the world function relatively smoothly.
  • volunteer work: this involves helping out in non-government, non-public office work. It is not optional. It helps us experience life from different perspectives and makes us more open-minded. Those two things are critical to a healthy society and to a better world.
  • professional work: this is the kind of work we do to earn a living. It is our job, our business, our side hustle, or our freelance work. It is optional for some people, but I believe it’s necessary for all of us. Professional work is not just a source of income, it is also a source of satisfaction, meaning, and feeling of belonging.

There’s a lot of flexibility on the kind of work we do. Some jobs are exciting and are a joy to work on. Some are mind-numbing, but they can be a source of joy when we see that they offer us an exciting challenge: create ways of automating them.

This is how I’m applying contributing to my life:

  • for civic duty, I’m reading the news, I’m voting in all elections and I’m learning about the local and national government so I can better understand my rights and my responsibilities. I’ll find people whose policies I agree with and I will see how I can help out.
  • for volunteer work, I’m looking for ways to help people who feel lonely, depressed, disconnected, meaningless.
  • for professional work, I’m doing several things:
    • build educational tools such as:
      • Elementary World Knowledge: a website with interactive learning resources for the main academic disciplines
      • LHOWW: a web app and, later, a VR game that make it possible to learn about the world. The app and the game will also have modeling tools that can be used to test ideas we have about the world and test actions we want to take to make the world better.
    • use what I learn as part of the 6_in_5 project and invent and/or build products related to health and healthy longevity


3. Live

Living means making the most out of this experience called life. This category is the vague part of my bettering human plan. Right now, it is based on the premises that life matters, that I only live once, and that it would be a pity to waste the chance of fully exploring and experiencing what it means to be human. It involves four subcategories:

  • personal
  • closest family
  • extended family
  • friends

I tried to write examples of what I do in this category, but they feel too personal or too forced. I have been mostly living in a self-made bubble for a while now. Only recently I started getting out of that bubble and into the real world again. As I do that more and as I learn more about this part of my bettering human plan, I’ll write about it again.



This is the short version of my bettering human plan. It is the starting version. As I work through the plan, I’ll figure out what needs to be changed and I’ll write new versions of it. What I have right now is good enough to help me focus when my mind wanders and to help me regain a calm mindset when I start feeling overwhelmed.



1 These majors are not strictly based on traditional college majors. Instead, they are based on my interests and the kind of expertise I want to achieve.

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