Saturday, March 7, 2009

CBT with Euler’s Number

In honour of the number e (because pi is getting so much attention these days and also because e has more higher order numbers in its beginning than does pi), here is a traditional priority ranking exercise, but using the digits of e. The way it works is simple; for each digit of, in sequence, you assign an activity of either pleasure or obligation to the number with 0 being the least enjoyable or easiest to accomplish and 9 being the most enjoyable of difficult to accomplish.

The catch is you have to use each digit in order. So if you have three activities that rank at level 1, you have to fill in all of the digits up to the third 1 (that’s 27 digits if you skip the leading 2). And no cheating by changing the rank of an activity to match the digit you need to fill.

The point of the exercise is to help you recognise what you need and want to do during your day/week/month as well as to help you recognise how much of your time is spent on less enjoyable activities. The next step in this type of exercise would be to track each activity throughout the week. You will probably notice some activities during this tracking period that were not included in your original list. If you do, make sure to take note of it so that you can place it with all the others. Eventually, you will move on to replacing the less enjoyable activities in your schedule with enjoyable ones. But for now, all you are doing is taking an inventory. I will post an example schedule soon.

The activity you list can also be something you have wanted to do but haven’t for whatever reason. If you’ve always wanted to go skydiving, you can use that as one of your high ranking activities. However, when you use desired activities to fill in the blanks, you have to make an honest effort to actually do them.

From a philosophical point of view, the infinite digits of e can be thought to represent the infinite number of possibilities of things you may accomplish. So the exercise is also to force you to recognise the more important aspects of your life. And because e is irrational (the digits are random), a very significant event can occur after many less significant ones, a metaphor for change and improvement from your current disposition.

Most CBT exercises of this type encourage you to find ten activities, but allow for less. I think I am going to introduce the rule that you have to use at least the first 20 digits, but I challenge you to do more.


7 – Go for run in morning
1 – Check email
8 – Brush teeth before bed
2 – Brush teeth in morning
8 – Eat a proper dinner
1 – Make coffee to go
8 – Learn to do the splits
2 – Water plants
8 – Spend time with Summer Glau
4 – Read a novel

That’s ten digits already, so I know you can easily fill at least twenty (you can break large tasks into smaller components if you want).

e = 2.71828 18284 59045 23536 02874 71352 66249 77572 47093 69995 95749 66967 62772 40766 30353 54759 45713 82178 52516 64274 27466 39193 20030 59921 81741 35966 29043 57290 03342 95260 59563 07381 32328 62794 34907 63233 82988 07531

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