Wonderful post by Holly, thank you for sharing.
To answer Aaron’s OP question, to me it just feels good in the same way that making good decisions in a game or winning a game feels good, except in a deeper more rewarding sense (with games the good feeling can quickly fade when I realize that winning the game has trivial real-world value) because I think that doing EA is essentially the life game that actually matters according to our values. It feels like I’m doing the right thing.
Note that I get my warm fuzzies from striving to do good in an EA sense. To the extent that I realize that an act of helping someone is not optimal for me to do in an EA sense, I feel less good about doing it.
I’ll add that when I want to help people effectively I feel like Nate Soares’ character Daniel in his post “On Caring” after he has undergone his mental shift:
Daniel doesn’t wind up giving $50k to the WWF, and he also doesn’t donate to ALSA or NBCF. But if you ask Daniel why he’s not donating all his money, he won’t look at you funny or think you’re rude. He’s left the place where you don’t care far behind, and has realized that his mind was lying to him the whole time about the gravity of the real problems.
Now he realizes that he can’t possibly do enough. After adjusting for his scope insensitivity (and the fact that his brain lies about the size of large numbers), even the “less important” causes like the WWF suddenly seem worthy of dedicating a life to. Wildlife destruction and ALS and breast cancer are suddenly all problems that he would move mountains to solve — except he’s finally understood that there are just too many mountains, and ALS isn’t the bottleneck, and AHHH HOW DID ALL THESE MOUNTAINS GET HERE?
In the original mindstate, the reason he didn’t drop everything to work on ALS was because it just didn’t seem… pressing enough. Or tractable enough. Or important enough. Kind of. These are sort of the reason, but the real reason is more that the concept of “dropping everything to address ALS” never even crossed his mind as a real possibility. The idea was too much of a break from the standard narrative. It wasn’t his problem.
In the new mindstate, everything is his problem. The only reason he’s not dropping everything to work on ALS is because there are far too many things to do first.