Looking at math and life

I look at life the way most people look at math, and I look at math the way most people look at life.

Most people look at math as formulas to be memorized, rules to obey, procedures to be followed. There are right ways to do things and wrong ways to do things. All the rules and memorization are to prevent you from making mistakes.

That’s how I approached life. I see it all as rules of behavior. I try to figure them out and memorize them. I use logic, rather than common sense, to decide what to do in a new situation. If I’ve been in a similar situation, I try to use the previous solution. I try to do the right things, but I keep making mistakes.

Math, on the other hand, I view as a logical, complete system, where every step derives from other steps. At the base are a set of fundamental concepts that I understand implicitly. I don’t worry about whether my answer or technique is correct. I understand the system, so solutions seem obvious to me. I don’t memorize mathematical rules, I instinctively know them.

I think that’s how other people view life. It seems that others have a good idea of the whole system, the big picture. When they have a new situation, they can think through the alternatives. Those alternatives and the solutions seem obvious to them. Most people don’t memorize social rules, they implicitly know them.

What about you? Do you approach math and life as rules or complete systems? Tell me in the comments.