Saturday, February 04, 2017

"If you aren’t intentionally programming yourself, the environment and other people are doing it for you."

The distinction we make between "mind" and "body" is only linguistic.

Your Body is Your Brain Too | Scott Adams' Blog: "In your old worldview, where the brain is its own user interface, you often found yourself feeling sad, grumpy, tired, angry, and other negative emotions. And you probably felt a bit helpless to stop it. Your brain was determining your mood – seemingly on its own – and the rest of your body simply responded to it like a puppet on a string. That’s the most common worldview, and I watch how debilitating it is to people. They go through life in continuous mental anguish, feeling helpless to do anything about it.

 Contrast that worldview...  that says your body is the user interface of your brain system. Give your body the right inputs and you can reprogram your brain. For example, you know from experience that being hungry can make you cranky. But unless you are conscious of that body-mind connection – and often we are not – it is easy to assume the brain is operating on its own to make you cranky...

I am sure you have noticed that your mental state is deeply influenced by diet, exercise, sleep, sex, stress, and lots more. And I’m sure you make some effort to do those things the right way when you can. But if you think those actions are influencing only how you feel, and not your actual thoughts, you don’t understand the basic nature of human beings. And this is the key takeaway: The source of your thoughts is your body, not your brain. When I am not feeling good, I don’t ask my brain to fix things on its own. I manipulate my environment until my thoughts change. That’s because I see my body as the user interface to my brain. I don’t let my brain think whatever it randomly wants to think. I constrain it to productive thoughts by manipulating my environment.

 For example, any time I feel tense, I go exercise as soon as I can. It’s good for my health in general, but I do it specifically to program my thoughts from negative to positive. I do the same with sleep, diet, sex, stress, and even my choices of entertainment. I don’t let negative inputs into my brain via my body (the user interface) and my brain responds by not producing negative thoughts. I take this concept so far that I will leave a room when the topic goes negative and I don’t want my user interface to send those impulses to my brain. I never apologize for doing this. I just say I don’t want this conversation in my brain and leave. The old me believed that my brain was special, and that it was going to think whatever it was going to think.

Unfortunately, what it usually thought all through my twenties and thirties was severely traumatic memories that put me in a state of continuous suicidal urges. Today my thoughts are almost entirely positive and optimistic. The difference is that I learned to crowd out the negative thoughts by manipulating my environment. I tune my body with a healthy lifestyle so it feels good, and that encourages positive thoughts. And I flood my mind with fascinating mental puzzles and challenges – usually work-related – so there is no space for negative thoughts. The brain likes to focus on one thing at a time. So I make sure it is focusing where I want it. I never let my mind wander to bad territory. When I feel it happening I either change what I am doing or I flood my brain with stronger thoughts that have more emotional firepower. My old traumatic memories are still in my brain, but I atrophied them to the point of being inert. They hold no power over me now.

...your body is the user interface. To convince yourself that my framework is valid, take an inventory of the people in your life who are unhappy. Ask some questions about what they are doing about their unhappiness. Rarely will the person say they are working on their body to fix their minds.  Now take an inventory of your more well-adjusted friends. Watch the degree to which they manipulate their bodies to manage their minds. Once you see the pattern, you will start to see it everywhere. I just changed your life. You won’t know how much until later."

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