DAY 18: Another Inch. Another World

What does the prefrontal cortex do? Gratification postponement, executive function. long term planning, and impulse control. Basically, it makes you do the harder thing
— Robert Sapolsky
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Day 18 Self Reflection:

On page 23 on your workbook take a minute to complete some easy goals for your week, making sure they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time bound. (SMART)


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Day 18: Growth vs Fixed Mindset

It’s pretty trendy these days to discuss how great a positive mindset is for attracting good things to come into your life. While I agree with the theory on the whole it has gotten a little out of hand. However, research done by Carol Dweck has shown that how we view our ability to improve does effect whether or not we actually improve. Her research looks at the differences between a “growth mindset” and “fixed mindset. The former indicating that a person believes abilities can be changed over time and the latter that abilities/talents are innate and therefore will stay the same across a person’s lifetime. Turns out that where you lay across this spectrum between the two will determine whether or not you improve or not. Its somewhat like a self fulfilling prophecy where your beliefs determine the outcome. For instance, if you think your IQ can change over your lifetime then its turns out that this belief actually makes it more likely that it will come true, versus something who believes IQ is fixed and determined.

  • FACT: People with a growth mindset outperform people with a fixed mindset, even if those with fixed mindset have a higher IQ score.

  • TAKEAWAY: Just having the belief that improving is possible makes it more likely that you will improve. Plainly stated, having hope matters.

Day 18: Ice Cube Meditation

In todays world its so easy to find a quick remedy for any discomfort. In some ways we have become “addicted to comfort” and tend to freak out when any discomfort appears. Just look at anxious drivers who can’t even get through a stoplight without retreating to the comfort of their smart phones. Or anyone faced with the dire situation of sleeping on anything that isn’t there poly-posturepedic premium silver mattress with enhanced memory foam. The art of tolerating psychological discomfort is fading away and we all feel entitled to feel comfortable at all hours of the day. Maybe this is what accounts of the quickly raising rates of depression and anxiety in the U.S? So in order to counteract this growing epidemic maybe its best to practice feeling discomfort and maybe even go a step further and accept discomfort as part of life.

  • FACT: People who cannot feel physical pain have a condition called Congenital Analgesia. There lifespan is usually cut short by 40 years compared to the normal population.

  • TAKEAWAY: Feeling pain is actually a really really good thing, whether thats physically or emotionally pain. There are both signals from our body to pay attention. If we take the shortcut out of pain through alcohol, drugs, or screens we are missing important signals from our brain.

Day 18 Meditation: For today’s meditation just take two ice cubes from your refrigerator and place one in each hand. In the beginning it might be somewhat uncomfortable but no harm will come to you. The goal is to wait out your discomfort and realize that your safe and there is no need to run from this even if that is your first reaction to do so. Set the timer for three minutes and just see your emotions through to their end.

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One’s greatest challenge is to control oneself
— Kazi Shams

Day 19 Action Task: Marshmallow Test

In the 1970’s, psychologist at Stanford University put a marshmallow in front of young children and told them that if they waiting 15 minutes before eating the marshmallow they could get two marshmallows instead of just one. The interesting part of this study was that only 1/3 of the children waiting the full fifteen minutes without eating the marshmallow and in follow up studies decades later the children that delayed gratification were more successful in life.

  • FACT: Being able to tolerate psychological discomfort has been shown to be a better indicator of future success than IQ or economic background.

  • TAKEAWAY: Delaying gratification and having distress tolerance skills can have wide ranging positive effects across your life, not just on your waistline.

Day 18 Action Task: Put a desirable snack in front of you and set a timer for five minutes. Just notice your internal commentary when looking at the delicious treat and take notice of what thoughts come to mind and try to surf the emotion, not giving in, until the five minutes is up.


Bonus Material:

#1) Ted Talk: Power of Believing you can Improve

Check out this Ted Talk by Carol Dweck the psychologist behind the "growth vs fixed” mindset studies. She has some great insight into what it takes to become the best version of yourself.

#2) Alan Watts: Choice (short video)

This entertaining short video narrated by Alan Watts will hopefully give you plenty to ponder during your day. Choice is one of the human’s greatest freedoms but can also be a terrible burden.