DAY 3: 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

Day 3 Self Reflection:

On Day 3 in 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)


Day 3 Micro-Science: 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, 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 will determine whether or not you improve or not. It is 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 someone 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 3 Meditation: Ice Cube Meditation

In today's 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. The art of tolerating psychological discomfort seems to fading away as we all start to feel entitled to feel comfortable at all hours of the day. Maybe this is what accounts for the quickly raising rates of depression and anxiety in the U.S? So in order to counteract this growing epidemic, maybe it is best to practice feeling discomfort. Maybe even going a step further and accepting 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 that’s physically or emotionally pain. They are both signals from our body and mind 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 3 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. Emotional and physical pain are both temporary as long as we choose to not run away.

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

Day 3 Movement 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 waited 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 waited the full fifteen minutes without eating the marshmallow. In follow up studies decades later the children that delayed gratification were more successful in life.

  • FACT: Children who have an increased ability to tolerate psychological discomfort outperform children with a higher IQ or higher socioeconomic background on longitudinal life success studies

  • TAKEAWAY: The ability to soothe oneself sets you up for success later in life. This skill is even more important for lifetime success then how smart you are or how much money you have.

Day 3 Movement Task: The task for today is to put one of your favorite foods in front of you without eating it and set the timer for three minutes. While you patiently wait think about and feel the sensations running through you. Talk back to your brain and have a conversation with your own thoughts about what is going on. Take the time to acknowledge the impulse to eat it and just watch it pass you by as another thought takes its place. See what happens when you don’t scratch the itch and instead take control over your appetites. Then of course, eat the damn thing, you earned it.

Day 3 Bonus Material:

#1) Ted Talk: The 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

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.