DAY 4: Your Brain Loves Shortcuts

If we do math all day we get good at math. If we worry all day we get good at worrying.
— Anonymous
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Day 4 Self Reflection:

On Day 4 in your workbook, try to determine what your have been worrying about in your life and be pleased to find out that 9 out of 10 of those worries won’t come true.


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Day 4 Micro-Science: Brain Survival Programs

The brain runs on algorithms (rules of thumb) all day long. Its not a perfect system by any means but it gets us through most interactions and obstacles pretty smoothly. However, at every step in these internal brain programs something can go wrong. Below is the four steps our brain takes in almost everything we do throughout our day.

  • Step 1: Read internal body symptom (I.e. Body feels hungry)

  • Step 2: Locate map of where to go to resolve body symptom (I.e Refrigerator is where food is)

  • Step 3: Muster Motivation to follow map to resolve body symptom (I.e move from couch towards fridge)

  • Step 4: Adapt to opportunities and dangers along route to resolve body symptom (I.e. Avoid barking dog that tries to distract you on voyage towards delicious treat)

It seems like such a simple process to follow, but so often we get stuck at roadblocks along the way. Below if the multiple ways you make mistakes along the way that divert you from a successful completion of many of your daily goals. Common mistakes at each stage include

  • Step 1 mistakes:

    • Misreading our internal symptoms (I.e. Labeling a symptom as anger when its really sadness that is our primary concern)

    • Completing ignoring the symptom (I.e using distractions such as alcohol or smartphones to ignore what our body is trying to tell us)

  • Step 2 mistakes:

    • Reading the wrong maps of where to go (I.e Our internal maps tell us to go to the bar to cope with our problems, instead of a friends house)

    • Never taught the right maps to follow (I.e Our family didn’t give us the tools to succeed)

  • Step 3 mistakes:

    • Don’t take care of self so don’t have motivation (I.e Lack of sleep, shitty eating habits)

  • Step 4 mistakes:

    • Mistakenly label everything as a danger and don’t see opportunities (I.e Run away from success at the first sign of danger)

Day 4 Meditation: Journaling

Stress will hit us every day at some point or another, its just a fact of life. But the stress needs to go somewhere and journaling is one of the best ways to release that stress. If your emotional brain comes in contact with a small stressor, it will continue to try and get your attention until you do something about it. Journaling is that “something.” Otherwise the voice of your emotional brain will just get louder and louder until you address the problem. The brain doesn’t care so much about the problem getting solved right away, just that its being addressed. Writing your thoughts down on paper lets the emotional brain blow off some steam.

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  • FACT: Zebras don’t get stress ulcers.

  • TAKEAWAY: Zebras don’t have internal stress that causes them physical health issues. They are like this because when a lion chases them they run away and release the stress chemicals that are released in times of danger. Therefore, stress ulcers can never form

Day 4 Meditation: The task for today is to take five minutes and just write freely about whatever comes to mind. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to journal, just let your hand do the work and get out of the way. The mind always has something to say so let it have its microphone for five minutes and then you can have more mental space to do what you actually want to get done!

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Within you is a stillness and sanctuary to which you can retreat anytime
— Herman Hesse

Day 4 Movement Task: Finding Sanctuary

Every time your heart beats your brain gets 20 percent of the blood volume even though the brain only takes up 3 percent of your mass. That’s why during sex or exercise when heart rates increase, your brain gets more blood, but intense trauma or too high of a heart rate can cause intracranial pressure

  • FACT: If you meditate ten minutes every day you body needs less sleep, on average 1.5 hours less

  • TAKEAWAY: Giving your mind a break every now and again is the best productivity tool your life can be given.

Day 4 Movement Task: Identify a few spaces in your hometown or house where you find sanctuary, a place where you feel free to relax and decompress. Once you have identified this place of rest, take a few minutes out of your day and visit your own personal eden!


Day 4 Bonus Material:

#1) Ted Talk: Try Something New for 30 days

Check out this Ted Talk by Matt Cutts looking at the opportunities that become possible when you try something new. While you watch remember that engraining a new habit usually only takes 3-4 weeks to become the “new normal.”

#2) Best Possible Self Exercise: Greater Good of Berkely

Check out this article by Greater Good about finding your best possible self. We all have different versions of ourselves that come out to play, this exercise will hopefully help you identify what version works best for you.