HOW DEMOCRACY KILLS OUR THINKING
Limitations are everywhere. Who we chose to listen to becomes the deciding factor in what we put our minds to. When someone else says “That won’t work,” you don’t have to listen. Just because it didn’t work for them doesn’t mean it won’t for you.
Take marathons as an example. Nike is working on breaking the 2-hour marathon record, a timeframe that would’ve seemed impossible decades ago. With progress comes skepticism but when you make progress it becomes the new norm. Soon they’ll be saying, “To smash out a sub-2 marathon, do this.”
Isn’t it funny that when negative emotions arrive, they’re magnified to the extreme? It’s probably a good correlation on why bad news sells, because we only take notice about anything bad when we’re on the resisting side.
Why is that, by the way? Well, it’s how we humans are hardwired. Some people can take negativity better than others. It’s the same on social media. When you receive a bad comment over a good one, you can get defensive. And even when you receive an insult as opposed to a compliment, you have the choice of responding and regretting it later, or ignoring the post. However, it’s most likely that you’ll remember the negative remarks.
You could easily say that any negative emotion is tied to the trauma of a bad memory or despair. The brain contains an actual fear center known as the amygdala. It’s what controls our fight-or-flight response and any rationale. If we become startled, then it’s Code Red! It can trigger an irrational level of thinking.
“First, people are generally rational, and their thinking is normally sound. Second, emotions such as fear, affection, and hatred explain most of the occasions on which people depart from rationality.” —Daniel Kahnemann
Being an emotional person can be tough at times, but it’s also your greatest strength. I’m not talking as if you’re crying and throwing tantrums. I’m talking about being passionate. Almost every decision has some level of illogicality that makes you respond from a gut reaction. You feel this in relationships when you are ready to date a person or investing into a new business concept.
In my past, I’d take everything to heart. I’m not just talking about insults but large decisions would take me down the illogical routes. The following are several examples from my past. Maybe you’ve gone through these too?
Working in a job for much longer than I should have.
Falling in love with someone from a country I couldn’t live in.
Taking up a business idea with a person overseas whom I’d never met and putting in $12k, of my own money without evaluating the business. My first angel investment gone wrong!
EVERYONE MAKES MISTAKES
Yes, everyone makes mistakes but here’s the catch... they don’t have to be your mistakes!
You know that feeling when you’re driving to work and you can’t remember getting there? You’ve arrived at your usual carpark and can’t even recollect the six sets of traffic lights and three roundabouts you saw along the way. That is autonomy, my friend!
Your brain is so used to travelling down that same route, you could do it with your eyes closed. It’s as if there’s a large field of high grass and for every habit we have, a pathway is mown so deep to the extent you can see it quite clearly. Now, that field of high grass is your brain, metaphorically speaking. We all have habits and our favorite ways of doing things. Our field of high grass has several mown pathways, but here’s the catch: a field is only so big.
The way to reduce autonomy is through present-focused living, that is, living in the now. It correlates to meditation, because the point is to gain our self-awareness and keep our emotional intelligence at an all-time high. The last thing you want to do at the end of your day is have no concept of what you did in it.. So, this is where we are constantly experimenting to keep our brains away from functioning on autopilot. We must live in the moment.
TOOLS FOR PRESENT-FOCUSED LIVING
In this section, I’m going to show you practical tools you can use to ensure you’re living in the now.
● Change up your drive to anywhere you go on a regular basis - work, the gym, trips with your friends, etc.
● Take up new activities that will thought provoke your mind. Try that capoeira class or a month of Bikram Yoga.
● Try going a month without TV to keep your mind away from constant adverts and negative news headlines.
● Sign up for a 5k run if the couch is your best friend.
● Get out of the house - attend a live music gig or catch a local pub quiz night
The majority of the world lives in fear and on continuous autonomy mode. You now have an opportunity to change that by living a life of having trust in a fluid motion and where fear is your best friend. You will rewire your neural pathways to become proactive instead of reactive in fearful situations. It will look appealing to others because you can handle your shit when it hits the fan.