Hey Life Warriors!!
Did you know that each of us owns an incredible super-power? the problem is we normally are not aware of it (I discovered it myself only very recently), and we are not aware of it because today’s modern society push us more and more to hide that super-power under a layer of comfort that only gets thicker and thicker. Today we want to share with you the key to escape of that comfort, take back the steering wheel of your life and your decisions and unleash your super power!
If you were born in the 70’s or earlier, you have witnessed the birth of so many innovations that, in theory, appeared to make our lives better: VCR, walkman, multiple tv channels, mobile phones, internet, GPS, social media, streaming platforms, smart TV’s… all those things progressively became part of our lives (some of them have even left already!) so deeply that now we can barely remember how our lives were before them. If you were born in the 90’s or later, life without those things will sound to you a bit less than pre-historic.
However, while it is true that all those new technologies and innovations have brought with them a lot of advantages, they have also brought problems, mainly derived from their misuse, or, better said, their abuse.
Nowadays we are so used to comfort. We are never cold, since we have heating systems, or hot, since we have air conditioning. We don’t need to know anything, since we have google, who knows it all, in our smart phones. When we are hungry we just go to the fridge, we don’t need to haunt anymore. When we need to go somewhere, we just introduce it in our GPS and follow it blindly. When we want to have something, we just open Amazon in our mobile and order it (and we get pissed if it is not in Amazon Prime and it is not delivered the very next day). We compulsively check our social media. We have more films and series than we could watch in three lives.
All those things have something in common: they allow us to make less effort, either physically or intellectually.
And what’s wrong with comfort?? Well, mainly two things:
- It reduces our capability to make efforts and sacrifices in order to achieve the things that are really important in the long run (a better job, a stronger body, a healthier life, a better place to live…). If it is not at the reach of one click, I give it up. It makes us lazy
- Reduces our tolerance to failure and our resilience. We break down under pressure or when things do not turn out as we expected; it makes us weak
What we want to share with you today is definitely not a new concept. It was already said decades ago by one of the most brilliant minds that ever existed. I don’t know what good old Albert would say if he saw what this society is turning us into:
That’s it. That is your super-power. Let’s be realistic and dimension it properly. We’re not going to tell you that just with your will power you can achieve anything you want. As much as I may wish it and work for it, at 46 years old, 1,69 m height and a very limited talent for basketball, I am not going to play in the NBA; that is just not going to happen. However, what my will power can do is turning me into the best version of myself that I can be.
And where do I start from?
Our advice is starting by being aware of our own weaknesses. Dr Cameron Sepah, assistan psychiatry professor at UCSF recently shocked our minds with his Dopamine Fasting 2.0, which, while being misinterpreted by many people with conclusions that were never mentioned by Dr Sepah, like the possibnility to control our dopamine levels, it is an invaluable concept that can be extremely helpful to achieve this mindset switch we are looking for.
Dr. Sepah identified six behaviors which we normally cannot control or are hard to control:
- Emotional Eating (reward ourselves or compensate a bad day with food or drink). “What a crappy day! I will try to relax with a glass of wine” “I’m exhausted; I don’t have the energy to cook dinner, will just grab something from the fridge” Does this sound to you?
- Excessive Internet Usage (including gaming and social media); We don’t have time to read, to learn, to exercise, to meditate… but we do have time to spend daily almost two and a half hours checking our social media!!! Some weeks ago we published a post about the huge amount of time we waste every day and how to find more hours in our days. Click here if you missed it.
- Shopping and Gambling. Do you really need all the stuff you are buying online and offline?Have you foreseen, planned and controlled what you are going to spend gambling? And the time that you are going to spend on it?
- Pornography and masturbation. No comments needed, but xvideos.com and pornhub.com are currently the 8th and 10th most visited webs Worldwide 😉
- Thrill and novelty seeking. You have already sky dived, swam with sharks, extreme mountain climbing… what is the next challenge that you need to get that adrenaline shot?
- Recreational drugs. Sorry to be the party spoiler here, but weed is bad for you. And no, you don’t have it under control.
- Streaming platforms (Netflix, HBO, etc.). I’m adding this one myself. Itr was not in the original list but it really deserves its own chapter. Game of Thrones, Homeland, Narcos, La Casa de Papel… how much time have you spend watching series lately? Was that time planned and controlled?
All this seven behaviors will probably apply differently to each of us, but all of them have something in common:
- We come to them in auto-pilot mode. They are not planned or controlled.
- They provide a quick gratification feeling, and they make us want more
- What is more important: none of those behaviors help us become the best version of ourselves. If something, they are obstacles in that quest
The responsible of those pleasant feelings, or, better said, of having us in a permanent seek for more and more of them is a neurotransmissor called dopamine. We frequently associate dopamine with feeling pleasure, but scientific evidence shows that it is more involved in the motivation to seek those pleasures. I.e. it induces us to repeat those behaviors that produce pleasant feelings.
In the light of these discoveries, we have good and bad news. Let’s start with the bad news: as Dr. Sepah clarified, we cannot control or exert any kind of influence in the amount of dopamine released by our system. It is a completely automatic process. When the article was originally released, many people drove the wrong conclussion that keeping ourselves away from those behaviors would multiply the pleasure whenever we went back to them after that “fasting” period, but unfortunately it does not work that way. The good news and the real intention of the article is that being able to control all those compulsive behaviors will bring us something way better than a double dopamine shot: it is going to give us the key to control our time, our life and become the best version of ourselves, reaching all our potential
The problem is that we are confronting two conflicting realities:
- An appealing behavior (any of the seven we have just mentioned) which is going to bring an instant rewards and which is not good for me, but with a deferred damage (I eat junk food today but I don’t get fat immediately; i waste hours in social media but it will take years to realize all the things that I didn’t do instead). Immediate reward with diferred consequences.
- A not so appealing behavior (cooking a healthy meal instead of ordering something tasty through Just Eat, wake up 30 minutes earlier to train, read or learn instead of sitting in front of the TV…) with a diferred reward. Eating healthy, or training, or reading today won’t make me healthy, fit or literate overnight. Immediate sacrifice with diferred reward.
Clearly this is not an even fight. To be able to escape this vicious circle, we need to use all our will power. The problem is that, as we said at the beginning, our will power is severly weakened by our comfort. Comfort is deeply harwired in our brains, but the good news here are that we are the ones who control our brains, and in the same way that we have programmed our brains to seek for all those useless behaviors, we can re-program it so it will find pleasure in those things that are useful for us. Let’s be clear, it is not easy, but it can be done.
In order to reverse this situation, we have different tools that will help us. We can find the first one with Chase Huges. Chase explains to us that in order to achieve our goals, we need a little bit of discipline at the beginning and that this bit of discipline will build the habits that will drive us where we want to go. But how can we find that bit of discipline under tons and tons of comfort? We will find it using what Chase calls FEAR: Focus, Emotional Involvement, Agitation & Repetition.
Focus (we need to be focused on our goals), Emotional Involvement (we need to want this change, we need to put all our heart on it), Agitation (this change needs to be prominently and permanently felt at all times: put posters on the walls, change the layout of your furniture, buy yourself new clothes… as the old IKEA ad said, redecorate your life!) and last, but not least, Repetition (I can only build a habit repeating those behaviors again and again. In the same way I did not get hooked to Instagram the first day I saw it, I will not get hooked to reading the first moment I open a book or to sports with my first workout session)
Once these four are clear to me, there are four areas on which I should set targets. What Chase calls the 4 B’s: Brain, Body, Business and Behaviors
- Brain – it is the center of control of everything I do,. What actions am I going to take to improve it? I can work on full attention through meditation or mindfulness, I can lear which foods or supplements can help to improve its performance, I can work on my sleeping habits to enhance its recovery… possibilities are endless!!
- Body – it is my main tool and my main weapon so I need to keep it as ready as possible; otherwise, instead of a weapon it will become an obstacle. To keep my body in the best possible shape there are three basic pillars you need to look into: food, exercise and rest. Don’t forget any of them while setting your targets.
- Business – my job is where I spend most of my time. What actions am i going to take to be better at my job? Do I need to get any new skills? Do I need to improve my productivity? Do I need to find a new job? Whatever it is, set your goals and take action!
- Behaviors – None of the above mentioned will go anywhere without the proper behaviors. As I was taught once by an awesome coach, Marta Acebo, in order to achieve your goals you will need to do some things (get up earlier, read, learn, eat healthy, assign the right priorities…) and you will need to give up other things (being lazy, wasting time, eating compulsively, being at 1.000 things at the same time…). Make a list of ones and the others and follow up your progress.
If you want to learn more about Chase’s method, take a look at this video where he explains all this concepts and incluides a downloadable worksheet you can work with.
Something you should always take into consideration is that your objectives need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievables, Relevant & Time bound.
Lastly it might be worth reminding our post about how small but constant improvements can help us achieve big results (click here if you missed it)
This has been a long post so maybe it is worth summarizing:
- Identify which of the seven mentioned behaviors is getting between you and your best version, your future self. Once you are aware of each of them, set limits. Almost any of those is bad per se. What is bad is depending on them and not having them under control.
- Commit with your future self. Focus on it, want it, make it visible and repeat those behaviors (FEAR)
- Set SMART targets for the 4 B’s (Brain, Body, Business, Behavior)