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ou don't need me to tell you how to squeeze the most juice out of your life. You already know the formula. Lead a healthy lifestyle. Spend less than you make. Take care of your relationships with family and friends. Don't be a dick. Do things that you like to do. Help others. That’s about it. Yet the average shmo is depressed, overweight, bored, or unsatisfied. the formula is simple, but it’s much more easily explained than executed. The nitty gritty neurological details are what make the theory hard to put into practice.
~ Let’s look at two scenarios ~
You come home from work and your boss has been on your ass all day, the sun was in your eyes for the whole trafficky commute home, and you forgot lunch so you’re hungry and irritable. You know exactly what you should do to take control, remedy the situation, and completely rejuvenate yourself: Take a slow deep breath, for just a moment remember how thankful you are for all the great people and things in your life, then quickly make a healthy dinner (not TOO healthy, still tasty) and leave the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Go for a quick jog and do some push-ups, grab a green tea with a good friend for a half hour, give a dollar to a hobo on the way home, do your dishes, and go to bed a bit early to shake off those last stress wrinkles from the work day, and get up in the morning brimming with excitement. This strategy keeps each day fulfilling and enjoyable and at the same time gives you the strength and structure to work towards achieving life changing goals. It makes you feel that dealing with your boss' stupidity is comical in how ridiculous it is, and a bit of a fun challenge trying to deal with it while you still get your work done.
You know you should do option 1. You know it would be rejuvenating and productive and make you happy. But instead you sag your shoulders, throw your stuff on the ground, make some lukewarm microwaved bullshit, pour yourself a stiff drink, and sit in front of the TV until 2 in the morning carbo loading, trying to zonk yourself out of the stressed memories of the day. You wake up the next morning exhausted, depressed, and with the knowledge hanging over your head that your life is slowly depreciating in value with every passing day. You want to just hang on and endure the pain until something good happens. You wish there was a fast forward button, or at least a pause button, to take a break from all the endless gauntlet of stress and let downs pummeling you day after day as time, deadlines, and appointments inevitably roll over you. That Sucks!
hy would anyone ever do the second scenario, and after that why would they do it more than once? It’s not difficult to see that it leads to more of the stress and depression that caused the behavior in the first place. Yet most people will do something they don’t actually want to do and regret later at least once a week if not every day.
The knowledge of what to do to live the perfect life is not anywhere near enough firepower to do it successfully. You need to know HOW to do it. The major missing link in the "how" is understanding the mechanisms of success in the brain and body and acting on the information creatively. That’s what this blog will teach you how to do. As an introductory example, we'll dive into the bare bones basics of the type of bad habit behavior described in the second scenario. One major factor driving habitual behaviors is the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia does some amazing things. It’s in charge of the subconscious habits that allow you to walk, chew your food, fold laundry, and play basketball while thinking about how you’re going to introduce your new nine-years-younger-than-you Wiccan girlfriend to your mother. It designs the series of subconscious habit programs that keep you on the road when you’re driving to work in the morning half asleep. But there's also a dark side of the basal ganglia. What I like to call the basal gimplia, because it’s like the gimp from Pulp Fiction. It has no outside contact with the rest of the world, it can’t really see or hear through the leather mask, it doesn't follow instructions very well, and it really only responds to triggers and rewards. The basal gimplia is cut off from the part of your brain that knows what’s good for you in the long term and in modern society. The basal gimplia is just a really complex rat hitting a button. If you do something a couple times (especially if it’s in response to a certain trigger), and each time afterward the basal gimplia gets a chemical reward like a bump of blood sugar or a dose of dopamine, it’s going to make you want to do it over and over AND OVER again. The genius of the basal ganglia becomes a misinformed overcorrection. The positive reinforcing chemicals that the basal ganglia is trained to sense as success and vitality are often, in the modern land of plenty, actually poisoning our health and restricting our freedom to pursue happiness beyond the couch. When people get stressed out, and just go into an Everybody Loves Raymond cave with a tub of ice cream, mac and cheese, and a handful of Marlboro ultra lights, they're basically just taking their basal gimplia out of its box and flogging it mercilessly to make themselves feel better. The worst part about it is that it’s the only way the basal gimplia feels love (it had a weird childhood...). Thus your basal gimplia tricks you into self destructive behavior that the “smarter you” doesn’t actually want to do, but your basal gimplia thinks is important to your survival to continue repeatedly. Solution: there's a way to rewire your basal gimplia to work for you instead of against you. Every habit program the basal gimplia creates has three simple parts.
PA RT PA RT PA RT
1 2: 3:
Trigger, the chemical, emotional, or sensory feeling that causes the action Example: home from work, low blood sugar, stress hormones, overwhelmed, tired
The action Example: Eat junk food and watch TV (or if you’re Zed, flog a strange man in the basement)
The expected chemical reward Example: Blood sugar spike, bodily rest, subdued beta brainwaves, serotonin bump, etc.
And the basal gimplia is extremely stubborn. Willpower and motivation only work temporarily, especially because the basal gimplia has incredible memory retention (the reason why you never forget how to ride a bike). However, redirecting and modifying the already programmed structures of your bad habits is very doable, and has the highest rate of long term success.
Here's how you do this:
Define the three parts of your bad habit. The trigger, the action, and the reward. I'll make an example:
TRIGGER: Action: Reward:
Coming home after a long day of stressful police work Flogging the gimp in the basement The emotional release and calming feeling received from being a fucked up guy named Zed.
He can't change the stress associated with his job, which is the trigger for the habit. And he can't remove the reward, which is the most important part of the habit programming. When you take away the chemical reward of the habit, the brain freaks out, and often, in a nervous kerfuffle, finds a way to relapse. What Zed has to do is change the action: He needs to find an action that he enjoys doing, but is more productive than abusing his gimp and still provides the same chemical reward to his basal gimplia of emotional release and a calming sensation (read by the basal gimplia as serotonin spike and lowered cortisol levels). He decides to do pushups, listen to country music, and have a big gulp of iced tea out of the anus of his friend with the beard and the gun store. So next time he comes home stressed out, he quickly flips on some Kenny Chesney, hammers out fifty push-ups, and savors some delicious southern style iced tea. He makes sure to really appreciate the endorphin rush, let the music take his mind to a calm place, and fully enjoy his iced tea. This allows the basal gimplia to begin to rewire itself. The trigger and the chemical reward remains the same, but the action becomes more productive for Zed's long term goals of not being a rapist and a sadistic pervert. With Devon's recommendations of willpower and social accountability, by the second week of this rewiring practice, Zed is noticing that not only is he having an easier time not flogging the gimp, but he's actually beginning to crave the pushups and iced tea more than his old bad habit. Now when Zed is especially stressed, preoccupied, depressed, anxious, or otherwise weak and out of willpower, he won't fall back into his old habits, because his new habit still serves the cathartic effect flogging once had for his basal gimplia. There’s much more to learn to about neural rewiring. If you want to finally trade in your bad habits for awesome ones, and do what you actually want to do, every day, you need some in depth step by step techniques. You can get them first by subscribing here! They'll be out soon.
f Zed wants to break this habit, just deciding not to do it any more will have a high failure rate. The habit is ingrained in his brain forever, but he can have a much higher chance at success if he morphs the current wiring into a more productive habit.
And not only will those be coming soon, but cutting edge techniques supported by peer reviewed scientific study on how to increase your happiness by 175% with a minute a day practice for a week and a half, keep yourself from gaining weight when you binge drink, how to recharge your self control and motivation at will, drop 10 pounds in 12 days while eating a bunch of Mexican food, and many more. Subscribe here now for free for access to all future content! I will respond to every comment and email until I don’t want to anymore. So comment! What’s your go-to method of flogging your basal gimplia? I’m a Cheetos, Wild Turkey, and Seinfeld kind of guy.