“Don’t whine, don’t complain, don’t make excuses, just do the best you can do,” said UCLA coach John Wooden.
It turns out coach was on to something.
Recent studies show that complaining every day changes the structure of the brain.
Harmful behaviors such as complaining, if allowed to loop within the brain continually, will inevitably alter thought processes. Altered thoughts lead to altered beliefs which leads to a change in behavior.
Our brain possesses a something called the negativity bias. In simple terms, negativity bias is the brain’s tendency to focus more on negative circumstances than positive.
Dr. Rick Hanson, a neuroscientist and author of Buddha’s Brain, explains negativity bias:
“Negative stimuli produce more neural activity than do equally intensive positive ones. They are also perceived more easily and quickly.”
“In depression, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the brain. It’s simply that the particular tuning of neural circuits creates the tendency toward a pattern of depression. It has to do with the way the brain deals with stress, planning, habits, decision making and a dozen other things — the dynamic interaction of all those circuits. And once a pattern starts to form, it causes dozens of tiny changes throughout the brain that create a downward spiral.”
Your hopes and fears may be in your genes, but that doesn’t spell doom. One of the most practical things we can do to counter negative thinking is practicing meditation. “Neurons that fire together, wire together,” said neuroplasticity pioneer Donald Hebb.
If forcing positive thinking feels inauthentic, try watching your thoughts instead. Being a neutral observer will help you rise above the whole notion of emotional sidedness. As with any self-improvement mechanism, daily practice and momentum is the key to long-term success.
Social media is a world where everyone tries to out self-promote each other and in doing so, stretch their lives further from reality.
Even the destinations — whether it be a restaurant, hotel resort, or kayaking trip — want to make their experiences more Instagrammable.
Sharing has commoditized life, turning us into an avalanche of rotating ads, blurring the lines between paid and organic. Every post is anad in some way, shape, or form. Like TV, we start to develop an imaginary relationship with those on screen, doubtful we’d ever met in real life.
The blizzard of images droughts perception with seeing. We feel envious of those in our feed before we know why we may feel so. The contagion of jealousy spreads like a virus. The upshot is a homogenization of lives and content.
We all want what we don’t have. Social media generates a false narrative of unnecessary desire. Instagrams are just pictures on a wall, temporarily surfing over the hopes and fears in our genes. It feels good lying stuck in the ludic loop.
But irreality is ephemeral. The long-term narrative eventually wakes us up to the fact that we’re barking up the wrong tree. Life is here and now, attracting itself and trying to love you back.
People like to gravitate toward solutions. They’d rather think they know something than cope with all the anxiety surrounding the mysterious present.
Truth is a mental implantation. In reality, we just believe the story we tell ourselves. Conversely, thinking is a ‘dialogue between the two me’s.’
The curious mind acts like inserting graphite into a pencil through two layers of wood. As they say, genius is one brain with two schools of thought.
Paradoxes are the upshot of freedom. We should feel free to contradict ourselves on a regular basis if it means the latest solution is indeed superior.
In search of the latest best, we triumph over the matter of what’s trending while clinging to what works.
Popular thought can be deceiving. A constant repetition of simple ideas warps new perspectives and new tools. While the mainstream excels in dulling cognition, it is the wise that need no further telescope.
Twitter’s removal of millions of fake accounts reminds us that not everything is what it seems. The internet is full of bots, replicating humans, even programmed to act more human than the humans themselves.
We too are conscious automata, no more authentic than the droids themselves. People are just savvy editors. We present our best selves online to increase our self-worth make other people envious.
Artifice defeats authenticity in all chess matches of the irreality we crave.
Yet, the push to be at our best could be the resolution to our proposed mediocrity. Why shoot ourselves down when a quasi-celebrity lifestyle sits at our fingertips.
Fame happens to the mobile holder. Stuck in a ludic loop, we are the host of our own Truman Show. Attention captured, republished, and released. We’re neither superior to bots nor are we consciously behind.