If you listen to your brain…you will live an average life (at best).
Sadly, our brains are not wired to help us reach our potential. All your brain cares about is survival. Your brain is still programmed as if we’re roaming the savannah in search of food and shelter. It scans the environment for threat every 1/5th of a second, and it constantly finds them—not in the form of a predator about to eat you—but in the look your boss gave you, the email from a colleague, a friend’s enviable vacation photos on Facebook…or a tweet from the White House.
So, what does your brain want?
Your brain is willing to sacrifice your potential in exchange for consistency, predictability, and safety.
Your brain would like to you sit on the couch with your favorite snack, beverage, and binge-worthy show. Then, when you start to notice that your job, health, relationships, and life in general kind of suck, it wants you to blame everyone and everything but yourself: “It’s my parents’ fault for raising me like they did!” “It’s Netflix’ fault for having such great programming!” “It’s my spouse’s fault for not supporting my dreams!” “It’s the weather’s fault for making it too cold to go for a run!” “It’s my boss’ fault for making my job so stressful!”
Your brain loves blame: It takes no energy and it leaves you with no motivation to actually take control and DO SOMETHING to improve your circumstances. So, you stay safe…and your life stays small.
If we heed all our brain’s warnings…we will never live up to our potential.
Then, at some point, we wake up and wonder how in the heck did we come to live this unfulfilling life that we would never have chosen?
You can’t stop your threat-detecting brain from hesitating, but you can take action anyway.
How to Hack Your Brain and Upgrade Your Life
You can overcome your brain’s overprotectiveness and create your best life if you are willing to do this one thing:
Your pleasure-seeking brain doesn’t want you to consume fewer calories (Pain!)
Your pleasure-seeking brain doesn’t want you to start an exercise program (Pain!)
Your pleasure-seeking brain doesn’t want you to follow your passion (What, are you crazy? You’ll starve!)
Your pleasure-seeking brain doesn’t want you to speak your truth (Someone could get hurt, and it might be us!)
My brain did not want me to write a book (You don’t have time! No one will like it! You’ll never finish it!)
And once it was written, my brain didn’t want me to ask people for endorsements and help launching it (You will embarrass yourself! You will annoy people! Who do you think you are, anyway?)
It was painful…and I did it anyway, one tiny terrifying step at a time.
If you’re wiling to endure a little discomfort, you can do just about anything.
It won’t hurt forever. You can turn any behavior into a pleasurable habit with enough repetition.
And when you achieve a win (e.g. a lower number on the scale, fit into smaller pants, a chapter written, a business plan created) your brain gives you a shot of dopamine (PLEASURE!). And little by little, you train your brain that this new behavior that it was so terrified of, is now pleasurable.
How is your overprotective, blaming, and pleasure-loving brain holding you back?
What hard, scary, painful thing have you done in the past?
What suffering are you wiling to endure in order to step closer to your potential?
What small step will you start today?
A great life is your reward for a few moments of discomfort.
Here’s to your potential.
While I love a good science-backed self-help book, this masterwork by Steven Pressfield addresses the antidote to resistance and procrastination in powerful prose.
Do The Work by Steven Pressfield