Being mindful about our thoughts is sometimes more challenging than doing tasks. While we certainly do not want to become task completers or robots, automatic pilot can have its glamor. We can mindlessly go through our day mechanically feeling a sense of accomplishment after we have crossed off everything on our list. But how fulfilled does that make us feel? Yes, we completed our list but what does it mean? We must go a little deeper.
I was reading an article about CFAR yesterday in The New York Times Magazine. The Center for Applied Rationality (CFAR) is located in Berkeley. The center teaches the mechanics for revamping the brain and its habits. One concept on which the center is focused is the reason we are willing to put things off because of a belief that doing something more or different will be painful in some way. This false belief or habit creates more problems for us. Our bad thought patterns and belief we will have painful experiences, is often not grounded in reality. As we analyze the issue, we can discover that we can predict with no certainty that the task will be painful. We have no proof, we only have perception or past experience, neither of which can be 100% representative of the present or future. CFARs’ research has uncovered that most problems can be solved within five minutes or less. CFAR suggested creating a pattern where we become the masters of the five-minute solution, and they provide some insight on how to do that. Perhaps being more aware and mindful, with repetition, along with creating a reality that we absolutely can stop procrastinating and solve an issue within five minutes, would help us to create some more productive mind habits and more positive results.
Let’s look at weight loss for a moment. We know we want to feel lighter. We know we want more energy. We know we love feeling good. We know we want to age healthy. Yet, we might believe that if we forgo the cookies we are going to experience pain and dissatisfaction. The reality is that we feel more pain and dissatisfaction after eating the cookies via experiences such as: guilt, lethargy, aching joints, and brain fog. What is the problem? We have a conflict. We want to eat cookies, and we also want to be healthier. We cannot have both wants. If we do not eat the cookies, our current mindset might be that we will feel deprived of something we want to do. If we do eat the cookies we cannot have the health we desire. In five minutes we can solve this problem by acknowledging what we truly want, which is to feel good all the time. We can envision talking to ourselves in the future after having eaten the cookies. Our future self tells us all the terrible feelings we experienced from the cookies and how we did not feel like the healthy person we were striving to be. Next, we simply work in reverse and reshape the story to the truer and more positive results of not eating the cookies. We can do this in five minutes or less creating a new reality. Next we take the small step. We do not eat the cookies. We take this step daily.
Over time we can alleviate the false reality of deprivation by creating better experiences little by little, as each time we make a better choice, we feel better. How do we gain the trust that not eating the cookies will in reality make us feel better? We must earn it in ourselves. How do we earn it? We constantly recalculate our brains and then take the small steps, daily, and mindfully acknowledge the true results of not eating cookies. As we acknowledge the truer results day after day, we begin to trust our new mindset. Not eating lots of cookies makes us do and feel better.