POP QUIZ: Are You Making Yourself Dumber?
Write these numbers down on a piece of paper:
When was the last time you did something new?
If it’s been too long to remember, when was the last time you did something you were bad at?
How many daily habits do you have (ie: brush teeth, go to work, feed the dog, go to the gym)?
How many days of the year do you spend sleeping in a room that isn’t yours?
And then ask yourself:
Are you still actively learning?
Are you experiencing new things?
Are you present and involved or going on auto pilot?
Having a sense of self routinely requires assuming a role: the ability to see yourself as someone else might while simultaneously maintaining your internal representation of yourself.
But instant response often requires automation - in this instance the, the ego develops an autopilot.
How can someone simultaneously:
listen to something
form an opinion
imagine the opinions of others
and then produce a response that allows less than a tenth of a second of silence?
Talking is a lot of work.
And neuroplasticity is an enormous idea.
You show your brain a thousand pictures of one thing and a thousand pictures of another, you let it start guessing A from B and you subconsciously set up a system of rules so that connection strength increases when a connection helps get the right answer, and decreases when a connection helps get the wrong answer.
If the right adjustment rules are in place, and the network has enough connections, it will learn, simply because successful connections are getting reinforced.
You can’t go backwards and extract an organized set of rules from the network, but you’ll end up with a tool that solves your problem and gets the answer right most of the time.
But when it fucks it up, it fucks up hard.
Because you have spent a lot of time and effort building those bridges.
If they are built on good foundations, they will be strong and support you.
But if they were built on bullshit - they won’t last long.
Know yourself well and intimately.
And then challenge that idea at every opportunity you have to make sure it’s true.
Do you have a sense of self?
Or do you live in an idea of yourself?
When was the last time you tried something new?
You are creating new synaptic connections with every new activity you engage in. These connections build on each other, increasing your neural activity, creating more connections to build on other connections—learning is taking place. New experiences trigger the release of dopamine, motivating us, which in turn leads to neurogenesis, or the creation of new neurons and new neural connections.
Neurons are connected by synapses; tiny structures that provide an electrical and chemical junction between neurons.
Connections that lead to success are reinforced, so in the future they are even stronger. Unproductive connections eventually become weaker.
The main underlying mechanisms here are long-term potentiation, long-term depression, and structural plasticity (Forbes.)
If you think it works, you will continue to think it works.
If you don’t think it works, you will continue to think you don’t know how it works or that it does not work.
Whatever you believe and continue to see based off your beliefs will continue to be truth in your reality until there is cause for change. Or not.
If you try new things, chances are you will be forced into simultaneously learning new things.
If you do things you’re bad at, you will challenge the idea of what you’re capable of.
If you change what you see every day, you will change how you feel every day.
If you change your every day, you could change the rest of your life.