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Lies to the Brain
6 min read
I don't know if I should have called this article, Lies to the brain or Lies of the brain. Do we tell our brain stuff till it starts automating on those ideas we've fed it, or it starts prompting us to do things? We might find out.
A Newer theory of addiction
What are the lies of concern in this article? Let's look at something you might have heard before, Information Paralysis. We are immersed in an infinite ocean of tweets, posts, movies, porn, podcasts, songs, articles, stories, you name it.
The result? An inability to focus on one thing at a time. This unending tunnel of efficient-truth content and distracting truth content makes focus a superpower in this age. There is a predominant argument that argues that the reason we can't focus is because of the primal manipulation of these tech people, your social media companies, and internet companies.
The primal argument states that these profit manipulators(As I like to call them) study our primal needs for love, sex, power, war, and more, turns the study analytics into content, and use algorithms to make sure we are glued to our screen.
While this might be true, I also like to add this happens because we permit it subconsciously. Permission does not only entail spending your time on our devices but agreeing that we can afford to.
In theory, there's only so much we can do. In practice, humans exaggerate their ability to focus on work, leisure, relationships, and life. If you are a flow enthusiast, you'll agree that the only way to get into flow is to do a task or batch of related tasks that are oriented to a single goal.
However, the behavior of contemporary humans indicates they can focus on different goals at a time. I disagree with this. On this note, I make three arguments, I've discussed number one and would look at the others in the next paragraphs:
The reason why we are this distracted is that we subconsciously or consciously agree that we can focus on different goals at a time, juggling tasks pertaining to different goals in a short period.
This behavior of focusing on different goals at a time either robs us of the ability to enter our flow state and makes us unproductive or burnt out.
Our mind loves to focus on one goal at a time Jealously. It doesn't want you working on another goal at that time, and our best work is done in this state.
Need for needs
Do you feel the need to check all your notifications? An ever-present stress to go through all your social media posts, and an insatiable hunger to consume all media on your phone? This is the battle we face every day.
Naval quote, the ability to focus in spite of all distraction
In a world where media is weaponized to constantly steal our attention, the ability to focus becomes a superpower
- Someone on the internet
Since we have told our brains the lie that we can focus on so many things at a time, the brain registers these goals as needs. These goals could be relationships, media, or work.
Due to our perception of unimportant or important goals as needs, our mind shifts from one goal to another, and it conjures up a desire to fulfill these needs in a chaotic fashion. The result? We no longer model our desires but become modeled to our desires.
No need for needs
I struggled with this issue of focus since I got a phone and still do it from time to time. In my quest to achieve buddha-like focus, I've resorted to hacks like meditation, Pomodoro, scheduling, and planning.
And although these tips and tricks give me a lot of free time, I've found a philosophical mindset shift to be the turning point in my journey. This shift is quite simple, anything that doesn't concern life and death is a want and not a need.
Only my health is a strict necessity, all other things are peripheral. My career, my relationships, my urges, and my need to socialize are wants. This doesn't mean wants are not necessary, I mean look at me writing a blog and dreaming of building cool stuff.
But this shift puts me in charge of curating my wants. I don't need to chat on social media, don't need to attend lectures, or talk to anyone I don't need to.
If I want it, I love it. If I love it, I do it. Life should be that simple for everyone.
Reasons for this philosophy
Faster change - People think that change happens by doing more, but the change actually happens by becoming conscious of what's not working. Be sincere, you've wished for more hours in a day, right? You should know that you are alone. Our days are mostly choked up with activities we wouldn't want to do, at least at that time. If we are able to see most of these activities as just wants, we can easily eliminate these activities that do help our efficient truth. Remember, it's not that we don't have time, it's just that we waste a lot of it.
it's not that we don't have time, it's just that we waste a lot of it.
Peace - Since I cleared up my calendar to just four events and resolved to do just two to four of my most important tasks, the serenity I've felt is unimaginable. Narrowing down to working on your most important goals and seeing progress without being burnt out brings a different level of peace, calm, and quiet to the mind.
Crafting this shift
To start practicing this mindset shift, you need to understand your focus, and ask yourself questions like what are the things that matter the most to me? what will advance the implementation of my efficient truths in the most fun, creative, and energizing ways?
Note: Learn more about efficient truths here
After an honest introspection of what you need to focus on, you can start adopting mitigation techniques to block out distractions like Pomodoro, focus music, scheduling, and a billion other productivity techniques.
One unconventional technique I use is to prep my mind when I am about to focus on a task. I do this by simply saying "I want to do this, and I am going to concentrate on this till I get it done"
In a world as distracting as ours, the ability to focus will always be a challenge. However, if we choose to train our focus, and see these distractions and activities as just wants we can filter, we might just be able to truly decide what we want to focus on.
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