First mind hack we're gonna talk about, William James, godfather of American psychology, Harvard, founding father of psychology, wrote the very first American psychology textbook Physiologist Physician, brilliant brilliant man. Most unhappiness is caused by people listening to themselves instead of talking to themselves. There's a difference, and we're gonna talk about how we talk to ourselves. To explain reframing to you, I wanna start by telling you a little bit more about the brain. Under normal conditions, brain neuron patterns are all over the place, connecting whole brain things. These three different systems, the whole of the brain is being used. The more fear in your system, the more anxiety in your system, the smaller that shrinks. So what fear and anxiety do is they shrink the database, the size of the database, search by the pattern recognition system. Pattern recognition, finding those links between ideas, fundamental to creativity, so you need a big search space for your s...
earch engine to crawl around. The more fear, the smaller that space gets. So, if you're really really gripped, if you're really really anxious, and I put you in an FMRI and I look at your brain, you're gonna see the same six clusters of neurons. When you feel like your thoughts are spiraling, they literally are. That's what's going on inside your brain. To kinda give you a larger framework for this, so this is sort of a map of the decision making spectrum. Same issue. Fear on one side, flow on the other. Fear, at its most extreme, is fight or flight. When I am feeling fight or flight, you have three options available: you can fight, you can freeze, or you can flee. There are no other possibilities. And if you've ever been in a deep fight or flight state, you know exactly what I'm talking about cause there aren't any options. I'll tell you, a couple years ago I did this. I nearly severed my hand from my wrist while skiing, and I did it by jumping off a cliff, and I landed on some exposed rock and whatever. But for years afterwards, whenever I was on skis or on a mountain bike or doing anything in the mountains, and I was above exposed rock, automatic fight or flight response. My body would just freeze, and there was nothing I could do about it. So if you've ever had that experience, you realize how those options really get down there. Only thing that's below this is extreme pain. Extreme pain, you only have one option. All you can think is holy crap I'm in so much pain. So it's one option. Next up is fear, and then it goes all the way up. We're not gonna talk about flow too much in this first module, but it is a state of optimal performance. So when you're at your best, you can be creative in almost any direction. Any direction you want to walk in, cause you're performing at your best, you have that ability, so this is options wide open, very very few options. So obviously, we wanna learn to manage fear, manage anxiety. A lot of what is required for being a professional creative, a lot of what we're going to do today is talk about managing the anxiety and managing fear and how to do that. And the most effective is reframing, and to know that, another thing you need to know is that in the brain, anxiety, fear, and excitement, neurobiologically they're the exact same signal. Cortisol and norepinephrine. Cortisol shows up for stress. Norepinephrine is anxiety or excitement. Interestingly, in lower mammals, so for example, in cows, cows it's an either/or. They can feel anxiety or curiosity. They cannot feel both at once, and if you look at their brains, they flip back and forth between these processes. Dogs can sort of start to feel both at once. Humans can actually feel both at once, but they are still a binary. So, when either heart rates increase, cortisol surges, norepinephrine spikes no matter what. So the secret is, whenever we feel anxiety, we can reframe it. Now reframing is a term that comes out of cognitive psychology, and frame refers to the context you build around an experience, the box you put it in. I could walk up in front of this class looking like oh my god I don't know any of these people. I'm terrified, or I can be excited. Which do I choose to do? So I'm gonna teach you how to switch one to the other. This is going to sound really strange, but it came out of some research that was done at Harvard, and what they were looking at in the beginning is they wanted to know what's better: if you're trying to cope with excitement, as a creative, as whatever, is it more beneficial to try a breathing exercise, to try to calm yourself down to rid yourself of the anxiety, or is it easier to turn it into excitement? It is far easier to turn it into excitement. It is very difficult to calm yourself down when you're really amped up. It is a lot easier to flip it into excitement. And the way they started out doing it, and we're gonna do this together in a series of steps, and I'm gonna have you kind of walk through it in a second, the first thing you need to do is literally say I am excited three times in a row. Out loud to yourself. I am excited. I am excited. I am excited. So, we're gonna do this together. What I want you to start out by doing is I want you to write down a creative challenge that's now in your life that is scary, that is hard, that you have anxiety about. So just, top of your page, if you're doing this at home, write it down. This is an ongoing creative challenge. Give me a two or three lines. Talk a little about why it's hard, what's scaring you, what's frustrating you, all that stuff. Get it down in there. One of the reasons I'm having, you're gonna hear me use the term a sematic address a lot. Sematic is a fancy word for body. When I'm talking about a sematic address of something, I'm talking about the sensation of the thing in your system. So hopefully at this point, you've found the sematic address of whatever your creative problem is. So hopefully, right now, you're feeling a little more anxious than you were about a minute ago. If you did this right, you're now a little more stressed out. You need me a little more. (laughs) So now that you're a little bit stressed out over this, the first thing you gotta ask yourself to reframe it is do I have enough information? A lot of what freaks us out is stuff that's coming. It's stuff that we actually don't have the answer to. I'm worried that the answer's gonna be this and it's not. So you've gotta ask, first question you want to ask yourself is do I have enough information? So when we go back through this, the first thing you're gonna do is think about your creative problem. When we do this all together in a minute, you're gonna think about your creative problem, and then you're just gonna say to yourself, thinking about it, I am excited. I am excited. I am excited. You're gonna feel excited about your creative problem. You're gonna hunt for the sematic address of that. If you can't get there, if there's still some anxiety left, ask yourself do I have enough information to actually feel anxious about this? Is this something that I don't know yet, and I'm just like worrying about a future that isn't here yet? Creativity is about staying in the right here right now. Do I have enough information? More importantly, step three, and I want you guys to write this down as well. What is the payoff for turning your anxiety into excitement? What happens if you can actually get excited about the creative problem? What happens if you pull it off successfully? What do you learn? What will it mean for your career? What will it mean for your life? Think about what the payoff for turning it into excitement actually is. So here's what I want you to do now. I want you to reread to yourself the payoff, and after you're done rereading your payoff, say out loud, so we're all gonna be doing it together, I am excited. I am excited. I am excited. And while you're saying it, I want you to feel in your system, as much as you possibly can, the excitement that you've just generated for the payoff. Read it to yourself. Think about it. And then I am excited three times out loud. No room for embarrassment in here. We don't have to do it one at a time. (crowd laughs) By the way, this is not an AA meeting, right? Like you can speak over each other.
I am excited. I am excited. I am excited.
All right, did it work?
Right? You reframe the fear as excitement and it flips. It's really easy to do. It's actually even really easy to do inside of crisis situations, all right. Jamie Wheal, my partner, used to tell me that I need to like walk into any room I'm speaking in, remembering that I am welcome, I am wanted, and I'm here to help. Cause I didn't love it, right? There were certain rooms I would walk into, really conservative business rooms when I'm going to help really conservative businessmen, I always walk up on stage and I think, oh I'm just an old school punk rocker. They can actually see the mohawk. I'm sure of it. (crowd laughs) Or the dreadlocks, or whatever. And he was like, "Dude, you just gotta reframe that, "like you are welcome, you are wanted, "you are here to help." So literally, when I walk on stage, you'll see, anytime you see me, I will walk on stage, I will take a breath, and in my head I am saying I am welcome, I am wanted, I'm here to help, and I'm excited. That's what I'm doing when I walk up on stage all the time. Reframing is very very powerful. And it's necessary. Creatives, over time, first of all, you have to get good at risk. You have to get very good at fear. Creatives, very successful creatives, learn to use fear as a compass. That's a little compass. It becomes a directional. Which way do you wanna go next? What scares you the most? That may sound kind of weird, but a lot of the game we're gonna be playing today is about how do you martial focus into the present moment. Stuff that scares the shit out of you, it's got a lot of focus built in. If you can reframe that fear a little bit, you have just massively hacked your brain. You have massively up-leveled your performance because that terror is gonna help you focus, and you're gonna need that, and you're gonna be able to use that.