Guiding Structure, Environmental Changes
Guiding structure means to change your behavior. You need to change your environment. Okay, we'll go back, teo the example of controlling the amount of light that's that's entering your eyes. The action that you take to fix that problem one hundred percent depends on what is available in your environment to do to fix the problem, right? So if you don't have a flashlight to turn on because it's too dark, you can't turn on a flashlight to fix the problem common sense, right? You don't have if it's there's too much light, you don't have some glasses, you can't put them on. Whatever it is that you choose to do to fix the circumstance depends upon what's available to do so, here's, how you use that in a sneaky way if you want to act in a certain way to solve certain problems, very most effective thing that you can do is change the structure of the environment around you, so use a little bit of will power make it easy, make it sure the tools are so the guitar example that we talked about the...
skill acquisition section by having the guitar right next to you that is changing the environment around you in a way that is designed to influence your behavior, you see it, you look at it, you know you want tio to practice it and so you actually do and pick it up right? Changing the structure of your your environment is one of the most powerful tools that you have to change your behavior reorganization it's kind of a weird quirk of this this whole thing so so let's say that well actually let's let's take the classic a quarter life or midlife crisis right something's wrong some reference level of of yours and in your mind has been violated in terms of meaning in your life or what I should have accomplished by now we're like something something is just off but your brain has no idea how to fix it right? You're not able to really come up with a good hypothesis and so what your brain starts doing is spitting out all sorts of random stuff in an effort to find something that may solve the issue right? This is a process called reorganization it's completely normal so if our brains as well talk about in a minute our designs to notice patterns in our environment in anticipate come up with some hypothesis of how we can fix things and so when our when your brain can't do that it just starts spitting out random stuff because instead of just remaining stuck wild experimentation is probably going to get you there faster than just being stuck right? So I used to uh I used to work for a big company procter and gamble and had some wonderful experiences and had some not so wonderful experiences and it's at one point I was really stressed about my job no joke uh I was sitting at my desk one day and had like a really long serious think about how awesome it would be to be a janitor like awesome right? You come to work every day it's abundantly clear what you need to do you do it, you get paid and you go home like how awesome would that be and that that's a perfect example of reorganization it would not be in my best interests to quit my job and become a janitor it wouldn't but something was wrong that my brain knew it needed to fix and it was just spitting out ideas off different ways to fix it. The real trick about this it's really uncomfortable when this happens and I think we've all had experiences of having something wrong in your brain just kind of starts going haywire the wonderful thing about this process is it's automatic it's helpful and you're not going crazy this is your brain doing exactly what it developed to do to fix the problem. So the key if you're finding yourself and I don't know if anybody either here in the audience or ah out in in the internets is experiencing this right now the good news is this is normal and the best thing that you can do is go with it, I don't fight it this is a natural process and the more experimentation that you do is we'll talk about here in a minute, the quicker you're going to find a solution to the problem, right? That makes sense. Okay, now conflict conflict is a situation where different systems in your mind are trying to control the same perception at the same time, and they're all they're fighting and expending a lot of energy and neither system is winning and a good analogy here is imagine if you had a heater in an air conditioner in your house both trying to control the same temperature, but they were trying to control different temperatures that where neither one could have what they wanted, right? The heater wants it to be warmer than air conditioner wants it to be colder there's no happy medium what happens? Both the air conditioner and the heater expend an enormous amount of energy work twenty four seven and nothing changes right pure complete waste. And so a lot of times we're trying to control all sorts of different things in our body were trying to control things like our blood sugar, you know, when we're hungry and when we're not the amount of light entering our eyes like not being in pain, all of those things and this goes up in layers right all the way up to the trying to control being a morally good person is a valid level in all of the things that we're trying to keep within control, right? Some things are not necessarily so compatible, right? So I want to be a good father and I also want to travel so I can talk to really cool people on and teach and help them, right there's a conflict there and that conflicts needs to be managed, or I'm going to be miserable there's also then and these types of situations appear over and over and over again. And so it's important to be able to recognize when different parts of your brain are trying to control the same thing, and have some strategies of resolving those conflicts so we can get more of the parts of our brain moving in the same direction so we can actually do something that makes sense. This is by far, by the way, the most theory heavy part of what we're going to talk about and it's it's a little mind bendy. I know this this is the background, the foundation that allows us to do all the wacky stuff. Okay now pattern matching pattern matching is thie idea that your mind is made for finding patterns in the world around you that's what it's there for? Okay, so what we're doing all the time as we're living our life is we're noticing things in the environment we're collecting information and what your brain does in the background his associates things that tend to appear with each other right when I do this this happens when I see this this is probably also there and it happens with people that happens with the environment that happens with everything that were perceived all day long and the reason that we do this is because it allows your brain to start to anticipate what's going to happen next which is a hugely powerful ability right? So you know on on the savannah if you hear a growling coming from the bushes you probably need to start acting now before something bad happens right? That's what it's there for it keeps us alive and what's nice is the mohr information that you collect the more you can anticipate the faster those anticipations come, the more accurate they are. And so the reason our minds work the way they do is because pattern matching is happening in the background all the time and what that allows us to do in addition is this ability called mental simulation so because we're collecting this this database of experiences and associations and patterns that exists in our mind that's what our memories are for what your brain does with that is it starts to imagine things anticipating certain results right, so what happens if I go over to that guy and I punch him in the face, right? Your brain can start to anticipate all of the things that are going to happen if you actually do that and that's hugely valuable, because if the end result of that particular chain is not a good thing, then you can avoid punching the guy in the face in the first place, which is great, right? So the reason we're collecting this big database of associations is because it allows us to a very limited, in a very limited way, predict the future that's what our brains are really there to do, and so understanding that we have this capability allows us to do really cool things with it. As it turns out, we'll talk about here in a little bit. There are ways to use these systems consciously, to collect better information, to make better decisions and to come up with plans to achieve really wild and crazy things. If you know how to tap into the pattern matching system in the mental simulation system intentionally, right? Have you ever thought about what makes an expert an expert, it's the have a lot of experience doing something, so their database of associations and patterns is much larger, and so the anticipation. It's that they are able to make on doing things certain things a certain way is going to get a get a result and the people who have a lot of experience have this huge database of very accurate information to draw from and if you've never done something before, you have no database of accurate information to draw from comparing lee when you start doing your own expert, how much is it like subconscious and how much is it like you consciously doing it? It's s o there's there's actually a model of how we learn things and it's actually a progression so at the very beginning on dh we're what we're talking about in the skill acquisition section everything that we're doing is really conscious, right? We have to think about it a lot and as you start to get experience parts of your brain wants once they find associations uh, parts of your brain start taking over and doing those things automatically, right? So for example, playing the guitar we're learning to draw or something like that when you start, you have to focus on every little thing writes a very conceptual process at a certain point you just start doing and that's kind of like that weird kind of mystical feeling that you know your brains kind of taking over from you and at a certain point it's fully automatic if you've done it enough times and so that's called the three stage model of skill acquisition there's a cognitive stage where you're thinking about it a lot there's an associative stage where your brain is doing this pattern matching and then there's an automatic stage where it's fully automated you could do it in your sleep that's like that's kind of the goal to move towards that exactly and so you know, the cognitive stage and you know what we're talking about with the first twenty hours that's usually squarely in the cognitive stage and starting to move into the associative stage and then if you keep doing it it becomes on a mac one thing that's really really important to understand about this process of collecting information and and forming patterns and associations is your brain does not have all the information and so when your brain doesn't have all the information but it needs to be able to simulate to make anticipations on something it will fill in the blanks and this is a process called interpretation and so for example you know let's let's say you come home and one of your family members uh looks at you doesn't say hi and walks into the other room what do you what do you think I'm in trouble something's wrong uh they're mad at me they're angry at me, whatever, um that may or may not be true right you have very little information you have very little context about what's going on you just have one piece of data and so your flash interpretation of the situation may be accurate it may not be accurate maybe they just had to go running grab something really quickly there could be thousands of potential explanations for that situation and so interpretations are great because they allow you to act faster even if you don't have all the information but they're quite often wrong and so some of those interpretations uh can be good and quite a few can be not so good here's a classic example um and this is this is a classic example of a conflict that a lot of people uh experience which is part of my brain would like to have a lot of money and the other part of my brain has associated people with a lot of money with being really big jerks you don't care about other people right trying to control the same perception, which is the amount of money that you have like that interpretation that people with money or who are jerks that don't care about other people, that that is an interpretation right? Uh but it may not be an accurate one and as long as you have that you're going to find it really, really difficult to act in ways that bring you into the state of having more money right? And so the way we correct that and there's a really, uh wonderful book by morty left co called re imagine your life not the best title for the book but a really awesome process hey teach is a way to actually examine these interpretations the's conclusions that your mind has jumped to and investigate them and come up with other ways of explaining or interpreting the situation. I think in the workbook we are on page sixteen here and the workbook I believe I outline that process and so the biggest thing is isolating what it is what what the interpretation your mind is coming too and asking yourself to consciously examine what could be other interpretations off this right? What could be other ways of explaining what I've seen and you're able to look at all of the different interpretations and ask yourself is any one of these things were probable than another? If it is, you can actively revise that interpretation if there's not you get to do something really cool, which is you get to choose the interpretation that you get to keep there's an interesting part about how our brain stores memories, which is a lot of people think of our memories as something like be like a file in a computer right it's something that you bring up you examine when you're done with it, it goes right back to where it wass unchanged. Not true, not true for us human memories. Every time you remember something, you bring it up and then it is saved in a different location in your brain very critically with any modifications that you have made to it. So if you take a moment to really actively look at an interpretation your mind has made and you decide that another interpretation is the more accurate one or the one that serves you better that's the one that gets stored into long term memory. And if that's the one they get stored into long term memory that's the one that your brain's going to use to make anticipations about future actions. So um I I actually was was working with with a client who had this very strong memory when he was a boy of losing a couple dollars and his his dad was really, really mad at him. And the interpretation that he took away from that is money is scarce. And I need to be anxious about paying attention to in keeping up right because his father got so mad that he's he thought he was a really bad person for not paying attention to it. So he had a lot of anxiety about that so we were talking and it was really it was having he was having difficulties in managing money because of this this very strong association so we re interpreted that and that became his father was trying to teach him a lesson in responsibility uh and was doing a good thing to develop his character it wasn't about the money it was about teaching a lesson in responsibility and when he reinterpreted that situation in a different way all of the sudden money manners matters became way way easier this technique is about the closest thing we have to actively hacking the database that are brain makes anticipations from it's really simple it doesn't take time but it's really really powerful. So in my career png uh I decided not to continue up the chain of promotion to brand manager marketing director, vice president, president ceo of the company right there's a very strong internal culture within procter and gamble of you either move up the ladder or you can't cut it so you're out and you're a failure right when I decided to leave png I was really uncomfortable with that idea because I was choosing not to progress up the letter and therefore I was a failure right? But I reinterpreted that which is I want to do something else something else that's more fun something that serves me better and this is a really good thing this is a success and had I not done this interpretation I would not have created this material and we all would not be here today right it's a really powerful capability