A Brain Hack for a Better Life

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Hey everyone!

You know those times where you stumble across something that immediately resonates with you and you think of 1000 different ways you can apply that thing to your life?

Well, I had that exact feeling when reading this blog post from Seth Godin. Here’s what he said:

Deadlines work. They work because they focus the mind and create urgency. They work to get us to file our taxes or finish an assignment. They’re an external lever for the work we have to do.

On the other hand, dessert works too. You don’t need an external force to encourage you to eat dessert after you’ve finished all your vegetables. It’s something you get to do, not something you have to do.

You can build a work life around deadlines. You can procrastinate, pay the late fines and push through the last minute emergencies because you need all of that in order to get to ‘have to’ mode.

Or, you can follow the path of the most productive and happy people you know. By redefining the work you’ve chosen to do as something you get to do.

And yes, I’ll point out that you can even do that with your taxes. It’s something you get to do because you’re successful and lucky enough to live in a civil society.

I’ve always been a huge fan of the idea the way we think about stuff is largely determined by the way we talk about it.

Like, at uni we love to complain about how we have to write essays, how we have to revise for our exams, and stuff like that. But if we internally (and perhaps externally) rephrased it as get to, perhaps our work would be a lot more enjoyable.

In general, I’m curious as to the extent to which we can hack our brain into acting as if doing stuff is a privelege rather than a burden.

Going to the gym for instance – I could think of it as “aargh I have to run 10km and push through the pain of lifting heavy weight”. That wouldn’t be very fun. Instead, I think of it as “I get to work on myself, improve my mental health, and just feel more energetic and happy once I’ve finished. This is awesome”.

Either way, I’m going to the gym. But in one version of the narrative, it’s a chore. In the other, I’m having a great time. And it’s just that seemingly simple switch from have to to get to that makes the difference.

Enjoy your week!


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