What is a life hack that you think everybody should know? ( Million Dollar Info is a long article but is worth it Guys ENJOY! Never Judge A Book by Its Cover
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit**. – Will Durant**
There’s a reason why you can’t stick to a diet.
There’s a reason why you can’t “get Math”.
There’s a reason why you can’t stop procrastinating.
There’s a reason why you can’t stop smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol.
There’s a reason why you can’t do what you know needs to be done.
There’s a reason why the person you are right now and the person you want to become is separated by a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon.
It’s not because of your willpower (though initially it may be).
And it’s not because you’re lazy or inadequate.
You want to know the real reason?
It’s because you literally don’t have the right circuitry.
Here’s what this breaks down to:
Your brain is the most advanced supercomputer on the planet or the known universe.
In fact, it was the model for the original computer prototype.
Your brain is compiled of 100 billion neurons all in an interlinked network, with the ability to send a signal from one end of the chain to the other in less than a second.
Your brain is then connected to your nervous system, which is over 90,000 miles long, all wrapped up in a tiny package called “you”.
Your brain is very adaptable to change, this is called “neuroplasticity”. It’s how you heal from traumatic accidents, internalize new information, and develop new patterns, new ways of doing things.
Neuroplasticity happens every time you come into contact with something new. Your brain reacts to the stimulus and reconfigures itself to adapt to the stimulus, even slightly. Most of the time, this is going on in the background of your awareness.
Here’s an example that you can probably relate to: as a teenager, driving was foreign to you. Now? You probably drift off into autopilot mode when you drive. Why? Because your brain has created a certain pathway, a certain circuitry to the skill of “driving”. Driving was once this big thing, now it’s incredibly easy. In fact, you are more likely to get into an accident 20 years later than when the day you first started driving because you are drifting into automaticity, which creates lack of focus, and as a result – an accident.
Here’s another example: I have a friend who is dyslexic. He naturally became averse to anything involving words, so he dipped himself in the world of numbers. Many years later, he got into MIT via the strength of his Math skills. Why? He hard-wired the skills of Math and computation into his brain. He is still bad at words and phrasing.
Why do I bring this up?
This is solely to get you to buy into the fact that you can mold and shape yourself into who you want to be because your brain is designed for learning and growing.
This all sounds peachy. But what’s the main barrier to this?
Conservation of energy. Your brain is the largest consumer of energy and calories in your body. It uses that to upkeep the brain and recycle nerve cells.
Creating neural pathways is a very excruciating process that takes a ton of energy. Your brain would rather stick to old pathways to be more energy efficient. We know these as “habits”.
Your brain does not want to change on its own and it will resist change with everything it has.
In fact, it coats those old pathways in a substance called “myelin”, which makes those pathways easier to access and faster to fire nerve signals with each use. Imagine if you saran-wrapped a piece of food, placed it in the microwave and set it for high heat. What would happen? The saran wrap would literally melt into the food. That’s what’s happening when you use a pathway for an extended period of time and it gets coated in myelin.
The myelination process is very active in adolescence/young adulthood because it’s preparing the brain for “real” adulthood. This process then starts to slowly taper off (though it still is active).
This is the reason for all those “child prodigies” who seem to be blessed with “natural talent”. They are “heavily myelinated”.
This is why a lot of the habits we develop in our teenage years tend to stick around (for better or for worse) because the brain is just spewing connections left and right. Again, myelination.
This is why learning new skills and material is difficult and mentally taxing; generally, it seems to be “easier” to learn stuff at a younger age.
This is why you feel that you can’t quit doing a counterproductive activity.
This is why most people bring their past into the future and as a result, live a repetitive and monotonous existence.
How do we build new brain circuitry? Deliberate practice.
Deliberate practice is the act of consciously focusing on an area of potential improvement and giving it 100% concentration.
Focus is what signals the brain to create new neural pathways and speed up the myelination process.
By focusing on a specific action and repeating it over and over, you are telling your brain that you need it to act in a certain way for certain situations.
The brain will then adapt to that situation and make it easier and easier to perform the next time. Your body will also adapt to the stimulus.
This is why “perfect practice makes perfect”.
This is in contrast to the way many people practice any activity: distracted and half-hearted.
If you want to get better at concentration, you sit down and concentrate for as long as you can on a single subject.
If you want to get better at piano, focus on playing piano intently with no distractions.
Once you do this, you mark down your performance strengths and weaknesses so you can make adjustments for next time you practice piano or concentrate intently on a piece of work.
Over time, you correct the weaknesses and become better at that skill.
A small caveat, though: deliberate practice is not fun. If you’re doing it right, it should feel like a rock is sitting on your head.
You are literally changing the physical makeup of your brain every time you engage in deliberate practice.
Deliberate practice is designed to take you to the very brink of your mental limits and expand them.
This is the performance secret of superstar athletes, top performers at work, and anyone else who has achieved a high degree of skill and/or excellence at something.
How do you start? Pick a task like learning a new skill (coding, playing guitar, socializing with people) and give it 100% concentration. It will feel awkward, it will feel painful at first – but it’s worth it.
You will notice as you extend this skill-based learning into different areas of your life, you will see that everyday things get easier and easier and easier to the point where you can start to sink into “autopilot”. This is how you plateau. For some things, this is fine. For others, it is extremely detrimental.
Once your benchmark is surpassed, you must constantly challenge yourself and keep pushing for the next level if you want to keep performing at a high(er) level.
Addiction works in a similar fashion. Over time, enough “positive reinforcement” was sent to the brain and a pathway became encoded because the addictive behavior was repeated enough times.
This is part of the reason why addicts go through a period of “withdrawal”. It’s the brain’s last-ditch effort to not have to use up energy to create new pathways.
But here’s the good news: plasticity is competitive. The physical and mental landscape of your brain can shift given enough space and practice.
It takes time. It takes time for your brain and body to adapt to your “new normal”.
This is also not easy. If it were, we’d all be living our best lives. As you can see, that is not the case.
No one plays Bach on their first try. No one quits hard drugs that they relied on for years on their first try. But it gets easier by little steps over the course of a day, month, year, and lifetime.
Deliberate practice is the best life hack that you can do. Best of all, it compounds.
After 10 years of committing to a lifestyle of deliberate practice, you will be absolutely amazed at what your life will look like.
And trust me, you will never want to go back to your “standard protocol”.
You are always changing. You can decide to change for the better or for the worse.