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Brain Chatter and The Opinions We Form

Take a moment and look here, give this a couple more seconds of attention and read 2 more sentences. Now move on, but before you do let me point you to this:

Our minds are filled with chatter, a lot of it is our own, but it also is made up of everything we read, everything we hear and most of what we see and choose to tell ourselves about it.

How do you determine what your opinion about something is? Do you first check how you feel about said topic? Perhaps it makes you angry or maybe just sad? You start to develop a harsh opinion, one that serves those strong emotions. You look for reasons that serve the opinion you have already made in your head, and reasons that reaffirm your emotions and your energy is then doubled because maybe many others share your reasons. How objective are you really? How objective can we actually be?

Are you right simply because you feel strongly about it?

It is hard to differentiate between how we feel about something, and what it really is as a stand alone thing (minus our feelings). One is fed by our experiences and our sensory history and the other is completely mute to us and our existence around it. We tend to live our lives completely in that loop, and little do we step away from something no matter how close to examine and wonder about our relation to it.

And so we choose that we either love (fill in the blank) ______ or hate it. But mind you, we become rigid if we don’t allow ourselves some space from our opinion to check what it looks like on its own (ideally).

The purpose of this post is to ask you one thing:

Where does the chatter in your head come from?

Does it come from books written by certain types of people? OR by magazines directed towards specific kinds of audiences? Do you consume only one type of media vs the other or is your experience universal? Are you capable of shutting down the chatter in you mind by recalling some facts that put your opinions in line? OR are your thoughts saturated with a single color, experience and definition?

Imagine your brain is a news feed, when you want to tap into it what will you find? Who do you follow? Who and what feeds your thoughts and opinions? Is it filled with very precise and similar content or is it quite wide and open? Does it allow expansion, can you read more into things or is it just images and one liners with little depth?

Try to think about this slightly complex sentence:

Know that just because we think something should be a certain way because it makes us feel better, it doesn’t necessarily have to be so.

Learn how to listen and how to always keep one foot in someone else’s shoes despite how funny it sounds. Don’t walk that mile don’t even skip twice, but recognize that the road isn’t yours alone, there are other feet and other shoes walking beside you against you across you and under you. Who are you really in that sea of opinions and experiences? Are you the only one who is right? and does it really matter? Click back into your self and really listen to the chatter in your in head, is it a good place? Is it an angry one or a naive one? Take two steps back and think about how you would like your self to be and work on that chatter, work on the content that goes into your brain feed.

Keep it good, keep it clean and keep it real; more facts, less opinions and put a lid on your strong feelings maybe even talk to someone about them. Life is too short for rigid thoughts better yet, life is filled with wonder if you follow the right content.

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What if I tell you that breakfast will change your life?

Have you ever tried banging your head against a wall trying to break it? The wall, not your head. Well, me neither, because I know one key fact about heads and walls: both are expensive to fix. Its important to note that there are smarter ways to break walls that involve using your head; or at least what’s inside of it.

[I had to write this statement after I found that people have actually filmed themselves while banging their heads into walls. Why are we even still alive as a species? This is a question for another post]… Moving on

Have you ever tried to break into someone’s bad habits and urged them to change? For their own sake. You know, those walls of repetitive destructive behaviors that sometimes look, among many others, like negative self talk, obsessive fixations over smoke, drink or love interests who wont bother responding to a text… It becomes frustrating for both sides; and with frustration come all sorts of thick-skulled behavior.

You cannot change someone, in as much as you can break a wall with your skull.

How about changing ourselves?

That is our best bet, working on changing our own minds, and our attitudes. Nothing feels better, and guess what? When you ask people to change they wont, when you lead by example they might. Just a random scroll through Instagram’s fitness bloggers, shows you the immense following that people documenting their fitness journeys accumulate over time. People want to see if said change works for you, before they get the courage to see if it works for them.

We like to think that we are different and that we are special, but truth be told, we are all too alike for it to even be interesting.

That is why, what makes you different is your attitude about things. You could be having eggs for breakfast, big effing deal, right? Except, call your eggs an omelette, place your orange juice in pretty crystal; pour your coffee into a cozy mug, and there you go- that is a memorable breakfast right there, you can even tell people about it, take pictures of it and brag how breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and watch other follow en suite. Go figure: The marvelous world of switching perspective, controlling for aesthetics and broadcast at our fingertips.

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All this leads to my favorite topic in the world, the power of influence and the secrets to inspiring people to change behavior. I will share one trick here to appreciate those who have read this far, and as a thank you; here it goes: Manipulate perception; and I mean that in the most noble of ways. Most great books tend to do that, religion does that, music does it, ideological and political leaders do that, and social media influencers are also great at doing it. It surely is more difficult than it sounds, but it is an intrinsic quality to producing inspiring- change outputs.

Manipulating Perception?

The way we perceive something allows us do develop a concept of it. If this concept coincides with what we already know; then we won’t be moved to change (Think millions of uninspiring -non-influencer status- users on social media- picking the good stuff, dropping the bad- superficial use of social media). If the concept is challenging to what we know we will either work on accepting it or rejecting it off the bat.

What you want is NOT to challenge people into inspiration; because you risk being dismissed immediately. Manipulating perception dictates the way that someone perceives something you are presenting. This means that you are involved in the creation of the concept in people’s minds from the get go, you don’t wait for someone to formulate a concept about your product, but you play a role in the thought process itself.

An oversimplification of the above is:

I want to inspire you to eat breakfast; I could:

1- Ask you to do it (beat my head against the wall)

2- Tell you that I experimented with breakfast every day, and tell you about how it impacted my mind and body (changing ourselves, leading by example)

3- I don’t even mention breakfast, I invite you to follow my Instagram page, the one where I post my pretty omelets and fancy cups of coffee, where I provide random facts about the benefits of avocado in the morning, and I casually slide in pictures of my fit body. I manipulate your perception, lead you to think that maybe, the bottom line is, if you start by eating breakfast; you too will be able to have a life that is as wonderful as you perceive my life to be.

 

 

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Uninspired lives and Elephants

This is a post about elephants and their need to be seen and acknowledged.

Elephants are wonderful creatures, they rarely prefer to be indoors, but when they are, there is something to be learned. Sometimes elephants move into our houses, and lay in our beds with their trunks around our soft bellies, begging for our attention yet we still look away. An ELEPHANT in the room? Which room? This one? NO! I am not in denial.

I am inspired when I wake up, and when I go to sleep. My dreams are blockbusters, and my daily commute to work is therapeutic. I am a walking, speaking beacon of inspiration. I am not in denial.

Did I lose you?

The elephant in the room for those unfamiliar with the metaphor is when a stark reality or truth stares you in the face but you still choose to deny it. Simply put, having an elephant in the room but refusing to admit that you can see it.

Fine. Elephants sometimes take up a lot of space, and they make us feel small and less interesting. If I were to photograph myself right now, I have an elephant on my lap and he snores and weighs me down, and he really just wants me to accept that some days I am uninspired by everything. As soon as I do, he gets up and makes me write this.

What I’m really trying to say is this:

Sometimes inspiration doesn’t come, although we try really hard to squeeze it out of our mundane days, weeks and sometimes months. Inspiration and wonder are words at the end of the day that describe feelings that enable us to see more, be more and do more. Those feelings behave like self tailored secrets especially designed to appease our fluttering hearts from beating us to death.

Sometimes we wait in the rain with our water proof phones hoping to snap a picture of a beautiful rainbow, and post it to Instagram with an inspirational caption below that goes something like “while everyone hides from the rain, those who wait out the storm get the rainbow; #weather is so inspiring.” Boom, 230 Likes; We all slept well that night.

We lead ourselves to think that we have control; perhaps we did manage to snap that picture last time, but this time the rainbow doesn’t come out. During our wait in the rain we end up discovering that our phones are not as hydrophobic as marketed. We end up seeing no rainbows, just storms and broken phones. Lesson learned, inspiration is hard to come by, sometimes life is terribly ordinary and just awfully real. #Caption_that

So what do we do when our lives aren’t always Instagram worthy, or Facebook material? How do we present ourselves when we are uninspired?

We imitate

I personally and luckily am only slightly addicted to social media [this probably is a lie]. The truth really is that I like learning about how it works, and why it works the way it does; I am less interested in what is posted but more with why content is posted. I was curious enough about it and I took an online course on Coursera about Viral Marketing and what makes content contagious. Marketing, psychology and social theories of influence all play a part in how we present ourselves online truly reflecting three major things: we want to be seen, we want our lives to seem exciting, and we trust and rely on the images we are presented with from our peers.

We are creatures of imitation, and that only takes us so far; it could be both necessary for our survival and detrimental to it. Inspiration on the other hand is our ticket to originality. Inspiration where available is one of the most important tools for creating raw and beautiful foundations, actions and trends, where then imitation follows.

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Double-Tap

I lift my finger and tap once, twice and express how much I like something. My heart remains steady and my breathing breaks as I let out a gentle cough from the unbearable smell of smoke coming out of the lips of the love of my life. This is normal, so is going out everyday and making a living. This is normal, so is changing our plans to fit our moods. This is normal, so is working out our muscles every other day so that we get to keep on living for a slightly longer time, experiencing slightly less pain when we double and triple tap on something we like on a screen when we are 75 years old.

One coffee, two green teas, another coffee and a meal to help my stomach digest the stress of the day and the level of alertness required to maintain a stable job. This is normal. I look up from my phone and I realize that after all my shy attempts during my teenage years to actually escape the world of normalcy, I have successfully landed right in the heart of it as I hit my quarter of a century mark. Maybe many checkpoints are bound to come and maybe none; and here I am still tapping at a screen telling everybody, and nobody really, what I really like.

I cannot solve this mystery; neither will I try. They all know and so do you, we all live here together. We all love together and encourage each other to run as fast as possible towards a glimpse of magic in this world. We run to green places and blue seas, we find the trance and lust of living in the darkness of underground clubs with good bass. We get on the ride everyday and snap a selfie wearing our egos on our sleeves, hoping that the world still likes us because we are beautiful, successful or simply just available.

We all live in this world, some participate others observe; and it is normal.

Normal as it is, how much of what we like have we ever tried? ever learned? ever experienced? ever proactively sought? I ask myself this first, and leave the rest here…