Now your journey will be different than mine. There’s probably a lot of academics in here. Probably some artists taking completely different paths, but every day is a choice. Every day is a different crossroads with what you do with your time.
And if you’re in control of your mind, then those decisions can be intuitive.
Purge the chaos
So the problem is both deep and wide, but I’m going to focus today on one piece of it that I call purge the chaos. So we all know of different types of chaos in our lives. We have, some of us are addicted to the internet. We are on social media non-stop.
A recent Nielsen study showed that the average American spends 11 hours of their waking day on consuming some kind of electronic media. So the problem with this is that when you’re consuming, you’re not thinking, and if you’re not thinking, then who’s in control?
And that number is only going up. So it goes further that when you aren’t thinking, we start to not want to think for ourselves.
So a study published in the journal Science recently highlights this. They took a set of subjects and they wanted to see what would happen if they put them in a room by themselves to think on their own without any kind of distractions at all.
So it was a series of tests, but the one that was the most interesting to me was they administered a painful electric shock to their brain before the test started.
Now, most subjects said it was so painful that they would pay money to not have the shock administered again.
But then what happened was when they put them in the room for 15 minutes with no phones, no music, no distractions or nothing. 67% of men and 25% of women still chose to shock themselves multiple times.
So what does this mean?
Well, for one thing, it’s probably a statement on what your gender is smarter. Come on guys. One guy shocked himself 190 times in 15 minutes, but he’s the subject of a completely different talk.
But what it means is we’re addicted to these distractions. We don’t like to be alone with our own thoughts. They interviewed the subject afterwards and most of them said it was really uncomfortable to sit alone with their own thoughts.
So let me bring it closer to home right now. It’s something you’re probably suffering right now as you sit here.
So this is the last talk of the day. It’s a great opportunity to end the event on a high note.
But it’s also a challenging slot because especially if you’ve been here all day, watching talks, you’re suffering from something you don’t even realize, which is called decision fatigue. It also goes by the more psychobabble sound like ego-destruction, which incidentally would be a great band name.
But what this means is that your brains are tired and this isn’t a physical exhaustion. It’s not something that you realize is happening, but what happens is your brain is starting to break down. And when that happens is you start to not make decisions or make bad decisions.
So you have a finite amount of willpower every day… in your day, to be able to keep away things that you don’t want in your life.
So a study of parole judges showed that if you went to a parole hearing in the morning, you had a 70% chance of getting your parole called and getting out of jail. All of the things being equal, if you went in the afternoon, you had a 10% chance of getting out.
Why? Because the judges had decision fatigue and didn’t realize it. So they were automatically starting to just shut down to decisions rather than make a bad decision.
So the problem is we can all relate to this. We all had that meeting or class in the afternoon that you just couldn’t make it to, you’re just worn out. Or maybe you gave the iPad to your kids or your spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend because you just couldn’t handle one more conversation for the day.
So what happens is at that point, you’re primed and ready to make bad decisions. And the more chaos you have in your life, the more of these distractions that you let in early on in the day, constantly on social media and watching things and reading things; the more you’re distracted the earlier in the day, you hit this point of decision fatigue.
And you’re primed and ready to make the decisions that are going to benefit other people and not you. Because the media companies, politicians, drug companies, they all know this hack.
So I’m excited to share what I’ve learned about hacking back through my own journey and through a lot of research.
But I need to first tell you about a quick breakup I had in my life:
So we’d been together for several years and it had been a lot of emotional ups and downs. It was a difficult relationship, but I made my mind up it was over. And I knew that I had to do the right thing and end the relationship.
So I finally got up the guts to make the call and my heart was beating fast. When she answered the phone and said, welcome to Comcast, how can I help you?
So if you’ve ever tried to cancel your cable provider, it’s not easy at all. I encourage you to give it a try. But what this was as part of an input purge, where I went through is a life experiment to just remove one at a time, distractions in my life. And email, text messaging, friendships, cable, all of these things that go through one at a time and I’d remove them completely and then add back in only what I thought I actually needed after that.
So I’d love for you guys to give this a try if you’re up for a challenge:
Pick one thing that’s a distraction in your life and remove it completely for a week. Now don’t just replace it with another distraction, but pick something like maybe you are a social media addict, or maybe you watch a lot of TV, or maybe you are on work email constantly.