The internet nukes my brain, often.
My brain gets stuck in a death loop of thoughts about stuff that really doesn’t matter, that I won’t remember on the day I take my last breath.
A non-functioning brain is best described with states of mind such as burnout, brain fog and overthinking. I call it ground zero. When the lights are out upstairs and nothing is working, it’s time to send in the medics.
There are reset buttons for when your brain stops functioning. Fighting your way through a series of mental glitches makes no sense. Time can be regained when you stop and recharge the mind. Here’s how I do it.
Shutdown one overused mode of the brain
Your brain has two modes: input and output. It’s easy to get stuck on input overdrive. Inputs for your brain include podcasts, computer games, tv, google searches, social media, your phone/tablet, or conversations.
Tim Ferriss opened my eyes to spending time with no inputs. He has what he calls “no input” times which inspired me to imitate.
I used to take walks and pretend to be a stoic philosopher contemplating whatever those really smart folks used to do. The trouble is I’d multitask the walk with a podcast. A podcast is an input. Therefore, the whole benefit of the walk is destroyed before I start.
I tried taking walks without podcasts. I then added nature to the walk. Before I knew it, I was walking around parks in my area I never knew existed. The bright green leaves of the trees reinvigorated my eyes. The sun warmed my cold skin. The smell of the freshly mowed grass cleaned my nostrils. The blue sky gave my brain new hope about the sometimes chaotic state of the world.
Nature made me feel alive again. A podcast hasn’t done that for a long time.
The ultimate brain dump
All the inputs need to be made sense of and filed away.
I’ve found the ultimate brain dump is writing online. I take things I’ve collected in my mind and try to rearrange them, glue them together, and push them back out into the world in a different form.
Writing is thinking.
When you think as you write, a lot of the garbage clogging up your brain feels as if it’s released. According to research by Positive Psychology, some people like to journal. I haven’t personally got into journaling. I like writing tweets that are thoughts.
The new form of brain dump I’m going to try is Bitclout. Bitclout is a glorified version of Twitter with two new features: money and decentralization.
What’s cool about dumping your thoughts into writing is that others can benefit from them. I’ve learned over the last seven years that many of my toxic thoughts aren’t unique. We’re all living similar experiences in our heads. We time travel between the past and present, without spending enough time in the gloriously wonderful NOW.
Let writing be the dump truck for your thoughts so you can teleport back to the present.
Coffee with a jock
I got introduced to a guy four years ago. He’s a well-known jock here in Australia. I thought I’d dislike him for the ugly ego you acquire while kicking a ball between sticks in front of 100,000 people.
Not this jock.
After football he took a u-turn in life. He became a quiet accountant that spends a lot of time alone. The thought of an office made him puke. Instead, he convinced a local cafe to let him sit in a corner of solitude every day to do his accountant work.
The first time I met him, we drank coffee in his hideaway. There’s not a lot of words that come out of his mouth compared to videos I watched of him in the 90s. He’s at peace with life and everything he’s done.
Sometimes I wonder whether he’s got a secret job working as a fortuneteller from one of those cringeworthy infomercials. Yesterday he texted me to have coffee. It’s as though he knew my brain needed to be recharged by his words.
The thing that’s unusual is he’s a true listener. You meet up with him, put $3.50 of change in the barista’s coffee meter, and tell him what you’ve been contemplating.
A typical conversation over coffee is spent thinking about what you’re going to say next. The person on the other side of the table is doing the same. It’s like a bizarre memory game. Both sides lose. Nobody can remember who said what at the end. A conversation with my jock mentor isn’t like that.
The internet vacuums real human interaction out of our lives. A deep conversation that’s not focused on “what am I going to say next” recharges your brain and gives you newfound energy.
Fall down the rabbit hole of a life story
Reading life stories helps me reimagine the future. Seeing the future as better than it is recharges the mind. I recently read the life story of Derek DelGaudio.
As a magician, he learned how to lie better than a banker on Wall Street.
Learning card tricks seemed innocent as a teenager. These card tricks eventually got him a job in an underground poker club that ran out of a Californian home. Taking the job was a favor he did for a friend who went to jail. He was saving their spot as a dealer until they got out. What are friends for?
His after hours job was to swap out decks of cards for rigged ones, and deal the winning hands to the owner of the establishment and his son. The cut of the profits was decent. The other dealers in the club were all straight and had no idea of the charade going on right before their eyes. Derek was pretty happy because the money he stuffed into kitchen jars at home meant he didn’t have to face life and get a real job in a cubicle.
After a while the lies began to eat him up inside. One night at the card table he had a vision while dealing. His hands became frozen. The tricks he performed stopped. At that moment he knew he had to quit his shady job. He stormed out of the pretend poker club and never went back. The lies his hands dealt followed him around for years.
The astonishing trick from this part of his life wasn’t played on the lemmings that lost their money on the poker table. The joke ended up being on him. The owner of the club was not only screwing the patrons, he was paying people to pretend to be reckless and lose their profits, so he could pay Derek less money without him knowing.
His life story reminded me why I don’t hang around liars. Eventually, the lies start to stack up and you forget who’s fooling who.
Derek later put on one of the best stage shows I’ve ever seen. He took a life of lies and hanging out with low-lifes, and made it into something beautiful: art. After reading Derek’s story it recharged my mind. That’s what a turnaround life story can do when you lock yourself in your bedroom to devour one.
Try Being A Gym Rat
Harvard says being a gym rat helps recharge our brain.
I haven’t been to the gym since March 2020. I recently tried to start again after I recalled how good it feels for the mind to observe the body being pushed to its limits.
I crave that after-workout feeling. On the day I was due to start back, a stay-at-home order was issued. The gym has shut yet again as my arm desperately craves the sweet antidote of an approved vaccine to halt the madness. (It’s not to be, yet.)
The gym is a buddha’s playground.
I find my thoughts become focused on the exercise at hand, rather than the sledgehammer I wish to throw at the next backhander from a Twitter comment. Sweat on my dry skin feels like the negative thoughts from my head are visually pouring out of me.
Rigorous exercise, as opposed to walking, acts as a different kind of brain reset. It’s especially useful when you’ve got a build up of anger to dump.
Escape the pandemic of individualism
Me, me, me. Thats’ what boils my brain.
Individualism is a pandemic in itself. It forces us to get trapped in our heads and think the entire universe revolves around the axis of our beliefs.
There’s an easy way to escape: helping others. When we think of charity, we often think of giving money away and getting a tidy tax benefit (that’s why billionaires throw wads of cash from helicopters at charities). Charity can be thought of differently. I’ve applied my banker’s brain to donations.
A stock often pays you a dividend for investing. A donation is an investment too. Your donation to a charity can help pay for cappuccinos at the Red Cross. Or you can donate money to a worthy cause that has a high ROI and enables a real problem to be solved.
I prefer direct charity. It’s where you fund a problem that affects more than one person without going through a middle man, and you get to see the result seconds later. For example, homeless shelters need help. You can find out what supplies they’re missing and simply go to the supermarket and buy as many of the items as you wish. Or you can fund counselors to support the mental health problems that often lead to homelessness.
Direct charity helps you get out of your head.
That’s how I recharge my brain when it feels like it’s not functioning properly. I label each moment in life as either input or output. I try to tip the balance slightly more towards output.
Output can be creativity, and creativity unleashed helps you see the potential your mind can create during times of burnout and overwhelm. After 18 months of collective burnout, we could all use a mental recharge.