Mental health issues turned my brain to mush.
Through the recovery process I accidentally learned about neuroplasticity. A big guy named Tony Robbins mentioned it in a speech.
Neuroplasticity is a fancy term that means your brain can adapt and grow based on new experiences. It means you can think new thoughts, make new decisions, and rewire the neural pathways in your brain.
This works in negative ways too. If you suffer from brain damage the brain can change and grow to deal with the impact.
Once you understand this tiny idea you stop believing in:
- Cultural disadvantages
- Personality traits
At this time in history that’s a radical thing to say. But it’s true. Here are a few things I did to rewire my brain and think better thoughts.
Change the default online experience to work in your favor
Too many people don’t realize that algorithms now program us.
- X algorithm
- TikTok algorithm
- Netflix algorithm
- Spotify algorithm
- Amazon algorithm
- Youtube algorithm
- Google Search algorithm
- Apple Podcasts algorithm
If you accept the default experience then advertisers and algorithm-gamers will infect your mind with all sorts of toxic, self-serving thoughts. I’ve learned to go from the default online experience to a purely custom one.
Newsletters get emailed to me. Blogs I like reading are all bookmarked. People I like to follow are all bookmarked.
I don’t trust randomness or “for you.” Either my mind is the algorithm for what I consume online, or I don’t consume anything.
This might seem a little harsh, a little navy seal. But it’s the only way. A tech algorithm has incentives that are the opposite of my life goals.
Radically change up your environment
Robyn Storey worked a $125K a year job.
Life was good. Money wasn’t a problem. Then she quit to become a part-time waitress. People thought she was nuts. Her big goal was to start a resume-writing business.
Her husband said she could experiment with it and would just need to bring in a small side income for a while to help cover bills. While working as a waitress she used the remainder of her day to work on the business.
She also had to raise two kids in between.
Her ego took a smashing from not having the fancy job. The business became a big success and she quit waitressing forever. It’s been 24 years.
What Robyn learned is sometimes you have to radically change up your environment to rewire your brain into believing a new reality. No one at a cubicle job is going to suggest you start a business.
I’ve heard people go even crazier.
Sometimes it requires you to change jobs, industries, or even countries.
A new environment takes you from predictable to uncertain in a heartbeat. That transition forces you to pay attention and escape the boredom routine most people live each day.
If you want your brain to think new thoughts, place it in a new environment. The more fear the better.
Read unpopular books (and even former dictators)
Books are another form of programming.
A lot of people read the same books. How many people do you know who’ve read Atomic Habits? Probably a lot.
Look at people’s lists of favorite non-fiction books on social media and you’ll see what I mean. We’re all reading the same popular bestsellers. That means we all think many of the same thoughts.
Writer David Perell taught me to break the timeliness pattern.
Read books from hundreds of years ago. Read a book written by a dictator people hate. Go to used bookstores and dig through to find the treasures that are out of print and out of fashion.
Books you find on your own often have the best lessons.
Cut brain manipulators
The brain is easy to manipulate.
Drinking caffeine or alcohol are often the best ways. If you get stuck on these habits for long enough, you’ll experience brain fog.
Alcohol rewired my brain to go out and be an idiot. I became addicted to escapism and forgetting huge chunks of time. It’s amazing how when you’re in pain anything that helps warp time becomes addictive.
Caffeine didn’t help either. Over time I found it more addictive and I needed higher and higher doses NOT to feel tired.
Ask yourself: do I really need coffee and alcohol?
For me, 99% of the time I don’t. Manipulating my state of consciousness is best done with mindfulness, gratitude, or a walk in nature.
Find a new tribe
We live in bubbles.
I find when I hang out with entrepreneurs for too long, they all start to sound the same. Build audience. Create funnel. Make money. Buy Lambo. It’s s-o-o-o-o-o-o-o boring.
Finding new tribes helps you escape bubbles. I find the best ones are unrelated to whatever the thing is that I love the most. Right now I’m spending heaps of time being around runners.
I don’t want to run and hate sport. But the way these runners talk is interesting. Their mindset is applicable to so many other pursuits. They talk about reaching a dark place when they run a marathon.
In writing, this could be described as a flow state. In business, this could be described as being close to bankruptcy.
The human experience is universal. Often, you need to see it from new angles to realize, and joining new tribes is one strategy to do so.
Transition from follower to leader
The default way of life is to be a follower.
Listen to others. Choose a pre-defined career path. Obsess over certainty. Watch the Hollywood movie because everyone else on TikTok did. Get a big-tech job because it’s cool.
Leadership is a powerful tool. What I love about it is there are no qualifications. Anyone can stand up with an idea and move people toward a common cause.
Leaders own the outcome. Leaders take responsibility. Leaders are permissionless — they don’t ask, they do.
The world feels fairer when you choose to be a leader. Your brain starts to make different decisions when you do.
Adopt the limitless way of life
The normal view of the world is that it’s a place of scarcity.
There’s not enough money. Not enough time. Not enough good people. Not enough years left for the environment to recover from global warming. Not enough opportunities. Not enough NFTs or Bitcoin.
What changed my thinking was to see that, actually, life is limitless.
- There’s more than enough time if you prioritize.
- There are more than enough opportunities if you work hard to earn them.
- There’s enough time to heal the environment with the right innovation.
- There are limitless amounts of shiny digital objects that’ll always be sold as scarce when they’re, in fact, infinite.
Giving your time/money to those who have nothing is one way to unlock limitless thinking. A gratitude practice of writing down three things you’re grateful for each day is another.
Life is too short to believe there is never enough.