Minding Your Mind
Or- Listening to the soft voice of intellect
Yes, we are coming to you a day early. Happy Thanksgiving!
I hope you enjoy the day with family and friends.
Think: What I’m thinking about.
As promised, today we are delving into LOE 2, The Mind.
There is a lot to unwrap here. First, we need to distinguish between the brain and the mind.
The brain is the organ responsible for thought, memory, and every other bodily function. It is composed, in basic terms, of the reptilian brain, limbic system, and neocortex.
The mind is the energy or faculty that allows for thought, imagination, will, and emotion. Composed (according to Freud) of the Id, Ego, and Super Ego.
The distinction is not always clear, and there is quite a bit of overlap, but for our purposes, we will focus on the following buckets:
Brain bucket- brain health, learning, memory, application. We will talk about this relative to thinking clearly, learning quickly, remembering well, and making good decisions
Mind bucket- mental health, emotion, mindfulness, mindset. We will discuss the mind in the context of destigmatizing mental health care, improving our useful functionality by focusing on mindfulness, establishing a positive and productive mindset, and (my favorite subject)- building mental toughness.
There are two things that you should know by now:
I am not a mental health professional.
The one thing that fixes everything is good sleep.
For today, I want to start by leaning into developing our growth mindset by focusing on goal setting as it relates to habit development.
The time of year is drawing nigh when many of us will reflect, take stock, and decide to make some changes.
I have previously written about setting SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, & Time-bound.
The next step is to develop habits that will ease the path to achieving our goals. According to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, there are three types of behavior change outcomes that we can seek to bring about.
Outcome change: This is where most of the goals we set focus. We want to weigh less, run faster, read more, sleep better, etc. We want an outcome that is different from the current state.
Process change: This is the realm of habit. We can more easily accomplish an outcome by changing a process. Swapping a bad habit for a good one. This begins with the understanding that there is a predictable set of circumstances that lead to habits, good or bad.
Once we understand the cycle we can attack a weak point. Remove the cue, substitute the craving, or establish a new response and reward. Here the focus is on the process.
Identity change: This is changing who we are, our worldview, and our mindset. It’s the difference between saying, when offered a Coke, “No thanks, I’m trying to quit drinking soda.” and “No thanks, I don’t drink coke.” The difference is the change in identity. The first response is coming from a soda drinker who wants to be something else, the second is that of someone who no longer identifies as a soda drinker.
Each level of habit development can be useful, but it is important to understand what you are trying to change, then you can look for the weak link in the cue, craving, response, and reward process to attack.
Next week we’ll talk about swapping and stacking habits.
Read: Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
This is an absolutely fascinating book about the life of Leonardo Da Vinci. Walter Issacson does a fantastic job of examining the many passions of Da Vinci and explaining how they worked together to inform his art and science.
Did you know that Leonardo worked on La Gioconda (Mona Lisa) for sixteen years, and quit only because he died?
Write: The part where you get to ask the questions.
Peter wrote: “I’ve heard you say that you hate audio books, why?”
Thanks for the question, Peter.
First, I do not hate audiobooks. I think they are a great way to enjoy books for some people. They are, as a rule, not my cup of tea.
I like books. Real books of paper and ink. I like how they smell, I like turning pages, and in a relatively recent development, I love writing in them. I love dog-earing pages to return to, and I love to have many of them opened at once, scattered across my desk. That is tough to do with audiobooks.
I do take umbrage with people who refer to listening to a book as ‘reading’. I’m sorry, but that is not what reading is.
Would you claim to have read a podcast? Would you say, “Boy, I can’t wait to read the Casey Casim Top 40?” No, you wouldn’t, because you are not reading. You are listening. There is a difference.
It is perfectly acceptable to say that you listened to a book. Possibly even consumed a book I suppose? But words have meaning and reading involves looking at symbols to derive that meaning.
So, enjoy listening to your audiobook. And prove Mark Twain wrong for he said, “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who can not read.”
Repeat: Words worth repeating from those who said it best.
If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude. ~ Colin Powell
The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken. ~ Samuel Johnson
The difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits. An amateur has amateur habits. A professional has professional habits. We can never free ourselves from habit. But we can replace bad habits with good ones. ~ Steven Pressfield
Rigid, the skeleton of habit alone upholds the human frame. ~ Virginia Woolf
Failure is only postponed success as long as courage 'coaches' ambition. The habit of persistence is the habit of victory. ~ Herbert Kaufman
I’d love to hear your thoughts on building habits.
If you enjoyed this, please share it with a friend.
What another lovely piece of writing. A lot of things I "know" but ignore, or deny. Thanks for I can't wait for the next one. Two thoughts, not that you asked: 1. Good sleep fixes everything. As does time, and a hot meal. In cold weather training, we were always instructed that if we were in a dire situation... had been wandering around in a bad blizzard and things were hopeless.... stop, dig a hole, start a cooking fire, and make some hot chocolate and a warm meal if possible. People rarely die in a blizzard on a full, warm stomach. Although that was not what you said, specifically, it is something I have learned and relearned. My worst moments in my career were not a function of lack of work ethic or trying... they were a result of sacrificing the basics that you described so well in this missive. On a lighter note... I take exception to your assertion that words have meaning. Words are socially constructed, and as such, they have no inherent value. IMHO. People give words meaning, and different people can ascribe different meanings to the same word. I recall a higher ranking officer that interrupted one of my partners during a lecture with "that is a made up word!". His response: All words are made up. Languages are dynamic and living. Now... sorry for the long response! I have to go read my wife. :)
I love the idea of changing your identity to effect change......Purpose defines identity. I had a battalion commander who would always ask you "what is your purpose?". He would tell me in confidence how amazed he was at how many people couldn't answer that question. If I'm being honest, it really challenged me to define my purpose. Now, I ask myself that question daily.