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Henry Beckett
Feb 20, 2022
In Personal applications of ST
As neuroscientist Dan Gilbert has pointed out, the brain has a remarkable ability to "get used" to things. The idea is pretty basic. Something that seems out of the ordinary soon won't seem out of the ordinary once we've been exposed to it for a while. We all know what this feels like. At first the day may feel too hot, but after a while we get used to it and it doesn't bother us as much. Or waiting tables at a new place can be very stressful trying to juggle 5 tables and all their needs, but after a while we get used to it. It's hard to say exactly what's going on here, but "getting used to" something bad likely has a lot to do with the brain realizing the story will turn out ok. Because, if the last 10 days I've waited on 5 tables for 8 hours and it's turned out ok, then I stress less about going in tonight. And I stress less on the job because my brain isn't lacking the story to this survival-relevant situation. It has it: we've been through it before and it's come out ok. But getting used to things also happens "against" positive things too. We see this all the time among the idle rich who have no survival issues. They often get into all kinds of trouble, be it affairs, drugs, who knows what. The brain also gets used to the perfect life. This is probably why gratitude journals have been scientifically shown to work. They retell the story that what you have is in fact special and not to be taken for granted. Of course, your brain has to take things that are going fine for granted because it needs to turn its resources to things that are not going fine. This is why the idle rich get bored: the brain needs to find survival-relevant stories. That's its job! So what to do about "getting used to things?" More soon.
The pluses and minuses of getting used to things content media
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Henry Beckett
Feb 11, 2022
In Personal applications of ST
I have a lot of trouble falling asleep sometimes. I wanted to share some approaches I've used. Like everything story theory, you don't really know what results you'll get until you try things. And what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. The first thing to remember is that sleep is a purely mode 1 activity, so the first thing I do is stop it from calling on mode 2 by telling the story, "there are no survival-relevant issues until tomorrow." Otherwise mode 1 will constantly be calling on mode 2 to try to figure out today's or tomorrow's problems and I'll never fall asleep. From there, there are a bunch of approaches I try. Usually (but not always!) one of them works. First, I might try simply telling the story "I am sooooo tired...." over and over again, in the rhythm of each breath to latch it onto that mode 1 activity. Another approach, because sleep involves the activation of certain body chemistry, is to try to get my brain to believe that the chemicals are being generated: "I feel the sleep chemicals taking over", again repeated. Something I tried one night that actually worked great then was just the big direct story: "I am sleeping". Oddly, that worked (though it didn't last night). Do you have any that you use that prove effective?
Sleeping content media
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Henry Beckett
Feb 11, 2022
In Personal applications of ST
I had a very interesting experience yesterday, where story theory applies to sports. I play a sport called "padel". It's a racket sport played by two teams of two players a bit like doubles racketball might be (to way oversimplify it). I really love the sport because in addition to being extremely good exercise and exhausting, it there are also lots of different kinds of shots and lots of options for each of those shots. So it takes a lot of thought as well as physical skill to play well. I'm not in a position to train with a coach and have tried to get good by observing great players and figuring out the mindset they're in while they're playing: what are they thinking about? The idea was to train that into my visual memory so that I could access it on the court. I would think about different things to focus on, like a solid base, feeling the ball through my hand, getting set up comfortably early, all things the top players seem to do. And while I could play ok, it seemed there was no real solution to the problem. Rather than learning certain behaviors (like getting set up correctly and quickly) and having them sink in so I could work on others, I seemed to just float from one aspect of play to another without any major improvement anywhere. Then yesterday, it occurred to me why. Expertise, as you know if you've read the book, is a mode 1 thing. And mode 1 things do not respond to focus: focus is mode 2. This meant that in order to play better, I needed to send messages to mode 1 in some way mode 1 would respond to. I thought about how I do this when I do other things I have some decent skill with (like when I play squash, for example). And the way it happens is through "feeling". I have a visualization in my head of what the feeling of hitting it correctly will be, and as per Barrett's neuroscience that you remember from the book, when the feeling doesn't feel right (like if the ball is too far away), the brain corrects the simulation and -- in this case-- creates a memory based on the new feeling and motivates the body to move in response to it. This is why athletes train: they use mode 2 to put behaviors (body movements, in this case) into mode 1 so that when they're in a match, they can use mode 2 to to think about things like where to put the ball and where the opponents are and which shot to choose. But of course, I don't have time to train. But I found I could create a "shortcut" to mode 1 by using my available mode 2 resources to focus on the feeling. This connected to my visualizations of all the great players I've seen and the feelings I imagine they have when they hit the ball this way or that as well as my own feelings when I've hit the ball correctly because I've had enough time. Because of the few lessons I've had, I know what it feels like to hit the ball correctly. By focusing on those feelings, I used mode 2 to connect mode 1 to good information. And it worked! I played much better than I had before and we beat a really good team! 😄
Sports content media
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Henry Beckett
Feb 11, 2022
In Personal applications of ST
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. 😀
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