Lately, we've found ourselves reading a lot of the latest neuroscience research.
It's super fascinating stuff.
The theory that resonates the most with us is that we are all wired, each and every one of us, to have a "negativity bias."
Our brains are literally wired to minimize threats.
We focus on the negative stuff in our lives, naturally.
We are literally wired to look for problems to deal with all day long. We live for them.
We're created that way.
Knowing this is big.
And it allows us to hack it to our advantage.
Neil Pasricha, author of The Happiness Equation, describes this quite nicely.
He points out that for the last 180,000 years, food and safety have been our primary focus.
It's only been for the last 2,000 years or so that we haven't had to panic about finding food and fighting to survive each night.
That's 180,000 years of conditioning vs. 2,000 years of conditioning.
So for 98.9% of the last TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND years, we've been operating under a different kind of world than we deal with today.
We are created to be like a laser guided missile looking for a problem to attack.
And there is a problem with this problem.
It seems like we don't care what problem we focus on.
Any problem will do.
Accepting that this is insane but also accepting that it's also a normal state of mind, what can you do?
Here's what we do...
Whenever we notice we've been stressing out about a problem of some sort, we look for a BIGGER problem to focus on and then concentrate on stressing out on that one instead!
By focusing on an even bigger problem than our original problem, we somehow come up with solutions to the previous problem much faster because we have a new bigger problem that needs our attention.
It's as if our mind can't handle the new bigger problem without solving the initial smaller problem and it finds an answer for the first problem.
It's like a magical brain hack.
Our brain wants problems, but can't seem to handle too many of them, stuff in a bigger problem and the smaller ones go away!
Sounds crazy right?
But it works like gangbusters.
Here's an example,
Let's say you're a real estate investor or a house "flipper," or whatever you want to call it.
You are freaking out dealing with a contractor on your renovation. They are way behind schedule, they're not doing good quality work and they are literally driving you crazy.
You're calling them daily, you're driving to work thinking about all the silly things your contractor did that you can't believe.
You count the days you're wasting with a vacant property until this renovation is finished. You start adding up the lost rent you should be making on the property and begin freaking out about where you'll find the money to pay for the unexpected extra costs.
You're completely justified to focus on this problem.
But you're making no progress, you're spinning your wheels a little bit.
But then you decide to focus on a new bigger problem.
Instead of doing one renovation project this year, you decide you're going to do three!
You begin mapping out a strategy for it. You realize to do three renovation projects you need to get this first one done ASAP.
By making this new problem top priority your brain starts finding solutions to the initial problem at a much faster speed.
You begin making much more clear and decisive decisions on the original renovation project.
You either fire the contractor and have three more there the next day with quotes in hand.
Or you slam your foot down with original contractor and set clear and definitive goals to get it wrapped up.
The tone of your voice changes.
Your body language changes.
And the world responds.
It's almost as if our brains can't focus and stress out about the new bigger problem without solving the original smaller problem first.
We know you're doubting this.
But try it yourself.
The key is not ignoring the original problem. This isn't an avoidance strategy.
You must deal with your problems.
But by inserting better and bigger problems into your life, the little problems can't occupy your precious brain cycles as much as they would otherwise.
It's like your brain has a space inside it reserved for problems.
And it MUST stuff something into it.
It's like a problem vacuum that must be filled.
If we know this, can't we choose what we stuff into our mind's problem space?
Knowing that our brains are working against us a lot of the time, we're always asking ourselves...
What are the quality of the problems we are focused on today?
Are they good quality problems... but low-priority, crappy and shitty problems?
Or are they amazing problems? Problems that, just thinking about solving them, gives us goose bumps of excitement.
Tony Robbins has this saying that goes something like, "the quality of your life is in direct relation to the quality of the questions you ask yourself."
We love that thinking and would add:
The quality of your results is directly related to the quality of the problems you are solving.
Got a problem?
Find a better one.
Solve the first one automatically.
Sound too easy? Give a whirl.
Go get 'em.
Until next time ... Your Life! Your Terms!
Tom this is an awesome article! Thanks so much for sharing it. Simple concept that creates a chain reaction of results.
I fully agree with Quentin! Once more a good one! I'm also fascinated with neuro-science.