You’ve probably heard of cognitive biases. You can call cognitive biases systematic errors that make your thinking inaccurate. The result? Oversimplifications, irrational assumptions, and flawed memories that mess up your judgment and decision-making. Picture them as your brain’s favourite sport: jumping to conclusions. Beware of mental traps on your road to success.
Perceptions about everything. We all have some intuitions about things that may or may not happen in the future. However, you are the kind that always predicts stuff you are unsure of. You don’t know whether it is going to happen or not but you don’t take a step ahead, thinking that it is undoubtedly going to happen. It means that you are afraid of taking risks and making things happen the other way.
Constantly blaming others. Nobody likes to blame themselves if something terrible happens in his or her lives. It is always someone else or the circumstances, due to which the miserable things have happened. Sometimes it may be so, but not always. If you have this habit of putting all the blames on others, then you are never going to learn anything in your life.
Holding onto your past. Many people are too afraid to move forward because they think they will again face the same setback which they have seen in the past. It is one thing that keeps you from progressing. You have to understand that everything that happens in your life is to teach you something.
Avoiding tough decisions. Taking tough decisions is one of the most stressful periods you experience in life. Sometimes you have to let go a few people from your life; sometimes you have to shut down your business, sometimes you have to leave a place, and so on. Making decisions like this takes a lot of courage, time and energy. Your mental toughness lets you do things you would have never imagined. However, if you are not the type who can take big and difficult decisions in life, then you are creating a barrier to achieve success in your life.
Whenever something happens, stop, don’t react. Take five minutes, and instead of sounding rude or over-confident because of your biased brain, think of what could’ve happened. Think of the opposite scenarios. Our brain works on auto pilot and it’s not always right.
Want to take a test?
Imagine you step into a shop to buy a cricket bat and a ball. As soon as you pick them up, you hear the salesman: “Rs. 1100 for both. The bat costs 1000 more than the ball.”
“How much does the ball cost? If you guess that right in the next 5 seconds, pat yourself.
A flash Rs 100 just crossed your mind. Think again.
The right answers:
- The ball costs Rs 50.
- The bat costs 1000 more — meaning Rs1050.
- The total is Rs.1100.
What happened this time? Your brain replaced “What’s the cost of the ball?” with “How much is Rs 1100 minus 100?” Why? Because the second question is easier to answer, and your brain is a bit lazy.
We underestimate the complexity of life and overestimate our judgment. And that’s how we mutate into a rash decision-making machine that places huge risky bets everywhere. Not to mention arrogance.
Get rid of mental traps. Turn on your awareness.
The Creeping Normality Effect
Image from Web
Have you heard of Easter Island? Its the most remote inhabited place on earth. It has nearly 1,000 statues, some almost 30 feet tall and weighing as much as 80 tons but mystery about where did the people who built it vanish is a great one. If you want to know more about it you can read here. The leading theory is that the society collapsed centuries ago – after islanders over harvested the island’s palm trees. The trees were used to move the massive monolith heads to higher ground. Overharvesting led to proliferation of rats. The rats ate the seeds. Then trees went extinct. Without the palms trees, the islanders couldn’t build canoes to fish. The islanders had to hunt birds. Birds went extinct and vegetation stopped getting pollinated. With their food source collapsed, the population eventually died. How could the islanders not see it? Because it was a slow moving disaster. This is what Creeping Normality Effect is, which is effecting most of us. Giving my own example, I can’t tell a specific date when my health became bad and I was almost obese. I let my health collapse day after day. I let it deteriorate slowly and I didn’t realize. 99% of people will change if it happened overnight. Whether your health or toxic relationship or air pollution or plastic in drains, all are the results of a slow-dripping poison. We slowly lower our standards. We continually increase our tolerance for misery. Nothing becomes terrible overnight. Beware of downward slide. Stay aware. Have you allowed this creeping normality effect into your life? Take U turn before you get to the point of no return.
There is no universal truth
In the picture below most adults will see two lovers. Most kids will see 9 dolphins as they don’t have the experiential context to see the lovers. Each person in this world is not you. There is no universal truth to any moment. It’s all perception and individual experiences.
Image from web
It means that each of us lives through a unique set of experiences, values, and moods. Reality tunnel is a theory that, with a subconscious set of mental filters formed from beliefs and experiences, every individual interprets the same world differently, hence “Truth is in the eye of the beholder”. Most people don’t get this. They choose to judge each other over trivial, brief encounters that are devoid of context and understanding. The next time you are frustrated with someone: remind yourself that they are not you. Don’t Judge and assume.
The Hedgehogs Dilemma
Hedgehogs hate the cold. Yet they must endure winter. To do so, they often huddle close together to share body heat. But as they come close to each other, they prick each other with their spikes. They separate but because of the cold, they again slowly try to adjust by minimising the pain, forced back together out of necessity. We humans go through the same. We long for deeper connections.Yet by allowing people to get closer, we risk being pierced by their words and behaviours. The people who reacted most strongly to rejection (being pricked), were the least likely to come back seeking warmth. They suffered even further in their solitude. Optimists overcome that pain and later find joy and comfort with others – despite being poked. The more you love someone, the more you’re at risk of heartache. The more you open up, the more likely you are to break down. Loneliness is a lethal wound. Any human being will do all that they can, to avoid it. In an effort to stave off loneliness, they will gather, and that increases the risk of friction — annoyance, aggression, even suffocation. These evils are byproducts of basic human nature, and they are inevitable.
This is where we notice the importance of boundaries. We need a safe distance, as the hedgehogs do. This safe distance lies in “politeness” and “good manners” — a capacity to recognise each other’s boundaries and respect them.
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YOGA CAN HELP YOU TO NOT OVERTHINK
by Kamana Pereira
I get many students asking if there is certain asan or pranayama that can help them not to overthink. Yog is not some pill that we can pop-in and expect the result within few minutes, Yog is a way of life and when once you follow these simple ways of living, you shall be happier and fitter in mind and body.
So, if a certain asan practice cannot help me with my overthinking than how is Yog going to help me? By practicing yogic techniques of reflection to understand your Chitta. (Chitta can be translated as mind for now as a general understanding). Reflection is practised to cultivate mental detachment and to train the mind to become an observer of its own thinking. Reflection technique is a simplified form of a deeper and more advanced practice of self-study, called Anitya Bhavana. Its objective is to discriminate between what is permanent and what is not.
The concept of Anitya Bhavana in yoga; a concept that finds place in Jain scriptures as well. Anitya translates into impermanence and refers to all that is transient or ephemeral in our lives. When we try to make impermanent things permanent and cause ourselves to suffer, when you are disturbed or unhappy or depressed by what is happening in your life, it helps to step back from our problems and to consider the bigger picture. When everyone seems to be not understanding you, you need to examine whether this is really so. This reflection technique shall help you understand your Vrittis (fluctuation of your mind), behavioural patterns and thought process.
The sequence of steps:
Why should I be attached to anything when nothing is permanent and everything is changing?
Sit in Sukhasana/ Vajrasana or any other meditative posture and close the eyes. If not possible to sit on the floor, sit on a firm chair with an erect backrest.
- Mentally, passively review the events of the day in detail and in chronological order.
- Do not judge or analyse any thought/event. Just let it play like a movie in front of your eyes.
- When we go deeper into the technique beyond a mere chronological listing of events; we have to analyse our state of mind, our feelings and even thoughts while living that particular moment.
Recommended practice: Practice daily, preferably before bedtime.
Limitations /Contraindications: No limitations–everyone can practice it.
- The end result is gaining the quality of “mindfulness”, an important aspect of our personality. It is a quality which enables us to be aware of our own self and of the surrounding.
- A powerful memory training technique.
- Helps with understanding and correcting the patterns that lead to overthinking.
Kamana Pereira is a level III Certified Yoga aacharya from The Yoga Institute, Mumbai. She has been associated with The Yoga Institute as the Center Head, Goa branch previously and is currently the Head of The Yoga Institute’s Health and Wellness Centre at Kochi. She has worked on the rehabilitation program for rescued girls at the Deonar camp and underprivileged children with the Mumbai, BMC. Kamana takes personal classes on request. You can reach out to her on firstname.lastname@example.org or connect on twitter @Kilo_Bravo13
Only 7 weeks to go for The Growth Retreat, a networking event, I am hosting at Rishikesh from 8-11th December 2022. Every week we bring you a write up by one of the esteemed guest speakers of the Retreat, giving you a sneak peak of what they will be sharing with the participants of the Retreat.
The roadmap to wellness in 2023
by Nandita Iyer
The road to wellness is littered with misinformation, making it very confusing and complicated on what are the best practices to follow. New findings released from research labs from around the world on health and nutrition meet its match in WhatsApp forwards that have no scientific basic whatsoever. During the pandemic, world class laboratories and scientists were in a mad rush to come out with a vaccine against Covid, while WhatsApp university was busy churning out home remedies from kadha to salt water to prevent, or worse still, cure Covid. Health and nutrition are also pet topics of YouTube influencers, who have no background in healthcare or science whatsoever.
That’s not all.
In South Asian culture, there is a great deal of faith in Dadima ke nuskhe (Hindi) or paati vaithiyam (Tamil) when it comes to prevention of disease or cures, and a huge part of the wellness beliefs people hold. Quite a few of these have either been proven to be wrong by present day science or are no longer relevant. To chart a roadmap to wellness in the new year and to form sustained habits towards better health, the primary focus must be on food and nutrition, as we are what we eat. In addition to that, staying active, sleep, emotional wellbeing, and mindfulness are also equally important. Combining common-sense ideas from traditional cultures along with science-backed information, that blend into our present day lifestyle is the most sustainable way to make lasting positive changes to our health.
It will be my honour to share all this and more in my talk ‘The Roadmap to Wellness in 2023’.
Doctor, nutritionist, wellbeing advocate and columnist, Nandita Iyer is the author of three bestselling books. Her fourth book, The Great Indian Thali: Seasonal Vegetarian Wholesomeness will be out in October 2022. She has been writing on nutrition, health and food for over 15 years. Since 2006, her popular blog Saffron Trail has been a major resource for healthy food and vegetarian recipes.
Nandita’s newsletter Sattva is about the joys of mindfulness and the beauty of slow living. She is a student of Hindustani classical vocal music. Nandita has an avid social media following on Instagram and Twitter. You can follow her @saffrontrail.
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We have also archived all the old issues and you can access them at www.sandeepmall.com. They contain some very good tool kits to take charge of your well being.
See you next week .
The information provided in this newsletter is not medical advice, nor it should be taken as a replacement for medical advice. I am not a medical Doctor so I don’t prescribe anything. Most of the tools suggested are based out of scientific research and my experiments with them. Your healthcare, your wellbeing is your responsibility. Anything we suggest here, please filter it through that responsibility.