Are you programming your brain for unhappiness?

coding your brain
Are you programming your brain for happiness?

Computers have been used as an analogy for the human brain. We know that like computers, brains are able to be “programmed” and change based on what we learn, how we think and what we pay attention to. Are you inadvertently programming your brain in a way that leads to feeling unsatisfied?

Selling “Not Enoughness”

The common marketing ploy in most sectors – and any marketing person will tell you this – is to indicate that the product will help make you whole in some way. “You need this” is the underlying message. Even in healthcare and especially alternative healthcare we see this trend. Right now on Netflix there’s a show called (Un)Well that explores many different alternative “natural” health interventions. Most, if not all, have a huge market capitalization and are growing in popularity. They use the same tactics of “This product will help you _____”.

I also believe we do this to ourselves. We lie down every evening or wake up every morning with the thought of working out more, getting on track with work or not buying frivolous things to get back on track financially. Our very internal thinking patterns have an underlying foundation of “I’m not enough as I am”.

What “program” are we ingraining into our brains?

Take a moment to follow this metaphor on how our brains get programmed.

Imagine a field full of wild grasses and flowers. You want to cross the field but there’s no path. You make your way across even though you’ve never done it before. You look back and see some grass pushed down from your journey.

The next day, you make the same journey and it’s a little easier. You continue this behavior every day for a year. The path becomes well-worn and it’s easier each time.

Now imagine you want to change your behavior. You want to take a different path. You stand at the edge of the field and see the well-worn path that you’ve always taken. It would be much easier to take that path – you know it well. However, you bravely forge a new path. It was a bit harder but you make it across. You look back and see that the new path is hardly visible – the old behavior is still well-worn. You’ll need to forge this new path over and over again and not take the old path in order for it to fade.

Obviously the paths represent our behaviors or even our thought patterns. In the brain, our neurons fire along pathways and the more we use certain pathways, like a road, they expand to accommodate the traffic. We we don’t use them, they wither and get overgrown with brush.

A new way to think

I propose that our very foundation of thinking – trying to improve, getting the next product, signing up for the latest intervention or finding the “right” counselor to unlock something about myself – that very fundamental “chase” to improve is actually creating a program or coding our brain to think we are not enough.

I propose a new way.

Let us instead practice the opposite. Whether through meditation or simply sitting with a mantra of “I have everything I need.” or “I am enough” or “I’m completely whole in this moment”. We bravely forge a new path in the field – a path of accepting ourselves in this moment and accepting the world as it is. We thus create a sort of “heaven on earth” – if we truly begin to materialize these beliefs, this programming becomes more ingrained – we start to see that we are indeed perfectly whole and that the world is perfect as it is.

Simply imagine whatever programming you practice being more well-worn 10, 20, 50 years from now. Do you want to be old and continue to chase interventions, products and things to make you “better”? Or would you rather be content and see yourself and the world as perfectly imperfect and in divine order?