TEDx: Scott Ely: Free Your Mind to Evolve Faster


My talk (now on the TEDx YouTube channel) explores one small sliver of the Evolve Faster platform.  Specifically, this talk investigates why you might have a significant amount of self-induced “chaos” in your life…which exposes your mind to getting hacked on multiple levels.  However, what if you could learn to hack back?

SUMMARY (Submitted to TEDx): “We all want more out of life, don’t we? More success, more fun, more travel, more love, more…time. And we blame it all on this last one—life races along like a chaotic roller coaster, so just blame “no time.” However, isn’t that just another excuse? Also, what is the ‘more’ that we’re really seeking anyway? I’ve been on a cross-discipline journey of experiments for over a decade to try to answer these questions. So what has exploring over 50 countries, building multiple startups and well over 100 in-depth life experiments towards evolving faster taught me about how to get more out of life? The answer–and my story–may surprise you. Because to feel alive, you will need to redefine the “more” you want out of life. And once you do, something will nag at you every day until you begin to embrace this new vision, question everything and start experimenting to upgrade yourself?”


http://mashable.com/2014/03/05/american-digital-media-hours/   “According to a new cross-platform report from Nielsen, our suspicions are confirmed: The average American adult spends 11 hours per day with electronic media. That includes the age-old activities of watching TV and listening to the radio — which, surprisingly, are the top two digital activities in the average American adult’s day. Live TV (per day) = 5:04 hours”

“Watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time (2.8 hours per day), accounting for more than half of leisure time, on average, for those age 15 and over.”
Steve Jobs: “If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things–that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before.”
“In any case, it’s now clear that Jobs was as far ahead of his time in the technology of the mind as he was in the technology of computers. According to no less an authority than Scientific American, the latest neuroscience research proves that meditation techniques that have been around for thousands of years have beneficial effects on both your mind and your body.”
“…explored this freaky feeling and dubbed it high-place phenomenon…”
“In other words, Hames explained, people misinterpret the instinctual safety signal, and conclude they must have felt an urge to leap.”
“These are called intrusive thoughts. They happen to everyone and they can take many forms. Perhaps you’ve suddenly had the image of pushing someone off a train platform, kicking a dog, yelling in church, jumping out of a moving car, or stabbing someone you love. While doing or wanting to do any of these things is not normal, having intrusive thoughts like these is normal. Sometimes thoughts like these come to us precisely because we do not want to act in this way; they are simply the most inappropriate thing your mind can imagine.”
“Brain Rules.” A general reference on the evolutionary development of the brain.
“Brain Changer.”  A general reference on the adaptive brain.
“In 11 studies, we found that participants typically did not enjoy spending 6 to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do but think, that they enjoyed doing mundane external activities much more, and that many preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts. Most people seem to prefer to be doing something rather than nothing, even if that something is negative.”
“Research has shown that minds are difficult to control, however, and it may be particularly hard to steer our thoughts in pleasant directions and keep them there. This may be why many people seek to gain better control of their thoughts with meditation and other techniques, with clear benefits. Without such training, people prefer doing to thinking, even if what they are doing is so unpleasant that they would normally pay to avoid it. The untutored mind does not like to be alone with itself.”
“Yes, people would rather stick their finger in an electric socket than sit quietly and think. Or rather, men would: 67% of male participants in one study “gave themselves at least one shock during the thinking period,” write University of Virginia psychologist Timothy Wilson and his co-authors. On average, the study participants who elected to self-zap gave themselves 1.47 shocks in a 15-minute interval — “not including one outlier,” the paper says, in an impressively straightforward way, “who administered 190 shocks to himself.” (O.K., they didn’t involve actual electric sockets, but it’s still kind of surprising.) Women were far less likely to shock themselves, with only a 25% participation rate.”
“In the experiment, participants were asked to sit alone in a room for up to 15 minutes…with no cell phone, no reading material, no music—so, nothing to entertain them, save their own rambling thoughts. Afterward, most subjects reported that they found it difficult to concentrate and that they did not enjoy the experience.
“Then, to assess just how much subjects disliked doing nothing, the researchers repeated the experiment. Only this time they gave volunteers the added option of occasionally giving themselves a mild electric jolt. Two thirds of the men in the study—and one quarter of the women—chose to take advantage of the shock option at least once during their time out.”
“The results suggest that if there’s anything worse than losing your mind, it’s getting caught alone with it.”
“There was a pattern to the parole board’s decisions, but it wasn’t related to the men’s ethnic backgrounds, crimes or sentences. It was all about timing, as researchers discovered by analyzing more than 1,100 decisions over the course of a year. Judges, who would hear the prisoners’ appeals and then get advice from the other members of the board, approved parole in about a third of the cases, but the probability of being paroled fluctuated wildly throughout the day. Prisoners who appeared early in the morning received parole about 70 percent of the time, while those who appeared late in the day were paroled less than 10 percent of the time.”
“Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car. No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price. It’s different from ordinary physical fatigue — you’re not consciously aware of being tired — but you’re low on mental energy. The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually, it looks for shortcuts, usually in either of two very different ways. One shortcut is to become reckless: to act impulsively instead of expending the energy to first think through the consequences. (Sure, tweet that photo! What could go wrong?) The other shortcut is the ultimate energy saver: do nothing. Instead of agonizing over decisions, avoid any choice. Ducking a decision often creates bigger problems in the long run, but for the moment, it eases the mental strain.”
“Decision fatigue is the newest discovery involving a phenomenon called ego depletion, a term coined by the social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister in homage to a Freudian hypothesis.”
“These experiments demonstrated that there is a finite store of mental energy for exerting self-control.”
“His studies show that people with the best self-control are the ones who structure their lives so as to conserve willpower. They don’t schedule endless back-to-back meetings. They avoid temptations like all-you-can-eat buffets, and they establish habits that eliminate the mental effort of making choices. Instead of deciding every morning whether or not to force themselves to exercise, they set up regular appointments to work out with a friend. Instead of counting on willpower to remain robust all day, they conserve it so that it’s available for emergencies and important decisions.”


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