What is your default state of mind?
Hmmm, you might not know what this means. I didn’t get it until a friend told me what hers was.
She said that when nothing else was going on, her default state of mind was creativity.
She has a tendency to rest in a state of curiousness and possibility, no matter what’s going on. Not surprisingly, she’s an artist.
After that conversation, I wondered what my default was? How cool if it were something fun and creative like that! Alas.
I’ve since noticed what mine is: low-grade worry with a splash of self-doubt and a hint of anxiety. Not enough to warrant medication but enough to make me wonder what life would be like without it.
The little voice in my head tells me it’s perfectly normal. I haven’t, after all, reached my business growth goals. Once I get there, the worry feeling will be replaced by a feeling of success. (Are you sniffing a skunk here?)
In fact, I’ll go days without feeling it—especially when something particularly good happens, progress is made or after a fun, relaxing weekend—which is when I let my guard down.
(Enter the bad guy.)
Yesterday I was feeling a little out of sorts for no reason that I could see. Rather than disappearing with a good night’s sleep, it hung around this morning. Nothing major. I kept to my morning routine, got out of the house to a cafe for morning writing and Bam! Realization hit: Default is back.
Here’s the real problem with default: it tells you that once X happens, then it will go away. This is 100% B.S. Ego Talk (that’s the technical term).
Remember that we’ve been through all this with the ’80s materialism backlash? We already know that getting the big promotion, getting the big house, getting the sports car will not make us happy.
This is a variation of that unrealistic belief. No matter where or how far you go, default will go with you—unless you reprogram your brain. This is totally doable, and explainable, if you’ve been read about neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity is a term for the brain’s ability to restructure by forming different neural connections. This happens automatically when the brain is learning something new, compensating for something (like disease), and can also happen through conscious attention.
Now, if your default is positive—yippee!!!—you’re pretty much off the hook here.
If, however, your default is negative (like mine is) then t’would behoove you to take pro-active measures because the situation ain’t gonna change on its own—don’t believe the B.S. Ego Talk to the contrary. You might think of it as changing the color palette that your brain picks from to paint your experience.
It takes vigilance and persistence to change your brain’s patterns. Regular practices like daily meditation keep it in check, exercise and conscious body movement keep it from settling too deeply, and a generally positive outlook on life prevent it from spreading too far.
In addition to these, here’s a three-pronged approach to working the plastic nature of your brain to your benefit:
- Determine a replacement pattern. Mine is a beautiful feeling of Delight.
- Reconnect with this replacement on a daily basis. I do it at the end of meditation session when I’m relaxed and inwardly focused.
- Keep a thread of awareness alert for default sneaking on the scene. When you catch it, say something like, “A-ha! I see you. Delight! (or whatever your replacement it) let’s inundate this bugger into oblivion!” It’s just like when you reserve a small amount of awareness trained on your kids playing in another part of the house, you’re ever-ready to act should you sense a problem.
Altogether, it takes a minimal amount of time to daily and yields crazy amazing results. The main challenge is remembering to do it. It gets easier and faster with practice.
Just think, after doing this for a while, your experience of life becomes sweeter. Rather than a flavor of downer coloring your experience, you move toward a bearable lightness of being, ahhhhh.
What’s your default? Is it good as is? or what’s your default?