Opening up this blogpost is one of the better decisions you’ll make today. You’re one step closer to being a smarter, happier, and just generally more interesting and well-adjusted human being. Way to go!
Every month you can look forward to a hand-crafted, expertly curated blogpost and update from me on the 1st of every month except when that falls on Sundays. That’s because I like to slack off on Sundays and do other super cool things that others might not understand.
I write about life, leadership, faith, relationships, hard work and connecting the dots to try and make it all come together. I love learning new things and I love helping others do better. My goal with this monthly reach out is to propel us toward excellence in becoming better servant leaders. Most importantly, it keeps us tracking with each other and our work together.
Grab a cup of your favorite hot drink and let’s hang out for a bit. I’m tending a mug of ambrosial Guatemala blend. It’s a Christmas gift that I’m trying to make last. Thanks, out there.
You know who you are.
Dealing With My Monkey Brain
So I’m at Starbucks with my friend Brad, solving the world’s problems over a Grande Americano and he asks a vaguely disquieting question.
“How are you really doing with this whole resignation thing? “ I could have easily skated around that one with a stock “doing ok.” In a moment of radical candor, I had to confess there were times I was was dealing with the monkeys in my brain on this one.
This doesn’t happen often for me, but it does happen. You know how your mind can race around in 14 directions?
Monkey Brain Syndrome is “brain gone wild” due to excessive multi-tasking and hurried activities fueled by addictive technology, media stimuli overload, and the rigours of everyday life demands.
Our 86 billion neutrons in our brain that regulate our thinking/feeling processes get over charged and start crashing into each other at warp speed. The next thing you know, the thinking/feeling train starts coming off the track.
Engaging in this frenetic brain activity has diminished our ability to complete simple tasks accurately, think clearly, accomplish a fulfilling day’s work, maintain a healthy body, develop meaningful relationships, grow and have fun.
We may be at risk of losing control of our most important personal asset,- focussed brain power.
The term “monkey brain” was originally attributed to Buddha more than 2500 years ago,
He described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly.
Today in the 21st century, his observations are as relevant as they were then. The digital age and smartphones are actually re-wiring our brains to have shorter and shorter attention spans.
A 2015 survey of Canadian media consumption by Microsoft concluded that the average adult attention span has fallen to 8 seconds, down from 12 in the year 2000.
We now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish!
We think in McNugget time. Informational flotsam and jetsam flows unfiltered, along with the meaningful stuff in an eternal stream. We get a feel-good hit of dopamine from the perception that we’re getting things done.
Seems I can’t wait for a haircut, or stand in line at the bank, or even pause long enough for the microwave to ding, without fighting a reflexive urge to sneak a peek at my smartphone. It seems the last digital micro-high only accelerates the need for another one.
Here are some of the symptoms of Monkey Brain Syndrome
- Inability to stay on-task longer than 10 minutes
- Checking emails or texting more than 5 times an hour
- Dissociative or distracted interactions
- Random irritability at slightest delays or interruptions
- Can’t remember what you did 30 minutes ago
- Difficulty solving normal problems or making decisions
- Feeling of being pulled in too many directions
- Feeling like busyness is out of control *
- Not enough time to get things done*
- Making frequent mistakes
- Nearly impossible to quiet your mind (trouble sleeping)
- Strained relationships with people you care about
**Hurry Up Sickness **is closely related to Monkey Brain Syndrome
To some degree, we all have monkey minds with dozens of monkeys all clamoring for our attention. Fear is an especially obnoxious monkey, sounding the alarm incessantly, pointing out all the things we should be wary of and everything that could go wrong. Ego, is very loud, pushy monkey and wants a lot of airtime. Then there’s Doubt, Not-Good- Enough, Rationalization. Perfection and Procrastination and Rebellion all on a rampage, swinging from limb to limb, agitated and noisy.
I’ve been around long enough to have developed a few personal antidote strategies.
- S-L-O-W D-O-W-N. Not to the point where my productivity lags, but enough to remember that I will get everything done eventually – it doesn’t have to be right now. Manana is sometimes a good day to get things done.
- Take a few deep cleansing breaths – I prefer an outside walk and imagine the new air circulating through my body, revitalizing and refreshing me.
- Take a mini break. Nearly all well-known creatives do this. IE Einstein was well known for his violin breaks. Me, I prefer guitar.
- Have routine daily quiet time meditation.
- Count blessings – instead of the numerous tasks at hand. We are all blessed with so much goodness in our lives– we just need to remind ourselves of those special things and people in our lives.
- Stay positive – The game plan for each day emerges from God’s drafting room. Even with its hang ups and bang ups, I need to give it a chance to unfold. Trust more. Stress less. Dial up gratitude. Mute grumbling. Stay true to what I’m about
Author Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Life) has three great questions to help manage our emotions.
1. “What’s the real reason I’m feeling this?”
Maybe the answer is fear or worry. Maybe it relates to something someone said to you years ago that was never resolved.
2. “Is it true?”
Is what you’re feeling at that moment true? Have a good listen to what you hear yourself saying . You’re acting like you’re the only one trying to do the right thing in the whole world! No. That’s not true.”
3. “Is what I’m feeling helping me or hurting me?”
Will you get what you want by continuing to feel this way? A lot of feelings we have seem natural, but they’re actually self-defeating.
Let’s say you go to a restaurant, and the service is extremely slow. You wait a long time to be served, and then a couple comes in 15 minutes after you and gets their food before you do. You get increasingly more irritated until you feel something welling up inside you.
What’s the real reason you’re feeling that way? You’re hungry!
Is it true? Yes. You’re frustrated because the service is slow. But is your emotion helping or hurting? It’s hurting. Do you get better service by getting angry with the server? Absolutely not.
Does nagging work? Has it ever worked? When somebody tells you all the things you’re doing wrong, does it make you want to change? No! All it does is make you defensive.
When you ask yourself these three questions, you get a better grip on why you feel the way you do and what you need to do to help the situation.
That’s called managing your emotions.
Brad’s deadpan assessment?
“Don’t feed the monkeys!”
Have great month of March!
Got any monkey’s you’re dealing with right now? I’d love to hear about it.
Seriously, hit me up. Here to help.