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  • Writer's pictureAntti Vanhanen

The Only Life-Hack You'll Ever Need

This hack is so easy and effortless that it’s basically an anti-hack.

It also flies in the face of pretty much all the other answers to this question and the gazillion dollar self-help industry.

So what’s the hack?

Your brain works best when you minimize your interference with it.

In other words, to put your brain into its most receptive, creative, and powerful state you simply need to minimize your thinking.

To most people, this sounds like complete nonsense.

After all, isn’t it because we’ve left our minds unattended that we have so much stress, insecurity, procrastination and anxiety in our lives?

Isn’t this exactly the time to double down on mind hacks and sort our shit out?

No and no.

What the above two questions miss is that practically all human problems are the result of us resisting our experience.

We don’t want to feel bored, so we try to escape it.

We don't want to feel insecure, so we try to avoid it.

We don’t want to feel demotivated, so we try to fix it.

We don’t want to feel stressed, so we try to cope with it.

In each case, our actions are coming from a place of fear, insecurity and inadequacy.

As a result, we feel debilitated, demotivated and insecure.

To move forward, we need to go back to our experience.

Culturally, we have misunderstood the true source of human experience.

Ultimately, our experience is all we have in life. The end result of everything we could possibly do or have is an experience.

That nicer car you want? It’s to have an experience.

That lottery you dream of winning? It’s to have an experience.

That person you really, really want to like you? It’s to have an experience.

Because everything we do is about creating a particular kind of experience (either now or sometime in the future), the single most important question in the world is:

where do you think your experience and feelings come from?

However you answer this question will define the way you approach life.

Most of us think that our feelings are telling us something about the situation we are in or about ourselves and our ability to perform in this situation.

We believe that we need to feel motivated, confident and certain before we can perform and strive for our goals.

Yet upon closer scrutiny it becomes obvious that our experience isn’t created by the outside world or the people, events or circumstances in it.

Instead, it is created from the ebb and flow of mental energy.

It’s why the same things look and feel different from moment to moment.

One moment the amount of money in our bank account seems ok, the next moment it seems like that same amount is just a few short steps away from catastrophic and inevitable bankruptcy.

The more we think about, analyse, try to fix and cope with shitty and negative thoughts and feelings, the more they multiply.

All our bad experiences are the result of too much thinking.

In our quest to analyze, fix or cope with our negative experiences, we actually invite more thinking, thereby making our situation worse, not better.

In this way, we are the very thing that keeps our minds from working optimally.

What does this mean in practice?

It’s letting go of all the thinking we have around a particular situation or circumstance:

It means letting go of your expectations, the role you’re supposed to play, all concepts and ways of thinking, and just being an empty vessel ready to take in whatever is before you.

It also means not trying to hack it, improve it or control it.

Whenever you feel anxious, insecure, overwhelmed, stressed, or depressed… all you need to do is simply switch your mind off for a moment.

It’s tempting to try to analyze, fix or cope with the problem. But don’t. It’s a trap of the mind.

Just let it be.

Let your mind settle.

However you want to unplug your mind is completely up to you:

You could just let the thoughts be and wait for something new to pop into your head.

Or you could go for a walk.

Or you could chat up a friend or coworker.

Or you could have a short meditation session.

Whatever you do, resist the temptation to analyze, fix or cope with the troublesome feeling or thought and its perceived cause.

Just unplug.

When you unplug, you will inevitably find that the problem has either vanished or it now looks dramatically different from a different state of mind.

What I am pointing to is this:

Your mind already works perfectly.

All your attempts to control, improve, maximize, or hack it are what slows it down.

It’s like running an app to make your computer run faster, but not realizing that the app itself is using up some of the computer’s computing power and thus making it perform slower than if you simply didn’t interfere.

Another way to say it is that calm, clear water reflects reality the best.

There is no way to stir the water to make it calmer and more reflective.

Whenever you feel overwhelmed or the world seems difficult, irritating or threatening, simply unplug your mind for a moment.

When you let your mind be, it will automatically return to calmness and clarity.

And that’s where you think, feel and function at your best.

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