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Self Control is an Illusion - Everything is F*cked

I read another awesome book by Mark Manson i.e. Everything is Fucked -- a book about Hope. It's a self-help book which challenges us as a reader to question our assumptions towards life, happiness and success. Mark draws on psychology, philosophy, and personal anecdotes to make his case, covering topics like self-control, human nature, and the role of technology in our lives. All the chapters are thoughtful but I find Chapter 2 as the most interesting and helpful for me. So I will be summarizing the chapter in this post.

Image from Olivia Garcia post

Classical Assumption

Many of us have found ourselves in a situation where we create a to-do list for the day, only to fall back into old habits within a day or two. To motivate ourselves, we watch self-discipline and productivity videos, but after multiple attempts, we feel guilty for not being able to change our way of life. Interestingly, most of these videos and articles recommend one solution: suppress our emotions and adopt the mindset of successful people by thinking rationally.

Mark Manson refers to the "classical assumption" as the belief that humans are fundamentally rational beings who make decisions based on objective reasoning. This assumption suggests that if we want to improve ourselves or society, we simply need to provide people with more information and better reasoning to make better choices.

However, Mark argues that this assumption is flawed and that humans are much more complex than simple rational beings. For example, people often make irrational decisions based on their emotions, biases, and past experiences. Moreover, people often fail to act in their own self-interest, even when presented with clear information and reasoning.

Now let's take the example of smokers who continue to smoke despite knowing the health risks and financial costs. This demonstrates that humans are not always rational and that our decisions are often influenced by our emotions and other factors beyond simple reasoning. Therefore, to truly understand and improve ourselves and society, we need to acknowledge and account for the complexity of human behaviour.

Thinking Brain and Feeling Brain

Mark explores the concept of the "Thinking Brain" and the "Feeling Brain" to help us better understand the inner workings of our minds. The Thinking Brain is the rational part of our brain that is responsible for logical thinking and decision-making. The Feeling Brain, on the other hand, is the emotional part of our brain that is responsible for our feelings and desires.

Manson argues that in order to live a fulfilling life, it is important to strike a balance between the Thinking Brain and the Feeling Brain. He suggests that we should use our Thinking Brain to make rational decisions, but also take into account the desires and emotions of our Feeling Brain. For example, if you are trying to decide which career to pursue, your Thinking Brain might tell you to choose a job that pays well and has good job security. However, your Feeling Brain might be drawn to a career that is more creative and fulfilling, even if it doesn't pay as well. By taking both your Thinking Brain and Feeling Brain into account, you can make a decision that is both rational and fulfilling.

Manson also talks about the dangers of emotional suppression. This is when we try to ignore or suppress our emotions in order to make rational decisions. He argues that this can be harmful and lead to a lack of fulfilment in life. Instead, he suggests that we embrace our emotions and use them as a guide to help us make decisions. So, if you're feeling anxious about a decision, this might be a sign that you need to take more time to think it through or consider other options.

It is important to note that this is not a scientific concept and it is not recognized by the scientific community, but it is a way of explaining the concept in a simple way. We can look at a few examples of how the thinking brain and the feeling brain might interact:

  1. Decision making: Imagine you are trying to decide whether to take a new job offer. Your thinking brain might consider factors such as the salary, the commute, and the company's reputation. Your feeling brain, on the other hand, might consider factors such as whether you will enjoy the work, whether you will like the people you will be working with, and whether the company's values align with yours.

  2. Problem-solving: Imagine you are trying to solve a math problem. Your thinking brain will focus on using logic and analysis to come up with a solution. Your feeling brain, on the other hand, might be more focused on how you feel about the task, whether you are feeling confident or frustrated.

  3. Social interactions: Imagine you are at a party and you meet someone new. Your thinking brain might be focused on making small talk, trying to remember the person's name, and making a good impression. Your feeling brain, on the other hand, might be focused on how you feel about the person, whether you are attracted to them, or whether you feel a sense of connection.

  4. Emotions and reactions: Imagine you just received some bad news. Your thinking brain might try to understand the situation and come up with a logical response. Your feeling brain, on the other hand, might be focused on the emotions you are feeling, such as sadness, anger, or frustration.

In each of these examples, the thinking brain and the feeling brain are working together, but they are focused on different aspects of the situation. The thinking brain is focused on logic and analysis, while the feeling brain is focused on emotions and feelings.

The concept of the "Thinking Brain" and the "Feeling Brain" is not a new one, and has been explored in other books as well. One of the most famous books on the subject is "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist, argues that our minds operate on two different systems. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional, while System 2 is slower, more deliberate, and logical. These systems are similar to Manson's Thinking Brain and Feeling Brain. System 1, like the Feeling Brain, is responsible for our gut reactions, emotions, and intuitions, while System 2, like the Thinking Brain, is responsible for our deliberate thinking and decision-making.

By taking both our rational and emotional sides into account, we can live a more balanced and fulfilling life. As Mark suggests, it's important to embrace our emotions and use them as a guide, rather than trying to ignore or suppress them. By doing so, we can make decisions that are both logical and fulfilling. So, don't be afraid to embrace your emotions and use them as a guide to help you make decisions!

Consciousness Car And Clown Car

According to Manson, the Consciousness Car is the vehicle that houses our thinking and feeling brains. When the feeling brain (the emotional, intuitive, and impulsive part of the brain) and the thinking brain (the rational, logical, and analytical part of the brain) are working in harmony, the Consciousness Car functions smoothly.

However, when the feeling brain and thinking brain are in conflict with each other, the Consciousness Car becomes a Clown Car. The Clown Car is a chaotic, dysfunctional vehicle that's difficult to control. In this state, our thoughts and emotions can become extreme and irrational, leading to impulsive or self-destructive behaviour. We should never let one of the brains be dominant over the other one, it's the balance we want.

💬The overindulgence of emotion leads to a crisis of hope, but so does the repression of emotion.

Manson argues that the key to avoiding the Clown Car state is to develop emotional intelligence and self-awareness. By understanding and managing our emotions, we can avoid becoming overwhelmed by them and prevent them from derailing our lives.

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