The superpower we all have
All our actions are directed by the mental circuits that we build. When we activate a specific circuit, a fat called myelin insulates the connections between neurons, making the electrical signal up to 3000x more efficient and precise. The more you activate a circuit (say by deliberately practicing piano), the more efficient it becomes.
But we don’t merely strengthen circuits relevant to the current activity at hand. We also strengthen ones an order above that — pertaining to how we do anything. And on a higher level still, strengthen those that mold our very identity — who we are.
We should therefore be careful which of our brain circuits become efficient.
If we make our beds carefully, we’re not only optimizing our ability to make our bed, but we are also strengthening the circuits belonging to diligence and effort, and reinforce our identity of an organized person.
If we read a book, we’re not just practicing the skill of comprehending, we also train concentration, cultivate the ability to think critically, and create an identity of a reader.
We aren’t only the sum of what we’ve done in the past, but also the sum of how we’ve done it and the identity we created by doing it.
In short, every action we take produces ripples of neural activity that strengthen certain synapses in our brains. It’s up to us to decide which synapses they are.
But that’s not the end yet.
We all have a superpower — we can deliberately choose to strengthen the circuits we want to make efficient. We can do that by supercharging our actions with meaning.
For instance, I can make my bed just because I make my bed. Or, I can make my bed because I will feel a sense of control and diligence when I do it and be an orderly person.
I can drink water because there is nothing else to drink within my arm’s reach, or I can drink water because every ounce will make my body more healthy, efficient, and alive.
I can meditate because it’s the cool thing to do, or I can meditate because it will calm my mind and help me focus my efforts towards my goals and make me a more productive creator.
We can make every action a symbol for how we do things and who we are. We can assign our deep values to what we do and live every day filled with meaning. Or we can live just because.
It’s up to us.