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How To Enjoy Mental Exercise


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Very often, something that feels good in the short term can add up to long term pain.

It feels good to sleep in every day, and it sucks to get up at the crack of dawn.

But it's easy to imagine how sleeping in EVERY DAY can slowly destroy your productivity.

While on the other hand, getting up at the crack of dawn will tend to INCREASE your productivity.

Similarly, food that tastes REALLY GOOD tends to add up.

The better it tastes, and the quicker it tastes better, the worse it generally is for you.

On the other hand, food that is healthy tends to be things you have to acquire a taste for.

Or at least acquire a habit of eating.

Doing physical labor, or exercise, isn't inherently pleasurable.

Only by slowly associating the benefits that come with exercise make it pleasurable.

But even then it's not nearly as "enjoyable" as relaxing, or getting a nice massage.

This is easy to see when the pleasure is physical.

Sleeping late, eating fast food, getting massages.

All feel fantastic, and all will have negative impacts on health if that's ALL you do.

But mentally pleasurable things are JUST as dangerous.

It turns out that in terms of calories per gram, our brain is our most expensive organ.

Thinking literally is hard work.

Watching TV is easier than studying calculus.

But just like jumping from the couch to the weight machine CAN BE dangerous, so can switching your mental skills.

If you were 500 pounds overweight, and you wanted to get in shape, you would naturally ease into it.

Because if you didn't, you would FEEL IT.

There would be a real and present danger of doing too much too soon.

I had a roommate once that tried that.

Decided he was going to go down to the track and do some sprints.

Unfortunately he hadn't worked out in years.

After only ONE DAY of sprints, he could barely walk.

Messed up BOTH knees.

If you jump from the TV to the calculus book, you can do similar damage.

You won't exactly break your brain, but it won't be pleasant.

And unfortunately, EVERY SINGLE TIME you try something like that, you'll build an association.

That doing mental work is hard and painful.

On the other hand, if you go VERY SLOWLY, it's much easier.

AND you have a much better chance of building the OPPOSITE associations.

That doing mentally strenuous work is pleasurable.

Just like exercising is for those who do it habitually.

It takes while to ease your brain into this.

But imagine the things you could do once you train your brain that doing mentally difficult things is enjoyable.

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