And how it completely paralyzes your progress
We all know how powerful the human brain is. It allows us to perform incredible operations
But our brain can also work against us rather than for us, and unfortunately it is just as powerful when it does.
Does this sound familiar to you?
We all want to make progress in life. We are seeking that spark, that change, that hint that will allow us to experience long-term joy and accomplishment. That is why, rather than cherishing what we have in our life, we are usually thinking about what we don’t have, what we are lacking to make our lives complete and fulfilling. In this search, we often go through the following process:
You have this great idea or intention you are very enthusiastic about. This idea can drastically improve the way you live or establish relationships with others. Whether it’s starting a company, getting in shape, asking someone out, moving cities and starting from scratch, asking for the advice or help you need, having that difficult conversation…
If this sounds familiar, congratulations! You have taken the first step towards improving your life. Not to bring you down, but here comes the hard part. Everyone can have great ideas, but most people often fail in the next step , all because a mechanism in our brain that acts in a similar way to a drug.
Great! You have your life-changing idea. Now what?
“Once you execute this idea” — you tell yourself — “your main problems will be solved, and your life will be much better”.
You said it yourself: once you execute. The problems start with what happens next and what prevents you from executing:
Naturally, you want to be very careful with this idea, this invaluable “mental posession”, because you don’t want anyone to steal it from you, or you are afraid of others judging it in a negative way; or concerned that it might get “spoiled” once it gets out of your head. You think the negative consequences of putting this idea to work are more impactful than its potential benefits.
These reasons are important enough for you to not want to reveal or test it just yet. It’s your “little secret” that everybody will eventually know about once you become highly successful thanks to it. Then it will be safe enough to make it “public”, but not before. The problem, again, is that success likely won’t arrive unless you first unleash the idea and the action tied to it.
However, you feel a mix of fear, anxiety, and perhaps even laziness to get that idea out of the wrapping paper. This is normal, especially if the process involves taking large risks or making very drastic changes, but if you are not going to execute, why are you even thinking about it, wasting precious time and mental energy that you could be using elsewhere? It makes no sense at all, yet somehow we always seem to find a way to keep being stuck in the same place.
What is really happening: you are addicted to “Brain Crack”
Content creation pioneer Ze Frank came up with a name that perfectly illustrates what this state feels and looks like: “Brain Crack”.
Brain crack is the drug you didn’t know you were addicted to. It’s that happy and comfortable refuge in your brain that you keep resorting to when you feel discouraged or think you could be doing something differently and better. It’s that place that you will always have there only to think about it, because it is beautiful, but either still too “premature” to be taken into execution, or too demanding in terms of effort, change, or discomfort.
The concept was recently brought up and explained by Hank Green, currently one of the most prominent cross-platform content creators. In his interview on The School of Greatness Podcast by Lewis Howes, Green explained how brain crack, Frank’s “discovery”, works:
“Brain crack is that idea that you are keeping in your head, because it looks so beautiful and perfect when it’s in there, the moment you start to take it out, it gets all dingy and dirty and full of the dust of the world, it’s not perfect anymore.
So you keep it in there, and you are addicted to it. You keep coming back to this perfect idea that’s in your head, and you’re thinking about the idea instead of doing the idea.”
Brain crack leads you to have an excessively conservative, losing, coward mentality. It’s like the owner of a luxurious car or piece of jewelry who is constantly scared of using it because it might get dirty, stolen, lost, or broken. This owner, like us with brain crack, is preventing that priced posession to perform, thrive, and “make its magic” in the environment it is designed for.
You should drive the car through picturesque country roads and iconic urban settings, as well as wear the jewelry to every party or social setting you see fit, so you can appreciate how it looks and feels like; so you can be proud of it and notice the impact it has on yourself, and potentially on other people. What purpose does anything serve if it is always locked up in a garage or a box?
How does brain crack work?
Why did Frank compare this train of thought to the effects of a drug? Well, because it does work like a drug.
Green goes on to explain how brain crack actually finds the gaps in our mind to always make us always crave that state of unproductive comfort, acting very much like any drug.
“By thinking about that idea, your brain is getting the satisfaction of kind of actually doing it.”
Does this sound familiar? This is also why brain crack is so hard to quit. We know we are not making progress, yet we keep coming back to the starting line, afraid of taking the first step, because it just feels good and it is comfortable to overthink rather than act.
Green also provided an excellent example of an area in which brain crack usually thrives: exercise.
“We do this with exercise too. If we think about exercise, [the brain] actually convinces us we don’t need the exercise because we thought about it.”
Like most drugs, the effects of brain cracks on our minds also get stronger the more we consume it. It powerfully feeds itself every time you avoid taking action, as Green says:
“If you are thinking about that idea but not executing it, you are actually preventing yourself from executing it, you are doing the thing that is slowing you down. You need to get it out onto the table or into the code, or however you are going to execute it.”
Do you frequently “smoke” brain crack? Do you keep going back to it as a resource to reach mental comfort, but never actually turn your intentions into action?
We all are brain crack “junkies”, in some way or another. It is a natural tendency, a survival mechanism, and a short-term, highly effective reward instrument that, however, will undoubtedly hurt us in the long run.
It’s just a matter of admitting to it and taking the necessary steps to executing rather than thinking.
It’s time to detox from brain crack.