Watch What You Do

Watch What You Do

The mind consumes pop psychology. True, a significant portion of psychology is centered around understanding mental processes; however, an often unknown facet by those outside of the psychology/cognitive science community is behaviour. Behaviour constitutes a large portion of the focus of psychology, as a parallel study to what happens within the mind.

This may seem like a banal statement - that the mind informs our behaviour - yet when I look at posts on Instagram or listen to mental health professionals talk about trauma, healing, mental health etc. online especially, it's almost always relegated to discussions around mental processes.

Positive thinking, healing past trauma, talk therapy. The conversations remains at a single level of analysis, all the while forgetting the obvious reality that 80% (a number I arbitrarily chose) of mental processes is built on a foundation of behaviour and in turn life organisation. It's possible that the reason this is the case is it's not sexy. Psychoanalysis, dream analysis, talk therapy, affirmations, are all among the sexy topics of psychology. But cleaning your room, exercising, and improving sleep is the same old drum that's been beaten from the birth of psychology.

This is the inherent deficit of living within an aesthetic Instagram world. Fundamentals aren't marketable, and they're also free for the most part. Take fluid intelligence for example. Though not as prevalent, a few years ago the world went through a brain training boom with apps like 'Luminosity' which purported to increase intelligence and improve cognition through various 'brain training' games that testing abstraction. As with most pop psychology, this was completely false. IQ is one of the most stable, enduring, and reliably measured cognitive metrics within psychology, and no brain training games can increase it - to all of our despair.

But do you know what can sustain fluid intelligence across one's lifetime? Strength training. By implementing a strength training regime within your routine, you can positively retain fluid intelligence, which after the age of 25 declines precipitously. Another method of quasi increasing IQ is through conscientiousness. Albeit, one's IQ doesn't change directly, the effects of working hard, being organised, and orienting one's behaviour around conscientiousness can in essence increase IQ by eight points. That is the difference between the average high school student and average first year undergraduate, which is a world if difference. A difference typified by behaviour.

Unpacking, understanding, and organising your mental processes is vital, no one denies that, but you are not a mind. As Bernardo Kastrup states, if anything, conceptually you're a body that supports a mind, which means the way in which your mind in embodied, directly affects how the mind manifests. There is a reason why more and more doctors - if they know what they are talking about - are prescribing time outside, exercise, spending time with friends, creating clear career goals, and a myriad of behaviour centric goals. These are embodied behaviours that support how your mind is oriented.

Watch what you do. It matters. A lot. Watch how you organise your life, your sleep, your food, and your exercise. If it's not sexy, it's worth paying attention to, because it will dramatically empower the process of attending to the sexy when the time comes.