I spent this weekend reading The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains by Robert H. Lustig. It is about the constant barrage of messages in our culture that affects our decisions. These decisions change the serotonin and dopamine in our brains. Our phones, apps, and social media accounts are intentionally developed in much the same way as slot machines. We get hits from likes, shares, or retweets that affect us the way that a slot machine lets us win a little while slowly bleeding us of funds. In the case of our brains, that slow bleed is draining emotions. Just like the slot machines, you never walk away a winner. The house always wins.
It leads me to think more about the environment that I create in my life. The toxicity of my relationship with electronics is certain, but I can change the way that I use them. In my internet life, the vast majority of time is spent reading and posting about politics. That will not change, but the amount of time I spend online is a decision. I am in a constant state of agitation because I want to be well-informed.
The only time that I don’t feel that agitation is when I am exercising, meditating, or listening to self-hypnosis recordings. The intrusive thoughts stop momentarily when I go into a different zone. I have control when I make the effort.
Today, I tried something different. Normally, I hop on the treadmill, watch the news, and check my phone. This time I used the virtual trail selection instead of the television. The virtual trail is a neat feature because it simulates walking outside by displaying beautiful scenery and automatically changing the incline based on the landscape. I blared classical music, even though it didn’t match my pace. I soon found myself in an almost meditative state that brought forward bottled up emotion that I can’t explain. I had tears in my eyes from feelings that I cannot articulate. They came from nowhere and everywhere. That soon passed and I felt elated and thankful for my life exactly as it is. I worked through something that I am completely unable to express and came out the other side joyful.
Life has a way of giving us exactly what we need at exactly the right time.