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Chimp Paradox Summary

Chimp Paradox

SUMMARY OF Dr Steven Peters ‘The Chimp Paradox’ To be honest this is more like a reference book as it is jam packed with great and useful content. I could have written something about every page, but to keep this summary to a reasonable length I’ll cover the main points as they spoke to me – the rest you’ll have to read yourself by getting a copy (I urge you).

Dr Steven Peters states we operate using three main aspects of our brain; the ancient chimp brain, the modern human brain and the computer brain.The Chimp utilises emotional thinking designed for survival whereas the Human utilises rational thinking designed for society and communal living.

The Computer brain is set to do automatic functions. The Chimp can be your best friend or your worst enemy – that is the Chimp Paradox. If you consider your Chimp as a child that has little staying power, easily distracted, undisciplined,disorganised, and constantly craving instant rewards, then you won’t go far wrong.

The Chimp… acts on instincts which just require the right stimulus or trigger (fight, flight or freeze), unfortunately in modern society we need more subtle and sophisticated responses. Imagine walking into a room full of strangers – which of the above responses feels most like you? The Chimp wants you to decide quickly because the ancient brain needs to evaluate if there is danger (physically or to status) and if you don’t – it releases adrenalin to force the issue. If you still don’t decide the adrenalin rush causes feelings of anxiety.

The Human… must make a decision or rationale to reassure the Chimp and calm it down. Our Chimp also has powerful natural drives and are very difficult to resist and don’t require triggers. Sex, dominance, food, security, parental, territorial and belonging are the most prevalent. Ther Human operational features include honesty, compassion, conscience, law abiding, self control, purpose and achievement etc.

Being able to manage your Chimp impulses is a determining factor in whether you will be successful. The main drive for the Human is purpose, without it we lack direction. You can understand which mode you’re in by asking: “Do I want these feelings / these thoughts?” etc. If the answer is “No” then the Chimp is hijacking you, if the answer is “Yes” you are in Human mode.

A clear sign the Chimp is in charge is if your questions start “But what if…” Unless the sentence ends with something rational so that you can make appropriate plans. Chimps operate on “How do I feel right now?” and Humans operate on “How will I feel later?”

Nurture the Chimp by meeting its needs for security, territory etc. then it will be easier to manage. To manage the Chimp effectively either exercise it, let it rant or box it by using logic and truth to reason with it, or feed it as distraction/reward. Being influenced by the Chimp is acceptable per se, but we must allow the Human to take over when appropriate. Remember the Human isn’t always right and the Chimp isn’t always wrong.

The computer aspect is where all data is stored, our perspective on the meaning of a situation depends on whether the Chimp or the Human uploaded it. This creates respective associations. We can use our values base to placate the Chimp – EG: when I crave milk chocolate I can revert to the fact that I have chosen to be vegan – I don’t eat milk, therefore eating milk chocolate would not fit with my values. We can use the Chimp’s urges to belong for example by saying: WE don’t do that – when we want to overcome a behaviour.

So how do we know who the real ‘me’ is?

One way to find out who you really are is to write a list of all the things you’d like to be, EG: calm, confident, kind, considerate etc. This list describes who you actually are. Before engaging in an important discussion ensure the four corners of communication are in place.

They are: 1. the right time, 2. right place, 3. right agenda and 4. right way – these corners are arranged around talking to the right person. Remember the very words we use can cause chemical reactions in our brains AND the brains of those that are listening. Be careful with your words. For example using the word ‘should’ can create levels of expectation which can cause anxiety in ourselves and others. Switching it to ‘could’ alters the meaning of the communication making it more like an opportunity.

Of course there are bone fide situations to use both should and could. The Human needs purpose in life so start each day by having goals – small ones to achieve by the end of the day, medium goals that are steps along the path to bigger achievements and big goals that lift you up, bring you joy and make you get out of bed each morning.

Instant Stress Strategy – You can recognise this by noticing you are having feelings you don’t like. Create autopilots that the Chimp can rely on as the Chimp will be reacting to stress first EG: use a cue word like ‘Change’ to acknowledge you are feeling stress and that you want your Human to step in – say the cue word out loud as soon as you notice you’re stressed.

Have a mental ‘pause’ button and press it to slow your thinking down so you can allow the Human brain to work. Notice that you are stressed and whether your default is Fight, Flight or Freeze – then you know how to adapt your behaviour accordingly.

There are three sources of stress: #1 You, #2 Others, #3 Circumstances – identify which is causing your present stress (it could be one or more of the above contributing), and then create strategies to deal with them.

Dreams v. Goals – A dream is something that ‘might’ happen (face the fact that it also might not). A goal is something that you can ‘make’ happen. So set goals that move you towards your dream incrementally. Divide the goals into ‘target’ goals – those which you will strive to achieve, and ‘maintenance’ goals – those which once achieved you must maintain.

A good visual metaphor is to imagine each goal is like climbing a mountain – the goal is the top. Then start by figuring out how you get to base camp. What resources, tools, help, skills etc. Then do the same for each of the major steps up the mountain until the goal is reached. Keep a visual representation of your progress to help motivate yourself and your Chimp.

Of course you first have to identify your dream first – and make it BIG.

Learning from mistakes – When reviewing a mistake the Human always starts with themselves, what did ‘I’ do wrong? What could ‘I’ do better next time? The Chimp always starts with blaming others or circumstances or both.

Confidence – The best way to be supremely confident is to base your confidence not on what you think you can achieve but rather on your ability to do your best. This way you can deal with failure and move on because you can’t do better than your best.

In a nutshell to have a successful, happy life we must learn to control the Chimp within us most of the time, allowing them to be in control only in those rare circustances where they are best suited. Our Human and our Computer must be taught to do the heavy lifting.

And remember your Chimp brings every emotion to your world, it can be your best friend and your worst enemy and that is the Chimp Paradox.

Enjoy

Stu

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Jim Carrey: Funny and inspiring

Full Speech: Jim Carrey’s Commencement Address at the 2014 MUM Graduation

When you have half hour to spare, while you’re washing the dishes or doing the ironing, give this a listen. Jim talks a lot of sense to this graduation year and wraps it up in his own inimitable humour.

Enjoy

Stu

🙂

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What’s possible for you this year?

 

Goals for 2016

Can you make it possible?

Hi there,

So another year begins. Will it be your year? Do you still believe you can achieve your goals?

Like everyone else I sometimes doubt whether I can achieve my goals. So this New Year I am going to make the word ‘possible‘ my default word. Whenever I doubt myself I will remind myself that I decide what’s possible in my life.

I set myself a 5 year plan half way through 2015, which gives me 4.5 years to achieve it.

How am I doing so far? Well, I’ve been sharpening my saw and now it’s time to start cutting the tree.

I am determined, and I am resourceful, so I believe I can make it possible.

What about you?

Today I sent out the first of my new Ponders to my Ponders Group and asked them what their own default word will be this year. If you want to share – tell me your default word in the comments below.

Enjoy

Stu

🙂

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What if…

if you....png

Here are some questions you might ask yourself:

Have I loved enough?

Did I tell those that I love that I love them?

Have I achieved what I wanted?

Did I discover and work on my purpose in life?

Have I been to the places I wanted to see?

Did I have as much fun as I could have?

Have I seen the people I love most as much as I could have?

Did I do things that mattered?

Have I done what I wanted enough?

Did I laugh as much as I could have?

Have I enjoyed my work?

Did I forgive those that wronged me?

Have I apologised to those I wronged?

Consider what you might ask yourself and add them in the comments. Then ask yourself this: If this isn’t my last day, what shall I do with it?

Enjoy

Stu

🙂

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Hiya,

When was the last time you stopped and really evaluated where you are headed and why?

It’s possible things have changed since you set yourself on your present course.

Maybe it’s time for a course correction, a deviation onto a slightly different path. Maybe an about turn altogether.

How will you know?

Enjoy

Stu

🙂

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How would you answer: ‘What do I need to stop doing?’

Hiya,

Some things will spring to mind immediately – drinking, smoking, eating fatty foods etc. But other things may require some consideration.

Procrastinating, distractability, negative thinking, blaming, judging, laziness and a million others.

Give it some thought and you’ll identify those things that you know you need to stop. Discern if these traits are interfering with your level of fulfilment, happiness and satisfaction in life. You’ll find they are. Now decide to stop them one by one.

It’ll take effort – everything worthwhile does.

Believe me I have plenty of these. I’m working on them but every day requires effort. Some days I find myself slipping back but I take a breath, recognise what I’m doing – then stop.

Sometimes my wife Em helps me recognise them. (If you know what I mean!)  😉

So, what do You need to stop doing?

Strive to thrive

Stu

🙂

PS: This is page 283 of my book ‘How To Change Your Life One Day At A Time‘ still available from Amazon right here: CLICK HERE FOR PAPERBACK

And Kindle right here: CLICK HERE FOR KINDLE COPY

 

Change Your Mindset,                        CLICK HERE

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Take the opportunity today to thank everybody from your past because of where you are today and where you will be tomorrow.

Photo of blossom on a tree

Every season has it’s time

Hiya,

You do realise that everything that has ever happened to you, good or bad, has brought you to where you are today.

You may be in a great place right now, so think if any tiny little thing in your past were different it would have changed your trajectory and you may well be in a very different place right now rather than where you are.

All those not so good places were necessary in order for you to be here.

If you’re not in such a great place just realise that you are in one of those not so good places that will lead you to the great place later. So appreciate it for what it is.

Why only appreciate it later? Thank everything and everybody from your past for helping to get you here. Thank ‘here’ for being part of the journey that’s going to get you ‘there’ in the future.

And always remember… in the depths of winter the blossom is waiting to bloom.

Who will you thank, and for what?

Enjoy

Stu

🙂

PS: This is p.358 of my book ‘How To Change Your Life One Day At A Time‘.

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