SEAL training is the ultimate test of both mental and physical strength.
- The fact that U.S. Navy SEALs endure very rigorous training before entering the field is common knowledge, but just what happens at those facilities is less often discussed. In this video, former SEALs Brent Gleeson, David Goggins, and Eric Greitens (as well as authors Jesse Itzler and Jamie Wheal) talk about how the 18-month program is designed to build elite, disciplined operatives with immense mental toughness and resilience.
- Wheal dives into the cutting-edge technology and science that the navy uses to prepare these individuals. Itzler shares his experience meeting and briefly living with Goggins (who was also an Army Ranger) and the things he learned about pushing past perceived limits.
- Goggins dives into why you should leave your comfort zone, introduces the 40 percent rule, and explains why the biggest battle we all face is the one in our own minds. "Usually whatever's in front of you isn't as big as you make it out to be," says the SEAL turned motivational speaker. "We start to make these very small things enormous because we allow our minds to take control and go away from us. We have to regain control of our mind."
Can thinking about the past really help us create a better present and future?
- There are two types of counterfactual thinking: upward and downward.
- Both upward and downward counterfactual thinking can be positive impacts on your current outlook - however, upward counterfactual thinking has been linked with depression.
- While counterfactual thinking is a very normal and natural process, experts suggest the best course is to focus on the present and future and allow counterfactual thinking to act as a motivator when possible.
“Upward” versus “downward” counterfactual thinking<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ1NDYxOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NDM2MDY2OX0.njWs1qrV1vDBxU1V75tUduUW4TjJvEHglDWsK8ZF2l4/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C556%2C0%2C209&height=700" id="a15fa" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="98314d4d2b256ed08f42d369fe4ae080" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="concept of man thinking about the past one line drawing counterfactual thinking" />
What are upward and downward counterfactual thinking?
Image by one line man on Shutterstock<p><strong>What is upward counterfactual thinking?</strong></p><p>Upward counterfactual thinking happens when we look at a scenario and ask ourselves "what if" in terms of how our life could have turned out better. </p><p>Examples of upward counterfactual thinking are: </p><ul><li><em>"I wish I had taken that other job instead of this one 10 years ago - my life would be so much better if I had." </em></li><li><em>"I wish I would have gotten the part in that high school play, maybe I could have gotten into a theatre school and became an actor…"</em> </li></ul><p>Both of these examples have the ideology that if you had made different choices, your life right now would be improved. </p><p><strong>What is downward counterfactual thinking?</strong></p><p>Downward counterfactual thinking is, naturally, the opposite of upward counterfactual thinking in that we think about how things could have been worse if other decisions had been made. </p><p>Examples of downward counterfactual thinking are: </p><ul><li><em>"I'm so thankful I studied secondary education in university instead of psychology like I had originally planned - I love teaching high school kids and I never would have gotten to do that…" </em></li><li><em>"I'm so happy I left David when I got the chance, I can't imagine still being in an unhappy marriage with someone who doesn't support me…"</em> </li></ul><p>In these examples, we see the idea that if you had made different choices your life would not be as good as it is right now. </p>
How counterfactual thinking can impact your life<p>While many people don't see the point in "what if" scenarios, various studies have found that downward counterfactual thinking can be more associated with psychological health compared with upward counterfactual thinking. Not only that, but research has also shown upward counterfactual thinking can be linked with current and future depression.</p> <p><strong>Downward counterfactual thinking tends to be more associated with psychological health </strong></p><p>According to a <a href="http://journal.sjdm.org/jdm06136.pdf" target="_blank">2000 study</a>, downward counterfactual thinking can be linked with better psychological health compared to upward counterfactual thinking. More importantly, in cases where downward counterfactual thinking did lead to negative feelings, those feelings acted as something of a motivator for people to take productive actions to better their current situation. </p> <p><strong>Upward counterfactual thinking tends to be more associated with depression </strong></p><p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0272735816301714#:~:text=An%20upward%20counterfactual%20(as%20opposed,Markman%20and%20McMullen%2C%202003)." target="_blank">According to a 2017 study</a> that pooled a sample of over 13,000 respondents, thoughts about "better outcomes" and regret (upward counterfactual thinking) were associated with current and future depression. </p> <p><strong>Downward counterfactual thinking can actually improve your relationships and is more often engaged in by women than men.</strong></p><p>In a <a href="https://dspace.sunyconnect.suny.edu/bitstream/handle/1951/67589/Studer_Thesis.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y" target="_blank">2016 research paper submitted</a> to the Department of Psychology at the State University of New York at New Paltz, downward counterfactual thinking in regards to romantic relationships was associated with relatively positive relationship outcomes. Interestingly, women were more likely than men to engage in downward counterfactual thinking about their romantic life. </p> <p><strong>Upward counterfactual thinking can have some benefits in certain scenarios. </strong></p><p>When we look back after a failed test and think "I wish I would have studied more" - this motivates us to study harder the next time a test comes up. In this way, upward counterfactual thinking (or the negative version of "what if") can actually benefit us. </p> <p><strong>This can be difficult, though, because much of the time upward counterfactual thinking is more associated with a pessimistic outlook that can be unmotivating. </strong></p> <p>Thinking in the past tense can be motivational (and even healthy) at times, but the best thing to do is look forward. </p><p>While counterfactual thinking as a whole can be used to motivate us to make better choices or appreciate where we are in life, <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/darwins-subterranean-world/201809/the-psychology-what-if" target="_blank">this Psychology Today</a> article suggests that we should come up with ways to move on and focus on the present and the future instead of the past. Using counterfactual thinking as a motivational tool can be very helpful if we don't get stuck in the "what if" mindset that tends to pull us out of the present and back into the past, where things will always remain the same. </p>
Most people don't know what they're passionate about.
- A niche, in terms of the economy and what you do for a living, is often considered a special talent or service that speaks to you on a different, secondary level. Adam Davidson, co-founder of NPR's "Planet Money" argues that when a niche finds an audience and becomes a successful business, it evolves into its own primary economy.
- For most people, finding something you're passionate about can take a long time. The search should happen concurrently with your current job and life, not in place of them.
- It won't be easy and there will have to be sacrifices, Davidson says. But when it's something that you can't live without doing, then it is worth investing the time and effort.
Flow Research Collective COO Rian Doris explains how to harness the power of your nervous system to find your flow during a pandemic.
- Knowing the difference between healthy stress (eustress) and unhealthy stress (distress) can help you maximize your performance during difficult times.
- The Flow Research Collective helps to decode the flow states of your mind so you can live (and work) in the zone, even during a pandemic.
- COO of The Flow Research Collective, Rian Doris, explains how to find your maximum potential and harness the power of your nervous system to work for you instead of against you.
How to find your flow and maximize your performance during the COVID-19 pandemic<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzE4MDc3OC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNTc3Mzc4Mn0.jWjWzkpW5farRcGt70YCWHtcK-xkLAd_bYDwPmLvP6k/img.png?width=980" id="5bd13" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b8762aae0f21100b36ee6a7467c0ab42" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="infographic courtesy of the Flow Research Collective finding your state of flow" />
Finding your "flow channel" can help you maintain healthy stress and decrease unhealthy stress.
Image by Flow Research Collective<p><strong></strong><strong>Increasing our capacity: What we perceive as stress goes down when we become more capable of coping with stressful situations.</strong></p><p>When it comes to increasing our capacity for handling negative stress, there are a few ways we can accomplish this - most of them are what are referred to as "bottom-up approaches." </p><p>A bottom-up approach is like piecing together a puzzle made of our various systems to give a more complex and complete picture . We need to ensure all of our systems are working at optimal levels without being too overwhelmed so they can function better together. </p><p><u>Things you can do to achieve this kind of systemic functionality include: </u></p><ul><li>Movement - exercising, running, jogging, or going for a walk.</li><li>Breathing exercises that help us practice mindfulness and achieve a calm state of mind.</li><li>Hot and cold therapy or other types of sensation therapy that can get us more in tune with our bodies. </li></ul><p><strong>Decreasing the impact: Manage how stress impacts our lives so the negative impact doesn't overwhelm our systems. </strong></p><p>While decreasing the impact of <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/seven-stress-personalities" target="_self">stress</a> is important, it's certainly not an easy thing to accomplish. After all, if we could simply decrease how negative stress impacts us then it would not be so much of a problem. </p><p>Especially in unprecedented times such as when we're dealing with a pandemic, it's not as easy to shield our system from the negative impacts of chronic stress. </p><p>Cognitive reframing is essentially changing the way you look at something, and as a result, changing your experience of it. This can turn a traumatic event (such as experiencing a pandemic or a major trauma in your life) into something that can be a challenge that is eventually overcome—or it can be as simple as depicting a really bad day as a "bump in the road" in your overall happy life. </p><p>Using <a href="https://www.verywellmind.com/cognitive-reframing-for-stress-management-3144872" target="_blank">certain reframing techniques</a> can actually change how your body responds to negative stress. Your body's stress response is triggered by perceived information around that stress—change the perception, change the response. </p><p><u>The pattern to follow with cognitive reframing is: </u></p><ol><li>Learn about thinking patterns (<a href="https://www.verywellmind.com/about-explanatory-styles-3145110" target="_blank">explanatory styles</a>). </li><li>Notice your own thoughts as they come. </li><li>Challenge negative thoughts and trace them to their origins. </li><li>Replace the root negative thought with a more positive thought. </li></ol><p>Cognitive reframing takes a lot of practice but you can do this as often as you'd like in your daily life and eventually it becomes easier to stop negative thoughts before they become chronic stressors. </p><p><strong>Keep in mind the challenge/skill balance when dealing with stress.</strong></p><p>According to Doris, a flow exists in the sweet spot between challenge and skill. This flow happens when we undertake challenges or goals in life that are optimally challenging for you to complete - not too easy that it requires no effort and not too difficult that it overwhelms your system.</p><p>Keeping this challenge/skill balance in mind for things in our daily lives can help us navigate our stressors, especially during a pandemic <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/coronavirus-impact-on-economy" target="_self">such as COVID-19</a>. Anything too easy doesn't pose as a challenge and doesn't excite us. However, if the challenge is too difficult, it overwhelms us and becomes a source of unhealthy chronic stress instead of healthy eustress. </p><p><em>"The challenge level for almost everyone has been increased in a systemic way by COVID-19, which means what we should do is decrease the challenge level in our own lives and the things we have control over in order to get us back to that challenge/skill sweet spot." </em></p>
Removing the pressure of finding your "dying passion" makes it easier to connect with the "why" of your work.
- Do you know your purpose in life? If not, London Business School professor Dan Cable says that's OK. It's normal, even.
- Many people have trouble finding their purpose because the task itself is too demanding. One way to solve this problem is by connecting with the end user of your work.
- For example, Microsoft will take its teams on site to interview clients and find solutions. Programmers understand who's using their products by hearing it straight from the source, and this gives more meaning to their work.