An old Cherokee told his grandson, “My child, there are two wolves inside of every man, battling one another every day. One wolf is evil. He is weakness, inferiority, ego, laziness, and entitlement. The other is good. He is strength, hard work, self-reliance, and humility.”
The boy thought about this for a long while, then asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”
The old man replied, “The one you feed.”
The Tetris Effect
Your level of success is largely derived from how you view the world. Your brain can be rewired to focus on certain patterns. This is called the Tetris Effect. In one study, people who played the old video game Tetris for hours began to see interlocking blocks in all aspects of their life, from brick walls to cityscapes. They’d encoded that pattern in their minds through the repetition of the game.
This can happen with anything in life we focus on. If our job involves looking for mistakes, then it’s hard to break that habit when we get home. Not good, because we begin focusing on negatives and overlooking the good stuff.
The good news is that you can engrain productive, positive patterns as well. Learn to look for the good and you will see more good, including opportunities for improvement. (As a side effect, you won’t be such a bitter douche anymore.)
With our lifting and physique goals, the Tetris Effect can be very powerful. Are you scanning the world for excuses or opportunities? Are you looking to rationalize behaviors that hold you back (“I can’t squat,” “I deserve a cheat meal”) or are you looking for ways to improve your diet and training? Both can become habits. One will accelerate your progress; one will hold you back.
What is your engrained “go-to” response to a challenge? Do you automatically look for ways to overcome it? Or do you automatically fall back on looking for an excuse for why you can’t meet that challenge?
I like to think that most serious lifters do the former. We understand that on the other side of every challenge is an opportunity. We learned that in the gym and we apply it to “real life” as well. You probably know people who go the other direction. And you probably think they’re kinda pathetic and annoying. (This is probably because they’re kinda pathetic and annoying, so don’t feel bad.)
Remember, because of the Tetris Effect, the things you focus on will begin to engrain themselves in your mind, changing behaviors, actions, and even your general outlook. Are you wiring yourself to see opportunities for improvement? Or are you programming yourself to find excuses?
In other words, which wolf are you feeding?