The human mind is incredibly powerful. This power can be used to our benefit or to our detriment. This is why I believe feedback loops is such an important concept. When our minds are working right, things are great. We’re happy, productive, energetic, the world is ours to conquer. When our minds aren’t working with us though, bad things can happen. Depression, hopelessness, stagnation, or worse. One of the main problems with these states as I’m sure we all know is that they feel like a vicious cycle. That cycle is what I see as the negative feedback loop. The best way I’ve found to combat negative feedback loops is with positive ones.
Here’s a list of 10 ideas on how to jump start positive feedback loops:
- Exercise. Exercise is a great way to snap yourself out of a depression. Finding an activity that you enjoy can make a huge difference. Often times we hear exercise, we think running and weight lifting. But there are all sorts of interesting hobbies that are great exercise. Exercise is the most beneficial habit I’ve ever formed. The positive effects on mood as well as benefits in other areas (look better, gained confidence, more physically capable – the list goes on) is second to none.
Some ideas: Workout classes, biking, hiking, jogging, rock climbing (my favorite), kayaking, softball, basketball, yoga, etc.
- Positive mental framing. Life is all about perception. When you’re depressed, it’s easy to see the negative in everything. When you’re happy and things are going well, it’s easy to see the positive in everything. The reality of it is that in every situation we have a choice. It’s not the easiest thing to do and it requires practice, but it is possible. We can choose to focus on the things that we can control and make an effort to see the positive side of situations. With practice, we can develop this into a habit and learn to do it without even thinking.
- Micro-winning (accomplishing small tasks). The power of momentum when it comes to productivity is huge. By accomplishing tasks, we get the ball rolling and it becomes easier to tackle bigger problems. Even if the task is a simple one, it can still have positive effects of your mood.
-Ideas for basic tasks include: Chores, make your bed, clean something, tidy your desk, laundry, dishes, take out trash, mow the lawn, etc.
- Positive affirmations. Positive affirmations are phrases or mantras that you repeat to yourself. The idea is that by repeating something that you want, you can jump your brain into finding solutions to achieve it. I can’t say that they will work for everyone. However, I do believe that there are people, myself included, who can really benefit from something this simple.
- Change up routine. Changing up our routines, such as how we get to work or what we eat for breakfast, can give us a fresh perspective. Routines are very useful and valuable, but sometimes mixing it up can also be helpful.
- Meditation. “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quiet in a room alone.” -Blaise Pascal. Meditation can be a very powerful tool. Meditation is a skill that has to be practiced and slowly improved upon. The early stages of learning can feel confusing, ineffective, or just flat out wrong. Meditation can serve as very important opportunities to listen to yourself, think through difficulties and issues. In effect you become your own therapist.
Resources: Waking Up App , Headspace
- Music. Music can affect our moods and attitudes. Listening to positive or upbeat music can trigger happy emotions. This can start a positive feedback loop. It can give us a boost in creativity, energy, mood, etc. Similarly, negative or angry music can have negative feedback loop effects (doesn’t mean it will). The negative music can trigger negative thoughts which just continue to spiral. Pay attention to the role music might play on your mood
- Visualization. Visualization can be described as a sort of meditation, where the goal is to use your imagination to visualize or practice. Top performers have been using this technique for decades. Understand that visualization is a real tool that can provide real results.
- Smile. The simple act of smiling can trigger positive feelings and help jump start the positive feedback loop.
- Breathing. Learning and practicing basic breathing exercises can have a variety of benefits including: stress reduction, anxiety reduction, and general calming effects. It can serve as a mental reset which forces us to be present and can help us switch from a negative to positive mindset.
Feedback loops tend to be tied to our mindset and lifestyle. If you’re living life in such a way that negative feedback loops are started and reinforced constantly, tackling those issues will be crucial to long term progress. One step at a time work on doing the things you know you need to do.
I hope this article was useful. If you have any other techniques you’d like to share or any questions, let me know!