Ring The Bell

No matter how smart you are, big parts of your brain are very, very dumb.

I’ve generally found that people don’t like to admit this. People think of anything that happens in the brain as “part of intelligence,” and people absolutely equate intelligence with moral worth. So if your leg kicks automatically when the doctor hits it with a tiny hammer, we think “huh, neat.” But when an equally-reflexive stimulus-response happens within our emotional or mental state, we get super mad, defensive, and offended. “There’s no way my sadness could be caused by something as simple as bad food and darkness because I’m an evolved and intelligent and logical person! My sadness must be because I have very legitimate and complicated reasons to be sad!” Eat some broccoli and go outside, ya Morlock.

The point is, it’s as silly to try to overcome this with logic and willpower as it is to try to use logic and willpower to stop bleeding when you get cut. Just do what your stupid brain wants and it’ll give you everything you could ever desire.

In sales offices, there’s an old tradition of “ringing the bell” when you make a big sale. Lots of offices still do it – you ring a literal bell or hit a gong or something when you close on a house sale or get a big contract signed. Here’s the thing though: that salesperson is already going to get many other rewards – heck, they’re going to get paid. They’re going to get accolades at the next sales meeting. They’re going to get promoted. So why do they need to hear a loud, fun noise?

Because your dumb monkey brain can’t associate a thing you just did that it doesn’t fully understand with a paycheck you’ll get in two weeks or a promotion you’ll get in two years. Your dumb monkey brain needs a big happy noise to make it realize it did a big happy thing.

You might not like that, but if you just go ring the stupid bell, you will feel happier. You will be less anxious the rest of the day. You will feel proud. You will even feel motivated tomorrow – and every other time you hear someone else ring that bell. Oooh, someone in your tribe made the big happy noise! Hooray!

Just because parts of your brain are dumb doesn’t mean you’re dumb. Your brain responding in this way to the bell isn’t some sign that you’re no more intelligent than Pavlov’s dogs. It just means that your very smart, very logical, very awesome higher consciousness is housed inside an evolved machine, and that evolved machine is made of reflexes. Thank goodness! Most of those reflexes automate systems of response that keep you alive; you’d be dead in minutes if you had to consciously decide everything your body does.

So don’t be mad if the price for that is ringing a stupid bell every now and then. Just do it; go outside, eat vegetables, take a nap, get some exercise, and give yourself a cookie when you finish a big project. For this small of a price, the whole world is laid at your feet.

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