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December 29, 2023 6 mins

Don't believe everything you think because the mind can play tricks on you. Familiarize yourself with some of the mind's shenanigans, and you'll stop believing everything you think.

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(00:06):
Welcome to the Buddhist Boot Camp Podcast.
Our intention is to awaken, enlighten, enrich, and inspire a simple and uncomplicated life.
Discover the benefits of mindful living with your host, Timber Hawkeye.

(00:27):
Our brains are hardwired to protect us from harm, from pain, and from discomfort.
This is a great feature that all animals have, and it works like an internal alarm that
goes off when sensing danger. The problem with this built-in security system is
that it's not as highly sophisticated as you might think. While it can save us from
experiencing pain if we get too close to fire, sometimes the alarm goes off unnecessarily

(00:49):
the way a guard dog barks at an intruder but also at the mail carrier.
Our mind can't always distinguish between a real threat and a perceived one.
My old apartment had a smoke detector that beeped whenever I was cooking,
and not because anything was actually on fire.
It would have been so nice if I could simply turn it off by yelling, "I'm just making dinner!"
Familiarizing ourselves with some of the ways our mind works is great because we tend to

(01:12):
repeat the cycles we don't acknowledge.

It's like troubleshooting a car (01:15):
some issues are easy to figure out because we have
a fuel gauge, a battery indicator, and fancy cars even show the tire pressure
measurements right on the dashboard. But sometimes all we get is a Check Engine light,
which could mean any number of things. Once we know what needs to be fixed,
we are halfway to a more enjoyable ride, and the same is true with our minds:

(01:35):
if you can name it, you can tame it, and that's what this episode is about.
I don't like anyone playing tricks on me, especially my own mind, so I've been keeping
track of its sneaky little ways. You have probably heard me say before that the

best piece of advice I have ever received was (01:46):
Don't believe everything you think.
Our mind is capable of believing just about anything, especially if we
don't know what patterns to look for.
I've recorded a podcast episode before called Negativity Bias about some people's tendency
to focus on the bad aspects of any situation more than the good,
often imagining worst-case-scenarios.

(02:07):
And just the last episode included a reference to Confirmation Bias, which is
when we give more weight to information that reconfirms what we already believe
while dismissing data that contradicts it.
But those are only two examples of many of our mind's shady maneuvers,
and someone recently asked me to elaborate on why we can't trust our own thoughts,
so I figured it would be fun to explore a few more of the mind's shenanigans.

(02:29):
As I go through the list, reflect on whether you can see yourself
in any or all of these habits.
Have you ever followed a popular trend or belief simply because it was popular?
It can be something as seemingly inconsequential as favoring
one coffee shop over another, or getting a certain type of cell phone just because
everyone you know has that same one, but it can also affect the way you vote,

(02:50):
or the protests you attend, and even the food you eat. It's called the Bandwagon Effect,
and when a friend told me last week that she needs to find a husband as soon as possible
and start making babies because she's the last of her siblings to still be single,
I couldn't help but wonder if that's the life she truly wants, or if this is
the Bandwagon Effect; the adult version of peer pressure.

Similar to the Bandwagon Effect is the Authority Bias (03:09):
believing something is
true simply because an authority figure told you that it was.
The so-called authority figure can be a celebrity, a minister, a medium, or a politician.
This is why public figures are generously compensated by various companies for
endorsing their products; marketing research has proven that people will do or buy

(03:30):
just about anything if someone they admire told them to do it.
The mind and the ego are best friends for life, and their favorite game is the
Self-Serving Bias. That's when people take credit for how incredibly talented,
smart, and skilled they are when things are going well, but the moment they fail,
they blame everything and everyone but themselves. You see this a lot in sports
when athletes celebrate a win with pride, but yell at the referee if they lose a point.

(03:54):
"I won because I'm great, but I lost because you are lucky" is the mind's and the ego's
stubborn refusal to even consider that someone might be more skilled than we are.
Strangely, however, our biases are not exclusively ego-driven,
sometimes our mind can't be trusted when it comes to people we really like.
Our love for someone can make us so blind we can't imagine they would ever do anything

(04:16):
wrong, so we justify all sorts of outrageous behavior that we would otherwise
never let slide. This is appropriately called the Halo Effect, and if you have ever been in
a bad relationship, you know all about painting red flags green.
The mind is even capable of convincing you that two completely unrelated things are
somehow connected when they are not. Have you ever looked at the clock at exactly 11:11 and

(04:38):
thought to yourself it's a sign of good luck?
That's called the Illusory Correlation, and it's okay to admit that we all do it.
Once you know every little trick your mind can play, you can stay ahead of it.
You don't want to destroy it, of course, that would be like removing the batteries out of
the smoke detector altogether.
The mind is designed to run most data on autopilot because we wouldn't get

(04:59):
much done if we had to process everything anew with each occurrence.
Can you imagine if every time you smelled something, you panicked and thought,
Is that smoke? Is that fire? Is there something burning?
No... our mind knows not to sound the alarm unless and until actual smoke is detected.
Fancy, right? Now imagine having a detector for all those various forms of
favoritism, biases, and blind spots. You would stop believing everything you think,

(05:21):
and you would have a better understanding of how and why others believe what they do.
Then, you can stop trying to talk sense into someone who is blind to these shenanigans.
Which is great, because the second best piece of advice I've ever heard is to never argue
with a fool, because anyone watching would not be able to tell the difference.
If this topic fascinates you, there is a book on cognitive dissonance you might like called

(05:42):
"Mistakes were made, but not by me."
You can find it on BuddhistBootCamp.com under Recommended Books
and stop believing everything you think. Enjoy!
Timber Hawkeye is the bestselling author of Buddhist Boot Camp, Faithfully Religionless,
and The Opposite of Namaste.
For additional information, please visit BuddhistBootCamp.com,

(06:04):
where you can order autographed books to support the Prison Library Project,
watch Timber's inspiring TED Talk, and join our monthly mailing list.
We hope you have enjoyed this episode
and invite you to subscribe for more thought-provoking discussions.
Thank you for being a Soldier of Peace in the Army of Love. 🙏
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