No monkeys were harmed while writing this blogpost, and I do not intend to defame any wildlife through this piece of work.

We, humans, might believe that we have come a long way from our primitive ancestors, but the truth is we all have the mind of a monkey.

Yes, the monkey mind which is trying to control every decision we make. Last night when I said I wasn’t going to play video games, but ended up doing it anyway, it was my monkey mind that made the ultimate decision for me subconsciously.

The term Monkey Mind comes from Buddhist ideology which means unsettled, restless, confused, pleasure seeking, uncontrollable mind. While we think we’re in control of every decision we make, it’s our monkey mind that holds the ultimate power of decision making.

As a result, when we should be working on important stuff, it tricks us into pursuing other pleasure seeking activities which are fun and easy. Why? Because it doesn’t want to do things that makes it uncomfortable. For it, it’s the immediate reward that matters even if the long-term consequences are catastrophic. To our pleasure-seeking monkey mind, that’s your future self’s problem.

The Akrasia Effect

The term Akrasia means lacking command and self-control or the state of acting against one’s better judgement.

For example, when you know that working out is clearly beneficial for your body and will help you lose that extra body fat, but you end up sleeping in, and eating like shit, that’s the Akrasia Effect.

As James Clear, in his book Atomic Habits, explains:

Akrasia is the state of acting against your better judgment. It is when you do one thing even though you know you should do something else. Loosely translated, you could say that akrasia is procrastination or a lack of self-control. Akrasia is what prevents you from following through on what you set out to do.

So what can we do to tame the Monkey Mind?

It’s not an easy fight against your monkey mind, but we all need to do it at some point in life.

“Shut up, she tells her monkey mind. Please shut up, you picker of nits, presser of bruises, counter of losses, fearer of failures, collector of grievances future and past.” — Leni Zumas, in her novel Red Clocks.

For starters, start making tough decisions. Start pursuing harder things which helps your push the boundaries of your comfort zone.

Always choose hard things over easy, No over Yes, Logic over Emotion, long term over short term, Right over easy, Discomfort over comfort.

It’s gonna be a long journey, and Meditation will be your greatest weapon. Keep in mind that the more you win on daily basis, the more you grow in self-confidence and self-discipline. So, go and wage a war against your monkey mind now.

May the force be with you…

Bonus: Tim Ferriss' Talk at Google on "How to cage the Monkey Mind".

Copy & Share: