Besides developing my blog, I’m also teaching myself how to code. Learning how to code is not easy and it takes a lot of time and hard work, but I think it’s worth it. I’m not doing it to be a programmer someday, but more as an intellectual challenge and to better understand what’s happening with my blog behind the scenes (technology aspect) and, most importantly, I think programming will be the best way to talk to our “servants” in the future – robots.
Writing a piece of code that does exactly what you wanted it to do is an awesome feeling. While entering a few lines of code in the code editor a few days ago, an interesting thought came to me. I’ve actually been programming for decades, just not machines to do all different useful kinds of stuff. I’ve been programming or, to be more exact, reprogramming myself: to be more productive, more efficient, wiser, happier and to ultimately make smarter decisions.
When your code is buggy
Your body is the hardware and your brain is the piece of hardware that runs the code (software). You’ve inherited and acquired your code with genes, primary and secondary socialization, through main authoritative relationships in your youth, different early life experiences, trends in your environment, culture, friends, and so on.
Most of the code (your character) that defines how you operate in your adult life was written in the first 7 years of your life.
In a healthy environment, with many healthy relationships and positive behavioral patterns, you take over lines of biological code that are positive, productive, assertive. Well, the code you inherit always has some errors, there is no perfect environment. And it’s supposed to be like that. Because errors in the code bring the desire and motivation for progress and growth. Friction drives you.
Nevertheless, there is a limit when too many errors in the environment lead to a very buggy code. If you are raised in a very toxic environment, your code can be seriously malfunctioning and damaged. That kind of a malfunctioning code leads to developing personality traits that are harmful to you and even others. It leads to things like severe negative thinking, shaping a poor life strategy, making bad life decisions, unhappiness, self-sabotage, poor relationships, and so on.
That’s what we call a negative spiral, the double knockdown of life. First you are put in a toxic environment, where you suffer for sure, and then you suffer even more in your adult life because you make bad decisions that are a result of having been raised in a toxic environment. That’s the bad news in the whole story.
But there is also some good news, of course. The good news is that you have the power to reprogram yourself, to fix the buggy code and thus change the course of your life to a more positive one.
Searching for bugs
It doesn’t take a lot of analytical effort to figure out the quality of the code that runs in your brain. Here are a few methods that can help you with such a task:
- The parents test
- Pinpointing toxic behavior
- Short-term future predictions
- The happiness index
- The life satisfaction test
- Gap to ideal self
The parents test
If you aren’t doing anything about your personal growth and personal development, you are slowly turning into your parents, especially when it comes to the things you hate about them the most; they only appear in a slightly different way. One of your parents may be financially greedy and you are intellectual greedy, for example.
The older you are, the more you realize that you’re turning into your old folks. If you don't do anything about it.
The test is very simple. Look at your parents, where they are, what they’ve achieved in their life, the quality of their code, and ask yourself if that’s what you want. You inherited many lines of code from your parents, so it’s logical that your destiny doesn’t lie far away from theirs. The more different destiny you want, the more work you’ll have to put into reprogramming yourself.
Pinpointing toxic behavior
A very good exercise for getting to know yourself better is to perform a personal SWOT analysis. You list all your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. One big segment of your weaknesses are the so-called toxic behavioral patterns. These are the behaviors that lead you to cause harm to yourself, other people and the environment in general.
Many times, we see ourselves in a much better light than we actually are, so while doing such an exercise It may help to ask other people for an honest opinion or to perform a few personality tests. Or give yourself a goal to find at least 10 toxic behavioral patterns and then rank them. If you’re out of ideas, you can help yourself with things like:
- Signs of being an emotional midget
- List of primary personality traits (positive, neutral, negative)
- List of coping strategies
- List of cognitive distortions
- Top 100 traits and behaviors of personality-disordered individuals
- List of 170+ bad habits
When you pinpoint a toxic behavioral pattern, your job is to of course rewrite it with a healthier one.
Short-term future predictions
Short-term past is a great predictor of short-term future. Take different life metrics like body fat percentage, net worth, the number of books you read etc. and analyze them for the past 3 – 9 months. Analyze the trends and where you’re headed. Are your metrics improving or not, are you advancing, declining or standing still?
If your metrics are slowly getting worse, it means that you’re running a buggy code. You’re making bad decisions and executing bad habits. The rational conclusion is that in the future, your life situation will only get worse and that it’s time that you start working on a better code. Otherwise things will only get much harder for you. Instead make sure your life metrics are improving every month, just a little bit.
The happiness index
You’re here on this planet to grow, create, enjoy life and connect with other people. If you do all four, you open the potential to real happiness.
Constantly improving yourself gives you faith in your abilities and competences, creating value gives you a sense of being valuable to the society and having an important life mission on this planet, and enjoying life is the cherry on top that makes life really worth living . And of course you can’t be happy and successful alone, you need to connect with other people, you need quality relationships in your life to really flourish.
The happier you are in general, the better core code you are running.
All that leads to real happiness in life. Under one big condition. If you were programmed to be happy. If you were not programmed to be happy, there is no relationship, achievement or material possession that could bring happiness into your life. Even if you follow the “grow, create, enjoy, connect” formula, you can be very unhappy if you’re hindered by too many cognitive distortions, high emotional lability, suboptimal thinking or any other type of weak thinking.
So if you want to be truly happy, you must first deal with your core code (kernel) and then build the right kind of actions and behavior on top of that. That leads to a simple conclusion. The happier you are in general, the better core code you are running.
There is a simple exercise that will show how good your kernel code is. All you need to do then is to figure out how happy you really are on your average day, and you will know the quality of your code. The best way to do that is to introduce the happiness index into your life.
Every day, you mark how happy you are on a scale from 1 to 10 on a chart. After doing that for a few weeks, you can quickly see your general level of happiness and the quality of the code you’re running in your brains. Everything from 8 – 10 means your kernel is running the right code, everything below 4 means that it’s supper buggy, turning you into a zombie. Even if you’re somewhere between 5 and 7, that’s not good enough for a quality and happy life.
The life satisfaction test
The happiness index shows how happy and satisfied you are with your life in general. You can do a very similar exercise, only that you dive a little bit deeper and estimate how good your code is for specific life areas. You expand the table with a few new columns and build your life-satisfaction chart.
First you draw a scale from 1 to 10 horizontally, like with the happiness index, while vertically you list the key areas of life or the areas you’ve chosen to assess. You assess every area or category of life from 1 to 10. Below, you can find an example of that kind of a life-assessment chart.
Made-up case as an example
Then there is the second step. In the second step, you take another look at all the life areas you assessed with marks 4, 5, 6 or 7. These are all the life areas where you’re averagely satisfied. But average satisfaction doesn’t tell us if you’re running good code in your brains or not. The truth is that life areas either work or they don’t, you’re either satisfied or you aren’t, there is no middle ground. You’re either super healthy or not, you either have enough of money or you lack it.
That is also known as the possibility to have only two different kinds of problems in life. You either rock or you suck in different areas of life. Therefore, in the second step you assess life areas again, but now only by using the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 8, 9, 10. You must take more time to really think about the areas you’re satisfied with and the ones you aren’t.
Then you can make a simplified conclusion to further analyze your life and its quality. For the life areas rated from 1 – 3, you’re probably running very buggy software. And for the life areas rated 8 – 10, your software is working fine or even super great.
That kind of an analysis can help you a lot with determining which parts of your brain code you have to work on the most. You often see that we only have parts and pieces of code that are broken and need an update. For example, you are doing well financially, but aren’t taking care of your health. It’s obvious where you need an update.
Gap to ideal self
The last test I call the ideal self gap. You have your actual self, who you are at this moment, and you have an ideal self, representing who you would like to become. Not many people are aware that they have an ideal self, so the best way to become aware of it in a very detailed way is to make a persona of your ideal self. Once you make that, you can easily compare your actual self to your ideal self.
In the next step, you can analyze how far your ideal self is from your actual self. How fast are you approaching your ideal self? In the past year, how many personality characteristic, behavioral patterns and competences have you changed or improved to come closer to your ideal self? The greater the gap, the more recoding you need to do. The faster you want to approach your ideal self, the faster you have to write new lines of code.
A few simple tests can very quickly tell you how much reprogramming you have to do and the quality of the code you’re running in your brain. The good news is that you can reprogram almost everything about yourself. I mean really everything. It’s impressive how you’re nothing more than a lot of lines of biological code you can rewrite. It’s often not very easy to do that, but it can be done.
I used to hate exercise, now I simply love it. There is no perfect day without doing something for my body. I am currently reprogramming myself for a better posture. It’s hard work, but I can already see the new code giving me better results.
My favorite dish used to be the Wiener Schnitzel (fried veal) with French fries. Back then I was extremely fat. Now my favorite food is broccoli. I used to hate olives and flicked them off a pizza. Now I love olives. I just forced myself a little bit to eat them for a few weeks, and then they became tasty. I now eat pizza maybe twice a year. Yes, you can even reprogram your taste.
I used to have huge problems with my temper. I reprogrammed myself to be calmer and wiser. I used to hate reading and books, even though I was an extraordinary pupil in primary school. Now I love reading, I never go to sleep without reading at least one page in a book.
In primary school, my favorite subject was math. Then I unfortunately reprogrammed myself somewhere on the way to hate math (I suppressed some negative painful experiences). Now I want to reprogram myself back to loving math again.
You can basically reprogram yourself for anything. From how your body operates to what foods you like, the habits you follow, how you think and behave, what are your emotional reactions, how happy you are in life, what kind of relationships you forge and how healthy you are, how good you are at acquiring and managing money, and everything else you can think off.
There are some limits, of course, you can’t reprogram yourself to be taller, but there are so many things you can do. All you need is a little bit of courage, motivation and awareness that you only live once, so you want to make the most out of it.
How to reprogram yourself?
The last question is, of course, how to reprogram yourself. There are many ways to reprogram yourself and new ways are constantly being invented.
From cognitive conditioning to behavioral conditioning, changing your environment and building relationships with people who have the personality traits you want, getting a mentor, strategically developing healthier habits, modeling, going to therapy, meditation, reading, cognitive reframing, refocusing your mind on gratefulness and positives, visualization, the search mode, and so on.
- If you go to the personal development track, you can find a lot of information and resources on how to reprogram yourself. Free book on how to Upgrade your mindset can also help you a lot.
Much like there is no one best programming language and one best code environment, there is also no one ultimate technique for reprograming yourself. You must test, experiment and find the ones that work best for you.
So the first way you must reprogram yourself is to keep an open mind, always try new things to see if they work well for you, and to always stay curios together with nurturing the will to constantly improve yourself.
You already are a programmer
You don’t have to learn how to code to be a programmer. And you don’t have to learn Photoshop to be a designer and user experience expert. You see, you are already a designer of your own life.
You are already running code in your brain that shapes your life strategy and consequently your destiny. Your life code and your life design dictate whether your life will be a daring adventure or nothing.
BTW, code is what runs behind a program, and the user experience and design are how you see and use the program. The same way as your brain runs the code with which you make decisions and that gives you a certain life experience and design (style, functionality etc.).
Never ever take the code in your brains as it is, especially if it’s not leading you in a positive direction. Instead become a programmer of your life and reprogram yourself to a better version.
Don’t get too frustrated in the beginning. Beginnings are the hardest. And don’t get demotivated if you fail from time to time. The new code can’t always work as you hoped it will. You usually have to rewrite your code several times (the search mode) to find the one that works best for you (your fit). For example, you may have to try several different diets to find the one that works best for you.
It’s hard, beginnings are the hardest, but it’s definitely worth it. And it can be a lot of fun. Okay, now I have to go back to improving my knowledge on coding. You know, to efficiently communicate with robots soon. Good luck with reprogramming yourself.