Our minds are a lot like a feedback loop.
We process information from our environment, we respond to it through our actions, and then we get new information back based on the effects of those actions.
This cycle continues as we continue to adapt and change to new situations in our lives.
One key to “happiness” and “success” – however we may define those terms – is paying attention to this constant feedback as much as possible.
When we do things that get positive feedback, we should continue to do those things in the future, because we know that they work and bring desirable results.
And when we do something that gets negative feedback, we should change our course of action in hopes of getting different results.
However, some people try to ignore this feedback, or they just aren’t good at being fully aware of all the feedback they get from their lives.
I know there was a point in my life where I wasn’t paying attention to the feedback I was getting. I was stuck in my own ways. I attached to old habits and old ways of thinking because I thought they were my only options, not because they actually worked or helped me live better.
The more you pay attention to the feedback in your life, the better you can adapt and change to your life in a healthy way.
We receive feedback in a variety of forms, including (but not limited to):
- The feedback we get from our actions. Does doing that thing bring you closer to your values and goals in life or further away?
- The feedback we get from people. Are your friends, family, coworkers, or whoever responding positively or negatively to what you do and say?
- The feedback we get from our bodies. Does eating that make you feel more healthy or less healthy? Does doing that activity make you feel more fit or less fit?
- The feedback we get from our emotions. Does doing that make you feel more emotionally stable or less emotionally stable?
Everything we experience can be viewed as a type of feedback. That is – information that we receive from our environment that signals to us how to better respond to our lives.
But if we want to make the most of this feedback, then we have to exercise both awareness and honesty on a daily basis.
First, we have to pay more attention to things we normally don’t – whether it’s our emotions, habits, relationships, health, work, or whatever else it is that makes up the components of our lives.
Starting a small meditation practice is a good first step to help build more awareness to your everyday thoughts, habits, and routines.
Once you learn to harness your awareness in meditation, it becomes much easier to apply that same focused awareness to all other aspects of your life.
And in doing so, you’ll become more attuned to the various forms of feedback you get everyday.
Secondly, to make the most of your feedback, you need to be honest with yourself as much as possible.
If you always distort your feedback into something “positive” or “negative” – and you don’t actually see what the feedback is truly communicating – then you won’t be able to respond to that feedback in the most effective way.
Be more aware of your actions and be honest about their effects.
Discover more tools to daily growth in the digital guide The Science of Self Improvement