on-going mostly unedited stream of thoughts

Disobeying the lizard brain

I am the happiest when I feel fulfilled.

Since I seem to have such a great sense of self-awareness, my life should be all meaningful and zen right? Well, the brain does not work that way apparently. I think we spend a lifetime fighting instincts that have been hard-wired into our DNA for the sake of survival, along with all the traumatic experiences accumulated while growing up.

Survive, the lizard brain says, forgetting that we’re now living in the 21st century where we will not die tomorrow if we eat less carbs. Seek comfort and security, I am told, well to be fair, not only from my lizard brain, but by the Asian society I belong to as well. This advice has been dished out to me on such a consistent basis that it seems to be my default mechanism even if on an intellectual level I know what is truly good for me.

It is fascinating, the human brain. We think we learn from past experiences but we sort of don’t. All my past experiences have been nothing but conclusive that I decay when I pursue comfort and security, but like an addiction or a genetic impulse, I continue to gravitate towards it unconsciously. I thrive on new experiences, adventure, rollercoasters, I am at my happiest, most alive, most creative when I am engaged with life, therefore my choices should have been on automatic-pilot to choose the thrill instead of the safety, right?

Not really. Fighting against what has been programmed into me for the past few decades is really hard, I will be honest about that. There is this very human part of me who wants to be surrounded by my loved ones and create a nest with someone I love, lead a simple life and farm my own food. When I was a child, my life goal was to be a hermit. That is how much I desire to be away from the madness of modern society.

It is ironic that I ended up falling in love with tech, where we’re bombarded by as much noise as possible on a micro-second basis. I am constantly swinging between my love for the promise of creative empowerment brought by tech and my love for solitude and nature.

But perhaps I am starting to entertain the thought that I may not crave solitude as much as I am seeking to escape from inauthenticity. I have always believed myself to dislike human to human interaction (yes that’s probably why I prefer human-computer interaction), only to slowly realize that it isn’t human to human interaction that I dislike, but it is the inauthentic interaction that takes place in most social settings that I dislike.

My old self keeps thinking, how wonderful it would be if I could go on a long vacation, just so I can stop thinking for a while. And the moment arrived when I realized, I don’t actually like having vacations for the sake of vacations, what I really want is to have the mind space to think about things that are meaningful to me.

It suddenly occurred to me that the best vacation I can take, is to be fully immersed and engaged with work that I love. If the purpose of taking a vacation is to recharge, I find the most energy from stimulating work and conversations. I need to unwind still, but that’s because energy needs to be discharged before it can be recharged again.

Perhaps it is a fallacy of my old self that I needed to be in non-motion in order to recharge. I think that holds true if I am unable to receive the stimulation I need and instead I am charged with negative energy. That is when I need to go into recovery mode just to have a reset.

There is only so much I can do with epiphanies, real-world application into the daily grind of life is hard. I have this hypothesis that I will be a lot more energized if I can somewhat insert the right amount of stimulating activity in my day to day life, but my lizard brain keeps telling me otherwise. For years I believed I must rest a lot if I want to have random spurts of creativity, but what if that is a fallacy as well? What if creativity is not as random as most people think it is, but it is actually sustained, intelligent discipline mixed with conscious, deliberate surrendering?

Well, I am glad I am not the only one with lizard brain issues. The first step to progress is awareness, I suppose. It is amazing how much of what I think I need is not what I truly need.

I am not sure if I am going to win the battle, but I need to start somewhere. 😉

3 thoughts on “Disobeying the lizard brain”

  1. Rayfil Wong says:

    safe = boring = dead. The new economy is about human engagement + storyteller. we risk more by being safe.

  2. Usman Sheikh says:

    Love the honesty in this post Winnie! The first line got me hooked “I am the happiest when I feel fulfilled.”

    The pursuit for fulfillment requires us to have a high degree of self awareness, as you described above. At the same time to ensure that this feeling of fulfillment becomes sustainable our personal goals/aspirations need to become aligned with the work we do on a regular basis.

    In my opinion that is when a person becomes their most authentic self. Where the urge to from one thing to the next becomes far less attractive.

    I wish you the very best on your journey and if there is ever anything I could do along the way, please let me know!

  3. Visakan Veerasamy says:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *