Friday, July 15, 2011

Instinct hacking

I used to like soda. Then at some point I started to get this rather visceral feeling of sugary fuzz on my teeth after drinking it. Also, I get canker sores sometimes, and I started to feel like soda is this acid eating away at the hole in my mouth.

I've co-opted natural feelings of disgust to adapt a healthy behavior (not drinking soda). I don't think I even did this on purpose, but it has a nice effect, so might as well not change it.

Also, after reading something like this, I started feeling similarly icky about sitting. "As soon as you sit, electrical activity in your leg muscles shuts off. Calorie burning drops to 1 per minute. Enzymes that help break down fat drop 90%." etc. Something about the image of my body shutting down vs. chugging along as usual made me want to stand more. And since then I've been standing while I work maybe 50/50.

So this all makes me wonder:
1. what else could we instinct-hack, and how?
2. is there a more widely-used term for this that I don't know?
3. how can we be sure not to hack the wrong instincts? (e.g. what if you start to associate eating with gluttony? instant anorexia.)

(why am I thinking about it now? Buddhists are cool with instinct-hacking. For example, when you're constructing a habit, you can stick with it by associating certain feelings along with it: "I don't want to leave myself blameful for violating this". It brought it to the front of my mind.)

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