Hi, everyone. Hope you’re
enjoying your Sunday morning. For those of you accustomed to
receiving Sunday With Sisson in your inbox, I wanted to give you a
heads up that the team and I are making some changes (just
technical) with the newsletter and “Sunday With Sisson” for
just a few weeks. Some of you may notice some temporary
interruption in your email delivery from MDA. It’s all part of
upgrading our systems. Unfortunately, there’s never a good time
for these things.
In the meantime, I’ll be posting “Sunday With Sisson”
letters each Sunday on the blog until we’re back to our full
mailing capacity. Enjoy, and—as always—thanks for joining me
Good morning, folks,
I’ve been thinking about our two main nervous systems: the
central nervous system and the autonomic nervous system.
Regular waking conscious experience is controlled by our central
nervous system. It’s the overseer or the director or the pilot
(even if you subscribe to the idea that this effect of
“controlling” your actions is an illusion, it feels like
But then there’s another system that lies underneath our
conscious experience—the autonomic nervous system. The ANS
regulates all the automatic and subconscious functions in the body,
like breathing, heart rate, sexual arousal, stress, fear, and
elation. These are the things we’re aware of but can’t directly
control. We experience sexual arousal but can’t just will it to
occur. It happens to us.
And our autonomic nervous system is always watching us….
Say we spend a few weeks mulling over a big decision, like
asking for a raise, quitting a job, or pursuing a new business
venture. At the end of the day, however, we decide to stay the
course and forgo the risk.
Or maybe we want to approach that attractive man or woman, but
ultimately we do not.
What is our ANS learning about us?
When you’re faced with a scary decision or situation and you
shrink, your ANS learns that you’re weak, afraid, and lesser than
the thing that scared you. Any future encounters with scary things
will be even scarier, because your ANS has adapted to your
decision. It just wants to keep you safe. If you shrunk away from
the job interview or pretty girl or hard workout, it’s going to
assume that you did so out of self-preservation. The next time you
see a girl you like or want to change your profession or get back
in the gym, it’s going to be even harder to go through with
Small decisions don’t escape the ANS either. If you pause over
the donuts in the break room for a few seconds, thinking about how
much you shouldn’t eat the maple bar, and then grab and devour
the maple bar, you just sent a very strong message to your ANS:
This guy can’t resist maple bars. He loves maple bars.
They’re probably good for him. He should eat maple bars all the
And then it gets much harder to resist the maple bar in the
What if we could reframe our decisions this way? What if, for
this week, we could see each choice, each temptation, each
opportunity as a means to calibrate our ANS. I wonder what the
payoff could be if we chose to invest in a new psychological set
point. We’re always one decision away from claiming a bolder
version of ourselves.
Enjoy your Sunday, everybody.
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