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The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian




Effort Does Not Always Have to Be a Burden

Kelvin+Noronha%0AThinking+Caps%0Aknoronha%40ucsd.edu
Kelvin Noronha Thinking Caps [email protected]
Kelvin Noronha Thinking Caps knoronha@ucsd.edu
Kelvin Noronha
Thinking Caps
[email protected]

Trips to RIMAC never fail to be brutal. Due to my butterfly-like upper body strength and feeble motivation, I end up halfheartedly wheezing through routines. I swear to myself that I will not be so stupid in the future — that the best way to avoid “the burn” and all the sweaty t-shirts is to just skip out on gym days altogether. But then two days pass, and I find myself back in the same spot, wondering why I’m putting myself through it yet again.

Of course, a little bit of this strange compulsion has to do with desire for endorphins, the pain-quenching, happiness-causing chemicals that our brains release when we exercise. But more broadly, workouts fall into that interesting category of things that I do in spite of despising them. There are a lot of similar phenomena for me. Although my room resembles a hurricane impact zone, I will find myself shockingly willing to clean it up at regular intervals. It’s not that I’m particularly fond of actually folding my clothes and vacuuming the rug. Rather, some very prescient part of me knows that the work is well worth it for the satisfaction I’ll get at the job’s end.

Although some parts of our brains are continually seeking instant reward for our efforts, wiser neurons in our decision-making frontal cortices are the ones doing the rainy-day planning. When our emotions try to get the best of us and steer us toward the dessert section, it’s the frontal cortex that slaps us on the wrist and forces us to pledge nutritional responsibility.

The same goes for many tasks that we perform on a frequent basis: biking up steep hills or eating salads. Although we might do each against our “better judgment” and loathe every second of it, it ultimately helps us, and we come to repeat the process. To a point, even studying for organic chemistry or physics for days on end can become manageable — we just need to feel a sufficient sense of accomplishment after we close the books for the day.

However, there are easier ways to end up successful. When confronted with a jaw-droppingly dislikeable task, we don’t necessarily need our frontal cortex to strong-arm us into getting it done. Despite the inherent terribleness of, say, mopping the floor, it’s still possible to turn it into a game, appealing to the impulse-driven parts of our brain. Most of my childhood chore hours involved turning cleaning tasks into glorified games of Stratego. Granted, it’s not exactly PlayStation, but most games are not objectively different from work. There’s a goal and a lot of determined effort to get there. Though either one may lead us to rage quit, those with a competitive streak can end up finding certain work to be even borderline enjoyable.

So when it comes down to the more difficult aspects of life — consuming healthy food, making the bed or going to Tuesday/Thursday classes — have faith in your brain’s ability to do the right thing; it’s got your back.

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