Our body is constantly generating new cells as cells are constantly dying off and being created. When we build muscle, it is new cells being created in a way that benefits the parts of our body we need. When our tendons shrink or elongate, our cells are being created in a way to adapt to the changes. When we are not flexible, it is because we’ve told our body we don’t need to be. If we’re flexible, it’s because we kept mobility and told our body to continue to grow in a way to preserve it’s flexibility.
Another way to look at cell generation is that most of the cells that made your body when you were a kid are now replaced. That is to say that virtually all of your body is made up of cells that didn’t exist when you were a child – most cells are replaced every 7-10 years, some much more often. It’s like a wave that comes and goes – like thoughts, our bodies are impermanent and constantly changing, literally. Think about that, most cells in your body today didn’t exist just 7 years ago – in some ways you’re an entirely different person.
It’s quite clear the body acts this way – stretch everyday and you can slowly stretch further and become more flexible. Lift weights everyday and eventually it becomes easy and you add more weight to get stronger. What isn’t as clear is that the mind is exactly the same. The brain in many ways is like a muscle – the more you use it for a given task, the easier the task becomes. For example, habits are simply brain reps. At first creating a new habit is difficult just as lifting a heavy weight is difficult at first. But over time it’s easy to lift the weight, and over time the habit becomes so easy it is subconscious, meaning you do it without consciously thinking.
Learning is like resistance training for the mind – the more you actively learn, the easier it becomes to learn. This is in part because your brain gets used to the strains of learning, but also that as you learn more, the easier it is to learn more because bits and pieces of what you already know combine together.
Reading is a task that is incredibly valuable, but at first it is quite hard. In the age of infinite distractions, the only way one will read is if they schedule it into their day or have the motivation to read by realizing it’s utility. After making it a daily task, it becomes easier, and because it’s easier, you often do it more. It compounds. Habits compound.
We are purely a product of our habits. We can change, modify, create, and destroy habits as we become aware of them. Habits are also always changing based on where you live, what lifestyle you live, who you’re with, your motivation, your work, your goals, etc. It’s all part of the evolution of life – the changes we make and how we adapt to them.
By explaining life in a wave like it is, it makes it more clear the impermanence of everything in life. As I’ve written about this before, the stoics, Buddha, and many others who truly paid attention to the nature of reality, being is just a constant state of the present, a state of impermanence. By paying attention to the changes and adaptions of our mind and body, we can adjust for the things we want to adapt to and modify our behavior accordingly.
This post was inspired by a clear moment of realization of how well we as humans adapt. After all, all life is in how we live it, perceive it, and adapt to it. Adapting in the way you see fit is in large part what makes life satisfying.