What’s Stopping You: Your Genetics or Environment?

There has been a long-standing debate regarding nature vs. nurture in the field of science. Today, we’re going to bring entirely new context to the topic.

 Science’s: Nature Versus Nurture

When we say nature vs. nurture, science interchanges the phrase as genetics vs. environment. In summation, the debate refers to whether genetics or environmental influences have a more profound effect on early human development. This early human development not only includes physical traits but, our behavioral traits as well which is where the conflict of interest comes. It poses the question, “Does our surrounding environment supersede our genetics?” Now, this can be interpreted in many different ways but let’s relate this to our motivations, health, and wellness.

 Extrinsic versus Intrinsic Environment

We talked about the differences in our extrinsic and intrinsic motivations last week (click here) and how they influence our purpose in life. More and more in this day in age, we hear everyone speak about, “You are the environment you surround yourself in.” To an extent, our extrinsic environments hold considerable power in influencing our decision-making and outcomes. However, just as in our discussion of our intrinsic motivation holding more power than our extrinsic motivation, this also relates to the intrinsic environment we create. Now, our genetics certainly have a considerable impact on brain development. However, in today’s society, there are a plethora of influences that have the ability to alter our brain including drugs, exercise, and of course ENVIRONMENT. Drugs can fall into the category of prescribed drugs or nootropics which compounds/supplements used to enhance cognitive performance. Exercise sparks neurogenesis (new brain cell formation), neuroplasticity (experiences that reorganize neural pathways in the brain), and increase in growth factors such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Surrounding ourselves in a positive environment usually creates positive emotions and feelings that promote happiness. Now defining a positive environment and happiness is totally personal which is a key concept that we must all continue to promote. Happiness for one person is definitely not the same for the next. In this case, we must continue to improve on immersing ourselves in others’ environments and creating an understanding of one another to promote healthier, encouraging environments for all. Having positive, encouraging extrinsic motivations, allows us to build strong, impenetrable intrinsic environments sparked by our intrinsic motivations. Example? Say you join a dance studio, fitness class, or band. As we grow and develop in our pursuits through struggle and pain, we soon realize we create “little families.” These are the people we see, talk, and connect with everyday all in the hopes of fulfilling a common purpose. Just like we discussed in last week’s post (click here), it is 1000% okay to have more than one purpose. Whoever, tells you differently, wants you to settle. Further, it is totally okay to refine your purpose and prioritize your purposes for whatever reason you decide. WE ARE NOT CONFINED TO ONE WAY OF THOUGHT OR METHOD. This includes the information we take from social media which we will discuss below. Let's allow our environments to enhance and inspire our pursuit of happiness.

 Social Media’s Effect On Our Environment

Let's be honest here. A considerable amount of the information that we consume is through social media which has increased our access to create, debate, and share. Some of us theme our online profiles, while some have profiles just for fun. Regardless, our discussion applies both ways. In regards to fitness and health specifically, there is a VAST and I mean a VAST amount of information on social media regarding the right and wrong way to do things. However, the issue resides in our ability to accurately measure the consistency at which information is tested. Therefore, much of our reliance comes from anecdotal evidence from our favorite fitfluencers or trusted Instagrammers. One of the other issues with the health and fitness information on social media is that it does not account for genetics. Why does this matter? No matter what we do, there are genetic influences that construct our physical body composition. We HAVE to remember that and not get defeated when we don’t “measure up” to the next person. Of course, it is a lot easier said than done. But, let’s remember one thing. When we are viewing these posts regarding health and fitness, what is their purpose? Are they selling you a product? Are they showing you their failures? Are they remaining transparent? Of course, everything will look great in plain sight, however, if their purpose is not aligning with yours, then keep searching. There are plenty of amazing people in social media producing content to educate and teach rather than sell and come up. Some of these influences include Stefi Cohen, Brendan Tietz, Brett Contreas, Angelo Fortino, Brad Schoenfeld, and Jeff Nippard. Now yes, some of my favorite influencers will have products and services, however, the transparency is clear, the information is real, AND THEY ACTUALLY RESPOND AND ENGAGE! Authentic and genuine engagement is rare to find in social media these days, however, the above definitely does not disappoint.

 Pushing Beyond Failure

Lastly, let’s remember, CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL. I consistently beat myself up over keeping this phrase lingering in my head because I have a hard time letting others’ down and dealing with disapproval. It is definitely a constant battle as I reflect and reevaluate my successes and failures. While yes, I did not have the stats (GPA, test scores, extra-curricular activities, etc.) to get into medical school, it is still not a dream I am willing to give up on. I told myself, this year is a year of being transparent and brutally honest with myself. What have I learned from this? I don’t have to be perfect, I don’t have to get everything right, and I have to be okay with falling down. I have to still get my ass back up and fight. I do not have to be better than the next person or compare myself to anyone else. It is all about being better than yesterday, better than the person I saw in the mirror when I woke up in the morning versus the person I see in the mirror at night. I am in competition with myself. This locks me in on my intrinsic focus keeps me zoned in. Now, dealing with failure is never an easy task. I am not saying we fall and instantly get back up. But, when on the ground, we better sure as hell remember what is in the environment around us and lock that in memory. That’s how we build resiliency, that’s how we build grit. That’s how we get #BETTERTOGETHER!