Early in his career, the neuroscientist Andrew Huberman worked mostly in isolation. In his lab, he kept a list of the scientists he loved and admired. “I would read that list over and over,” he said. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but this is what is called introjection.”
Introjection is the process of absorbing the qualities and ideas of others into the self. If you regularly listen to so-and-so’s podcast, Huberman explains, “the nervous system begins to ask questions like, what would so-and-so do? That’s a very real thing.”
This concept of introjection is basically what we have been doing here at Daily Dad for the last four years. We’ve been studying the the greatness of people like Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Fred Rogers, Toni Morrison, Harry Truman, and Angela Merkel. “You must linger among a limited number of master-thinkers, and digest their works,” Seneca wrote, “if you would derive ideas which shall win firm hold in your mind.”
You study something over and over, the ideas take firm hold. They are absorbed. They become muscle memory, infused into your DNA. We don’t just hear about them once, we have to return to their example, their memories, their insights, their victories and their failures, on a daily basis, looking at them from different angles until we have introjected them into our nervous system.
Marcus would later talk about how the philosopher is one with their weapon—like a boxer, more than a swordsman. A boxer just clenches their fist. A fencer has to pick something up. That’s what we need to do as parents: create a practice—get the reps—that fuses us with the ideas and qualities of the greats. That inserts those ideas and qualities into our DNA so that we too can be great.