[Image Source: J Brew]
Negative experiences such as long-term stress shrink your brain. Positive and new experiences cause it to grow. You can in fact, attract more of what you want, simply by thinking about it.
These are the concepts that led me into further tertiary studies in psychology. I was fascinated by the brain and the mind, and how they both worked.
I remember having a conversation with a guy I used to go to school with. We were in our twenties and talking about memories from about the age of ten. There was one instance in particular over which we were reminiscing. I remember being completely dumbfounded as he described his perspective of that event. It was completely opposite to that of mine. I couldn’t believe it. How could he remember the exact same thing in such a different way? I know he probably had the same thoughts about my perspective.
The way the mind works like this really intrigues me.
The human mind is wired based on our own unique experiences. It’s as unique as your fingerprint and a trillion times more complex.
The brain is changing constantly, taking in new information and using that information to guide you in your thoughts, feelings and actions. The way you are is the result of the way in which you’ve learned the world works throughout the entirety of your life. Making a change in your life requires changing your habits. Changing your habits requires challenging your deeply entrenched beliefs, values and attitudes.
Changing habits is hard but as we know from the growing number of research studies about the plasticity of the brain, not impossible. It’s actually quite easy. The brain can rewire itself in 4-6 weeks. It just takes work. The simpler the changes however, the more effective.
How to Wire Your Brain for Success
- Think about it
Think about what you want. Whether it’s a stronger body or more money, your mind can’t distinguish between real and imagined. When you simply think about an outcome, the neural pathways activate in the same way as if you were to perform the actions for real. This demonstrates how valuable visualisation is as a tool. Your mind will seek out what you focus on. Focus on what you want and your mind will look for opportunities to bring that to fruition.
- Express gratitude
One of the more simple things you can do to wire your brain for success is to express gratitude. People who express gratitude experience more positive experiences throughout the day. Consciously acknowledge what you’re grateful for every morning and every evening. At the same time, frame your day by setting your intentions for the day and why you deserve it. Conclude your day by thanking yourself for another awesome day.
- Breathe deeply
Rich Roll recently interviewed a Dutch guy by the name of Wim Hof on his podcast, ‘The Rich Roll Podcast’. Wim has achieved incredible things and a lot of what he’s achieved can be attributed to deep breathing. Many people go through the day without having to breathe very deeply. Breathing deeply however, oxygenates your brain. Every time you think about it, consciously take three to five deep breaths. To prevent yourself from feeling light headed, take thirty seconds between every deep breath. The deep breaths will provide your brain with more oxygen, energising you and helping you to think more clearly.
- Take regular breaks
High level thinking uses an increased amount of nutrients and oxygen. Stress also clouds the brain and creates a cyclic pattern of unproductive thinking. Take regular breaks of ten to twenty minutes. This will lessen the blood flow, nerve transmission and metabolic processes within the brain. By clearing the brain of unnecessary activity, you can be more clear and productive in your thinking.
- Play brain games
Playing brain games challenges your brain, causing it to grow. This is the same as strengthening your body to grow your muscles. Challenging your brain makes it more adaptable and creative. Brain exercises challenge your brain to think differently, which helps it to grow new neurons and create more neural connections. The more you challenge your brain with new and contrasting experiences the more easily it can solve problems.
- Be optimistic
Arguably the most important feeling in life is hope. Without hope life becomes very bleak. When hope is joined by optimism, success often ensues. Dr Martin E.P. Seligman states that optimism can be learned by creating more empowering beliefs about the events in your life. He refers to using the three P’s - Permanence, Pervasiveness and Personalisation as a way to do this. I’ve read his book, ‘Learned Helplessness’ and it’s one of the most powerful personal development books I’ve ever read. As Shakespeare said, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”.
The brain shrinks and grows with your experiences. Negative experiences like long-term stress shrink your brain, while positive experiences, such as gratitude and a positive mindset, help new neurons to grow and more connections to develop.
What will you do right now to wire your brain for success?
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