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Deceiving Your Own Brain for Your Own Good

April 27, 2012 by  
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We all think we know our own brains but sometimes what seems logical is the exact opposite of what our brains are pushing us to think and do.

Here is a startling truth from David DiSalvo’s book What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite that seems totally counter intuitive.

In the section of the book “Imagine Eating the Treat to Short-Circuit Food Temptations”, DiSalvo refers to the results of scientific research to show that your brain acts in ways you wouldn’t expect. “If you imagine looking at a tempting treat, your desire for it will increase. But … if you imagine eating the same treat, your desire will lessen. The reason is that to our brains, imagining an action and doing it are not to dissimilar. We can trick ourselves into feeling like we’ve already enjoyed the treat, leaving our brain with less reason to target the genuine article.”

In other words, we don’t need to actually experience what we are craving to satisfy the brain’s demand to act. Can you imagine just how useful this trick can be, not only to avoid food temptations but also to get though other challenges you’re struggling with? Try it next time you are faced with a desire you know you shouldn’t act on. Imagine eating every bite of that cake, buying and wearing those expensive shoes, or getting out of the car and screaming at the guy who just took your parking space. Go through the whole experience in your mind. Then once you’ve imagined it, let it go. You’ll find it incredibly easy to do so now that your brain thinks you’ve actually done what it was urging you to do.

This idea of using our brain’s odd way of working to help us when we need more inner strength and will-power is something I’ve been reading up on a lot lately. I’ll be bringing you more tips and ideas in the upcoming posts.

**If you like what you’ve read in this blog please send it on to people you know and love, to people who you think this message and information may be very helpful. There is nothing in the world that brings greater satisfaction than helping other people. Don’t you agree?

Beating Procrastination

April 20, 2012 by  
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I know I’ve been giving you a lot of suggestions lately for things I know will improve your life. The ideas seem easy enough but actually getting yourself to do these things can be tricky. Our old friend procrastination is getting in the way again.

People procrastinate for different reasons. The task may seem too difficult or you’re afraid you’ll fail or you just really don’t like doing that kind of thing. But … it’s on your to-do list because what you get out of completing the task is what you want. So, let’s focus on that.

In Neil Fiore’s book, The Now Habit, he emphasizes paying attention to our language. If you keep saying to yourself and others that you “need” to get something done or “should” be working on this or that, you make it sound like such a chore. When you say “Need” or “must”, you are essentially telling yourself that you don’t have a choice, that you are forced to do this thing. And when we don’t feel like we have choices and control, we rebel. So tell yourself “I want to do this” which mentally places you in control—you have chosen to do it. You may not like the task itself that much but in changing how you talk about it you aren’t saying you like the work but rather that you “want” the outcome. If you focus on what you want and not what you dread, it’s so much easier to do because it’s associated with something positive and desirable.

Now, if you spend a lot of time saying “I should get that done” you’re just reprimanding yourself–“You should get it done because you haven’t yet and who knows if you ever will!” This can make you depressed as you’re bound to agree with your inner voice. Nothing will get done that way.

Change it to “I want to get that done.” That adds a positive note and the sense that completing the task is something you desire. Stating our desires is usually followed up by the question “How am I going to get what I want?” so that you are more likely to figure out how and when you’ll have time to get it done. And next thing you know, you’re doing it!

So next time you’re faced with a dreaded project or looming task, just say, “Here is something I want to do and I can’t wait to get it done!” and see how much more you get accomplished and how much easier it seems to do it!

**If you like what you’ve read in this blog please send it on to people you know and love, to people who you think this message and information may be very helpful. There is nothing in the world that brings greater satisfaction than helping other people. Don’t you agree?

The Positive Activity List

April 13, 2012 by  
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We all have great wants and desires. Without them we’d have virtually no motivation to do anything. But there are a lot of hidden land mines that lie in our path just waiting for us to step on them and explode our dreams, desires, and goals. Our very wants and desires that are so important to our lives of passion can make us absolutely miserable if we don’t know what to do with ourselves.

As McGonigal states in her wonderful book The Willpower Instinct, “… desire is neither good nor bad–what matters is where we let it point us.”

We all know that frustrated desires can lead us to search out bad or negative ways to boost or otherwise change our mood—-by using drugs and/or alcohol, binge eating, or even going on a shopping spree. These all work well to increase dopamine and serotonin—those mood altering chemicals in our brain—giving us a high and one that can be addictive. These activities can too easily and too quickly become detrimental to our health, our finances, and our relationships. But what if you were able to increase these mood altering chemicals with something positive and productive, gaining a natural high and moving towards your goals at the same time?

I am sure anyone of us can come up with a few examples of positive activities and actions that will improve rather than harm our lives but let me give you some of my list. You can use these as a start or as examples for your own list. Use your positive experiences and what you want out of life to help create the ideas for your list.

Then when you feel yourself turning towards those old tried and true (and negative and harmful) options, chose something from this positive list instead. Do this diligently for at least a week and take note of how much better you feel about yourself and your life. I bet you’ll not only enjoy the activities you’ve used as substitutes but you will be much happier overall, looking back at all the positive and productive things you did.

Here is my list:

1. Work out: Just 6 or 12 minutes on the stair master, doing sit-ups and push-ups or using weights
2. Get a tennis game going
3. Write out my bests thoughts for the days
4. Read a good book
5. Listen to favorite music (create a custom playlist online)
6. Arrange a get together with family and friends
7. Get a massage
8. Hike or bike in mountains or just take a walk in the neighborhood
9. 5 to 10 minutes of meditation
10. 5 or 10 minutes of simple yoga

Now … what goes on your list?

**If you like what you’ve read in this blog please send it on to people you know and love, to people who you think this message and information may be very helpful. There is nothing in the world that brings greater satisfaction than helping other people. Don’t you agree?

Improving your Will Power

April 6, 2012 by  
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My son David gave me a great book for my 68th birthday. It’s called “The Willpower Instinct” by Kelly McGonigal, PH.D. with the sub title of “How Self-Control works, Why it Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It”. Wow that is an attention grabbing title!

Yes I know I have done a ton of preaching about the “key” or “secret” of reaching your goals–that being my concept of “B-RAM”. I discuss it at length on pages 71 through 81 of my book “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living“. But Kelly’s book ads a whole new dimension to our understanding of how the brain works and how you can program it for your own success.

Kelly discusses the advantages we gain from things like self-awareness, meditation and even 5 or 10 minutes of exercise and backs it all up with science. The ability to set great goals in your life and reach them more consistently can be gained through these methods. Your brain can even be physically changed by what you send though it. And it doesn’t matter what those goals are—anything from losing weight, to overcoming an addiction to being a better parent or making a ton of money.

Most of us think the only way our brains change is by deteriorating as we get older. But Kelly points out that over the last decade, neuroscientists have discovered that the brain stays remarkably responsive to experience. Ask your brain to do math every day, and it gets better at math. Ask your brain to worry, and it gets better at worrying. Ask your brain to concentrate, and it gets better at concentrating. “There is growing scientific evidence that you can train your brain to get better at self-control,” Kelly says.

Next week I will give you more hints and steps that you and I can take to build more will power and self-control so as to bolster our goal setting abilities.

If you like what you’ve read in this blog please send it on to people you know and love, to people who you think this message and information may be very helpful. There is nothing in the world that brings greater satisfaction than helping other people. Don’t you agree?