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Steve Pavlina on Training Your Brain

Brain-Lifting-WeightThis is one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time on brain management. It works every time.

How to Train Your Brain for Better Performance by Steve Pavlina

One of the biggest problems I see people suffering from is that they waste their precious brainpower on thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that cannot possibly help them move closer to their desires.

Worrying is a waste of resources. Depression is a waste of resources. Making excuses is a waste of resources. People know this, yet they still invest their brainpower in these pointless patterns.

I think the main reason is that these people haven’t trained their brains for good behavior. After slacking off for so many years, these brains behave like untrained dogs, peeing on the carpet and chewing up the furniture. And their owners allow that to continue. Consequently, they suffer for it — in their finances, their relationships, their health, etc. An untrained brain frequently delivers weak results. Who’s responsible for this? The owner, of course.

When you catch your brain doing something you don’t consciously like, such as worrying needlessly, do you let it continue? That’s a mistake unless you want to encourage more of the same. Since worrying is largely pointless and unproductive, it makes more sense to tell your brain know that this behavior is unacceptable, and immediately set it going in a different direction.

You can start by getting your brain’s attention and telling it to stop. When you catch your brain doing something you dislike, I encourage you to actually say aloud:

No, you don’t do that. That’s wrong. Cut that out immediately.

Then quickly instruct your brain on what you want it to do instead:

Drop the circular thinking. We have a problem to solve here, so solve it in a way that satisfies me. Here are the constraints. … Here’s what we know so far about the desired outcome. … Now apply your best efforts to compute an optimal or near-optimal solution. I know you’re brilliant. That’s a given. Put those 100 billion neurons to good use, and devise a solution to this challenge that satisfies my criteria. Go work on that now, and bring it to my conscious attention when you have something worthy of presenting.

You’d be surprised at how well this works.

If your brain is wasting its energy on worry, fear, anger, loneliness, circular thinking, or distraction, perhaps you haven’t given your subconscious mind a problem or task worthy of its status. After all, it’s an amazingly powerful supercomputer. Your brain craves a good challenge. It’s well adapted for creative problem solving. So give it a respectable conundrum to chew on behind the scenes. Put those 100 billion neurons to good use. Otherwise, don’t be surprised if it behaves like a dog that’s been ignored for too long, doing whatever it can to get your attention.

You may not be able to consciously control your brain at all times, but you can definitely take charge of it on certain occasions, such as when you catch it doing something self-destructive.

Don’t let a poorly trained brain chew up your mental furniture. When it misbehaves, give it some tough love. Be firm with it. Don’t just beat it up for failing to satisfy you. Then tell your brain—as clearly as possible—what you want it to do instead. Train it for good behavior.

A well-trained brain is like a well-trained dog. Instead of fighting with your brain or getting frustrated with its erratic behavior, you can relax, enjoy, and appreciate its presence in your life. You can receive its gifts.

Keep the training going. When your brain presents a solution to a problem, give it feedback. Did it satisfy your criteria? Did it come up with an intelligent option for you?

When your brain comes up with an intelligent solution that you really like, lavish praise on it. Say to it:

Wow! That’s brilliant. I love this. You did a great job! This is EXACTLY what I wanted to see. You’re good, you!

Do this to such a degree that you feel some positive emotions. Reward your brain for doing what you consciously want it to do. Brilliant! Nicely done! You did it!

What has your brain computed for you recently? Do you praise it when it does a good job? Or do you take it for granted? What happens when you take another person for granted? Don’t they become lazier and more rebellious? Is that how your brain has been behaving lately?

What if your brain doesn’t perform as well as you would have liked? Tell it what it did right and what it did wrong and how you’d like it to adjust. Send it back to rework its solution. Say something like this:

No, you came up with another idea that could earn us $X. I already know that you know how to do that. I asked you to identify a $5X opportunity. I don’t see how this one is going to accomplish that. Find a way to earn $5X in one chunk. One project. One idea. I know we haven’t done that before, but I believe you’re smart enough to figure it out. We know it’s possible, so there must be a way to do it. If you have to replace some old limiting beliefs to accomplish this, you have permission to do that. But you don’t have permission to violate my values. Your solution must still be honest, honorable, and ethical no matter what. Now go figure this out. I know you can do it.

Keep your brain busy solving problems that align with your goals. Your brain loves this. A challenge lights it up. It’s very good at this. But you must train and reward it properly.

It may seem a little strange to relate to your brain as a separate entity that you must train to perform better, but is this really so strange? Athletes treat their muscles as entities to be trained, and that approach works well for them. Would you rather be a mental athlete with a well-trained brain… or a mental couch potato with an untrained one?

In the past I used to expend a lot of effort trying to solve problems consciously. Now my approach is more like a co-creative partnership between my conscious mind and my subconscious. I delegate many tasks to my subconscious mind these days, including writing. My conscious mind is normally very relaxed while I’m writing. My subconscious basically communicates directly with my fingers, telling them what to type. I don’t always know what words and sentences are about to show up on the screen. Sometimes my conscious mind feels more like it’s reading than writing. This works for me because I’ve spent years training my brain to write. So now I can simply tell my brain to write a new article, and it will take care of that for me while my conscious mind relaxes. It’s essentially the same idea as teaching a dog to fetch a ball; the dog chases the ball automatically because that’s what it’s been trained to do. The dog doesn’t have to think about how to do it. The dog just does it.

In your head you have this amazing supercomputer that you can assign any task or problem to, and it can compute a solution in the background, bringing it to your conscious attention when it’s done. This works for business challenges, financial challenges, social challenges, and relationship challenges.

Try this for yourself, and see how well it works for you. If you get into the habit of treating your brain like a brilliant supercomputer, albeit one that requires supervision and training, I think you’ll like the results. Your brain is surely capable of creating an abundant, happy, and fulfilling life for you.

You can have what you desire. Your brain is brilliant. Instruct it clearly and firmly. And reward and adjust its behavior as needed.


Body Thought

This appeared on Linked In and so impressed the head of Visions’ board that he sent it to all of us. I reprint it here in the hope that the sentence bolded and highlighted in red becomes a household phrase.


Deepak Chopra MD (official)Influencer

Founder, Chopra Foundation

A Better Way to Think About Your Body

March 14, 2014

Body 1
We desperately need a new model of the human body. Compliance with the standard model of prevention (moderate exercise, abstinence from alcohol and tobacco, a Mediterranean diet, and stress management) remains fitful and haphazard. Why? It’s not for lack of information but lack of motivation. A positive lifestyle requires that you comply day in and day out for decades if you want to receive the full benefit, which arrives fairly late in life. We pay for early mistakes by a decline that generally doesn’t show overt symptoms until around late middle age. It’s hard to deprive yourself today in order to reward yourself twenty or thirty years from now.

So what would it take to improve people’s motivation? I can find only one answer: reinvent the human body. The way you think about your body leads to the way you treat it. For people to shift their behavior toward self-care and heightened well-being, we don’t need just compliance with standard prevention. There also has to be a drop in our addiction to drugs and surgery as the main approaches of medicine. Over the course of history, there have been four major models of the body:

The body as a collection of Nature’s basic elements (the medieval conception of the four humors is an example).

The body as the temple of the soul.

The body as an expression of the life force (the Chinese concept of Chi is an example).

The body as a machine.

Depending on which model your culture accepted, you approached illness and wellness in different ways. A doctor might advise a patient to pray to God as opposed to taking a pill, strengthening his Chi, or correcting imbalances in the four humors. Today the body-as-machine model prevails thanks to the reductionist method of science. Machines are repaired by mechanics who tinker with its defective parts, and that’s basically what doctors do in their practice. But it’s obvious that your body isn’t a machine. Your body is alive, for one thing. It can heal itself. It’s self-organizing and self-regulating. Exercise makes it stronger, whereas a machine, if used more often, begins to wear out.

Yet the biggest flaw in the machine model, as I see it, is its rejection of the mind-body connection. When I was in medical school, no such thing existed. At most we learned about psychosomatic disorders, with the clear implication that they weren’t real, being the result of the patient’s imagination. This situation hasn’t changed much in medical school, sad to say, but the surge in alternative and integrated medicine has brought the mind-body connection to the fore. This development is so important that a fourth model of the body is being formulated as we speak: a systems model.

Body 2

In the systems model, every cell is intelligent. The body holds together through a constant stream of information that reaches every cell. Homeostasis – a state of dynamic balance – represents health. Inflammation, as yet not fully understood, represents the state of imbalance, leading to many if not most diseases. A person’s habits, attitudes, beliefs, and behavior are the key to well-being, since messages from the brain affect the whole body. The brain plays a critical role in the feedback loops that maintain homeostasis, yet at every level, down to the expression of your genes, feedback repeats the same pattern of input and output. Positive input promotes well-being; negative input impairs well-being.

-The advantages of a systems model can be summarized in a few key points:

- Self-care becomes primary care, not reliance on drugs and surgery from a doctor.

- Beliefs and attitudes assume the same status as physical input, such as food and exercise.

- Improving genetic expression is now possible, extending the benefits of positive lifestyle changes.

- Positive lifestyle changes don’t need years to show benefits but start immediately.

- Most chronic disorders become preventable through routine maintenance of the whole system. This includes heart disease and probably the vast majority of cancers.

- Mind-oriented practices like meditation improve well-being throughout the system, all the way down to the genetic level.

There is abundant and mounting evidence that all of these things are true, which means that a systems model has reality on its side, more so than the machine model. In reality your body is a process, not a thing. Well-being depends on finding your flow, in terms of a relaxed but alert mental state, a steady positive mood about your life, following the natural rhythm of rest and activity, taking realistic, practical steps to reduce stress, respecting the need for a good night’s sleep, avoiding toxins, and relying on your body’s intelligence.

It’s the last point that will radically change people’s behavior, I believe. Our basic attitude should be a reliance on the intelligence that is innate in every cell. Instead of seeing the body as a machine that, like a new car, must deteriorate over time, we should see it as a system that learns, adapts, and improves over time. In short, we need to let the body take care of us, for that is what it’s actually doing. The one thing this amazingly self-sufficient system needs from you is better input. A host of things constitute better input:

- Whatever makes you happier.

- Being more relaxed and accepting.

- Strong self-esteem, a sense of worth.

- Being of service to others, giving.

- Showing generosity of spirit.

- Loving, nurturing relationships.

- Any activity that makes you feel light in mind and body.

- Taking time to play, and having a playful attitude.

- Not stressing out other people.

- Devoting yourself to projects that have real meaning and purpose.

- Being self-aware.

- Expanding our awareness. Growing and maturing from the inside.

- Being comfortable with your inner world.

- Working through negative emotions like anger, envy, and fear.

- Self-acceptance.

- Reverence for Nature.

- Faith and a belief in a higher power, whatever that may be.

To Know the World Feel Your Body | Ask Deepak!

Courtesy of Youtube/The Chopra Well

As you can see, almost none of this is advice you will hear in a doctor’s office, and much of it goes far beyond standard prevention, which is based on risks. Of course it’s good to avoid risks, but thinking in terms of what can go wrong induces fear, and fear is a very poor motivator over the long run. Becoming happier and more fulfilled day by day is a much better motivator, and as you can see, a systems approach expands our conception of the body to include everything that is mentally, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually fulfilling. That’s the ultimate reason to embrace the new systems model as far as I’m concerned. Do you agree?

Photos: Kevin Russell

Deepak Chopra, MD, Founder of The Chopra Foundation, Co-Founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, coauthor of Super Brain with Rudolph Tanzi and for more information visit The Universe Within.

By My Self

A beloved apprentice gave me this idea for a Seed at the perfect time. I was just about to begin writing them again.

She’d given herself an upgrade from having to do things “all alone” to doing things “by my self,” and she felt pleased and confident that she both could and would stand by her self no matter what.

Aloneness has all sorts of fraught meanings in our civilization these days, but the idea that we could know that we will stand by our selves, that we can count on our selves, that we are worth standing by is a good one for us to remember as grown-ups, and for us to instill in our children.

There is always a witness self that will stand by and witness your experience. It’s the space between the in-breath and the out-breath. That’s one standing by. Another is that we can stand by our own beliefs, ideas, feelings.

Knowing that your self is standing by is to know that you are trustworthy, beloved.

Seeds XVI, 12