HOW TO HIRE YOUR OWN BRAIN

One of the most interesting things about being a self-improvement writer is that your mind is always working on noticing ideas to write about. This happens subconsciously a great deal of the time. I will notice several people noticing the same issue in their lives and struggling to deal with it. Sometimes I will read something online or hear it on the news. The reason this works is scientific. It involves the use of a part of the brain called the reticular activating system or RAS. This is the part of your brain that decides what is important and what is not. I liken it to when you buy a new car or outfit and begin to see that very car or outfit everywhere. It would seem obvious that not everyone went out and bought the same thing you did, despite how charming and cool you are. It is just that our brain said “Hey we have one like that. It must be important.”

Why is it important to know that my brain is always on the lookout for great ideas and tools to share with all of you in this blog important? More to the point, how can knowing this benefit you? Glad you asked. Knowing about this phenomenon can allow you to put your subconscious mind to work for you! Once you realize the power of this, it becomes quite exciting. I go into further detail about how to do this in my latest book, Living the Dream, but will give you the abridged version here so you can begin to put it to use. If you would like to delve further into the subject, I highly suggest heading over to Amazon when you are done reading this blog and pick up a copy of that very book.

I have no idea what half of this means

Do not let this complex diagram intimidate you. I have no idea half of what they are showing us. It does show that the RAS is indeed a real part of the brain, but you do not need to know every nuance to understand how it works, or more importantly, how to put it to work for you. There are several ways to impress upon your mind what is important and what it should work on while you are busy doing more important things like binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix. The first is through repetition. An example I like to give is one that happened shortly after Margie and I started dating. I was at the grocery store and wanted to pick her up a little something to brighten her day. Here is the problem – I had no idea what the heck that would be. Although we had been shopping together several times at this point, I never paid attention to what made her smile. Every time we went shopping after that, I would tell myself “Remember to pay attention to what she likes.” It was through this I learned what kind of sugar she buys, what size of egg and things that just make her smile. I kept doing that so often that even now as my conscious brain is busy reminding her that the store does indeed close and we need to wrap up our shopping trip, my subconscious mind is still noting what brand of hot sauce she likes.

The second way to impress upon our subconscious mind what is important is by creating an emotional attachment to it. To me, being able to create a sense of happiness in the life of the woman I love creates such a sense of joy in my own life that my brain knows it is important. You can create an emotional attachment in your own mind by visualizing the end result you are pursuing. The more powerfully you do this, the more engaged the subconscious mind will become. One way to do this is by using as many senses as you can. Looking for ways to fund that next vacation? Picture the beach, but also smell the salt water, feel the ocean breeze, hear the seagulls and best of all, taste that daiquiri. Soon, you will find your mind catching ads for resorts out of the corner of your eye, or overhearing someone mention they are a travel agent.

Your subconscious mind is working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If we put it to work for us, it is like hiring a person to spend their entire day on the lookout for things that are important to us. I can tell you in the example I have used in my own life, it has paid off big time. Whether it is making up for the extremely rare times I do something upsetting in our relationship, or if it is just used to add more joy, I do so with the knowledge that my subconscious mind has gained for me. Hire your own brain today. It will be the best employee you ever have.

YOU MUST DO THESE 3 WORKOUTS TO BE SUCCESSFUL

While mowing the lawn the other day something profound occurred to me. In these blog posts I occasionally use physical fitness as an analogy to self-improvement. What occurred to me is that there are three parts to an individual and all three of these must be worked out and in top shape for us to have an amazing life. The three parts of a person are the body, the mind and the spirit or soul. To keep all of these in shape requires some of the same principles. Let us look at each one briefly to get an idea of what we may need to do.

First, let us look at the body. Depending on what shape you are in really depends on what kind of workout you need to do. Is it maintaining or getting in shape? You should spend several days a week working on your physical fitness, while at the same time allowing periods of rest and recovery. To reach your fitness goals may take months or it may take years. It always makes me chuckle how busy gyms are after the first of the year, only to be empty a month later. It would seem that people who have had an unhealthy lifestyle for years think that can be turned around after only a few workouts. Trust me, it can’t. I tried. As Jim Rohn said, “No one else can do your push ups for you.”  To achieve great physical fitness you must put in the work.  Once you achieve your desired state of physical health it is important to institute a regular maintenance routine. If we get in shape and then stop we will begin to decline.

 Next, let us look at the mind. Whether you are a sitting with a college degree or chasing your GED the principles are the same. If you haven’t dusted off the grey matter at the top of your head in a while it may be a little more difficult to get back into the habit of learning. This is very similar to working out. The worse shape you are in, the more sore your body will be when you start. A lot of us do not have intellectual goals like we do fitness goals. It is important to do so. How will you ever know if you have arrived if you do not know where you are going? When you do arrive, you must also have a regular maintenance routine just like fitness. If you think intellect doesn’t fade as fast as muscle, try opening a high school math book to realize how much you have forgotten. With intellectual fitness this can range from reading something inspiring every day, watching an instructional video or even using one of those fabulous brain fitness apps for your phone.

Finally. let us look at our spiritual health. This is the area that most of us ignore, yet is one of the most important. Think of how many celebrities you hear of that have all of the physical tools, they are accomplished in their career and then take their own lives. To be successful and unfulfilled is one of the greatest failures. Luckily, there are steps we can take to keep our spirit in shape the same as we can do for our body and our mind. Interestingly enough, these are more individual than either of the afore mentioned. What helps your soul develop and heal is as unique to you as it is to the next person. To some, it involves going to a house of worship one day a week. To others, it involves spending quality time in nature. Recently, I had a conversation with my friend Kurt. When people and life becomes overwhelming enjoys relaxing in a darkened room for several hours and taking a day to recalibrate. Personally, after often the same exposure to…shall we say the same stressors, I enjoy listening to some classical music and spending time in nature.

 We should also have a regular maintenance to keep our spirit and vibration high. You may think you do not have time for that, but as short and precious as life is, I am here to tell you that you do not have the time not to focus on that. A lot of us think that we should worry about paying the bills and then we will worry about our own happiness. As you can see from the example of celebrities above, that can lead to a tragic ending. I am all for trying to improve your situation, but I strongly suggest implementing a plan to enjoy the process and feed your spirit along the way. As I write this, Margie is having therapy shopping. I am enjoying a good cup of hot coffee. I also need to meditate regularly and sometimes just be alone and read. It allows me to enjoy the rest of my life so much more.

Focus on all three of these workouts to have a life that is completely fit and healthy. I encourage you to write down plans for your physical, intellectual and spiritual fitness today. Feel free to share what some of the items you do to keep all three of these areas healthy in the comments below.

THE GREATEST GIFT TO GIVE IN THE NEW YEAR

I am not sure why this is, but when it comes to doing anything for ourselves people have a very funny view about it. Whether that is spending quality time alone with our thoughts, needing to turn down a social invitation because we are a little burnt out, or doing something because it brings us joy, people view it as selfish. To be honest, nothing could be further from the truth. The greatest thing we can do is work on ourselves.

No matter what we are striving to do for others or the world around us, the happier and healthier we are, the more we can bring to the situation at hand. When you know people rely on you for transportation, taking care of your car doesn’t seem selfish does it? Of course not. When people are relying on your friendship, your support and encouragement should making sure you show up in the best state to help them be considered selfish? I think not. Working on your own happiness makes you a better friend, a better lover and a greater gift to those around you.

In this new year let us remember to take time out to do what makes us happy. Let us make sure the ‘Me’ we bring to the world is the healthiest, happiest more energetic ‘Me’ we can bring. If it is not, remember that it is ok to take time out for yourself. Begin today by compiling a list of things that replenish your mind, body and spirit. Make sure to not only want to do then sometimes, but to schedule at least one a week. Keep your joy and vibration up and you will be able to do the most for the world around you.

THE FIRST PLACE TO CREATE PEACE

How often have you heard that we live in a crazy, chaotic world? If you don’t hear it daily from someone you know, you can read it splashed across the television screen, on the front page of the daily newspaper and on every social media site you go on. Reading and absorbing all of this negative news can leave us feeling scared, overwhelmed or exhausted. Sometimes we can feel all three with a host of other unpleasant emotions thrown on top! What are we left to do when we have a day feeling this way?

What many of fail to lose sight of is the fact that if we have inner peace, the outside world has little, if any, impact on our life. Sounds great, but if having inner peace was so easy, how come everyone is not sitting in the park in a state of bliss. To some extent it is not our fault…exactly. We have been lied to by the media, politicians and others. We have been told that we should worry if hypothetically we have a world leader that seems determined to make enemies of friends, create a world filled with division and hate. We have been told to worry if others different than us seem to be receiving some sort of advantage. Countries are about to go to war. The price of oil is going to go through the roof. The stock market is going to fall through the floor.

The truth of all of this is that while some of it may have an impact in our life to a greater or lesser degree, it is mostly beyond our control. We can do what is in our power such as voting against that politician or writing our congressman. We can plan trips and do our best to make the most of the fuel we purchase. If we spend countless hours being upset and discussing or even worse disagreeing with our friends and coworkers about it, that will do us no good.

I have spoken at length about worrying about what you cannot control. The benefits to such actions simply are not there and the negatives abound. First of all it will create stress. Stress has been noted to be a factor in over 80% of medical conditions. In addition, stress causes you to age prematurely. In other words, you will look older and possibly experience health problems sooner. Sounding good so far? I didn’t think so.

As if compromising your health and physical appearance were not enough, lacking inner peace and worrying about and complaining about things outside of our control can affect our social life in a negative way. Almost nobody likes to be around someone who is stressed out and complaining all of the time. I said almost because the only people who seem not to mind are those who complain themselves. Not exactly the people you would want to surround yourself with.

Lastly, and in my mind most important, dwelling on what is wrong does little if anything to create solutions. It is important to note what is wrong in order to define what we would like to be happening, but dwelling on how wrong or terrible it is does us no good. Instead, it would be better to focus on how wonderful the solution would be and what steps we could take to make it happen.

To foster inner peace starting today let us focus and discuss what is beautiful and right with the world and how we can grow that. When we come across something that is not right, let us do what we can in our control to change it and focus on what would like to see. When we see someone who could use some inner peace, share with them what we learned in this article.

ASK A BETTER QUESTION

Evaluations, we all do them every day.  What is an evaluation?  It is really a question.  Was that concert good last night?  How good was the concert last night?  What does all this have to do with you and living an amazing life?  Another good question.  Here is what I hope you will find to be a good answer.  Asking yourself the proper questions can make all the difference between success and failure.  It is another way to take advantage of the way the brain works.  Let me give you an example.  I have a friend who constantly dates men who are not right for her.  After the relationship fails she always asks the same question, “how could I be so stupid?”  When your brain hears this it subconsciously goes to work on finding out why you could be so stupid and usually supplies the conscious mind with several answers.  Normally when you receive answers to questions you ask it should make you happy?  If you are always asking disempowering question like the one above, or see if you can ever remember asking yourself questions like these. “Why does this always happen to me?”  ” How come I can never get this right?” “How come I can never get ahead?” These are all perfect examples of questions that will lead you nowhere.  Start asking yourself empowering questions.  If you find yourself always dating the wrong person, ask yourself “What can I learn from this?” or one of my favorites is “What do I have to be grateful for in this situation?”.  Sometimes the little devil on your shoulder will scream “Nothing you idiot, this situation sucks!”  Even if it does, there is always something to be grateful for.  So how do we get past that little negative voice in your ear?  This is where fun things like tricking your own mind comes into play.  Ok, so I don’t feel like being grateful for anything, but if I did want to find something to be grateful/happy/optimistic about what would that be.  That way you are giving that voice room to do its thing while still focusing on the positive.  So pay attention to the questions you ask yourself. They can literally empower or disempower you.  So do yourself a favor and ask the right question.

THE POSITIVE POWER OF NEGATIVE THINKING…

At first glance this may seem like a paradox.  After all, how can negative thinking be anything but…well negative?  Let’s face it, positive thinking can empower us to do a lot of things.  Being positive minded 100% of the time is not only unrealistic, but not very healthy for growth either.  I would say a good healthy mix is 95/5.  So why are negative feelings so ‘good’ for us.  They can serve to vital and very important purposes.  First, they let us know what is not working.  There is something in our life that is currently not meeting our standards.  Why is this important?  Let me explain it with a situation we can all relate to, going to the doctor.  Why do you go to the doctor?  The answer usually is “because something is wrong”.  Noticing this means you have had bad physical feelings.  Whether they are nausea, pain, or some other not so pleasant feeling it let you know something is not as it should be.  If you are anything like me the very next question to the doctor is “How can we make this go away?”.  That leads us to the second great thing negative feelings can do for us.  They can motivate us into action.  In the case of the doctor visit, to do what actions are necessary to heal our condition.  The same holds true for any condition in life.  If we notice something in our life is causing us a noticeable amount of grief, get excited!  Excited about grief Neil?  Are you crazy?  Well, yes I am crazy, but here is why you should get excited.  Our bodies are designed to use feelings as warning signs.  Such as pain so you don’t leave your hand on the hot stove, or nausea so you don’t keep drinking the expired milk.  These may seem like a pain at first, after all who likes to burn their hand?  Yet if we didn’t have the pain we could leave our hand on the stove until it cooks right off.  Interesting thing is our minds do the same thing.  Ever wonder why certain things make you feel sad or angry.  That is our mind and spirits way of telling us something is wrong with them.  It is a warning sign, just like the burn on the hand.  We must decide what is causing this upset and act to correct it.  Now here is where negative emotions can be a double edge sword.  When trying to discover what would work to eliminate our discomfort we must think in a positive, solution oriented frame of mind.  For example, I had a friend who had recently given her all into a relationship that she felt had true potential, but when push came to shove the man she was in a relationship with did not feel the same.  I heard her utter phrases like “I’m never going to get into a relationship again, that way I won’t get hurt again”  Haven’t we all felt this way at one point or another?  I know I have.  In this situation she was willing to sacrifice all the pleasure a healthy relationship could provide her to escape the pain of another possible unhealthy one.  This may seem like a solution on the surface, but what it really amounts to is giving up.  If there is one thing you don’t want to give up on it is your own life.  So make negative emotions our servants, not our masters.  Let us use them for clarity and motivation, but not dwell in them.  So next time you find yourself upset, remember the positive power of negative thinking!