People are always searching for the secret to success. Many would say that it’s the vision, being honest, showing gratitude, learning from failures and high emotional intelligence that will lead you to success. Although these traits are important, it’s the neuroscience that has the scientific answer. According to neuroscientists, you are able to condition your brain to fulfill your goals and dreams.
Neuroscience is complicated, but here it gets down to brain functions in three different areas: your memory, the release of your dopamine and reticular activating system or RAS.
The Reticular Activating System
This part is located at the base of your brain and it connects with the spinal cord. Basically, it is a filter for the eight million bits of information flowing through the brain. After passing through the RAS, message enters the cerebrum where it’s converted into emotions or conscious thoughts.
The author of The Courage to Succeed, Ruben Gonzalez gave a good explanation: “Even though the cerebrum is the center of thought, it will not respond to a message unless the RAS allows it. The RAS is like Google. There are millions of websites out there, but you filter out the ones you are not interested in simply by typing a keyword.”
Messages that get through are the ones that important to you at that moment. For instance, if you are preparing the exam, RAS will filter in the thoughts that will make your presentation successful. Again, Gonzalez gives a good explanation, “This means the more you keep your goals ‘top of mind,’ the more your subconscious mind will work to reach them. That’s why writing your goals down every day, visualizing your intended outcome and regularly saying affirmations is so important! Doing those things truly does help you to focus your subconscious mind on what’s important to you.”
Dopamine feedback loops
The dopamine release is what makes you feel good after succeeding. Concerning this, founding partner of Method3, Mark Lukens wrote: “When we succeed at something, our brains release chemical rewards, the most important of which is the neurotransmitter dopamine, a chemical best known for the role it plays in addiction and drug use.” Despite this, dopamine is actually a natural part of your brain functions. It produces the sensation of pleasure every time you taste chocolate or coffee, or when you achieve something big.
Further, dopamine is connected to motivation, it drives us to repeat the behaviors that created the rush. Dopamine response is short-term but we seek it out again and again because brain knows that it will be awesome again.
And that is when dopamine loops enter the game. Repeated success experiences make the pleasure you feel less and less strong, and that is why you seek to achieve something bigger.
Lukens adds that “Under the right circumstances, this can drive us to seek out ever-greater thrills.” Gamers are constantly engaged because of this and that is why we check our phones every minute after posting on Facebook. It leads us to achieve better and bigger things.
For example, if you wanted to obtain three new clients in two weeks, your next goal is to obtain five new clients within one week. Everything stays the same except the more rewarding and challenging task. This will also allow you to rule out the tasks that don’t motivate your team.
Remember the last time you went biking and crashed, that was a bad experience and it kept you from biking at least for a couple of weeks. This can be applied to business too. If you failed once it is less likely that you will take the risk again.
Scientists found that bad memories can be edited and negative associations removed. This kind of therapy is also used to treat the PTSD sufferers. The same way you can edit good memories to push you to success.
To reduce the strength of the bad memories, think about that memory and let it get smaller. When you do that, change it a bit, make it funnier by inserting some kind of comedic detail. After doing that 5 or ten times you will end up laughing every time you remember it.
To strengthen your memories, again recall the memory, and make it as loud and bright as possible. Then keep adding to the experience and make it feel ten times better than it did. When you achieve that great feel, use it to motivate you to go forward.
Hacks to rewire your brain for success.
Although it sounds a bit crazy you can rewire your brain to become more successful. You just need 30 hours of specific training based on neuroscience techniques, according to neuroscientist Michael Merzenich, and your cognition and memory will improve along with reading comprehension and speech patterns.
This does sound like a lot, but doing an hour a day for a month is nothing compared to the success you will achieve afterward. Also, this training involves some simple daily tasks, like:
I think that’s totally worth it. And, most of this training involves simple daily tasks, like:
Exercise and/or meditation. During exercise, endorphins are released, and they boost creativity and help with problem-solving. Through meditation, you can break down mental barriers and achieve inner calm.
Consume a diet rich in healthy fats and omega-3s. These can increase your cerebral circulation and help you keep dopamine levels in your brain active.
“We’ve all heard of affirmations: repeating positive statements to ourselves in order to believe it,” writes John Assaraf, the CEO of NeuroGym. “While that may sound good in theory, there is often a severe lack of specificity that can hinder results.” Instead, try making a clear statement about yourself as if it is true already, then your subconscious mind will take over and act according to that belief. This way you will imprint these beliefs into new neural pathways.
Say your “Chief Aim” every morning and evening. “A definite chief aim is a specific, clearly-defined statement of purpose,” writes Dr. Julie Connor. “It has the power to guide your subconscious mind. It transforms your attitude from pessimism into positive expectation.” Think of your chief aim and write it down, then say it out loud every evening and every morning.
Get plenty of sleep. It is very important to get between 6 and a half and 8 hours of sleep every night. That will enable you to be more focused and concentrated.
15 minutes a day. Take 15 minutes each day to master some skill you already have or to learn a new one. It will affect your brain very positively.
Stay away from negative and stressful environments. Neuroendocrinology professor from Stanford University said that “stress can not only be stopped but reversed once the source, psychological or physical, is removed or sufficiently reduced.” In other words, one of the major factors that affect the health of our brains is the physical environment.
Visualization. Assaraf wrote, “Visualization is a powerful tool to retrain your subconscious mind because it allows you to feel and experience a situation which hasn’t happened yet — as if it were real.” This means your subconscious will process something as a reality as long as you can genuinely ‘see’ it.