“This is the way my life is…it’s just my cross to bear.”
“I was just born with this set of genes and we’re all fat …so, there’s no use in me trying to do anything about it.”
“What does mind over matter mean anyway? Our brain cells come with us at birth … and that’s that!”
Those are all statements that I’ve heard from clients in the past three months.
Partly because the holidays are hard, partly because I believe we are all still reeling from Covid, and partly because we’ve made those beliefs popular in our culture. And we don’t know we can train our brains for something different, something better!
The sad thing is…all of those statements are lies… And people just go ahead and unpack, set up camp, and decide that’s just their lot in life.
Please hear me!
Please put your Mickey Mouse ears on and your thinking cap! (No pun intended) BUT…nothing could be further from the truth!
Some people talk about the power of choice.Some people talk about determination.
Some people talk about fake it till you make it.
But I want to talk to you from a very different place my friend.Here is the truth, not just my truth, researched truth.
Your brain is a dry sponge waiting to be trained. It will soak up whatever you give it.
You can partner with your brain to overcome beliefs that don’t serve you; to turn your health around; to help you find joy and erase your misery; to change your life outcomes and your destiny … dramatically!
My heart’s desire is for you to understand these concepts and know how to train your brain to work for you, not against you!
Who needs this skill?
Everybody and anybody who is not living their lives fully and enjoying the journey in route to their dreams. You may be one of them. I hope not.
But if you are? We can change that together … forever!
Do I mean that every minute you should be bouncing up-and-down and overflowing with joy? Well, that’s the goal. But we have challenges in life. (But they can help us grow strength, just as pressing beyond what is comfortable in the gym grows muscle strength).
But left untended, our brains will tell us the challenges mean:
• It’s time to quit. • Time to give up.
• Time to believe all the naysayers.
• Time to dive into yesterday’s “psychological beliefs” that are like tattoos on our brains.
Training your brain to work with you is easier than you think.
Yes it takes a certain amount of work, and devotion, and sometimes just good old fashion determination!
I’ve spent years in this process personally. I’ve earned five degrees, including a PhD, in this realm of study. I’ve read and I always stay read-up on all the latest neuroscience research and developments.
Like I shared, I have figured out!
I know how to take the research and put it into practice in my life.
I’ve seen the results and continue to see results.
I KNOW this works…for ALL of us!
What we all once thought was unchangeable (our brains) is now a change that’s up to us to grab onto! And create new patterns of belief that’ll change ‘everything’ about our lives!
The only thing that’s ever prevented me from reaching my desired goal with my brain training, were those times it didn’t happen quite as quickly as ‘I’ thought it should have.
So… I surrendered to my immaturity…and quit!
But, when that occurs:
• I have a good little conversation with me, myself and I
• Take a deep breath
• Do a heart rewind
• And start again!
I’m starting with this topic of “peak performance” or “peak presence” because any shift toward both of those will bring the quickest results in brain training.
And both of those will affect all future brain training.
I wanted to start with the five do’s and don’ts because they’re great places to start.
FYI…I’m presently working with every single person who gave the comments listed above on these ‘exact’ things I’m sharing with you.
Those may not be the exact same things you’d say, but I think they’re very good hints of things all of us tend to say … that indicate and confirm we need to enroll in Brain Training 101!
Let’s get started!
1. GUARD YOUR EXPOSURE TO NEGATIVITY.
All of our brains are very sensitive to negativity. They’re MORE sensitive to negative than to positivity.
That ‘bias’ can be detected from the earliest stages of brain research.
This is not just an opinion.
We can now actually see the brain (on scans) “light” up specific areas when we are, or have been exposed, to negativity.
Perhaps our brain’s sensitivity to negativity, was programmed in because early in our early history, survival depended on always being aware of danger… those “eat or be eaten” days.
At that time, survival was much more crucial than it is today on a moment-to-moment basis. Yet our brains still respond to any negativity with over sensitivity.
Our brains respond with overload sensitivity to:
• Negative words
• Bad news
• News broadcasts
• Grunts, sighs, and moans
• Rolling eyes
• Certainly physical abuse
• Charging (when someone makes a dramatic move toward you or raises their fist, or puts their hand up the position as if they will hurt you, even though they never touch you)
It’s very interesting that in marriage research it shows that the difference between highly fulfilled marriages and those defined as misery, is in direct correlation, to their positive and/or negative statements, feelings, or behaviors.
Of course, those that find their relationship rich are those who have a greater proportion of positive interactions. Not just greater … 80% greater!
We now know that 50% positive + 50% negative input does NOT create balance.
So in order to be on neutral ground, it does not mean that if you have 50% of interactions that are negative and 50% that are positive, your relationship is on that neutral ground.
The magic ratio is:
1 hour of negative + 5 hours of positive = neutral
That also means that in marriages, there must be only one minute of negativity for every five minutes of positivity, in order, for the marriage to be on neutral emotional turf.
Early research is showing that to achieve richness in the relationship, there must be at least 80% positive interactions and less than 20% negative interactions.
The same is true in all other relationships, in business, and in every aspect of our lives.
For you and your brain to be in “peak performance” or “peak presence” taking you toward your best possible life, you must be sure that every hour of negative input (arguing, headline news, movies that create negative feelings such as fear, anger, or terror) is balanced by five hours of positive input (inspiring conversation, upbeat music, motivational reading, etc.)
“Peak presence” is important because when we are in “peak presence,” we are very aware of the responses and feelings of others and keenly aware of dynamics in situations.
Years ago, I was at the board meeting of an energy company. I only knew a couple of people at the table of 12.
Throughout the presentation, I noted some eye rolling, some heavy sighs, from one of the men sitting at the table.
Because I was in a place of “peak presence,” his negativity washed over me like molten lava.
Following the meeting, I told one of the leaders of the company that I did not know who that man was, but I had certainly hoped he was not part of their team.
They seemed uninterested.
Later at dinner, the CEO pulled me aside and asked me a few questions. After discussion I just said this, “I think he’s an enemy in your camp, but I could be totally wrong.” No action was taken.
Months later in another meeting, the CEO and another Board Member informed me: “Well, we don’t necessarily think he’s a golden boy anymore.”
Subsequently, he stole some of the trade secrets from the company, and then filed multiple lawsuits on the company, almost taking them down.
Of course, there was no need for any “I told you so’s”. But both have told me multiple times, through the years, how they wish they had listened to me.
It had nothing to do with being a psychologist, and certainly I’m not any kind of soothsayer.
It had to do with this. I’ve trained myself and my brain to avoid negativity. When it comes to me, it is very evident, and it serves me well. It will serve you well too.
Because there is a direct correlation between how much negativity you are exposed to and the richness of your life, your business, your relationships!
How do you train your brain in this?
You become partners with your brain. And the moment you realize that you’re entertaining negativity …you turn it off!
I’m certainly not suggesting that you get up in the middle of a meeting and walk out. I didn’t do that.
However after the meeting, in my black suit, I went for a very long walk. Purposefully overriding all that negativity with an hour or two of gratitude.
Begin with zero tolerance for negativity, how much you let in (or out!)
Then get that 80% positivity, 20% negativity in balance.
Note today how much negativity is coming in.
• What you’re reading
• What you’re listening to
• Who you are interacting with, etc.
And then create the 80% of positivity to override the negative white noise.
You can do this!
For a while I thought I couldn’t survive without the news first thing every morning. But I have been news free for years. I do read headlines to be aware of what’s happening in the world.
Begin today and give your brain however much positivity it must have to get to that 80% mark, compared to the 20% of negativity!
Move your life toward the richness YOU desire … and deserve!
2. LIMIT EXPOSURE TO TELEVISION.
You might be tempted to think that this is just more stuff about negativity. But certainly not everything on television is negative. I am making a completely different point.
Here’s why we need to train our brains to limit our exposure to television. Once again, not my opinion, but because of what research reveals.
All these things have been revealed as side effects of television intake:
- Television can increase your risk of premature death
- Reduce your level of intelligence
- Obliterate your ability to concentrate
- Remove capacity to focus
- Physically impair a child’s growing brain
- Increase the risk of neuro degenerative brain disorders
- Become addictive, and exacerbate current addictions
I don’t think it would take a rocket scientist to understand why this steals from your “peak presence.”
Further, there are clear markers listed above that interrupt any type of “peak performance.”
If you train your brain to relax and shut down by unwinding in front of the television for more than a few minutes a day, you are training your brain to move toward all of these negative affects.
Research also reveals television (and the big screen) is the greatest hypnotic device in the world.
“ We all know the trope: television makes you dumb, lazy and passive, and (by implication) it renders you susceptible to the lies and manipulations of those who create the TV programming. But is it true?
As it turns out, not only are concerns about the content and the presentation of TV programming well-founded, but there’s an even darker side to the device than is commonly realized. There is ample research to suggest that the TV is actually designed to send you into a trance-like state that lowers your cognitive defenses against the lies the TV networks (and their corporate owners) are attempting to push on their docile audience.” The Corbett report
Train your brain to unwind in other ways than in front of the television.
Research shows that physical activity is a much better way to “unwind” or “de-stress yourself” than television.
Your brain will go to neutral, and you will drag around without limiting your television exposure.
I know, I know! It’s a habit! Not all television is bad!
But is it so important to you that you will allow it to “dumb down” your “peak performance” or “peak presence?”
I don’t believe that you will allow that to happen to you. Let’s meet at the nature preserve and walk together and talk about things that will make us laugh or inspire one another. I’ll be there every afternoon! Will you meet me there?
3. LISTEN TO YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC FROM YOUR YOUTH
Research shows that there are many benefits to music. It has been shown to:
- Increase performance in many sports
- Boost the immune system
- Create better quality of sleep
- Reduce appetite
- Reduce depression and anxiety
- Strengthen the brain areas involved with learning and memory recall
- Improve verbal intelligence
- Increase academic performance.
But…what kind of music?
Because of early research called “The Mozart Effect,”
many people believe it must be classical music.
However, we now know it is mostly the familiar music
that you grew up with (from birth till about age 10)
that has the greatest impact.
Use the power of music to train your brain!
When my client said to me: ““This is the way my life is, and it’s my cross to bear,“ I broke his dramatic moment with a bit of humor.
“So where is your cross?
Did you leave it in your truck?”
He smirked a little, along with his eye roll, so I continued.
“Because if you are going to bear it, don’t you have to bear it all the time? And if you don’t have to bear it all the time, I guess it’s just a choice?”
With a bigger eye roll, he mumbled, “Ok! Touché!”
I had made my point, but I knew he needed to retrain his brain.
I went through about four or five options of how he could accomplish that. But when I mentioned music, he lit up. But then he scowled as he asked: “What kind of music?”
I responded: “The music you liked as a kid.”
His smile returned as he announced that country music was deep in his soul!
I asked him what songs
he remembered from his childhood.
He sang a few lines of:
“It’s a great day to be alive …
I know the sun’s still shining
When I close my eyes
There’s some hard times
In the neighborhood
Why can’t everyday be just this good?”
I exclaimed: “That’s just PERFECT!”
I had him listen to that song multiple times a day, to visualize pushing the cross (of depression, financial struggle, and anxiety) off his back. Then to sing the words at the top of his lungs.
Maybe so, but that familiar song took him back to earlier times,
made him more resilient,
and smarter in his decisions of what to believe and focus on!
What is a cheery song from your early days?
Train your brain for greater things by listening to it often. And sing along! Even, if your singing makes hound dogs howl! It installs greater things in you even more quickly!
Aerobic exercise has been shown to boost the size of the hippocampus in the brain, the area involved in verbal memory and learning.
Resistance or strength training did not give the same favorable results as cardio…which
- Reduce brain inflammation
- Improve long and short-term memory
- Improve learning ability
- Increase positive feelings
- Inspire hope
- Promote neuroplasticity
- Slow brain aging
- Improve cognitive function
I had no idea what the client meant when he said to me: ““What does mind over matter mean anyway? Our brain cells come with us at birth and that’s that!“
I asked what matters in his life he needed to have “mind over” if he believed it was possible?
He looked at me with confusion and skepticism and said: “I guess I wish my mind could conquer my aging body. My knees hurt, I can’t do what I used to do and I don’t have any energy. That’s what aging does to you!”
Didn’t sound much like “peak presence” or “peak performance” to me!
I asked if he would be willing to do something that would seem counterintuitive, but could and would definitely help him feel better AND change his mind about what was possible?
He heartily responded with a “Hell yeah!”
I asked him if he would do as I asked, and trust me for just two weeks? It’s a good thing I asked for the commitment in advance. Because the groans that followed my instructions would have made you think I had asked him to do 100 pull ups 10x a day!
I asked him if he would walk 15 minutes for 3 days, 20 minutes for 3 days, and 30 minutes a day for the remaining 8 days?
With the groans, he did agree. I told him that during the walk, I wanted him to just play the “what if” game in his mind:
- What if I felt better?
- What if I felt younger?
- What if my knees didn’t hurt?
- What if my energy was restored?
He returned two weeks later with the proclamation: “It’s a miracle!”
I laughed and told him that he had harnessed the power of his brain with moving, and he had planted new possibilities.
Sitting in front of me was a man with “peak presence” and you could see he felt he had accomplished “peak performance!”
M-O-V-E … and reap the many benefits!
5. TRAIN YOUR BRAIN FOR OPTIMISM
Many people mistakenly believe that positivity and optimism are the same thing.
However, there’s a distinction and one that’s very important.
Positivity is about trying to focus on, speak about or create positive moments, conversations and/or interactions.
Optimism, on the other hand, is about looking for, or at least wishing for, the best possible outcome of any situation.
MOST of us are surrounded by lack of optimism.
We call that pessimism (which leaves us at high risk for coronary disease, other coronary events, depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and loneliness).
Because I was writing this today, I paid close attention to the onslaught of negative optimism crushers around me. Here are a few things I heard:
- They’re going to get beat (someone speaking about the Dallas Cowboys)
- No one gets helped here (someone in the lobby of a mental hospital)
- There’s no way this is going to turn out well (a client speaking of their marriage)
The problem with that is speaking of the “worst possible outcomes” causes our brains to secrete cortisol and other health damaging chemicals that cloud our thinking, create anxiety and depression, and discourage us.
Who wants all that? I DON’T! And I believe you don’t either!
The client that said: “I was just born with this set of genes, and we are all fat so there’s no use in me trying to do anything about it,” was not delighted when I said: “It’s not in your genes, it’s in your jeans!”
But again, I broke the intensity with that so we could do some brain training.
I challenged her with this.
“Having a pessimistic attitude will keep all that in your jeans! But if you are willing to work with me and retrain your brain for optimism, I promise you that your situation can change.”
She said, “I’m not sure I believe it … but BRING IT!”
I was delighted for the invitation! I shared with her all of the ways we know about how we can reprogram our brains for optimism:
- Being present
- Quiet self-care
- Having a sense of spiritual health
- Random acts of kindness
- Laughing out loud
- Putting negative thoughts in your pocket (imagine tucking them away for later consideration, then empty your pockets several times a day)
She chose these three reprogramming tools:
- Quiet self care
- Random acts of kindness
- Putting negative thoughts in her pocket
I invited her to do at least five of those daily (whether 3 moments of quiet self care, 2 random acts of kindness or one instance of putting a negative thought in her pocket … or some other combination to get five done).
After each one, I asked her to say something with positive expectation about her “genes vs. jeans” situation.
She returned with a report of some of the fun positive statements of expectation:
- You may fill up my jeans right now, but you won’t for long.
- My DNA is now Decreasing Non-welcome Accumulation.
- I am in charge of where I go from here, not my genes.
I did not ask her to consider any lifestyle changes or plans to lose weight. Yet she showed me that for the first time, “I can button my jeans without sucking up and pulling them together with all of my might.”
She was training her brain for optimism so she could be in “peak presence” and “peak performance.”
What area of your life do you need to create some optimism in?
Choose three of the methods from the bullet points above and begin retraining your brain by following each of the five actions daily with fun positive statements, packed with optimism! Say it aloud!
In “peak presence” and “peak performance” mode,
your life will take you places you never dreamed.
It can help you in ways
that all the good breaks
in the world can’t!
It isn’t that hard!
It really isn’t!
I know you feel deep down like: “There has to be more!”
I thought it for years!
Now I know without any doubt that there is!
And there always continues to be more!
It’s just waiting for us to step into it!
Will you try this with me? I promise you will love the results!
I want this for you as much as I want it for me!
I challenge you to choose one of these five and start training your brain to take you to “peak presence” and “peak performance.”
No matter your current position in life, no matter your age (you aren’t too young or too old), no matter your cultural background or socioeconomic status … this is possible for you! I promise!
If you will join me, would you respond:
“I’m ALL in!” I’ll be cheering you on!