The following is a guest post from Ken Marshall. To learn how you can guest post for Productivity Theory, please read our Write For Us page.
Have you ever felt like your brain was lagging behind the rest of your life?
As if you’re stuck in some permanent fog and mental fatigue? It’s a terrible feeling that is all too common. In today’s society, with ever rising periods of screen time, long hours in unfulfilling work environments, and lowered averages of sleep and good nutrition, it’s hard to feel alert, or even happy for that matter.
Those factors also make it incredibly difficult to live the life that you’ve always wanted. That lack of mental energy hinders your ability to think critically, learn new skills, and be creative.
Each of us has the potential to do amazing and completely revolutionary things, while living in a way that is truly satisfying. To begin creating that world for yourself, you just have to do one simple thing: Change the way you think.
That’s right. A shift in mentality is often cited as the number one thing some of the world’s most successful have done to achieve their success and live awesome lives. And you’ll be very surprised to learn that most of the techniques they use, are quite simple.
You don’t have to be a genius, or work for 10,000 hours to achieve similar results. Just read on.
Here are four simple things you can do tomorrow to rewire your brain and ultimately be more successful and fulfilled.
Speak Positive Affirmations Every Day
If your brain has convinced itself that you aren’t going to accomplish something, then you won’t. Plain and simple.
But there is a way for you to easily change your mentality towards these goals and actually make them more likely to come true: Affirmations.
An affirmation is simply a positive statement that is repeated in some capacity and enough times, that eventually your brain believes it as truth.
Here’s why: When you think about and then say what you want to happen out loud some pretty intriguing things happen. The first is that your brain gets completely rewired (link to this). It happens through the concept of neuroplasticity.
BigThink describes neuroplasticity as, “the [brain’s] ability to change its structure and function in response to experiences real or imagined.”
This principle is the exact reason why affirmation can be so effective. Simply dedicating time to thinking can alter your brain alone. Then when you add speaking into the mix, you bring in a different stimulus for the brain to use to rewire itself as well.
When you make these affirmations, you are essentially tricking your brain into thinking that what you are affirming is true. Or that it is very likely to become true. This causes it to dedicate itself to changing in any way necessary to facilitate that change as quickly as possible.
Doing this also helps you organize your thoughts more clearly by making them tangible and is an excellent way to sort through what’s useful, and what you need to get rid of.
Cut Out The Sugar
Although no one can argue that a good sugary treat can be delightful, and even temporarily pleasurable, it is not good for your brain.
In very low amounts (less than 5% of our diet as recommended by the world health organization), sugar is completely fine and not harmful at all.
But in excess, it starts to have a range of negative effects on the body and mind. After consuming high levels of sugar, especially artificial varieties like sucralose or fructose, your body will experience what most people know as a “sugar rush”.
This feels great for the time being, but as you probably know, it comes with a crash. This crash is a result of your blood sugar levels returning to normal and with that can come symptoms of irritability and lowered mood.
Sugar also causes your Serotonin (chemical that your brain produces to regulate mood) levels to fluctuate unnaturally high and as a result, can end up depleting them faster than normal, which can contribute to depression.
When it comes to success, a key element is your mentality and attitude. Without those, it’s incredibly hard to stay motivated and work consistently enough to achievement.
So cutting out sugar is a very simple yet effective way to keep your brain healthier and functioning at a higher level. This in turn, will allow you to feel better and stay on track towards reaching your goals.
Meditate Every Day
Do you regularly feel anxiety? How about stress? Isolation? Or are you experiencing a general lack of productivity?
These are all very real roadblocks to a successful and prosperous future.
But they don’t have to affect your life if you choose not to let them. There is a simple and powerful remedy to these afflictions in most cases: Meditation.
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That’s right, simply meditating each day has been scientifically proven to dramatically reduce stress and increase brain function.
There are two main ways that it does this.
- Helps focus and clears the mind. Humans feel overwhelmed when they have too many potential situations, outcomes, and information to process in what they perceive to be a very limited amount of time.Meditation allows you to eliminate all incoming stimuli from your mind for a given period of time, and organize your thoughts. In doing so, you are able to prioritize the different aspects of your life and can rearrange your efforts in a way that is more efficient.
- Stabilize your thought process. Many times, opportunity presents itself as, or in the midst of a high pressure situation. These can be difficult to navigate if you haven’t conditioned your mind how. Regular meditation actually helps improve memory, cognition, and can reduce anxiety when in stressful situations.This happens through strengthening tissue in the Hippocampus (center responsible for cognition), and inhibiting cell growth in your amygdala (controls fear). Picture yourself completely calm and and able to process information at your highest level in any situation. That’s what meditation allows you to achieve.
Once you’ve taken away the feelings of being overwhelmed, taken away the fog of questioning your own decisions, and stabilized your mood and thought process, you are able to go out and see the world with a fresh and renewed perspective.
Meditating daily will not make you a million dollars by next week, become a famous actress, or get you that promotion at work.
But it will make attaining those goals possible, significantly easier, and expedite the time it takes to accomplish them. Try it out.
Read Two Books A Month
Consistent learning and the assimilation of new information is one of the most important things you can do for your brain on the path to success.
Even though individuals like Warren Buffet claim to owe their success to reading and do so with up to 80% of their time, a more realistic goal for your busy life is around two books a month at first.
It might seem like a huge burden initially, but the benefits far outweigh the time commitment. When you read, you are:
- Expanding your perspective – Each book and author of that book has a unique way of presenting information. Even if the topic is familiar to you, the how and the why are likely to differ. Getting new perspectives can help you solve problems and generally be more creative.
- Increase processing and critical thinking – Books help critical thinking because when you read, you dedicate a good amount of time towards analyzing various situations and considering the complexities of elements like plot, story structure, character interaction, etc.
- Retain information better – While reading, your brain is far more engaged than when passively viewing a movie or television show. This increased attention allows your brain to more finely process and record the information, and develop lasting connections in the memory center of your brain.
- Develop new skills – Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of constant reading, you are able to learn and acquire a broader and more in depth range of talent. Each new book is essentially a new teacher for a new skill.
Contrary to what most people believe, your brain does not stop developing later on in life. It is still a giant sponge that looks to soak up and use as much new information as possible. And it wants to use it as effectively as possible as well.
Read more. Change your brain. Discover more efficient paths to success.
Editor’s Note: Please know that the information provided in this post is not meant to substitute professional advice for a diagnosable mental health disorder. If you have a neurological disorder, please seek help from a qualified mental health professional.