Train Your Brain for Happiness & Success
Hello lassies and lads. As you may know, I am the Queen of Curiosity (okay… self-proclaimed) and that means I think and think and think about a lot of things. Including all of YOU, dear readers! I literally mark out time in my calendar for me to think about YOUR brains. What are you worrying about? What is the first thought that comes up in your brain in the morning? And what is the last thought before you go to sleep? And that’s why I’m soo fricking excited about today’s blog topic. We are doing a deep dive into brain training and how it can change YOUR WHOLE REALITY. I know, it’s wild. So get pumped. Together we’re going to take on a pretty big challenge: how to train your brain for happiness and success.
But before I get to that, I have to give some background. Recently I was thinking about 4 different things that have come up in my life, almost like wee mysteries and how they’ve impacted me. Poking around these curiosities, I found a crazy cool connection between them all.
Curiosity #1: Jeeps Everywhere
For starters, I drive a minivan. I know. Super cool. And I have driven a minivan for a very long time because I have 4 children, age 10 and under. I need doors that open by themselves and lots of space for LOTS of children. Well, last summer, the kids and I started going to the beach every weekend. We would pack up all our stuff in the minivan and head off on a Sunday. Now, here’s the thing about minivans – great for lots of wee ones, not so great for big surfboards. So, we have to strategically cram these big beasts in the front and through the back. It was hilarious. Then we’d park our awkwardly crowded minivan at the beach and look around at all these super cool Jeeps with their roofs off.
Well, naturally we got a wee bit jealous. I asked one little question and there was no going back. “What if we got a jeep?” Suddenly we’re talking about different jeeps, different colors, what type we all prefer. Then later we’re going online at night and saying, “Oh, what about this white jeep? What about this one with the bed on the back?” Now, aside from our time at the beach, I’ve never seen jeeps around here in our neighborhood. We live in literally downtown Orlando. Hello, we’re in the city. But after this beach trip? EVERYWHERE we go there are jeeps! The parking lot at Publix, the parking lot at Starbucks, OUR OWN NEIGHBORHOOD! They’re just everywhere.
So, we started to get curious. Why were we seeing all these jeeps all of a sudden? But for now, pause on that question.
Curiosity #2: My New Friend
Next example. For those of you that don’t know, I am sober almost 13 years from alcohol. Well, recently I was at a recovery meeting, and I sat with this mum that was new in recovery. I’ve never seen her before, but she tells me she’s local to the little neighborhood that I live in! And not that I know everybody in the neighborhood, I don’t, but I know most of the mums and I’ve somehow never seen her before. But we get chatting, we talk, we exchange numbers.
Well, the following month, I see her almost EVERY day!! At Starbucks in the morning after drop off, at Publix with groceries, at fricking Jersey Mike’s! It is INSANE. So again, in my regularly scheduled thought time, I’m thinking “why have I never seen her before and now all of a sudden I see her everywhere?” Okay. Pause one more time. Think about that.
Curiosity #3: Divorce
Next, have you ever had a friend who is going through something like a divorce? It’s heavy. And negative. And HARD. God love anybody that goes through it. I have had several friends and it is so hard. But I started to get curious because when I was consuming a lot of that, I started going home and I swear my brain started looking for negative things in my marriage. Things I didn’t like, or things that my husband did that was annoying me. Just searching for any flaws in our marriage, any reason to compare my situation to theirs. And it got to be too much. And I got super curious about why was that all so sudden? But it wasn’t. So pause and think on that.
Curiosity #4: The News
Another example. Have you ever noticed when you’re paying attention to the news and politics that you just instantly feel sooo anxious? If you’re really in tune with your body, you can FEEL that heaviness. But have you ever gotten curious about why that continues to affect you the rest of the day? You feel negative. You feel off the beam. You’re not totally in a bad mood, just not in a good mood. One more time, pause and think about that.
Doing My Research
Okay. So, I started to get curious about all of these things because I’m always thinking. And if I’M thinking this or experiencing this, then guess what? YOU probably are too. So I decide I’m getting some answers for myself and for my clan. Well, when I start my research, something veryyy interesting pops up. I discovered the RAS, which stands for Reticular Activating System.
So, what is the Reticular Activating System? It’s a bundle of nerves in the back of our brain. Basically, it’s primary role is to sift through information. Every moment, every second we process 2 TRILLION pieces of information. 2 TRILLION!! But something’s got to filter through all that and narrow it down to around 200 pieces of information. That way we’re only paying real attention to the most important stuff.
Now here’s the real magic. How does the Reticular Activating System determine what is most important? WE tell it!! Yes, WE have the power to determine how our brains process ALLLL the information in the world that comes our way. When we tell the RAS something is important, it knows which information to let through. This can be a powerful tool OR a powerful weapon. Because once we tell our brain to look for something specific, it will filter in all the information that proves it’s true.
“Reticular Activating System” is hard enough to remember, so I decided to call it my “I Am Responsible” button. Because I am the one that ultimately holds to change how I see the world and process information. I can choose to look for the good or look for the bad. I Am Responsible.
Why You’re Seeing Something Everywhere “All of a Sudden”
So, to bounce back to the jeep curiosity: I told my “I Am Responsible” button that a white jeep was important to me. So, guess what? It looked for white jeeps. And I told my “I Am Responsible” button that this new friend from my recovery meeting was important. So, now I see her everywhere.
How You Can Make Your Perspective Negative
If I’m consuming negative, hard subjects that I’m telling my brain is super, super important, then it’s going to look for that in my life. I’ve decided the world sucks, so I am filtering in only the information that confirms this. For example, with the news: I watch it, I consume the negative pieces and then I tell my “I Am Responsible” button to go find all the negative, hard pieces of information that are out there and feed it to me.
What I see, what I hear, what I focus on, what I consume, I tell my “I Am Responsible” button to go find that. Prove me right. And so, guess what? It does. It toootally does. And this makes it HARD to train your brain for happiness, when it feels like negativity is everywhere, all the time! Swallowing you up!
Choosing Your Glasses
This is the fun part. Now that you realize that you get to tell your brain what information is important, you acknowledge that there is a CHOICE. You CHOOSE the glasses through which you see the world. Whether that’s good or bad.
Do you ever wake up in the morning and the first thing you think is “I’m still tired”? You are putting on the “I Am Tired” glasses. So, you get out of your bed. You instantly have the thought “I am tired” and for the rest of the day, guess what your “I Am Responsible” button does?
Well, I chose the “I Am Tired” glasses, so now I’m going to go through the entire day subconsciously looking for proof that I’m tired. My brain will only filter in information that confirms what is important, so guess what? I’m EXHAUSTED doing the homework, not feeling present with my clients, and not feeling grateful. Because I’m tired!! Because I keep telling myself I’m tired!! I woke up, I chose these glasses and that’s the only way I’ll see the world today.
How about anxious? I wake up, I’m anxious. I chose the anxious glasses. Then, I told my brain to go find all the information that proves I’m anxious, I’m snappy, I’m short, I’m yelling, I’m not in a good mood. And it keeps feeding me all the information to prove what I told it was important. I told it that it was important that I’m anxious because I chose those glasses. Is this blowing your mind? It blows my mind.
But the opposite is true guys!! We can CHOOSE to see the world through positive glasses. I can choose adorable pink “I Am Successful” glasses! If I tell my brain “I Am Responsible” for my happiness, if I tell my brain “These are the glasses that I choose today. Successful ones,” then guess what? I’m looking for all my wins. I’m focusing on all my victories, big and small, throughout the day. Because that’s what I told my brain was important today, that I’m successful.
So, that text message that a client sends me about their win? Boom. I feel great. More information proving me right. That email I received to be on a TV show? Oh gosh. Yes. More wins! The invite to be a speaker? MORE wins!! Why? Because today it is important to look for all the things that prove that I am successful. Because today I’m wearing the glasses that told my brain THIS was important. THAT’s how simple it can be to train your brain for happiness. Change your perception of reality! Just stop negativity right there at the root cause of it.
How about this one? If you want to be happier, make sure your brain is looking for things to prove that you are. So how do we do that? We look for things we’re grateful for. For me? I stop and I watch my kids play basketball. I’m happy. I feel it. And my brain’s job, my “I Am Responsible” button, my Reticular Activating System is literally going out to prove that I am correct!!
There is sooo much more information about the RAS I could go into, and let me know if you want to hear more, but I’ve tried to distill it all down to a simple concept: putting on your glasses. So, here’s what I want you to do with this. I want you to decide what are the 3 pairs of glasses that you are going to wear during the next 6 months? And how are you going to make sure you wear them?
For example, if you watch the news and you feel anxious, negative, life is hard, the world is ending, if you feel that – what is something that you could do to get back on the beam? Really think about that. What could you do? List it out!!
That’s the second part of this. We’re going to do these things. You can’t NOT talk to your friends that are divorcing. You can’t AVOID watching the news all the time. But I want you to get super clear about what you are looking at. What you are listening to. What you are consuming. You’re literally creating your entire reality based on those things. YOU get to choose! YOU are responsible!!
And that’s kind of exciting!! I am responsible for my happiness. For my success. For what I consume, listen to, who I talk to. If I want to be happier, maybe I need to look at things to be grateful for? Maybe I need to start writing a gratitude list every day? I’ve done that many times. Maybe I need to try a challenge of not complaining for 24 hours? What are some of the things you could do? I want you to come up with this list because I want you to stretch your brain in this exercise. This is brain training! Let’s go!! Okay? You guys are amazing. I’m so grateful for you.
Love Coach Mummabear
A life coach who helps you win at life.