Mentorship August 4, 2016
You may have heard that training your mind is like training any other muscle in your body – the more you exercise it in a certain direction, the more your mind will grow accustomed to that direction.
Tony Robbins, a successful motivational speaker, explained this sentiment perfectly in a Business Insider video: “It is like a muscle. You can train yourself to be stressed out. You can train yourself to be sad…the more we do something, the more wired we get. You can train yourself to feel passionate. You can train yourself to be strong.”
Despite the ability to strengthen our brain, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that one in five adults experience mental illness. Mental health is a major topic today. Whether your friends are posting articles on how to deal with bipolar disease on Facebook or your school has launched a new outreach program for mental health, our society as a whole is becoming more cognizant of mental health. And with it, the stigma around mental illness is slowly burning away.
But with the large outreach and awareness presence we have surrounding mental illnesses, mental strength is not put to the forefront enough.
Super Brain, a book written by Deepak Chopra and Rudolph E. Tanzi, claims that our brain can be taught to grow beyond the present limitations it sets. Chopra and Tanzi describe our brain as capable of healing, reworking and rebuilding.
They write, “You won’t know what your brain can do until you test its limits and push beyond them. No matter how inefficiently you are using your brain, one thing is certain: it is the gateway to your future. Your success in life depends on your brain, for the simple reason that all experience comes to us through our brains.”
In this sense, how you use your brain is what your life will look like. And if we can train our brains to act the way that we want them to, then we are only limited by what we allow ourselves to accomplish.
If you’re wondering what sort of exercises will strengthen that brain of yours, here are three practices to integrate into your daily life.
Start each morning by setting up a foundation of positivity for yourself. Grab a pen and paper and list five things you are grateful for that morning. According to The Chopra Center, studies have shown that those who express and cultivate gratitude on a daily basis have greater physical and emotional health. Set a goal or an intention to write down five things you are grateful for each morning for two weeks. Then, reflect back on your altered state. Gratitude has a way of flowing in, flowing out and improving your day-to-day routine.
Want to step it up a notch? Write a thank you note or send a gift to a friend, family member or significant other thanking them for being in your life.
You have that goal sitting in the back of your head, stored away as “unattainable.” Perhaps the goal is, “I want to get a new job” or “I want to be more kind to others.” If you don’t have the brain strength to take that leap to fulfill that external or internal goal, positive affirmations can help condition your brain to the point where you are confident to take action. For example, repeat, “I am a kind person” throughout the day. The more you say it, the more you will believe it and the more your brain will help you act on it.
This idea of positive affirmations and their unlimited potential is highlighted in “Super Brain”:
“One of the unique things about the human brain is that it can do only what it thinks it can do. The minute you say, ‘My memory isn’t what it used to be …’ you are actually training your brain to live up to your diminished expectations.
Low expectations mean low results.
The first rule of super brain is that your brain is always eavesdropping on your thoughts. As it listens, it leans. If you teach it about limitation, your brain will become limited.
But what if you do the opposite? What if you teach your brain to be unlimited?”
Unless you get out of your comfort zone, your brain will never experience growth and therefore, never experience success. There is no way of knowing what your brain is capable until you push yourself.
Deepak Chopra insightfully says in “Super Brain,” “You won’t know what your brain can do until you test its limits and push beyond them. No matter how inefficiently you are using your brain, one thing is certain: it is the gateway to your future. Your success in life depends on your brain, for the simple reason that all experience comes to us through our brains.”
With that, set mini goals for yourself to reach one large, overarching goal. Experience your brain going through the steps, making connections and gaining confidence. At each step of the way, recognize that your brain just got a little bit stronger.
Perhaps Marianne Williamson was right when she said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Maybe after all these years of saying that the sky is the limit was just a way to distance ourselves from personal growth. The sky, while being a vast space of wonder, doesn’t necessarily match the structure and conditioning of our minds, which can make literal and physical things come true.
Your brain serves you as your biggest weakness and your biggest strength, depending on which way you choose to exercise it. And when it feels like it is giving up on you, always remember how long it takes to get in shape to run a marathon. Treating your brain with the patience you would with any other muscle will keep you motivated.
Don’t aim for the sky. Aim for your mind.
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