Your brain is plastic.
It doesn’t mean it’s made of plastic. What I mean is that it can change throughout your entire life.
Neuroplasticity is how we learn new things and train our brain to think or act in a way. Whenever you learn something new, the brain forms new connections between neurons (the brain cells).
Each time you practice or revisit your learnings, the connection becomes stronger as it becomes part of your thought process. The information then transfers into your subconscious mind which works even when you’re sleeping.
“Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality.” — Earl Nightingale
Like we practice skills and train our muscles, we must constantly train our brain to perform at an optimal level.
1. Stress Tolerance
Keeping calm under pressure is a skill which can be developed. Most people can’t handle stress and when they face high-stress situations, they burn out and make poor decisions.
If you develop stress tolerance, you not only stay relaxed under such situations, you can use the stress for high performance.
Not all stress is bad. The good stress, called as eustress is often acute. It helps you grow and achieve life satisfaction. Distress, on the other hand, makes you worry or anxious. Chronic distress can lead to a wide range of health problems.
Another difference between eustress and distress is how we perceive the stressor. With eustress, we associate the cause of stress to be helpful. Distress makes us feel terrible, and it leads to burn out.
Yerkes and Dodson created a curve and stated that we need the right amount of arousal for optimal performance.
The amount of arousal depends on an individual so you must find your own balance. Try to stay within your range and if you have to go outside your comfort zone, use your superpower of stress tolerance followed by a period of recovery. Don’t fear stress. Visit the discomfort zone and face stress when it can help you grow.
To increase your stress tolerance, perform High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), take cold showers, speak in front of public or take challenges outside your comfort zone.
2. Mental Stability
We are emotional creatures. One nasty comment from a stranger can easily ruin our day. This is where mental stability comes into place.
Everyone has a threshold after which their mood turns down. But, like any other mental skill, mental stability can also be trained.
To increase your mental stability, notice how you react to negative events or thoughts. Keep a mood log if you have to and notice how you allow outside events to ruin your mood.
I know it is hard to stay sane especially when people who are closest to us upset us. It is normal to have a few expectations from close relationships. But, each time you get upset, remember it is your problem that you set the expectations in the first place.
Besides, people are too busy to think about the consequences of what they do or say to you. They often don’t even realize how some actions or words can harm us. In an ideal world, everyone should behave in the best way with each other but we are not perfect. We all make mistakes. Some people realize it and some don’t and it’s okay if they don’t. There is no need to hold grudges.
Maybe someone was going through tough times when they misbehaved with you. Give people the benefit of doubt for your own peace of mind. Be empathetic and look things from their perspective. Most things won’t matter in the long term. You always forgive yourself in the end, so why not forgive others? We all are humans, after all. Be kind, forgive, and move on.
Stop blaming other people and take full responsibility for your expectations. If they don’t meet your expectations, lower them down. And if they do better than expected, be grateful.
The same goes for life. When life is good, be grateful and when it throws unexpected challenges at you, respond with kindness and take it as an opportunity to train your mind. All your life, you’re either at peace or you’re training your mind to be strong. Both are necessary and good for you.
There are plenty of reasons why our mood worsens, but the principle remains the same. Identify the cause, adjust your reaction, and choose to look at the brighter side.
Don’t put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.
3. Passionate Work
Life’s drama steals many people’s vision from them. But the drama is not the enemy, it’s rather your friend. It’s a test you must pass to prove how strongly committed you are. If it were easy, everyone would get what they visualize — like magic.
Law of attraction says you get what you focus on. While it can be true, I don’t agree with it 100%. It’s not a law. We hear the law of attraction success stories only from the people who succeed. Nobody knows how many failed while using the law of attraction.
So, instead of thinking of it as a law, think of it as a principle. It’s a tool. It can be true if you work hard enough to reach your vision. Focus on your number one goal and give your 100% to it.
Practice excellence. Give 10x efforts. Keep commitments. Be on time. Do what you said you’re going to do. Focus.
Remind yourself what success means to you. Set daily intentions and take regular actions even if the steps are small. And most importantly, enjoy your journey by celebrating small wins.
Don’t chase vision as a means to happiness. Escape the rat race. Happiness is now. Reaching your vision will only amplify your sense of fulfillment. Make your journey the reward and you will never waste a day of your life.
Trust that everything is happening for you.
Trust that everything will be okay.
Trust in your ability to figure things out.
Trust in the higher version of yourself. You’re much more capable than you think you are. You can develop any skill you want. You can improve no matter where you are in life.
Trust alone is not enough though. In his book, Good To Great, Jim Collins explains the Stockdale paradox, and it goes like this:
“You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties. And at the same time… You must confront the brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
Be brutally honest with yourself and do whatever it takes to turn your dreams into reality. Work on your strengths, fix your weakness (if you need to), and make the sacrifices you need to make.
Take bold steps and keep moving forward to build self-efficacy. Silence the naysayers (including your stupid mind). Learn skills and get feedback. Never stop growing.
Fear is the enemy of trust. Fear keeps you in a prison and stops you from following your heart. Don’t let that happen. Trust.
The beautiful thing about following your heart is that whether you succeed or you fail, you always become someone you never expected to become in your comfort zone.
By visiting the discomfort zone and failing a million times, you become a different person. Your character transforms. You gain clarity on what you want to do in the future.
Patience is the ability to persevere even when things take longer than expected.
Life has its own way. Sometimes, you’re surprised by your performance and other times, you get disappointed due to unexpected obstacles in your way.
If you stay patient, you can achieve anything you wish because you’ve made a pre-commitment and you can’t back off even if it gets dirty, boring, or harder than expected. You’ve burned the bridges and now the only option you have is to stay patient and keep taking action.
You can practice being patient by fasting, performing endurance activity or meditating.
Be resilient, be relentless, be determined, be stubborn, and never give up.
Your purpose in life is to create yourself, become better, and have the courage to be yourself. But, your life mission is different from your purpose.
Your mission is how you serve the humanity. It does not matter how small or big your mission is. It’s your duty to serve to the best of your ability as you can.
So often we make everything about ourselves. We focus on our goals, our growth, and our happiness. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But, if you never take out the time to help, support, and serve others; you will feel disconnected from the world.
Even after reaching big accomplishments and titles, you will remain unfulfilled. So be part of a mission and contribute. Give, give, give and when you’ve nothing else left to give, give more.
Giving involves donating your time, money, attention or energy. And when you’re giving, don’t keep a score of how much or how many times you’ve served.
Practice being in giving mode. When you give, give with all your heart with zero expectations of getting anything in return (not even praise, love, attention or affirmation).
Self-awareness is one of the top skills you need to live a complete life and mindfulness is the essence of awareness.
Being aware requires practice. Take notice of what you’re thinking. Observe how you think, feel, and act in response to different circumstances.
What biases do you hold?
What logical fallacies do you fall for?
When do you misbehave?
What triggers negative thinking in you?
Mindfulness not only helps you to become aware, it also builds your focus. You get better at concentrating on the task at hand. As you get better, you identify when you get lost in thoughts and you direct your attention back to the task.
The best way to practice mindfulness is meditation. You can also practice it during short periods of mundane tasks such as washing dishes, cleaning, cooking, eating, drinking or walking.
With mindfulness, you’ll feel, think and see what most people never experience in their lives. It’s easy to get lost in the busyness of life. But, it requires wisdom and a child-like perspective to switch to the beauty filter of life.
Always do the right thing. The ‘right’ thing depends on your principles and values. To develop integrity, the first step is to define your guiding principles and values in life.
Once you’ve done so, act accordingly even when no one’s watching. You can fool other people but you can never trick yourself. Be a hero in your own eyes.
Integrity makes you an authentic man or a woman. Being authentic doesn’t mean you never lie to people. Sometimes, you have to lie for the welfare of others and yourself. But you must never lie to yourself.
Practice integrity every day when you get the opportunity to make a reasoned choice. Examine your actions and ask yourself if you did the right thing. Are you acting on impulses? Or are you acting in alignment with your principles and values?
Who doesn’t hate rejection? We are wired to avoid rejections because we used to live in small tribes and getting rejected from a tribe could be the difference between life and death.
Today, the situation is different. There are plenty of people on Earth and through the internet, we can reach more people than ever before. If we were to seek approval from everyone, we’d end up miserable.
Remind yourself that there are many people just like you. Find your community and stick with them. You don’t need the opinion of people who don’t matter to you.
Besides, every rejection is not about you. Even you can’t accept every request from everyone, right? So, expect to get rejected and be okay with it. With rejection, comes feedback or a lesson. Take it and trust that there are better things waiting for you.
Practice rejection by using your negotiation skills every once in a while. Difficult conversations have high chances of you getting rejected.
People talk about minimalism a lot. Most people associate minimalism with owning less stuff, which is true. But, there’s more to it than that. It also means letting go of emotional attachments.
Letting go is hard. But it’s part of life. The sooner we learn it, the better off our life will be. Things, people, happiness, sadness, pain, love — all come and go. Life gives what we need at the right time. Accept the gifts from life and learn to let them go.
Start by letting go of small physical and digital stuff. As you practice the skill, you’ll be able to let go during the hard times in life. Let go of the people or stuff that no longer serves you. Let go of distractions that stand in the way of your vision.
When you get good at letting go, you don’t rely on things to be happy. You stop dwelling on the past. You become less anxious about the things you can’t control. You’re able to release the toxic thoughts and emotions from your mind. You become independent. You become free.
If you want to work hard, you must learn to relax and recover. If you don’t recover, you will burn out, perform poorly at work, become a workaholic, and cause serious damage to your wellbeing or your relationships.
I see relaxation as an art. It takes skill to quite down and truly enjoy the time without being in the ‘work mode’ for a while.
On the other hand, some people overindulge and lose track of the purpose of relaxation. Then, they crave even more rest because they start getting addicted to it.
You must find the right balance and take the right recovery dosage you need. Find out what relaxing means to you and make sure your method recharges your batteries.
Another important skill to practice for recovery is your humor skill. Don’t take things personally, find silly reasons to laugh, and make others laugh without insulting anyone.
Lastly, some of the best ideas come up when you’re not working. Allow your mind to wander. Take inspiration from different sources. Train your mind to think divergently. Let your mind wander by setting it free.
“Busy your mind with the concepts of harmony, health, peace, and good will, and wonders will happen in your life.” — Joseph Murphy, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind
The school never taught us how to train the mind for optimal living. But, now you know what skills you can teach your brain if you keep practicing the skills in your day-to-day life. These skills are:
- Stress Tolerance
- Mental Stability
- Passionate Work
Be honest with where you are at right now and start making progress. Save this post, set a reminder and revisit it to reflect on your progress. Keep reminding yourself of the skills and live your legendary life.