Have you ever set the same goal over and over again, but keep failing?
Don’t be too hard on yourself–your own brain may be sabotaging you!
In this post, you will learn some secret tricks to keep on track with your goals and to beat bad habits.
What We Want Most
My dad used to advise me to not trade what I want most for what I want right now. I didn’t realize it at the time, but his advice has a neurological basis and is important when it comes to our happiness and success in life.
In the 1960s, psychologist Walter Mischel at Stanford conducted a series of experiments testing the willpower of 4 year-old children. The children were sat down in front of a marshmallow and told they could eat it right now OR they could wait 15 minutes and they’d get 2 marshmallows. Only 30% were able to wait. The interesting part came years later: the 30% of children who were able to wait 15 minutes had more success later in life as adults. What of the other 70%? Could they learn to put off what they want in the moment for something better in the future?
Everyone has 2 brains. Okay, it’s really just 1 brain or in the case of some politicians, maybe none. We can split the brain into 2 logical parts. The first part is often referred to as the FEELING BRAIN. Shawn Achor, author of the Happiness Advantage refers to it as ‘the Jerk’. Dr. Daniel Amen describes it as a spoiled, demanding inner child that always wants what he or she wants, whenever he or she wants it.
It’s a primitive part of the brain (made up of the brain stem and limbic system) that seeks pleasure and avoids pain. The feeling brain wants the marshmallow RIGHT NOW. It doesn’t care about values, principles or goals. It just wants what it wants in the moment. It’s powerful drives and impulses are important for our survival and for our ability to bond with others. But often, it works contrary to what our goals and values are.
How many of us get nervous talking in front of people? Our primitive brain that would prep us to fight or flight when we’re up against a man-eating tiger sometimes kicks in when we have to stand in front of a bunch of people and speak. Our heart rate goes up and our brain gets foggy. In my work with youth, teaching self-mastery and addiction prevention, we talk about this part of the brain and how to manage it so that it works WITH you and not AGAINST you. This leads us to the part of our brain that WANTS to manage it and has the ability to do so.
This article is written by Jeff Baird, a Certified Body Language Trainer through the Science of People and founder of Arise from the Dust, a mentoring service to help people overcome obstacles and conquer their goals. You can follow Jeff on Facebook here and Twitter here.
Learn the 3 Steps to Amazing Conversation
Make every conversation count. Discover our 3 step, science backed formula to mastering conversation without losing your authenticity.