According to neuroscience studies, the adage that you should ‘be careful what you ask for’ has more teeth to it than you might imagine. Your brain is very good at attending to whatever you direct it to.
You can increase your brain’s considerable input on thoughts, goals and ideas if you learn to ask your brain nicely and deliberately to get involved. You can create your perfect world if you know what you’re looking for and – perhaps more importantly – if you pay attention to how your brain is fed.
This process works with negative thoughts, as well. If you are dwelling on the bad stuff, it will find you more quickly and readily, and you won’t be primed for the things that will make you successful. Good things need to be noticed. We generally have to be more deliberate about the positive. Your brain will help you find innovative ways to do it. Just prime it, and it will be there for you.
Making your thoughts work for you
Here are a few tips on how to harness the power of your brain:
1. Keep a sleep journal
Every night before you go to bed, write a few pressing questions in a notebook. Go to sleep. Research shows that much of the insight you experience happens while you’re focused on not focusing. For the brain to do its magic, it needs to be untethered from biases, judgement and negative self-talk.
That freedom happens while you sleep. If you continue to do this on a regular basis, you’ll train your brain to make the connections to find the answer you’re looking for.
Innovative and creative Google is famous for its play areas. Many look at the Ping Pong tables as a quirky perk. In reality, they are a genius way to unlock the brain and allow it to wander without paying attention. The brain gets to do the awake version of what it does when it sleeps.
Any play activity is just a way for the brain to attend to the problems you’ve been focused on without your cognitive brain butting in with its biases and opinions. Play allows you to see new things.
When you have a big question, the worst thing you can do is to try to solve it immediately. When you do, you limit the more than one quadrillion possible connections in your brain to just a few old tried-and-true tricks. If you have something huge that needs to be solved, give it time. Have deep discussions about it and then leave it.
Research shows that the ‘aha moment’ comes after you’ve worked a problem from every angle without coming up with an answer. You might actually get frustrated searching for the answer; then you walk away from it and let your subconscious take over.
In a few hours, a few days… maybe a couple of weeks, your brain delivers because it’s been scanning the environment the entire time, looking for connections and answers.
So tell your brain about the life you’re looking for. Let your subconscious do its magic. Put good things in your head, be open to success showing up in unlikely places. And then get out of the way. Aha! You knew that already.