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10 Practical Ways to Control Your Brain on Purpose

May 9th, 2012 Kevin

Did my brain just happen to me?

Did your brain just happen to you? Have you ever wondered, “Did my brain just happen to me?” My friend Christine just shared that wonderful sentiment with me today. As in, where did my brain come from, anyway? Have you ever wondered what relationship you have with your brain? Did your brain just happen to you or by any chance did you happen to it?

Looking for the top ten list of things to do to control your brain?

Skip to the bottom of the blog. Otherwise, enjoy some stories first.

My Roman chariot

I used to drive around Los Angeles in a vintage 1993 Toyota Tercel I named Agnes. When I did so I felt special. The reason? Simple: I paid no attention to the sport cars around me and instead I compared my ride to the best ancient chariot Rome had ever seen. I was the top dog gladiator with my shiny, brand-spanking new Fire Engine Red, hot Toyota Tercel (my friends would later call it a “Turdcell,” and never mind them).

Mindset is everything

I now know why that little trick of thinking about ancient Roman chariots helped me. My brain let me feel better by using that perspective. We can do other tricks with our brains too. For example, my friend Rich was the best dater I knew in high school. Most of us were still malformed kids, pimples and all, and he was no different. Yet he had a miraculous way with “the ladies.” He was so composed, so sure and confident of himself, he bordered on “cocksure” (look, it’s in the dictionary, although more funny in context).

How does he do it?

“What’s with you and the ladies,” my friend Eric asked Rich one day. “How’s it possible you do so well getting all those dates?”

“Oh, it’s nothing,” Rich replies nonchalantly. “They are all lesbians.”

Huh?

Did he just say, “They are all lesbians?”

What we pay attention to matters

You bet, he told my friend. His tactic: reduce all self-inflicted pressure of “scoring” with the ladies by approaching them as if they were not interested in him one little bit. This placed him at complete ease with himself and them.

What does all this have to do with controlling my brain on purpose?

I simply wanted to feel at peace in one of the showiest car cities in the world and Rich wanted to date pretty women. Control over our brains with these tricks helped us avoid low self esteem (me) or the anxiety of getting shot down by a disinterested woman (Rich).

These tricks let us resource our brains on purpose

Now that I have studied how our brains work, I know why the tricks we used to deal with potential envy or heightened anxiety worked. The tricks helped us to resource our brains differently then they would by themselves. In other words, we resourced our brains with our minds, on purpose, to help avoid negative outcomes and achieve positive ones instead.

Ten practical ways to control your brain on purpose

Here is a list of brain resourcing tactics you might recommend to some folks. These are things you can do to take control over from the “brain that just happened to me.” Good luck trying them out.

Sincerely,

Kevin Leahy

Austin, Texas

www.KnowledgeAdvocate.com

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10 Things You Can Do To Control Your Brain With Your Mind

1. DO MATH TO STOP NEGATIVE SELF TALK

When you ruminate on negative thoughts, remember instead to calculate math equations.

You take away energy from some of your language centers when you do math and stop self-talk in its tracks.

2. LABEL YOUR FEELINGS TO DAMPEN EMOTIONS

When feelings happen, remember to name them.

Labeling our feelings as emotions directly dampens their impact and allows time to reflect and reappraise.

3. EYEBROWS UP TO REMOVE ANGER

When you are driving and someone invades your space, remember to lift your eyebrows up.

You cannot stay angry with your eyebrows up since that gesture resources different areas than anger.

4. LEAN FORWARD TO PLAN AND IMAGINE

When you are feeling anxious, remember to lean forward to move mental energy into the front brain.

Moving energy from the middle brain to the front brain reduces your brain’s ability to generate anxiety.

5. KEEP YOUR EYES AND EARS ON TARGET TO INCREASE FOCUS

When you need to focus, remember to lock your vision and hearing on the same target.

Attention and focus follow what we see and hear so directing both on purpose keeps us on point.

6. BREATHE TO RELAX

When alarmed, remember to exhale for as long as you can and do that a few times.

When we practice long, purposeful exhales, it helps us activate our calming parasympathetic system.

7. TAP YOUR TONGUE TO FEEL BETTER

When you need to recenter, remember to tap your tongue 10-20 times at the spot above your front teeth.

Tapping your alveolar ridge helps refocus you and may also release thymosin, a helpful immune response hormone.

8. SHIFT YOUR EYES TO GAIN MEMORY AND PERSPECTIVE

When you need perspective quickly, remember to purposefully look from side to side for 30 seconds.

Focusing from side to side likely stimulates both sides of our brains, which helps memory and gains perspective.

9. CREATE ASSOCIATIONS TO REMEMBER NAMES

To remember a person’s name, remember to create a network of information connected to that name.

Our memory systems work best when we can store information as a series of connections or associations.

10. PLAY IMAGINARY SPORTS TO REDUCE SELF-FOCUS

To stop self-focused thoughts, remember to imagine playing your favorite sport for a minute or two.

Imagining physical activity moves energy from self-oriented regions to the motor and sensory regions.

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