By Justin Popovic, Ignite Your Essence
The title of this article has been named after a chapter in the powerful personal development and business development book called “The Answer” by John Assaraf and Murray Smith. This book has had such a positive impact on my business and personal life that I felt compelled to share what I have learned and how I have applied it in my world.
John Assaraf has been studying personal growth philosophies as well as brain science for the better part of 25 years. When he refers to a “universe” inside of our brains, he makes an excellent analogy. When I think of the universe, I think of a huge array of systems and processes that flow together in perfect harmony. And that is exactly what our brains do. With the latest developments in science and technology, we now know more about the brain than at any other time in human history.
With that in mind, anyone interested in achieving success, developing their potential and living a fulfilled life would be very wise to spend some significant time learning about this “supercomputer” we have in our heads. Whether you realize it or not, your brain has been programmed to control your behaviour and is directly responsible for the results you are producing in your life. This is where “The Answer” comes in and where I have been able to personally implement some life changing ideas.
One lesson that had significant impact on me was the fact that our conscious brain is responsible for only 2-4% of our behaviour. This means that 96-98% of what we do every single day is managed and controlled by our nonconscious brain. We don’t have to think about these tasks, they are taken care of without our conscious awareness. Examples I have noticed for myself include sitting in a chair, getting dressed, chewing food, writing notes and even driving my car. These tasks did require my conscious attention at some point earlier in my life, but through repetition have become “installed” in my nonconscious brain.
What’s amazing is that it is almost impossible to list out all of the activities we perform on a daily basis because there are so many. With the awareness that only 2-4% of these activities require us to think, it becomes quite obvious that using will power or other similar forcing functions to reach a major goal in life is futile at best. The true solution is to reprogram the nonconscious section of the brain so that those automatic actions work for us and move us toward our goals.
Here is one example of how I have made this work personally. Knowing that I had many goals that I had not yet reached and being aware of this conscious/non conscious relationship, I was able to sit down and mentally review my self-limiting thoughts and behaviours. Some of my personal examples included wasting time reading unimportant email, eating a snack when I was not truly hungry, reacting with anger when a situation did not go as I wanted it to, starting a good business book but not completing or implementing it (the list goes on as well). By simply becoming aware of these nonconscious habits, I have been able to organize my own personal development routines to replace these actions with more positive empowering ones. I will shed more light on this as we move forward in this article.
Another lesson that I learned from “The Answer” has to do with what some people call ‘self-image’ or in the case of this book, the ‘thermostat in your brain’. This idea was originally described in the 1950’s by Dr.Maxwell Maltz in his famous book “Psycho-Cybernetics”. Essentially, this part of our brain is responsible for keeping us safe and free from danger. It also keeps us on track with a set point much like a thermostat would do for the temperature in a house or an autopilot would do for an airplane. The problem is that our self-image sets the boundaries of our comfort zone and so it can prevent people from taking action that will bring them happiness and success if those actions require perceived risk.
For me personally, I have always had the goal of having a toned figure with very low bodyfat and respectable muscle mass. While I have been quite disciplined at maintaining a fitness routine, my personal thermostat was not set at the same level as my goal. I had always been anywhere from 20-40lbs overweight for the majority of my life. Eating and drinking habits were my biggest challenge points.
When I first got entrenched in personal development, I started to make some physical changes. I got down very close to my ideal bodyweight after years of trying to do so (I had actually done so once in the past only to gain all of the weight back). Even though I worked hard to get to that level, I still did not have the specific body shape and tone that I had always dreamed of. Despite my efforts, I still had lingering habits (of eating and drinking) that, in hindsight, I did not realize were problematic until I starting studying the ideas in “The Answer”.
When I learned about the process of ‘rewiring your brain’ to make significant and lasting changes in personal results, good things began to happen. In essence, if we want to ingrain a new habit into our behaviour, we have to “physically forge new neural pathways within the tissues of your brain.” This is not a process that happens overnight, but rather, something that takes time and repetition.
Once I actually understood this process and studied what was going inside of my brain, I knew what I had to do to reach my fitness goals. I created a 90 day challenge for myself. The challenge included the introduction of 3 major behavioural changes:
- Some form of physical exercise every day for 90 days.
- Healthy diet and refraining from eating beyond feeling full for 90 days.
- Refrain from all alcoholic drinks for 90 days.
I have also created some visual reminders of my ideal body that I have placed all over my office so that I see them every day.
At the time of the writing of this article, I am just coming to the end of day 32;- over one-third of the way through my challenge. I already feel like all 3 of these behaviours are part of my new “self”. I have been blogging my daily routine day by day at www.justinpopovic.com and it has been amazing to observe my experiences while being aware of exactly what was happening inside my brain.
More importantly, by the end of this initial 90 day test, I will have a new system of success that I can use for the rest of my life to continually grow and expand my capabilities and improve my day-to-day habits so that they support the goals and visions I hold for my life!
If you are not familiar with Assaraf’s work, you might want to check out his profile at http://www.johnassaraf.com/meet_john.php.