Let’s talk about that today.
“I really want to finish my college degree.”
“I really want to lose this weight.”
“I really want to repair that relationship.”
All of us really “want” to do things.
BUT WANTING IS NOT DOING!
So why is so hard to get our rears in gear and go after the goals we say we cherish?
Some years ago, psychologist Hugh Pates offered a rather direct answer
“If you’re wondering what it is you really want to do, WHAT YOU’RE DOING RIGHT NOW IS WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO DO!”
So let’s change that language a bit.
There are lots of things you “would like to do.” However, if there’s something you really “want to do,” you’d be doing it right now.
Here’s the point. As soon as you genuinely want to do something, you’ll automatically start behaving in that direction.
So…the the key question is…”How can I change a “Like-to-Do” into a “Want-to-Do?”
First of all, our brains are wired up for surviving in a dangerous world. Our brains therefore have a neural structure called the amygdala that is selectively tuned into danger signals.
And….it is only when we were out of danger – do we have the luxury of thinking about more rewarding experiences, such as the coming of Spring, or the fun we’d have with our best friends or family,. With our minds at peace – and our amygdala on stand-by – we can create, write, paint, make music, write poetry, and tell stories.
The challenge however, is that our brains have a lop-sided mind-set; we are wired to expect unpleasant experiences rather than to fantasize about pleasurable ones.
However (and here’s the exciting part), once we are aware of this lop-sided mind-set, we are only ‘stuck’ with it when we say we are!
You see, your brain believes EVERYTHING you tell it…WITHOUT QUESTION, and it only locks onto what you deem as important, or realistic, or necessary.
In other words, it is simply a matter of selling ourselves on a new way of deploying our attention?
It’s a “blinding flash of the obvious,” perhaps, but maybe it all gets down to concentrating on the “joys” instead of the “jolts.”
And here’s the exciting part.
When you lock onto a new more positive mind-set, YOUR BRAIN ACTUALLY REWIRES ITSELF (CALLED NEUROPLASTICITY) SO THAT NEW MINDSET ACTUALLY BECOMES A PART OF WHO YOU ARE, HOW YOU THINK, AND WHAT YOU ARE BECOMING.
Let’s consider an example.
You’ve probably known a smoker who knows he “needs to stop.” When asked about quitting, he replies, “I’m not ready yet,” and changes the subject.
Well…he is probably remembering some very unpleasant memories associated with quitting; the jolts, the cravings, the fatigue, the restlessness, and the irritability.
So what does NOT come flooding into his memory is the joys of nonsmoking:
- Feeling better after that first week or two
- Having more energy
- Freedom from the cravings
- The end of the constant hacking cough;
- And the special joy that comes with a feeling of accomplishment.
These joys do not flood into his memory. How could they? HE HAS NOT EXPERIENCED THEM YET!
And yet, ALL OF US go through these little rituals of avoidance every day?
Do I tell myself I want to lose that weight, but instantly cancel the idea because I can’t start until next month? Or am it avoiding that crucial conversation with someone because I dread the jolts more than anticipate the joys? Is my “bucket list” accumulating checkmarks, or just gathering dust?
So, how can my smoking friend – or you, or I – cross over that bridge that separates like-to’s from want-to’s?
Well, it turns out that the method is incredibly simple. All we need to do is tally up the imagined joys and the actual jolts and then look at the difference.
Simply take a sheet of paper, draw two columns, labeling one “Jolts” and the other one “Joys.”
Using your sensory memory, call up the actual feelings – the unpleasant ones you have experienced for each of the jolts in the past, and write them in the “Jolts” column.
Next, imagine the joys you will experience when you are on top of your demon. Savor those positive memories and the whole-body sensations that came along with them. Remember, in a primitive, sensory, hedonistic way, how you will feel, and write them in your “Joys” column.
Armed with his deliberately rigged scorecard, you now have a better chance of conquering your demons, because you really want to.
YOUR BRAIN DOESN’T CARE WHETHER THOSE IMAGINED JOYS ARE TRUE OR NOT! All it cares is what you tell it!!! So when you imagine them, and then LOCK ONTO them, it rewires itself…before they even come about…AND THEN IT BEGINS LOOKING FOR WAYS TO MAKE THOSE JOYS COME IN YOUR LIFE…