Our brain is an incredibly complex instrument that we use to literally shape reality. Although thinking is the foundation of a happy life, we don’t learn about it at school.
How can you work better with your mind and make full use of its potential? How to think right and change your life to be happier?
The brain we have today is a relative novelty. Two hundred thousand years is a short time in evolutionary terms. Even within our species, it is constantly evolving, and we think differently than our ancestors did.
In the last hundred years alone, the world has changed beyond recognition. We communicate, work and manage society in a completely different way, which places enormous demands on our brains, as they are not built for the present day.
That is why so many people suffer from anxiety and depression nowadays. Fortunately, our minds are largely adaptive and we can reprogram them in many ways if we know how to.
Before going into the pros,we need to know the cons and the limitations. We have many relics of the past in our heads, parts of the brain that we inherited from mammals.
Unjustified aggression, incomprehensible flight or other unexpected reactions may at first glance look like madness, but they are always based on a complex decision-making process in which emotions play a significant role.
There are studies in which scientists have used simple tricks to show how the brain can be switched to animal behaviour.
For example, if a few patients in a waiting room stand up then we stand up too without thinking about it, and as soon as people start running away, we run too. We have hundreds of reflexes like this inside us, which are not harmful in themselves and are often cute, but then again, we need to identify if lower brain function is preventing us from happiness, e.g. it could mean an excessive appetite for food, inappropriate aggression or addiction of any kind.
We cannot turn off our lower self, but with a few tricks we can control it and not lose control in crisis situations. Just as 10% of people can keep their cool during a train accident and put their emotions on hold, so can you. It’s just a matter of knowing how your mind works and, of course, practice.
As for the pluses, even the thousands of books that have already been written about the mind are not enough to account for them. Our brain is essentially a supercomputer that works perfectly reliably 99% of the time. It can invent and run nuclear power plants, build and maintain cities, or put a man on the moon. Not to mention the arts – look at the amount of music, paintings, films and books there is, where man has created entire worlds and universes.
But even the best supercomputers in the world sometimes make mistakes. It can be the right decision at the wrong time, the right decision applied to the wrong situation, and dozens of other combinations. This is then compounded in us by decisions made under duress when we are tired, scared or not thinking clearly. Some things aren’t even consciously decided, but are determined by reflexes. For example, we can’t stop breathing or stop our own hearts.
Tip: There are many books, podcasts and programs focusing on correct thinking. We can each find the author and form that suits us best.
Your brain is not just any supercomputer, it is your supercomputer! Its basic functions include solving your problems. All you have to do is make a request. However, every programmer must first learn a programming language before they can interact with the system. Likewise we should know how to talk to ourselves. Now comes the best part – it’s not complicated at all!. You just have to observe your mind for a while to learn to listen to it, or study a little, but basically you communicate with it like any other person. According to psychologists, talking to yourself is not harmful — they even recommend it.
A crucial factor for the reliability of decision-making is the available data, in other words, experience. If we have already been in the situation and have somehow dealt with it, the probability of a correct solution increases by tens of percent points. That is why we are so afraid of change.
Our mind knows that in an unfamiliar environment it will initially make many mistakes, which in the past could have meant death, today only a loss of certainty. Hence it wants to protect us by not sending usi into a new environment until we convince it that it is worth investing time and energy in the short term to make us happier in the long term.
Although scientists have been researching the brain for many years, it is still a great unknown to us. There is no point in trying to understand it in detail, but it is important to learn how to work with it. It is similar to a computer, where we do not need to know how the processor, memory storage and other components work; we just need to have everything we require to work on it. If you find that you need to learn something new about your mind, simply focus upon it until you acquire that knowledge.
The most important thing to understand about our mind is its bias. We are not objective, we see everything through our filter of experience and our image of the world. We automatically ignore things that we evaluate as unimportant or even harmful. That’s good! You really don’t want to see, hear and feel everything or you’d go mad. So our brains filter the information as soon as it comes in and pick out what’s important.
If you get the feeling you’re missing something in your life, just adjust this filter to keep that information in the foreground. Because of the vast amount of data, we should regularly defragment our minds, which happens when we sleep. Getting enough quality sleep is as crucial as energy and nutrients, so if we don’t take good care of our bodies, our minds also languish. As for reconfiguring filters, just remember how our perception works. Our consciousness is like an operating system with programs and subroutines running (the subconscious).
If there are lots of programs running, the system is unstable, so I recommend only bringing up the things you really need from your subconscious. To a large extent we ourselves decide what programs we have on the main desktop so we have them under constant surveillance. In simple terms, whatever we focus on will be amplified. Not only do we then perceive the events as the only reality, but we also support that with our actions.
By realigning your attention, you can solve many of your problems. Do you want to be happier? Focus more on similar emotions such as love, gratitude or humility. Do you feel happy but want to change something in your life? Then focus on that area. Identify exactly as many negative stimuli as you need to improve. Let the rest run in the background so it doesn’t overwhelm you. In other words, don’t worry about what you don’t want to or can’t control at the moment.
We often have people pigeonholed because we focus on certain characteristics, but what if you changed the filter to see them more as they really are? You’ll get on better with them then and ultimately be happier.
Perhaps you have never before directed your mind like this, so it has been occupied with other people’s problems. Now you can task it to help you get what you are missing in your life. It is all just a matter of time and energy, which are limited resources, so first ask yourself if you really need a particular thing. When you get it, will it make you happier? If so, how can you get it or at least temporarily substitute for it?
It may be more peace of mind, more interesting work, more time or money, sex, better health or relationships. Your mind can sort all this out, you just need to prioritize. It is the perfect co-worker that won’t get you down with silly questions or unnecessary details. Always focus on no more than three things, ideally one, at any given time. If you want to do something properly, don’t let anything distract you, and leave the rest on autopilot.
Our minds work on the basis of repetition and patterns. The neural connections that are used are strengthened, while those that are not used slowly fade away. This happens in order to give your brain sufficient capacity. You’ve probably developed a number of bad habits that are somehow preventing you from achieving happiness, and you’re eager to change them.
These might involve overeating, nail biting, smoking, or less obvious things like seeing only the worst in people, humiliating ourselves in front of others, running away when someone tells us an unpleasant truth or whatever else. It took some time to form the bad habit, so it takes a while for the connection to weaken. The ideal is to replace it with a new habit.
If it bothers you that you swear too much, replace the swear word with another. At first, you won’t realize you used the word until you think back…
As you practise and reinforce the new connection every day, you will be able to replace the offending expression earlier and earlier until you can do so before you have even spoken it.
The same key moment works for other bad habits. Maybe you stop on your way to the fridge and realize that you’re not actually hungry. In the final stage, you only vaguely remember the old word or habit.
Relearning takes a few weeks, but it works. If you want to change something, just focus on it systematically and don’t despair if it doesn’t work at first.
If you have been down in the dumps, it will take a while to dig yourself out. It may not seem like it, but this is good. To get back on your feet, you need to change a lot of things, which has its own momentum. The next time you find yourself hanging over the abyss, it will be the attitudes, beliefs and habits acquired during the crisis that will prevent you from falling back into it.
Read more about this topic in the article How to overcome failure.
You need to give your thinking some order and systematization. Regular walks or other activity will help, when you get the blood flowing and you have a chance to sort out your thoughts. Have you seen the movie Inception? Every idea has enormous power and can make life a paradise or hell on earth. Therefore it is essential to monitor ideas, sort them out and reinforce those beneficial to your life.
Do you say to yourself that dozens of thoughts pass through your head every minute and that a normal person has no chance to work with them? But remember, this is your mind that you have given a task, so it will only present those thoughts that are worth your attention.
It’s a matter of hundreds, maybe thousands of voices a day – one moment your stomach makes itself heard, followed by your conviction that you shouldn’t eat after six, the TV is talking politics and you start thinking about it, the baby is screaming, the dog is barking… Not to mention that you will soon discover that your views are not necessarily your own, but that you have subconsciously taken them on. It may be your best friend’s attitude, it may be your boss talking through you, or it may be something you once heard from your grandmother.
Working with your own thoughts may appear difficult at first, especially if you haven’t done it before, but you will learn it eventually. Retrospection is important for two reasons – it allows you to understand your mind better, and it gives you the detachment you require.
Tip: Get a notebook to record your main thoughts of the day. You may find that after a week you spend most of your time thinking about something of no real value to you, but the main thing is to understand yourself better.
It can be a help to ask questions like: “What am I thinking about right now? How does it make me feel?”
Don’t judge, don’t be shy, be honest. These are your thoughts, and you don’t have to hide anything from yourself after all.”
Emotions are excitations of neurons in your brain. Extremely complex, they are interconnected both with your own and those around you, but they are still only excitations. You can to a large extent control them. Not to underestimate them, but remember you have power over them, not the other way around. As with ideas, it takes time to learn to work with them. This brings us to the key thing you’ll need when making a change – willpower. Most people know what has to be done – they just aren’t in control of themselves. They have failed so many times in their efforts and they don’t have the willpower to change it. Or so they think at least.
There are always a thousand reasons not to do something important. There is a simple trick to procrastination – exercise willpower gradually. Want to start running? Learn to go for walks every day first. Then maybe just run the first mile so you can gradually build up. If you succeed in one area, you can then transfer willpower to another. Gradually, you will gain more and more control over your life, and your self-confidence will grow along with it. Sometimes you will take a step back on your journey, but that is all part of growing.
There are many tools to help you work with your mind. I mentioned journalling, reinforcing helpful thoughts and patterns, strengthening your willpower and taking walks. For me, the following are still important:
Life isn’t always fair. Bad things even happen to good people. The important thing is not to let ourselves be beaten. Nelson Mandela spent 28 years in prison. During that time he didn’t become bitter but he did become a better man. Once he was released, he did not seek revenge or feel sorry for himself, but he did become the President of South Africa and one of the most respected leaders of our time. There are some well-known stories of captured soldiers and prisoners in concentration camps who were not broken even by unimaginable suffering. Why did some suffer after their return and were never able to enjoy life again, while some of their colleagues were able to live again? They took the right attitude that nothing and no one could destroy them unless they allowed it.
Another useful approach is to maintain a good mood for most of the day. We then see solutions that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise, everything works out one way or another and we feel happy.
Don’t forget that to a large extent you determine what mood you will be in. There may be a storm raging on the surface of the ocean (the external world), but a few metres below the surface (your inner world) it’s calm. You’ll never have control over your external circumstances, but you can learn to control your inner self and experiences.
These form the basis for personal development. If you have problems with overeating, write on a piece of paper, “I have control over my body. I only eat when I’m really hungry.”
Repeat the phrase several times a day, say it to yourself before going to bed, repeat it when you wake up. What is said a hundred times becomes the truth. Be careful, however, to use this tool wisely, and if you are putting a new belief in your head in this way, let it be something that really makes you stronger and makes you a better person.
A bad mood comes from a build-up of negative energy. If the body and mind are working well, they naturally rid themselves of such energy and toxins. Unfortunately, it often happens that we block ourselves and keep the bad stuff inside. We are angry with ourselves or someone else, we feel like taking revenge, or we self-harm. If we don’t deal with these emotions for a long time, they penetrate deeper into our core and then we believe things like we don’t deserve to be happy, we don’t deserve anything and other such nonsense. There are also serious illnesses associated with them, because those afflicted in this way usually don’t take care of their bodies. It is thus necessary to prevent the accumulation of negative energy and to practise daily mental hygiene.
Before going to bed, say to yourself:
“I forgive myself, I love myself and I thank you for today.”
Or, “I am willing and open to receive all the goodness and love of the universe.”
Or whatever else makes you feel good.
Although it may not seem like it at first glance, working with your head is not that difficult, and above all, it can be fun . All you have to do is listen to yourself, and your mind, or soul, will always advise you on the essential things you need to know for the moment. Once you learn to communicate with yourself, you will see that your relationships with others will also improve.
When we’re in the middle of a serious problem, and can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, our perception is cloudy, so we often make the whole thing worse unintentionally. How to handle stressful situations so we get through them as quickly as possible?
Despite the fact that hundreds of books were written about two people living together, how many couples can actually say that they are completely happy? Does a perfect relationship even exist? The most important thing is to completely forget about the things your parents told you and stop copying other couples.
We can completely stop growing as a person when we fall in love with the wrong one. We have to face the same problems as any other addicted person. Maybe even worse, as being addicted to another person is generally not discussed sufficiently. How to deal with addiction to another person?
Jakub has a unique style of writing that grabs the reader from the first lines. His books are not only thrilling, but also full of spiritual messages that can change the lives of individuals and show how we can ultimately transform our society. „We all deserve to be happy,“ he says. „I wrote The Choice to help people realize that. It’s the best feeling in the world when I can see how it has helped somebody to finally wake up and become a better version of themselves.“
– In the last 8 years he has written 100+ articles on personal development, which have been read over million times.
– His first book The Choice became a bestseller in Czech Republic and was published worldwide in 2018