Living A Life Of Purpose Part 1
The last 12 months have been a little different to how most people would have expected, but that’s the thing about life. You think it’s heading in one direction and then all of sudden it has a different plan.
So, let me ask you. What would you like to achieve over the next 12 months? If there were no restrictions, no limits, how different would your life be, compared to how it currently is? I believe that we are all here for a purpose and when we are living a life of purpose, we can live a very different one to the what we currently are living. Living a life of purpose is a very unique and personal experience, a phenomenon that’s so individual that I believe only you can actually know it or can figure it out and what it means to you.
So, the aim of this 3-part article is to provide some guidance and ways to think about what it is that you are creating in your life. In the words of Napoleon Hill, “What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve” There’s something really important that you need to remember. 90% of what you’ll think about today is no different to what you thought about yesterday.
Furthermore, an estimated 70% of all those continuous-loop thoughts running through your mind are negative and stopping, blocking or sabotaging your progress in life. See 95% of your life activity originates in the subconscious mind, which was conditioned by observing and mimicking others during the first seven years of your life. Nowadays those programs may be thought of as everyday responses we don’t pay attention to anymore, the reactions and actions that just happen automatically. In order to change our thought patterns, and improve gene responses, we need to think of our sub-conscious thoughts as not “good” or “bad”: just an accumulation of life snapshots that became established as stories in our mind that we now choose to live by. With each experience we have in life our eyes are like the lenses of a camera and they take “snapshots” of the different aspects that we are drawn to and focus on.
This is known as episodic memory and it’s a person’s unique memory of a specific event. What the brain then does is take each of those snapshots and blends them together to make the “movie” of the experience, which then becomes your memory of it and your version of the story. Science does not completely understand why we remember certain instances in our life while others go unrecorded in our episodic memories.
Though the key aspect is that our emotions play a key role in our formation of these memories. In that beautiful brain of yours sits the Amygdala. Its function is in the formation and storage of memories associated with emotional events. It’s part of our limbic system, which is highly involved with our emotions, feelings of pleasure, and memories. The Amygdala gets messages from all over the body and outside of the body through our senses. It takes the information and processes it to create an appropriate response to the messages it receives.
Think of the Amygdala as your black box, which stores everything about your life in its memory. It begins to store when you are born and does not miss anything from that moment, even though you may not remember or have limited memory of it. It can sift through experiences at lightning-fast speeds, mere milliseconds; it never stops, not even in our sleep, and it operates completely unconsciously, outside of our awareness.
The Amygdala responses relies entirely on unconscious memories of past experiences, so If you’ve been resourceful in coping in the past, and are accessing the more positive explicit memories, then your body’s alarm response system works well to avoid stress. However, most of the time our past experiences biased toward the negative meaning of an event, resulting in the brain assessing, interpreting, and then coming up with an action plan to respond to the stress.
So, if you witness a car crash, argue with your partner or get yelled at by your boss, it’s your Amygdala’s job to set off a cascade of stress related reactions, which is nothing more than a perceived danger rather than any real threat. Our brains are made up of billions of neurons. Neurons connect to one another, forming pathways that relay information. We learn things by forming neural connections in response to associations in our everyday experiences.
Take for example learning to drive a car, we experience the connection between red traffic lights and pressing the brake. We form a neural pathway for this association. Each time we brake at a red light, we reinforce and strengthen the neural pathway. As the saying goes, "Neurons that fire together, wire together." The more we practice something, the more we strengthen the pathway, and the easier the skill becomes, so that eventually our response can become almost automatic. This old thinking led us to believe that the generation of these pathways dropped off sharply around the age of 20, and then became permanently fixed around the age of 40, suggesting our brains are static, except during some critical developmental periods. Though with breakthroughs in science, what we now know is that our brain development is far from that. In fact, the human brain is continually changing in response to our lifestyle, physiology, and environment, just like our genes.
This concept is called Neuroplasticity — meaning, you are literally reforming your brain to change and adapt in response to each experience you have. This means that your brain possesses the remarkable ability to reorganize pathways, create new connections and, in some cases, even create new neurons throughout your entire lifetime. Your brain’s plasticity is also controlled by your diet and lifestyle choices, including exercise. Despite what the media tells you, your brain is not "programmed" to shrink and fail as you age. The foods you eat, exercise, emotional states, sleep patterns, and your level of stress—all of these factors influence your brain from one moment to the next.
So hopefully what you have now realised is that you’re not at the mercy of your genes or the dysfunctional neural pathways you might have developed in childhood. Your brain can literally be rewired, and you are doing so already—every day of your life! You are in the driver’s seat, so pay attention to the choices you make today, as they are forming the brain, you’ll have tomorrow. So, here’s the important point from this first part. What you believe you are worthy of, is what you can achieve in life. But remember its your past experiences that are dictating your worthiness. If you’re not achieving your goals in life and reacting to what’s happening rather than acting on what’s happening, then you need to change your behavioural patterns.
I leave you with this a simple and powerful technique that you can use to interrupt your behavioural patterns. It’s called Reframing, which means changing how you see a situation by putting a different spin on it. For example, suppose you have a child that is very opinionated. You might be tempted to consider this a problem thinking that your child is just too argumentative and doesn’t respect you. If you were to reframe the situation, however, you might consider how wonderful it is that your child can speak up his or her own mind and is capable of thinking for themselves too. You’ll never have to worry about anyone bullying them or leading them astray. So, find a situation that has a strong emotional impact on you, then follow the following steps.
1. Identify the unwanted behaviour (e.g procrastination, comfort eating, or bad time keeping)
2. Communicate with the part of you that’s creating the unwanted behaviour. Ask it to communicate consciously to you. You’ll feel a sensation in your body when it’s in agreement. Thank it.
3. Find the positive intention. Ask it what it wants and what positive outcome it is trying to achieve with the behaviour. For example, if you have a tendency to assume whenever a friend seems distant that they’re about to cut you out, the positive intention might be that it wants you to be prepared, to lessen the pain if it happens.
4. Ask for any other ways you could achieve the same result.
5. Ask the unconscious part of you to evaluate these ways and see if it’s prepared to accept them. You’ll feel it in your body when it’s accepted. If not, repeat Step 4 until you find a way that is accepted.
6. Check the new behaviour for how it will work in harmony with other areas of your life such as your relationships or work.
Dean Peak Performance Coach The aim of working with me is to help you find the clarity you need to perform at the highest levels consistently.