How to Rewire the Brain to Overcome Fear and Become Successful

Adiel Gorel
Just recently, during my conversation with Pandit Dasa or the Urban Monk we discussed the fact that as a species, humans tend to dwell so much more on the negative than the positive. This is something that I also discussed with James Garrett, teacher of the psychology of success and founder of a hugely successful social startup. James and I discussed neuroplasticity and how it is actually possible to change the physical structure and the hardwiring of the mind. In particular we spoke of the fears and inhibitions that tend to hold back our success and our happiness. 

The psychology of success.

According to James, we may have 99% positive experiences, but that one bad thing is what occupies center stage in our minds. It is this that is the root of collective discontent, he says, and I agree. So are we doomed to dwell on the negative and wallow in that misery? Actually, no. We can consciously overcome that instinctive urge to stew in what hurts and to shift focus to what feels good. James speaks about Rick Hansen who advocates taking 10 seconds to savor positive things, and how this can help us create a habit of positivity.
Misery can be a choice. We can choose not to be miserable. We can make happier choices. For instance, James tells me about his choice between being with his 8-month-old son and sharing in the joys of his daily discoveries, or doing the dishes. He advocates making the choice that makes us feel calm, peaceful and content.

Learning positive behaviors and unlearning negative behaviors.

James speaks of making certain positive movements every day, creating daily behaviors and habits to rewire the brain. Thanks to what we now know about the changeability of the brain, what we call neuroplasticity, it is actually possible to rewire the brain for happiness instead of anxiety.
One of the ways in which this mindset can come about is by expressing gratitude – for instance, listing three things that you are grateful for just as you brush your teeth before bed at night. This leaves you in a positive frame of mind before sleep and creates a healthy habit. This is not easy to do because the world has taught us that life is hard. We have been conditioned to feel that way, so savoring our joys and reveling in the positive is actually going against the grain.

Reclaiming happiness.

One of the things that James teaches people is the art of being happy. We tend to be oriented towards safety and not happiness. We find safety and security in familiarity even when that familiarity is inimical to our wellbeing. Witness how people stay in abusive relationships simply because it is the devil they know. And it is always a case of better the devil you know than the devil you don’t!
One of the reasons why being happy is something that so many people have to learn is because of their upbringing and social conditioning. Those of us who have been brought up in environments of unconditional love tend to offer this to others as adults. Children brought up in spaces where their feelings and words were validated by appropriate responses from adults grow up better adjusted and more confident. For instance, a child whose feelings and concerns remained unheard may be hesitant to offer up a good idea in, say a boardroom setting as an adult.
In the course of our conversation we also speak about Barry Kaufman and the work he has done in the Post Maslow hierarchy of needs, about the way dopamine works in the brain and more. James also answers a rather basic question I have about laziness. I learned a lot from our conversation and you will too! Listen in. 
Adiel Gorel

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