9 Little Known Ways to Positively Influence Your Brain

Do you consider yourself stuck in who you are and don’t believe you can change your thoughts?  Well, you’re not alone.   Many people have this fixed belief that they are who they are.  Over the past twenty or so years, scientists have been peeling back this stereotype and discovering that a lot of how we feel or think is linked to our environment and actions in it.  This article is a collection of some of the findings and how they can be applied to your life for powerful results.

I picked the phenomena on this list because I found them to be the most interesting or impactful.  The items listed are all across many aspects of life, but they all add value to your life if you incorporate them into your life.  Some of the things on this list may seem obvious, but when we discuss and prove them with science it makes it easier to believe and work them into your everyday life.

Regardless of whether you find what you’re looking for in this article, one thing I hope you take from it is the impact of your actions on your outcome.  No one can make you improve your life but you.  If you think that the reason you fail or feel bad is not your fault then you won’t have any urge to improve.

Smile for Science

I bet you take your smile for granted and think that you smile only when you’re happy, but that’s not entirely true.  Science has proven that a simple genuine smile (with your face not just your mouth) can do amazing things to both you and those around you.  Many people have researched the effects of smiling from increasing your immune system to actually making you happier.  This article written by Dr. Mark Stibich entitled Top 10 Reasons You Should Smile Every Day provides 8 other real benefits of smiling.  The enormous value of smiling should not be forgotten so when you’re having a bad day just fake it until you make it.

Breathing for Alertness

Breathing is one of the most important bodily functions but what if you can use it to change the way you feel.  I’ve seen many new products that claim to give you more energy and alertness.   Unfortunately, many of them are very harmful.  Bhastrika or Bellows Breath is a simple breathing technique used to invigorate the mind and body instantly.  If you start to feel groggy or unfocused this technique will kick start your mind and give you a second wind.  This article written by the editors of Chopra.com explains How and Why to Perform Bhastrika Breath.

Perception and Portion Control

The number of weight loss plans, pills, and practice that claim to be the best and most effective way to lose weight is unreal.  The problem with this is that they are either a scam or they are really hard to maintain.  In evaluating weight loss plans, the most important thing to consider is the level of difficulty because it makes it easier to keep up with it long enough to see results.  A key component to weight loss is the amount of food you eat and it turns out you can actually trick your body into feeling fuller on less.  Basically, the idea is to make the food on your plate look like it’s more than it is by using smaller plates in colors that don’t blend in with the color of the food.  This article written by habit guru James Clear explains the logic and research behind these 2 Easy Ways to Weight Loss.

The Benefits of Writing

Language is the architect of thought.  That includes everything in your brain including facts, fears, ideas, emotions, and ambitions.  It’s hard to truly understand what’s up there competing for the center stage of your mind, but they all influence how you feel and act.  Writing is a great way to take command of everything that’s floating around up there.  It allows you to recognize what’s causing your anxiety, fear, or stress so you can remove the anchor and set sail.  It is also a great way to consolidate and declutter your thoughts in an effort to foster creativity and productivity.  These are only a few of the many benefits of writing every day.  This inspiring article written by prolific writer Gregory Ciotti does an amazing job of laying out the many Psychological Benefits of Writing.  You may wonder what you should write about and the answer is let the pen tell you.

Physical Clutter Affects the Brain

Do you feel out of control, overwhelmed, or anxious?  It may be because your surroundings are overloaded with unnecessary or unorganized clutter.  Research has shown that an untidy and incomplete environment can lead to added stress and an inability to truly relax.  The act of cleaning, organizing, and removing the unnecessary on the other hand can give you more mental space and energy while washing away negative emotions.  Declutter your home and your head written by Brian Johnston of BodyandSoul.com does a great job of explaining the essence of decluttering and provides a straightforward set of tips to declutter your home.

Forgetting Through the Door

Have you ever left a room to go do something and suddenly forgotten what it was you were doing in the span of a few seconds.  It turns out that you’re not crazy, it’s a phenomenon known as the doorway effect.  Basically, when you walk through the door your brain is getting rid of information it thinks it doesn’t need anymore, but a lot of times you do actually need it.  This article on Psych2Go.com does a great job of explaining the Doorway Effect in an entertaining approach.  This concept can easily be used to try and forget something or gain a fresh perspective when you find yourself stuck.

Naturally Warm your Body

As it turns out science has proven that you can actually change your body temperature and how cold you feel without a heater or blanket.  Tummo Meditation is an ancient form of meditation used by monks in the Himalayas to warm their body in extreme cold.  It has two elements, Vase Breathing and visualization.  Vase Breathing is basically the practice of taking a deep breath and holding it in while contracting your stomach, but when you do exhale keep some of your air in.  Vase Breathing and visualizing flames up your spine are great ways to trick your body into warming itself.  The meditation website Zempra.com has a great article about Beating the Cold through Meditation that talks about this technique and several other more advanced techniques.  I highly recommend this article if you find yourself frozen in the cold often.

The Power of Touch

It seems intuitive and a lot of you probably do it on a regular basis, but science has proven the true power of touch.  We are highly social animals and it turns out that the touch of others promotes the production of oxytocin in the body.  The effects of oxytocin include lowering blood pressure, decreasing stress, and increasing pain tolerance.  You may not realize it, but sometimes you go a long time without the touch of another person.  This article written by Robin Donovan of SparkPeople.com about The Healing Power of Touch does a great job of summarizing this phenomenon, as well as providing practical ways to incorporate touch in your life.  Get out there and touch people.

Giving is Receiving

Let’s face it we need each other, but the reality is many people don’t help or give to others because they care only about themselves.  You can’t blame them because after all we are born with the sole purpose of survival.  What selfish people need to realize is that giving to others isn’t only about the benefit of the other person.  It turns out that research has shown that giving has as much benefit to the giver as is to the receiver.  In addition, to the social benefits of giving it is a great way to lower stress and feel happier in life.  This article written by Jill Suttie and Jason Marsh of GreaterGood.com explains 5 Ways Giving is Good for You.  The power of giving can be utilized by helping out the needy or giving gifts to people you love.  If you don’t think you’re good at finding the right gift, I recommend checking out this article I wrote on Giving the Perfect Gift.

My entire blog is dedicated to learning, which is another great way to influence your mind.  By encountering the information that means the most to you, it reinforces the values you want in your life.  Learning allows you to design a brain with the knowledge you want.  I recommend you subscribe to my mailing list or follow me on social media so that I can help you find the best places to learn the things that you want to feed your mind

These are my favorite ways to improve my mind in everyday life.  There are many more out there and I’d love to hear what you would like to add to this list.

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