Advertising
Advertising

Autofocus Brain: 5 Tricks To Use Your Brain Like A Camera

Autofocus Brain: 5 Tricks To Use Your Brain Like A Camera

Think about the lens of an autofocus camera. Regardless of the distance, the focus adjusts itself in milliseconds to bring the object into sharp clarity and perfect focus.

Now, imagine if you could learn to use your brain to do that. Imagine if it could focus on various things in matters of milliseconds, seamlessly moving from one thought to another.

An Example on a Ship’s Bridge

If you are the bridge of my ship, you will find a symphony of random information flow and an orchestra of quick decisions.

I stand in command. We are a massive mammoth entering the Mississippi delta, about to pick up Pilot at the Southern end of the Mississippi river. With a draft of 40 feet, my ship is in waters not nearly deep enough. I have little room to maneuver and no room for error! Small vessels are whizzing past my bow and larger ones are coming downriver, often loaded, sluggish, and unpredictable. The port control is of little help in guiding me in. There is an efficient bridge team working for me. Everyone is on high alert. I am getting inputs from all ends.

Use your brain potential

    Here is the list of information packets that are reaching my brain at any given time:

    1. Speed and distance values in real time, as they keep changing.
    2. The possibility of ships and smaller vessels crossing my path at close quarters.
    3. Problems and changes in my ship’s engine parameters.
    4. Vessels departing anchorages heading towards me.
    5. Shallow patches of water creating difficulty in maneuvering.
    6. The Pilot boat is approaching and I need to slow down soon.
    7. There is a vessel behind trying to overtake me on my starboard side while I have another one on my port side.
    8. My agent wants to know my itinerary so that things can be arranged as soon as I enter the port.
    9. Port control is calling me on the radio to report to them.

    Not everything is going right as planned, so I also have additional information to consider:

    1. Technical difficulties I am facing with my ship.
    2. Unexpected movements by vessels around me.
    3. Difficulty in steering the vessel because of shallow depths (just to name a few).

    This continuous information flow is collected by my team and fed in real time into the primary central server — me. Besides, I also also have to control team frustration to prevent the system from crumbling.

    Here’s the thing: the default setting of a brain so bombarded by information is to get perplexed and confused. I just do not have that option. All of these inputs are being prioritized and filtered in real time by mere instinctive reflexes in my brain. Decisions are being made in seconds. One wrong decision can lead to a disaster. I am the last line of defense here.

    Overwhelming? Well, that’s just another day for us out at sea.

    Advertising

    Maximising your potential

      The Importance of Correct Decisions

      In several professions around the world, decisions have to be made in seconds or milliseconds. And just like me, some people cannot afford to make mistakes — the price is too high. You have to know how to use your brain!

      A concert master conducting an orchestra will pay the price with a ruined performance in front of an audience, perhaps a ruined career over one wrong gesture of his hand. A soldier in the battlefield is going to pay the price with his life for any wrong decision. The pilot of a Boeing 737 will pay with the lives of everyone on board.

      In every phase and every sector of life, high achievers need to develop this habit of making the right decisions immediately.

      To use your brain to its full potential takes more than intention. It takes training.

      When you get hit by several information inputs at once, an untrained brain gets mesmerized and overwhelmed. Productivity declines. The ability to prioritize declines. If prolonged, this can lead to cognitive impairment, where you are unable to make any decision. Your productivity drops to zero.

      However, that is not an option for some people. As I said before, our mistakes cost dearly. We have no room for error.

      The Mechanism of Pulling off a Successful Venture

      To make an operation succeed, you must have:

      1. The ability to use your brain to prioritize information in real time and to act on the highest priority in the moment.
      2. Once solved, the ability to shift focus immediately and concentrate on the next piece of information.

      How You Use Your Brain for Prioritizing

      Prioritizing comes with experience in the job. We prioritize based on the balance between 3 things:

      • The urgency of the decision (Urgency factor).
      • How easy the decision is (Difficulty Factor).
      • The consequence of the wrong decision (Consequence factor).

      In the boating example above, if I make a wrong call on a vessel coming out of the harbour, it can lead to a severe disaster, hence the high Consequence factor. I may have just a few seconds to make that decision – meaning there’s also a high Urgency factor. However, the decision may be elementary for me, meaning a low Difficulty factor. This decision will have to be given a lot of attention in the moment, and once made, the brain can shift into things of lesser priority. How you use your brain for those few seconds can make or break the situation.

      On the other hand, in the same example above, the agent is asking me for my itinerary. Even if I give him the wrong information, nothing disastrous is going to happen, hence a low Consequence factor. The information is easy for me to give, hence a low Difficulty factor and, frankly, it’s not very urgent either — a medium Urgency factor. This decision shall be postponed for later as it is not a priority at the moment for me.

      What I have just explained is done by professionals all over the world. There are ways to improve on setting priorities, which we shall get into at a later date.

      Advertising

      The Focusing Ability of the Brain

      Let’s talk about developing the ability to shift focus in matters of milliseconds.

      The problem with an untrained brain is that while you are focused on one thing, the remnants of your previous decision are still looming in your mind. It is distracting you and affecting your present decision. You are getting delayed. When there are several quick decisions to make, this will bring in undue haste and your brain may fail or refuse to decide quickly.

      It takes a bit of practice to condition a mind so that it can focus on one issue and then immediately shift focus to a new one with equal attention. This way, you use your brain to pay rapt attention to every decision, which makes them impeccable and error-free.

      That is my concept of the autofocus brain.

      The Auto Focus brain - use your brains true potential

        What if your brain could work like the lens of an autofocus camera, focusing itself and readjusting focus as needed in a matter of milliseconds? What if we did not get perplexed ever, no matter how many tiny bits of information come through to us? What if this was as easy for you as a walk in the park?

        When you get a series of random information inputs, it apparently seems that the mind concentrates on several things at once. This, however, is not true. It is not possible for us to pay attention to many things at the same exact moment. What we really do is dissect the information into smaller parts, concentrate on each part at a time and, once resolved, move on to the next. This is how you use your brain.

        5 Proven Methods to Develop Your Brain’s Ability to Focus Instantly

        What I am going to explain here is not theory. I have practiced this myself and I have trained my juniors to use this ability to their benefit. I know it works.

        These five different methods can be used individually or together over the course of a day. Each of them, with the exception of number 5, takes about five minutes of your time. Even if you follow any one of them just once a day, you will be able to use your brain in ways you never thought were possible.

        1. The breathing technique (5 minutes)

        This is something practised by hypnotists and yoga practitioners around the world. It works like a charm.

        For five minutes a day, sit in a relaxing comfortable position, close your eyes, and let go of your muscles. Now, focus on your breathing and nothing else. Feel the up and down movement of your chest or stomach. Feel the air entering your nostrils leading up to your lungs and feel the freshness in your body. Pay attention to this and to nothing else.

        If you have not done this before, your mind will wander off. This is not a problem. When you realize that you have branched out into different thoughts, just bring your focus back to your breathing.

        Advertising

        2. Browsers option (5 minutes)

        Do you spend a lot of time in front of computers? This option is ideal for you.

        Open up 5 of your favourite sites in different windows. You can have them open on different browsers, like three on Google Chrome and two on Firefox, just to make it more challenging.

        Now, open one of them and read the content with rapt attention. Really concentrate on it! Do this for exactly a minute and then shift to the next window. As soon as you are on the next one, read that one with your full attention.

        It will seem difficult in the beginning and you will tend to think about what you were reading before. When you realize this, just bring your attention back.

        Time yourself for one minute using your watch or mobile phone. If you can, set it for a single beep every minute. When you find this easy to do, shorten the span to half a minute and use your 5 minutes to browse through ten sites. Try changing focus fast, yet concentrate on each item individually.

        3. The Facebook technique (5 minutes)

        If you are a social media fanatic, this option is great for you. Facebook is an ideal collection of random facts which can be used effectively.

        Open your Facebook page. Now read the first post for a minute. Do this with rapt attention to it.

        At the end of the minute, whether you have finished reading it or not, shift to the next one and pay equal attention. As before, this will be difficult in the beginning and you have to keep bringing your attention back to the post in front of you.

        Even if you have not finished reading one post, you must shift focus to the next one. This can also be done using Twitter, Yahoo, or Google+. It slowly becomes easier to shift focus briskly and to use your brain in this fashion.

        4. The fixed-point method (5 minutes)

        This one is for anyone who can spare five minutes of their time during the day to be alone and undisturbed.

        I want you to sit on the ground in a quiet place with your legs crossed. Draw a small dot on the wall in front of you.

        Advertising

        Now, with your hands and body relaxed, look at this dot. Concentrate on it. Think about this dot and about its shape and size. You will slowly see everything else fading away, even the wall will seem blurry and the only thing in your focus will be this dot. If your attention wanders, as before, bring it back.

        When you think you can concentrate on this dot effectively for five straight minutes without distraction, put your ability to the test. Choose more noisy and distracting environments and do the same exercise. For example, while traveling, choose a fixed point in front of you and concentrate on it. Do not let the noise of the cars around distract you — needless to say, do not do this if you are driving.

        5. The attention method

        What are you thinking about right now? Are you just reading this post or are you thinking about something else? Just start paying attention precisely to everything that you do from now on. Most of the things you do don’t take much of your attention. They are mostly reflexes and habits. I am asking you to start paying attention to them.

        For example, the next time you peel an orange, peel it carefully and cleanly. Think about what you are doing. Once you’re done, pay attention to the taste and how it feels in your mouth. Consciously use your brain to concentrate on the immediate task.

        While talking to someone, pay attention to the conversation. Do not let your mind wander off to other thoughts. If it does, just bring it back.

        These methods, if followed diligently, will give you results within a relatively short time. They can work wonders for kids too. If your child is at an age where they can follow instructions, get them to do one of these during the day. Trust me, these five minutes can be far more beneficial than hours of study.

        With a bit of practice, the mind works on autopilot, focusing on the essential things only. This will make you a winner in all that you do, big or small, and increase your productivity infinitely.

        Photo credits: Ship heading into the diamond ring; The Azimuth Mirror : Photos Taken by Captain D. Camera: Free Images

        Featured photo credit: Liam Welch via images.unsplash.com

        More by this author

        Silence Can Solve Problems That Words Cannot Motivate ourselves Motivate Yourself: Three Tricks to Kick Your Own Ass 4 Steps to Learn from your Mistakes 8 Killer Negotiation Tricks Clients Don’t Want You To Know Killer Negotiator 101 – Framing a Killer Sales Pitch

        Trending in Leadership

        1 How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work 2 5 Key Traits of a Charismatic Leadership 3 How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated 4 14 Powerful Leadership Traits That All Great Leaders Have 5 Mastering the Democratic Leadership Style (How-to Guide)

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on April 8, 2020

        How to Calm Down When You’re Stressed and Anxious

        How to Calm Down When You’re Stressed and Anxious

        Overwhelmed with work, family responsibilities, financial challenges and health issues are common culprits which catalyze stress and anxiety symptoms that show up differently in each and every one of us.

        Whilst many of us are becoming much better at identifying what can trigger us to feel these, we’re not always that great at recognizing our individual thresholds; we don’t know exactly how to calm down when the mental, emotional storms erupt.

        We can almost see you eye-rolling upon hearing commonly recommended stress antidotes such as taking a bath, lighting candles or going for a walk. Let’s face it. These simply aren’t practical things you can do when you’re on a red-eye flight at 5:30am to run a full day of training interstate and then fly back the same evening not to mention juggling a young family.

        You want to know your triggers, predict the impact of them and have your own suite of tools up your sleeve to calm down that impact for the long-term.

        Doing a little ground work to gain a strong self-awareness of your likely reactions puts you smack bang in the pilot seat to develop a robust mental and emotional toolkit that will work wonders for you.

        A few simple but well-practiced techniques may be all you need to simmer down the cyclonic intensity of emotions, and disparaging thoughts pecking away at your self-esteem and confidence. However, it’s important you do this self-reflective groundwork first to gain maximum impact for long-term effect.

        1. Strengthen Familiarity with What Triggers You

        When you have arguments with your loved one, do you stop and look to see if there are certain things you fight about? Are there certain behaviors they display that drive you bananas?

        Take your focus off them and ask yourself: “What is my usual response?”

        Perhaps you feel the anger welling up inside your chest and you then spurt out that you’ve told him or her ten times before to not leave their underwear lying across the bedroom floor.

        Think a little deeper. Ask yourself what values, standards and expectations you have that are not being met here. You’ll likely be attached to certain ways you believe things should play out. Are there assumptions and expectations as to how you believe people should conduct themselves and principles about how you feel you should be treated?

        Advertising

        Having a strong attachment to these for yourself is one thing. Expecting others to have the same attachment is often what can make the hot water start simmering.

        It is often when people behave in ways inconsistent with our belief systems and events unfold in discord with what we expect and are prepared for that we feel the most stress and anxiety.

        Make a list of the common circumstances in different areas of your life that cause you to become anxious and stressed. Against each of these, describe your stress response:

        What happens? What do you feel?

        Now think about the values, principles and expectations you have attached to these. You’ll see you have a few options:

        • Change my values and expectations
        • Try to change other’s values and expectations
        • Recognize and be in allowance of others having different values, standards and expectations

        Reviewing how you react when you’re stressed and anxious, and identifying which of these three options above is going to best serve you, can greatly increase your ability to feel and be in control of calming your reaction.

        You move closer to being able to choose how you want to respond as opposed to feeling helpless and the world is spiralling out of control.

        2. Have Coping Statements on Hand

        When you have a washing machine of chaotic thoughts churning in your mind, trying to implant thoughts that are the complete opposite of what you’re thinking and feeling can be pretty hard.

        Not being able to do it can also add another layer of us feeling disappointment in ourselves. We feel we’re failing.

        Having coping statements that you can literally latch on to to help you calm down in those stressful and anxious moments, can be particularly helpful.

        Advertising

        Look at creating palm cards and just have three to five of these you can have in your pocket or in your purse. Here are 6 examples:

        • Even though I am feeling this right now, I am going to be alright
        • What I am feeling right now is uncomfortable. I won’t feel this way forever. Soon the intensity of what I am feeling will pass.
        • I’ve survived these feelings before. I can do it again.
        • I feel this way because of my past experiences but right now, I am actually safe.
        • It’s ok for me to feel this way. My body and brain are trying to protect me but I am actually safe right now.
        • Ah, here you are again, anxiety. Thanks for showing up to protect me, but I don’t need you right now.

        Choose words and dialogue that feel true and accurate for you. Read the statements out to yourself and test how fitting they are for you. What feels more assuring, calming and right for you?

        Make these statements your own. The aim is of these statements is to de-escalate the intensity of what you feel when you’re anxious and stressed.

        Remember, you want to refrain from having blunt statements which feel or sound like they’re self-reprimanding because they won’t be pacifying in a positive way.

        If you are unsure as to how to come up with statements that fit for you, look to work with a psychologist or licensed therapist to give you a strong start.

        3. Identify and Develop Physical Anchors

        You actually have within you resources to provide some of the most effective ways to calm yourself down in heightened moments you feel stressed and anxious. Renowned clinical psychologist Dr. Peter Levine and expert in treating stress and trauma, teaches us how techniques which do this, such as Somatic Experiencing®[1] can significantly help us calm down.

        By learning to be fully present and applying touch to certain areas of your body (e.g. forehead and heart space), you increase your capacity to self-regulate. You also learn how to attend to and release your unique symptoms that your body has been containing in a way you have not been able to before.

        Here’s one technique example:

        1. Get in a comfortable position
        2. Have your eyes open or closed, whatever feels most comfortable for you
        3. Now place one hand on your forehead, palm side flat against the skin
        4. Place the other hand, palm down across your heart space above your sternum… the flat of your chest area.
        5. Gently turn your attention to what you feel physically in the area between your two hands. Observe and just take notice of what you physically feel. Is your chest pounding? How strong are its beat and the rhythm? Do you notice any other sensations anywhere else between your two hands?
        6. Don’t try to push or resist what you’re feeling. Try to just sit with it and remain this way with your hands in place until you feel a shift, a physical one. It might take a little longer, so try to be patient.

        You might feel a change in energy flow, a change in temperature or different, less intense sensations. Just keep your hands in place until you feel some kind of shift, even if gradual.

        It might take you even 5 to 10 minutes but, riding this wave will help you to process what discomfort your body is containing. It will greatly help to release it so you gradually become calmer.

        Advertising

        Purely cognitive exercises can be tough at the outset. Learning somatic experience techniques is particularly helpful because you’re engaging in exercises where you physically can feel the difference. Feeling the changes helps you increase confidence you can control and reduce the discomfort you’re feeling. You’ll be motivated to keep practicing and improving this skill you can take anywhere, anytime.

        4. Move and Get Physical

        If you’re not one to exercise, you’re robbing yourself of some very easy ways which help you calm down and reduce stress and anxiety responses. Many neuro chemical changes take place when you engage in exercise.

        At certain levels of physical exertion, your brain’s pituitary gland releases neurotransmitter endorphins. When they bind with certain opiate receptors in your brain, signals are transmuted throughout your nervous system to reduce feelings of pain and trigger feelings of euphoria. You might have heard the term ‘runner’s high’.

        For the last 20 years, University of Missouri-Columbia’s Professor Richard Cox has conducted research showing that high intensity interval training (HIIT) is more effective at reducing anxiety and stress levels than other forms of aerobic exercise.[2] However, if you would rather slay dragons than turn up an F45 class, it’s essential you still find something that will physically shift you and alter your current mental and emotional state of mind, even just a fraction to start with. It’s 100% ok if this is not your cup of tea.

        So in a day full of back of back-to-back meetings, what can you do?

        If you’re sitting, stand. Change your posture and open your body up. Have a suite of discrete stretches you can do regularly as you deepen and engage in diaphragmatic breathing.

        If you’re looking down at your desk at work and feeling increasingly stressed, look up and change what you’re looking at. Give yourself more than a few moments to decompress.

        The main thing is to change your disposition from the one you’re in when you are experiencing anxiety and stress symptoms. You’re shaking it up to calm it down.

        5. Transform Your Unhelpful Inner Dialogue and Its Energy

        Learning cognitive restructuring techniques can truly work wonders in helping you recognize and re-frame unhelpful dialogue and negative critical thinking patterns. This involves a little preparation being transparent with yourself about what exaggerated perspectives you might ascribe to what’s happening when you’re feeling stressed and anxious.

        When you open your email inbox and see a flood of requests which require more time and energy you have for that day, dread starts to settle in and the following comes to mind: “This is impossible. How can they expect me to be able to do all this? It’s completely unreasonable!”

        Advertising

        Instantly, many other thoughts that reinforce this line of thinking as well as the emotional energy of your first conscious thought start unravelling. A 4-step process you can engage to calm the eruption is:

        1. Catch and notice that first thought you had. What was it? What did you think and/or say to yourself?
        2. Recognize that what you’re feeling and be in allowance of the initial intensity of whatever those emotions are.
        3. Breath deliberately a little more deeply and slowly for a few seconds.
        4. State to yourself: “Right now (in this moment) I’m feeling overwhelmed by this, however maybe I can look at what I can make good progress and headway with as a start from here on.”

        Notice the language in step 4 is tentative, supportive, soft and not resistant nor defiant of what your original thought was. You accept your original thought, but gradually you become stronger at pivoting it.[3] You’re expanding your growth mindset language.

        It’s definitely worth working with a coach or trained therapist to learn how to tailor re-framing statements which can truly help you calm down.

        Final Thoughts

        We know, in our minds what we should do. When we’re in the thick of experiencing mental and emotional turmoil, it’s actually harder to implement what we know. In those moments, you’re unlikely to have capacity to think about what you need to do, let alone do it effectively to help you feel calmer.

        The key is to practice so that when the storm is brewing, your toolkit and supplies are in easy access. You already know your safety drill well.

        Knowing you have strategies and prepared processes up your sleeves helps you not only become better at calming yourself in amongst currently stressful situations. You have more confidence now to face more anxiety-provoking stressors because you have developed the resources to handle it.

        How you invest time and energy into getting to know your triggers and thresholds will influence how effective these strategies will work for you. We’re not denying relaxing baths or regular massages are helpful, however these band-aid-like solutions don’t really confront the root causes.

        If you truly want to turn your experience of your stress and anxiety symptoms around, dig deeper, do the groundwork and that which rattled your cage will quickly become a thing of the past.

        More Stress Management Tips

        Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

        Reference

        Read Next