Advertising
Advertising

Hit the Shuffle Button

Hit the Shuffle Button

shuffle

    Same Old, Same Old?

    Do you find yourself doing the same things day in and day out? To use a metaphor, are you listening the the same songs of life every day? If so, why not hit the shuffle button on your life and let a new tune rev up your day, your creativity, and your energy!

    Advertising

    I like how the shuffle button queues up a song that I wouldn’t normally choose. It expands my thinking down new paths. Let these ideas do the same thing for you life. Here’s a random number generator you can use to choose which one of these things to try today.

    New “Tunes” to Play

    1. Say Yes. Say yes to something that will expand your horizons. Maybe it’s that wedding across the country. What will it be for you? Say yes! See what this could open you up to!

    2. Say No. Say no to the endless requests for your time. The unnecessary meetings, dinners, and more that you find yourself going to all the time. Bow out for a change and instead use that time to make a “date” with yourself. What have you been itching to do? Do it!

    Advertising

    3. Be a Tourist. Pick a touristy thing to do in your own town or city that you’ve never done before. Bring a friend or go alone. Make a point to say hi and meet a few new people. Have fun.

    4. Take a Drive. Take an hour or more drive to a fun destination. Some ideas: museums, zoos, tours, nature parks, county fair, etc. The longer the drive the better. Make a point to enjoy the drive. If you bring a friend, enjoy the time for good conversation. If you go alone, enjoy some music or a podcast or even just quiet time to think. If you come up with some brilliant ideas along the way, you can always speed-dial Jott to record your ideas when you can’t write them down.

    5. Nighttime Lights Out Break. This is great to do if you have kids, but you can quite as easily do this on your own too. When it’s time for your kids to go to bed, lay with them in their bed until they fall asleep. There may be some chatting at first, but once things are quiet, use that dark quiet time to think about things. I use this time to think about what I really need to do next. After the kids are asleep, I go and get started on one of them or write down my plans for the next day. If you don’t have kids, set a time in the evening to go into your bedroom. Turn off the lights, lie down, and just take 10-15 minutes to think about whatever you want! Then turn on the lights and write down your ideas.

    Advertising

    6. Get Some Arts! Choose something you don’t normally do. Some choices: museums, art gallery openings, musicals, plays, outdoor theater, etc. Check the arts section of your local paper. Make a date with yourself or a friend and go!

    7. Rock Out! It’s summer time! (At least up here in the Northern Hemisphere) There are plenty of concerts to go to. When was the last time you went? Remember how much fun it was? Now, pick one! Go! Enjoy!

    8. Go on an Adventure. What could you do that will make your heart race, get you excited? Some ideas: bungee jumping, hiking, playing paint-ball, waterslides, playing night time hide and seek, watch a scary movie. What do you suggest?

    Advertising

    9. Do the Opposite. If you are normally very social, going out a lot, take some quiet time, all by yourself. No TV. Just you and your thoughts. If you are normally not a social butterfly, get yourself to a social event. Call that friend or co-worker of yours that is social and ask them to suggest where you should go. Then go and break out of your shell. Meet some new people. See what good things come of it! Even if this is hard for you, try it. When we do things that are difficult we grow.

    10. Creative Time. Begin or work on that creative project you’ve been daydreaming about. You could: build something, knit a sweater, make a collage, paint a painting, color with crayons, make a kite, bake a cake, write a book, start a blog, whatever. Remember that book you bought on crafts or building projects? Dig it out and start a project. Have fun!

    K. Stone is author of Life Learning Today, a blog about daily life improvement Should You Start Your Own Work at Home Business?, How to Stop Being “Busy” and Live Your Dream Life, How to Write a Book in 60 Days or Less, A Game That Will Improve Any Relationship, and The Ultimate iPhone Decision Tool.

    More by this author

    K. Stone

    The founder of Life Learning Today, a blog that's dedicated to life improvement tips.

    How to Overcome Procrastination and Start Doing What Truly Matters Solutions for 7 Annoying Modern Day Problems The Two F-Words You Should Love Opportunity Overload Solutions for 10 MORE Annoying Modern Day Problems

    Trending in Featured

    1 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) 2 How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life 3 How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques 4 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 5 50 Businesses You Can Start In Your Spare Time

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

    Advertising

    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

    Advertising

    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

    Advertising

    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

    Advertising

    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

    More About Goals Setting

    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next