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Are You Passionate About Something?

Are You Passionate About Something?

How often do you get up in the morning feeling excited about the day ahead? Not a once-off good morning, but actually feeling that way most days in a week? It’s not easy finding things to be passionate about, but it could be the determining factor as to whether or not you’re able to live the life you dream about. This article seeks to motivate you into self reflection in an attempt to help you find the things that excite you.

What Excites You?

It’s hard feeling happy and passionate about something you dread. Sadly, it’s one of the reasons many people struggle to get out of bed every morning for work. If a person actually had a forceful passion about the work he does, would he need 3 alarms to get him up in the morning? Highly unlikely. He’d be feeling so stoked for the day ahead that getting up is no issue at all.

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With that being said, find something in your day, something at work, something at home that makes you happy, and put your focus on it. Think about being back at school. Most kids feel annoyed about being at school; ask a kid if he likes school and he’s response to it is probably that he can’t wait to be done with it.The moment that very same kid meets someone in school that he likes, suddenly school excites him—he wakes up every morning feeling excited for the day ahead.

The key is to find a detail in your day that you can use as a reason to feel passionate.

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Make a List

Take some time off in your day and make a list of things that you like. It could be the most simplest of things. Write them down on a page. After doing that, start eliminating items in order of how passionate an option makes you. Keep this up until you find something that really makes you feel excited and passionate.

With that being said, if you’re unable to find something, do some research online. You may have always wanted to learn how to cook or make music with FL studio, so research things that you would like to learn. Make a similar list as mentioned above, and eliminate options until you have the “golden” one.

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Last but Not Least, Do it!

Don’t prolong or procrastinate—just jump onto the bandwagon. There’s no time like the present, and it’s best that you invest some of your time into finding a hobby or reason to feel passionate right now. If you’re not convinced as to why, try looking at it from a different perspective: most successful and happy entrepreneurs of today do the things they’re passionate about. The reason for this is simply because passion is known for evoking other positive emotions such as ambition, joy, and even perseverance.

Can you imagine the things you could accomplish if you were to have a passion filled day all week? It could be the reason why you excel at work. It could become the inspiration for a thriving social life and relationship. It could become the driving force that turns you into the next big entrepreneur of this decade.

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Don’t wait until tomorrow or the next day: get started right now. Dig deep into your mind and figure out exactly what you would like your life to be. Picture yourself 10 years from now and ask yourself what you would like to see yourself accomplish. Do all of these things and I promise you the results will be astounding. The difference and change you may seek in your life rests in your hands: you have the power to turn a sucky day or a sucky year into one that feels phenomenal.

Do this with Passion!

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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.

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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.

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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]

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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.

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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!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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