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How To Have A Brighter Future

How To Have A Brighter Future

    Hold on for a brighter future…

    A lot of people might be dreading upcoming get-togethers with relatives during the holiday season because one of the things that will most definitely be brought up is how we all did this year. If you are going to be facing nosy relatives knowing that you failed in a relationship or business (or lost a job), you are already going into the holiday season with some negativity.

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    Some of your failures, losses or bad experiences might have been beyond your control but the negativity that comes with them can linger around more than you like. When one happens to get some bad luck on a repeated basis, this can have a really devastating effect on the soul.

    For example, let’s say that you keep having bad relationships from the dating scene. They all start out with much excitement but after a few months, all of your relationships turn sour. You then start to wonder if you will always end up with relationship disasters as if they were your destiny.

    It’s so easy to fall into this trap of being a perpetual victim or failure as your self-esteem goes down the drain. But there IS hope even if you have had a rocky past.

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    Past Does Not Equal Future

    One of the biggest advocates of the notion that your past does not equal your future is motivational speaker and author Anthony Robbins as he stated;

    “Your past does not equal your future.  What matters is not yesterday but what you do right now.”

    If you have ever had any failures or losses (and who hasn’t?), this is one quote that you should always keep in mind. Whether you’ve had failures in relationships, business, career or have been accident prone, it doesn’t mean that you are doomed for all time. Learn what you can from any bad experiences and move on. Apply your lessons to what you can do right now to move your future towards your desired future.

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    Let’s go back to the bad relationships example. Just because you’ve had a few of them doesn’t necessarily mean that you will continue to bomb in this area as well. Although for many people, this unfortunately will be the case only because they never take the effort to try and learn from failures in past relationships.

    Were there any repeated patterns on choosing the incompatible partners? How about patterns in how we deal with our partners? Can we take these lessons and apply them to future relationships so we are more careful in choosing more appropriate people to have relationships with?

    It’s What We Do Now That Counts

    If we make real efforts to actively make positive changes right now — despite failures in the past, our chances of success in the future are much higher. Don’t just make wishes for better outcomes. Again, it’s what we do right NOW that makes the big difference in the future rather than what happened in the past.

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    In my case, I’ve had everything from family tragedies to major sports injuries that required surgeries. I cannot let these past events jinx my future. I could have easily allowed these bad experiences to turn me into a chronic pessimist. But as long as I keep steady in doing the right things now, I will succeed in the future no matter what the past was like.

    As a result of my own past misfortunes, I’ve made such changes from taking steps on injury prevention to actively re-balancing my day-to-day lifestyle. These changes have paid off in much better results compared to my past.

    What you do now can drastically change your future for the better. Think about anything in your past that you would have liked to change if you could. Then make positive changes so that your future will look brighter than ever before.

    Feel free to share what changes you will make to ensure that your past does not equal your future.

    (Photo credit: The Sun in Hands via Shutterstock)

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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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