Almost a decade ago, my boss at the time said something about me that changed my life. “Matt thrives in chaos,” he said. “When others are paralyzed by the stress to the point of inaction, Matt is focused and gets results.” That one statement forever altered the way I look at stressful events.
His words came shortly after a particularly stressful 48 hours in our company. Our only server had crashed and for the next two days, our developers, my boss and I survived on virtually no sleep. There was no guarantee that we’d recover the data from that server. Second guessing and finger pointing were in abundance.
It didn’t feel like it at the time, but I was in my comfort zone. I was standing out as a leader.
Why are some people always happy?
Why are they gaining followers and influencing others, while others are just negative and have no influence on the world?
The answer may surprise you. Most of the time, they are rooted in the same reason: Our brain’s filter.
Your brain scans the world only for what you program it to look for. (Tweet That) | Share this Graphic on Pinterest | Share on Facebook
Every day, you are overwhelmed by a barrage of messages competing for your attention. Your brain is literally being pulled in hundreds of different directions, all in a span of minutes.
Even while doing something as mundane as meeting a friend for lunch, we have the input of the background music (I know that song, who is that?), the conversations of others (that lady sure is loud!), and choosing what we want to eat (I know I should eat healthy, but the fried cheese with the butter dip sure sounds good). Not to mention trying to listen to his story about his son’s baseball game, thinking ahead to your 2:00 meeting with your boss, and the fact that you need a new washer and dryer. And that’s just a small percentage of the information-processing going on in your brain in a one-minute span.
Bad news: Your brain is probably less powerful than you thought.
If you’re like me, you thought your brain could do just about anything. That it was infinitely powerful.
But it’s not…
That’s the bad news. But there are two gigantic silver linings to it. Stay tuned…
“It is impossible for the seeds of depression to take root in a thankful heart.” -Andy Andrews (Tweet That) | Share this Graphic on Pinterest | Share on Facebook
Your brain: the single processor
If you were born prior to 1995, and my most recent reader survey suggests that 97% of you were, you remember single processor computers. The other 3% of you will have to use your imaginations for this illustration. A single processor computer is r-e-a-l-l-y slow and does not allow you to have 37 programs open at the same time. In other words, you can’t IM on Facebook while tweeting and hosting a Google Hangout, all while listening to Pandora. Any attempt to do so would most likely result in the “blue screen of death.”
Think of your brains the same way.
Do you want to know the secret to smiling more often?
Of course you do! Smiling is the result of feeling happy, right?
Not exactly. In fact, the secret to smiling more often is this…
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It all started with a $20 bill.
That’s all it took to change me.
Perhaps you read my previous post, Act as If, in which I told you that in order to be anything, do anything, or have anything, the first step is to act as if you already are that person, are doing that thing, or have whatever you want. Perhaps you completely agreed with it. Or perhaps you thought it was mumbo jumbo.
Either way, did you know that it is 100% backed by scientific research?
In the back of my mind I did, but even I had forgotten about the principle of consistency when I wrote that post.