Being able to change your mindset is a common desire for people that are going through a difficult time and would like to have an easier time moving through that transition.
First is a life purpose.
I mention because if you look at studies of people that had adversity, whether it's hurricane survivors, 911 survivors and more, people that have been experienced adversity of every kind and bounced back did so because they had a life purpose.
Check out this study on how purpose in life predicts better emotional recovery from negative stimuli. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3827458/ . That study references several other studies which has also shown strong additional support on how life purpose is one of the commonalities with people that get over challenges.
So if you have that going on in your life, then your probability of bouncing back after adversity is going to be much greater than people without a life purpose.
An example of this is people who have their first child. Once a person becomes a parent, their life purpose becomes more apparent. They begin to experience their life differently and do the work that they normally wouldn't do. The push themselves in ways that they normally wouldn't do because they're looking to raise a child and put their energy into something outside of just themselves.
When Elon Musk was divorcing and going through his own dark night of the soul, what got him through his relationship issues was focusing on his Space X business. The idea of colonizing other planets and allowing life to exist for others on a different planet long after he is gone is certainly thinking outside of himself and a stellar example of focusing on a much larger mission, a larger reason for living.
Second is values.
This is important because this is about doing things that are most important to you. People make huge changes as if their lives have been turned inside out when their values becomes realigned.
The reason this is such a key piece will become apparent when you look at people that overcame addictions and people that have had some kind of problem where they're not able to live their life in the way that they want. The extreme example might be an addict. This can be an addiction to an ex lover, a drug, gambling or a type of behaviour that is degenerative to life quality. In those instances what's going on it is that their hierarchy in values is misaligned or at least not serving them in the best way.
An artist might feel like doing drugs or drinking gives them a creative advantage. And it might. However, when this gets out of hand and the work suffers and the addiction depletes life energy, then the habit is maladaptive. An addiction to an lover can be the same. There might have been moments of tremendous ecstacy and excitement and this becomes an addiction because of the intermittent rewards that were going on. That's how addictions are built. Some great times and some bad times, with no real pattern as to when things are either going to be amazing or terrible. This is why gambling can be addictive. There are some random wins and some random losses. The brain gets used to the thrill of what might happen. Dopamine begins to gush in anticipation of a reward. So liking a thing and wanting a thing are different. You may want the ex lover, you may want the drugs, you may want things to be the way they were, but you may not actually like it. This distinction is key. We get addicted to those intermittent rewards, the thrill of maybe this time it will be exciting. That excitement of wanting can be linked to anything especially if you've had that payoff a few times already. Brains are designed to restructure themselves with normal learning and development, but this process is accelerated in addiction when highly attractive rewards are pursued repeatedly. The way to undo the addiction is to create an alternative that is more highly attractive and more valuable.
Here is an example of drug addicted war veterans. These guys were in Vietnam and they'd be shooting and killing and doing war stuff and then after a day of warfare, they would shoot up with heroin.
Heroin is a difficult program of thinking to quit, but when these guys came back home from the wars and were back with their wife, kids and their dog, they were able to kick their drug habits because spending time with their family was far more important, far more valuable than poking their veins with a syringe of smack. Here is the reference study on that.
Robins, Lee N., Davis, Darlene H. & Nurco, David N. (1974).
How Permanent Was Vietnam Drug Addiction? American Journal of Public Health. Supplement, Vol. 64, December, 1974 -
Now lets bring this to another level. If you look at the studies of addictions in rats, they would put a rat in a cage and provide unlimited morphine water. All the rat has to do is tap on the bar for a hit of morphine water. The rats would neglect food and would instead go for the drugs. The rats wouldn't have much choice though. It was either drugs or boredom because those were really the only options. However, if you give the drug-addicted rat a choice between having unlimited drugs and also a doorway to an open playground with all kinds of other rats for playing rat games, having rat sex, building a rat family etc., all the rats always leave the drugs behind and go towards the playground. Here is the reference.
(Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, October 1981, Vol.15(4):571–576, doi:10.1016/0091-3057(81)90211-2
Effect of early and later colony housing on oral ingestion of morphine in rats. Bruce K. AlexanderBarry L. BeyersteinPatricia F. HadawayRobert B. Coambs http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0091305781902112)
So why would the rats go outside and play instead of sucking morphine?
Because there are more valuable things to do in the world outside of morphine. Making rat babies and playing games and fighting and growing is more interesting than rotting away in the dungeon of self pity and shame.
So the point is that when you know what's most valuable to you, then it's easier to create a program for your life that you're going to be a lot more proud of. For some people it's focusing on their health. You've seen people running around the block without being forced into it. Some get addicted to that lifestyle because they find it very rewarding. For other people it's about business such as providing a service or product. Doing the business of life is rewarding and addictive because there is the feel good internal satisfaction of helping others and solving a problem and there is the benefit of receiving money for that product or service. For some people it could be something completely different. Some might be wanting to remove depression from the planet, others might value teaching and bringing intellectual nourishment to mankind. Everyone values different stuff. So consider whatever is most important to you and go there more often and feel great about it because the neurons that fire together wire together. When you're bringing what's most important and purposeful to your life to the forefront of your behaviour, then you'll be finding that your whole life will be shaping up in much more empowering ways.
By finding out what your values are and then arranging your decision-making based on that, life will be a lot better for you.
You have value!
How can you encourage your own talents, education and experience so that you are operating at your highest and best use? Bill Gates makes a lousy ditch digger. However, his ability to bring his dream to life of having a computer on every desk is something he valued and it's a concept that he made come to fruition. By allowing his strengths to come to the surface he has bettered mankind and did so by doing what he valued most. How would your life be better if you were using what skills and talents you have in a better way? What would the seeds you have within look like when you nurture yourself in ways that is just right for you overall? By having this articulation and clarity of your own values, you might find it easier going with the powerful flow that is aching within you to be expressed.
Third is mentors.
By mentors I mean people that are experts in their field. These are usually people like rockstars, athletes, pioneers, mavens or innovators. Elon Musk is an example of this. If you were looking to be figuring out how to come up with a new battery that enables cars to run, it would be a good idea to read about Elon Musk and what he's doing with his Tesla corporation and to learn about what all the research that went into it. If you're looking to be better at some kind of athleticism then it'd be good to be finding out who are the athletes that are creating the results that you want and then copy them. If you want to be an entrepreneur, then find out who the entrepreneurs are that are getting the results that you would like to achieve.
Success leaves clues so if you find the people that are leaving behind the footsteps that you would like to step into, then you'll be able to more easily be finding yourself experiencing some of the destinations and goals posts that you're mentors have accomplished.
Fourth is goals.
An important part for creating a program to be running your life on is goals. Here is one scary reason why. One big difference between people that have depression people and people that don't is that people with depression don't have any goals. So if you don't have any goals, then here is a wake up call. Those without vision shall perish. So perish those thoughts and begin to create some goals for yourself. Short-term and long-term goals are ideal and if that is difficult, come up with an intention. An intention is like the driving force behind a goal. And with goals and intentions, you can give your brain a lovely treat by creating a long-term goal. Long term goals involve the use of your pre-frontal cortex. People that bounce back and have resilience have more connections from the pre-frontal cortex to the limbic system. People that crash and burn after a heartbreak have few connections between the pre frontal cortex and the limbic system.
The limbic system is basically a system in the older mammalian part of your brain that is largely responsible for emotions and memories. So if you want to be cool in the present, have a goal that is way out into the future so that you are building more connections in the part of your brain that needs it most. In the neuroscience studies of Richie Davidson, he found that resilient people have more connections from the PFC to the limbic system and that the way to rebuild those connections and rewire yourself to be more resilient is to increase those connections by engaging in long term planning. I have a video about some of the mental training strategies that Richie recommends and you might want to check it out to get more data on what form of self-directed neuroplasticity is best for you.
An example of a 20-year goal may be to finally have that body that you want or to finally write that book, screenplay or course that you've always wanted to create or to strengthen that skill that you've always wanted to have. Long-term planning is about committing yourself to an intention that goes out into your future about 10 years or 20 years. When you give that amount of time-space devoted to developing a greater version of you, then it relieves the tension, the stress and anxiety of past problems which allows you to focus with much more relaxation and creation for a future that is more akin to the results that want.
When I was getting over my own stuff (divorce, dead mom, lost a fortune etc), I found it very difficult to think beyond tomorrow. This was a result of my own addiction to obsessing about the shattered past. The more I would think of the past failures and mistakes, the more it would stress me out and mess up the wiring in my brain. Then I would ruminate more about the past and how rotten and ungrateful of a person I was and that would cause me to slide further down the slippery slope of shame.
This is bad for several reasons.
Here is one example. In people with depression, the hippocampus shrinks (because no new information is going into the brain), the amygdala gets larger (because it gets more practice feeling stress) and the connections to the pre-frontal cortex diminishes because there is no future planning. Add time to this and the brain becomes programmed for doom, gloom, depression and eventually a slow death because it gets better and better at creating those neural pathways which causes habituation of the worst kind. Richie Davidson in his studies on resilience found that marital stress compromises emotion regulation circuitry. What this means is that if you have had a lot of stress in a relationship and then you breakup, that the stress from the breakup would cause your ability to bounce back more difficult because the brain learned to experience less highs and to experience more lows. I have a video on this as well which goes into more detail The good news is that fortunately, you do have a choice and the brain can rewire itself in response to experience, so begin to give your brain the experiences that enables you to bounce back and to be excited about the bright future that you are creating and envisioning for yourself. And you could begin doing this now can't you? If not now, when?
The other reason for goals is that when you look at the Prochaska Stages of Change, what moves the needle and gets people to move from pre-contemplation to termination is when they have identified a positive outcome that is more important to them than the problem behaviour. Once that outcome has been articulated, people naturally begin to devalue the problem behaviour. Motivation towards a salient outcome devalues less salient outcomes. It lies at the heart of addiction spectrum disorders and is a key to solving them and for making a change for good.
Sex or a needle?
Record a hit album or get a punch in the face?
Write a book or drown in a bottle?
Morphine or play?
So when you've got juicy long term goals of what you want to be accomplishing and mentors that have done some of the things you'd like to do, which is likely to be a spoke on the wheel of your life purpose, then it's easier to make your train of thought follow a program and mindset for a better life. By bringing all of these together so it becomes part of your everyday thinking, then you will develop the automaticity of daily habits of the U+ program. When you are adding enough time to this ingredients eventually you'll be finding yourself having the behaviour, the habits and thought patterns that are empowering because it's all resting on the foundations of your own design.
It might seem to be too much work to think about and perhaps as somewhat of a scary proposition, but if you're not focused on what's best for you, then what are you focusing on?
I went a long time without any life purpose. My values were misaligned and I had the wrong mentors and goals, but now I feel a whole lot better about myself and my life. I've got a life purpose to help people to get over stuff which is based on my own values which are about helping others to save time getting through rough spots. The mentors of people that I look up to are Richie Davidson, Richard Grey
Richard Bandler, Joe Dispenza and a whole lot more. I have some long term goals (book is almost done and I just finished a workout) and have experienced incredible fortune as a result of changing my overall X program (which was comprised of fears and thought patterns that was holding me back).
What got me out is articulating these four foundations for changing my overall mindset and then committing to putting in the effort.
Maybe it's worth it for you to do the same?
Have a go and try out some of these ideas on. I would love to hear your comments and feedback!