Understanding how your brain works, is one of the most recent discoveries in neuroscience research that everyone should understand to attain the highest level of success possible. See the 12 Mind-Boggling Brain Facts that we feature in the Level Up book, with examples of how to use these facts to give yourself an edge in your personal, academic, or business life.
Fact 1: “Our eyes don’t see colors they see light waves” reminds us of how colors are created inside our brain. The part of the brain that we actually “see” the world from is our frontal cortex (right above our eyes). What we see is like a movie that blends light waves and sound waves with our emotional experiences that forms a story that is far removed from the reality that actually exists. Colors are decoded in the brain.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? There is a lot more to what we see than meets the eye. If we think of all that we can “see” with our eyes, we can gain some appreciation for the world, and our place in it. Next time you are in nature, look around and marvel at the sky, mountains, or ocean. There is so much to see and experience in the world and when we put our minds and brain to work, we can actually bring our visions that begin in our mind, into reality.
Fact 2: “Consciousness is created in the brain the minute we wake up” is something that after 2600 years of speculation, everyone agrees that it exists, but so far “no one knows what it is, or how it works.”¹ (Andrew Newburg M.D and Mark Robert Waldman “Words Can Change Your Brain). Various disciplines of science have tried to define what exactly our mind is, and Dr. Daniel Siegel tackles the definition with the idea that that “the mind, brain and relationships are all connected” ² (Daniel Siegel M.D. Mindfulness and Neural Integration) which is very interesting to think that we are all connected in some way.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? When you wake up and start thinking, pay attention to the thoughts, ideas, people and places you are thinking about. You might get a strong feeling to call someone, email them, or go somewhere. Listen to your instincts as science is clearly coming to an agreement that our minds, brains and relationships are all connected.
Fact 3: Subliminal words can affect our thoughts, feelings and actions. New research shows that “words and phrases repeated at a volume we can barely perceive can create subtle changes in mood.”³ (J. Weinberger, S. Kelner and D. McLelland). Studies show that the brain gives more attention to negative words, even when we can barely hear them.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Stay away from the news. We know that the same bad news is broadcast over and over again, but now research shows to even have the news playing in the background at a low volume, can affect your mood. Turn it off! This also explains why it is so important to hang out with positive people. You really are the sum of the 5 people you hang out with the most. If you don’t like this, you can make the necessary changes to improve your life.
Fact 4: The conscious mind can only hold 7-10 words in our working memory. If you want to remember a sentence, it must have less than ten words in it. We can only remember small chunks of information at one time.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Write it down, if you want to remember it! Use your notepads on your phone, or keep a small notebook handy to write down daily tasks you need to remember. Do not become frustrated when you can’t remember something. Know the limit of your working memory and success is yours!
Fact 5: Memories are not real. Memories are inaccurate and each time they are recalled, they are changed. When you remember something, the brain re-wires the connections between the neurons–literally changing the structure of your brain as you recreate the memory, change it and re-memorize it. The memory is subject to change each time you remember it.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Oh no, I thought I had an incredible memory! This does explain some of the articles I have read that suggest that memories are not reliable. This is even more incentive to keep a journal and write things down.
Fact 6: You must think positive thoughts to build optimism and resilience to stress.
You must have more than three positive thoughts or feelings for every negative thought you have in order to build optimism and reduce stress.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Since you can only think one thought at a time, be sure that your positive thinking outweighs your negative thinking. This is easier said than done, I know! A strategy I have used for years is to say “switch” when a negative thought creeps into my mind. Then replace the bad thought immediately with something positive and uplifting.
Fact 7: Our beliefs shape our reality more than our sensations. Our memories form our behavior, but they also form the foundation of our belief system. A belief is a thought process and the more we repeat that thought process, the more real it becomes.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Sometimes our beliefs can be limiting, so be open to challenging our beliefs with a different perspective or point of view.
Fact 8: Too much stress disrupts the neural activity in the brain. We all know that stress affects both the mind and body in a negative way, so why not try some of the most recent and proven strategies to combat stress?
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? The fastest way to interrupt stress is by yawning because it lowers the hyperactivity of the frontal lobe. Add in some slow stretching and you will be more relaxed in sixty seconds or less.
Fact 9: Every brain is wired differently. For example, words don’t have the same meaning for everyone. Words like love, happiness, or peace might mean something different to your friend than to you.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Don’t assume that the words you use will have the same meaning to others as they do for you. This is a recipe for miscommunication. Always keep an open mind.
Fact 10: We don’t pay attention to boring things…or people. John Medina chose this as one of his “Brain Rules” and it is so important to understand this while attempting to learn something new. Medina explains that audiences “check out after 10 minutes” so it’s important to keep the interest of students during a class with engaging stories to help the brain to learn and remember. 4 (John Medina, Brain Rules).
Fact 11: The brain thrives on happiness, joy, laughter and positive thoughts and feelings. It feels great to laugh and it’s contagious! Even a fake smile can trigger circuits of happiness in the brain.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? We know what this means! Laugh more! Smile more! Tell more jokes! Be happy.
Fact 12: The brain does not like conflict and incompleteness. The brain works hard to keep you working a certain way. When changes are made, habits are broken and new actions are taken, the brain freaks out and sends messages to your consciousness saying “go back to the way you were” since it’s easier that way. This is why it is so difficult to change old habits.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? When you have ambiguity or doubtfulness in your life, the brain will struggle. If you lack certainty in your life, your brain will struggle. To keep your brain working optimally, you must have certainty with the actions you are taking. Adopt this mindset and you will see progress in leaps and bounds.