You begin to believe that you can do, be, and achieve anything.
First, a little backstory to establish the scene...
Neuromodulators such as dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and others, according to Dr. Andrew Huberman, modulate and boost the activity of some brain circuits while suppressing the activity of others.
When dopamine is released, for example, it causes certain brain areas to function better and others to function less well. Dopamine boosts energy and motivation while also causing us to focus on things other than ourselves. It improves our inner well-being while also placing us in an external, goal-oriented attitude.
Dopamine interacts with epinephrine and adrenaline in the brain and the body. When dopamine is released, epinephrine is also released. Dopamine may or may not be released when epinephrine is released. This is significant because epinephrine contributes to feelings of agitation, urgency, desire, and inclination to move.
You're thinking, "Let's get up and do this!"
You have a lot of energy, but you're also agitated. When dopamine is combined with epinephrine, you have the ideal mix for getting things done. However, if you have epinephrine but no dopamine, you will experience agitation and stress without motivation.
Dopamine is released when something positive occurs, and it is also released in anticipation of things that excite us, such as completing a desired milestone.
Then there are the serotonin and oxytocin systems, which collaborate not to attain goals but to make you feel good about where you are and what you have right now.
When the serotonin system is activated, we feel rewarded for what we have in our immediate surroundings or for what we already have.
Consider how you feel when you hug your family or your pet at the end of the day. You think about how much you love them and that hug, and those thoughts cause serotonin to be released.
Serotonin rewards you for what is good in your life right now, whereas dopamine makes you feel good about the rewards that are waiting for you out there in the world.
Feelings of love and gratitude can activate the serotonin system at any time. It fosters quiescence and tranquility, as well as the pleasant, calming feeling that you're fine with whatever you've got.
In terms of primitive man, dopamine leads people out to hunt, forage, and take risks, whereas serotonin returns them back home to feel warm and comfortable with their family.
Serotonin and oxytocin, as well as dopamine and epinephrine, must be in balance. Certain “A” personalities that run on dopamine and epinephrine 24 hours a day, seven days a week, burn out. They become unpleasant, if not miserable, because they no longer have access to serotonin and oxytocin.
That is why a balance is required.
The question is, how can you match your serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine reward pathways so that you can get as much work done as quickly and as stress-free as possible?
If you don't know what I'm about to reveal, this is where things get tough.
These 17.5 simple daily practices will allow you to boost the influence of these neuromodulators and become practically superhuman in your ability to get things done.
I realize 17.5 seems like a lot, but you'll discover that most of these things are only small changes to your daily routine that may make a major difference in how you feel and perform.
These are habits to implement into your daily life that will make you not only more productive, but also happier, have less stress and more energy, and feel better about yourself and your life in general.
Isn't it a tall order to form a few new habits? But this is scientifically proved, so let's get started:
1: Get plenty of rest. If at all possible, get to bed before midnight. Every morning, get up at the same hour. Reduce or remove overhead lighting before going to bed in the evening. Create as much darkness as possible in your bedroom.
2: When you wake up, move your body to get some sunlight in your eyes. You don't have to start a full-fledged workout routine right away, but do anything like yoga, jumping rope, or walking for 15 minutes after getting out of bed.
If feasible, perform this movement outside where you may get some sunlight in your eyes, signaling to your body that it is a new day and time to produce dopamine. Moving for fifteen minutes will stimulate the norepinephrine system since you have adrenal glands that lie above your kidneys and release norepinephrine and cortisol to wake up your system.
3: Set specific, measurable, and written goals. Not “I'm going to make more money.” That's far too ambiguous. A better objective would be, "I'm going to boost my income by $2,000 each month by June 12th."
4: Set a goal for yourself for what you want to do before noon. When you set a goal and have a target in mind, the dopamine system operates best. This is why it's critical to plan out what you'll do before midday, or even in the first hour or two of your day.
5: If anything other than your goal comes to mind during the first few hours of the day, push it aside and keep focused on it. Why is it critical that you do not become distracted? Because if you stay attentive, you will receive the dopamine reward. Moving forward may be difficult if you did not get enough sleep, but if you achieve that goal, you will experience a dopamine release. This will make it easier to achieve your next objective of the day, as well as improve your capacity to focus on a single goal.
6: Avoid using social media in the morning. You can receive dopamine by scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, but this will not help you reach your goals.
You're looking for dopamine. You will get dopamine. However, the strategy you use will influence whether you get things done or squander your time. Determine what you want to accomplish in the first few hours and then zero in on it.
7: Make it a daily habit to complete an early morning task. You are training your dopamine system to cooperate with you in goal achievement by getting something done right after you wake up that NEEDS to be done, and by doing this virtually every single day.
8: Exercise on a daily basis. Physical mobility is essential for reaching any significant goal. Stress will prevent you from achieving your goals, and the greatest method to overcome stress is to exercise.
Exercise will quiet the activity of the threat detection center (amygdala) in the brain, allowing you to be more creative and get more done when there is even a low amount of stress in the system.
9: Make a list of your daily goals the night before. Some folks feel energized when they wake up. Others, on the other hand, feel foggy and need time to transition out of sleep and clear their minds. That is another reason why fifteen minutes of activity is beneficial when first getting out of bed. The adrenaline and dopamine systems are boosted as a result.
And having your goals written down means you don't waste time trying to figure out what to do that day; instead, you just get busy and do it.
10: Experiment with fasting in the morning. Not eating when you initially wake up causes the release of norepinephrine. It also significantly boosts dopamine levels since it creates a state of anticipation for a goal, which in this case is food.
When our blood glucose levels are low, even though we are hungry and agitated, it has an ancient mechanism that causes us to focus on things outside of ourselves. And since we require something other than ourselves, we are less content to simply sit on the couch.
Compare this to how you feel after a large dinner. All you want to do now is sit down and unwind. This is why, if you don't eat in the first few hours of waking up, you'll likely get more done.
11: Overcome tension by concentrating on a short-term goal. If stress is preventing you from acting, you can regain concentration by focusing on an immediate goal and a horizon that you know you can achieve.
It can even be a simple objective, such as making coffee, sitting down at the computer, opening a file, and reading three pages. Fixating on the big picture can be paralyzing, but focusing on what you can do right now is immensely liberating and beneficial for dopamine release.
Even achieving a minor objective connects the brain networks for focus, goal-directed behavior, energy, and agitation. You're getting them aligned and coherent.
When you glance at the news, Instagram, your email, or Reddit, your neurochemical systems are split. They're illogical. And it's no surprise that you haven't accomplished much by noon.
12: Divide your work into chunks. You have ultradian cycles, which are not to be confused with circadian cycles, in which the brain operates well for a period of time and then requires a break.
This is 90 minutes for many folks. Set a timer for 90 minutes and then take a break to do something completely different, such as some exercise, reading something unconnected, or anything you want to do to relax your brain.
Some people like the pomodoro technique, which involves working in 20-minute increments, but if you're like most people, you can work efficiently for much longer.
13: Make a list of your pop-ups. When distractions arise, such as "I should check email" or "I need to add soap on the shopping list," write them down on a pad that you keep close to your work. This allows your mind to stay focused on the topic at hand while also teaching it that mind chatter can be ignored rather than acted upon.
14: Get another dose of sunlight. Cortisol and norepinephrine levels naturally begin to fall in the afternoon, which is why it's a good idea to get some sunlight in the afternoon. This could also be an excellent opportunity to get some exercise.
15: Avoid coffee later in the day. It's advisable to avoid coffee after mid-afternoon unless you need to pull an all-nighter. Caffeine use later in the day will have a detrimental impact on your dopamine and norepinephrine systems.
16: Consume complex carbohydrates later in the day. L-tryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid found in turkey as well as complex carbs such as pasta, rice, and similar foods.
Because L-tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, many people find it beneficial to eat the majority of their complex carbs late in the day to encourage L-tryptophan secretion and aid in the transition to more relaxation and sleep.
17: Eat a low-carbohydrate diet during the day. Because complex carbs might be consumed at the end of the day, it is best to avoid them during the day to maintain your energy and focus levels.
17.5: Take a little afternoon snooze if you desire. Many people (though not all) benefit from a short afternoon nap to refresh their batteries. To avoid oversleeping, set an alarm or sleep in a semi-reclined position if you find that a short nap is better for you than a long one. This is also a good time to do some meditation or listen to music that puts you in a trance or lulls you to sleep for a few minutes.
People who are truly effective in both their job and their personal lives have discovered a means to switch between these two systems and control their dopamine system rather than allowing it to rule them.
If you can learn to transition from full performance to full relaxation, you will accomplish so much that it will astound you. Mastering the transitions between these systems has a tremendous impact on your life's performance and relationships.
Try to include as many of these habits as possible, and you'll quickly find yourself automatically moving forward and naturally focusing on specific goals when you get up in the morning.
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