For decades, scientists believed that once we reached adulthood, our brain was incapable of any change beyond than the negative alterations associated with disease and aging. We now know that the brain is incredibly dynamic, with a potentially unlimited ability to change throughout our entire lifespan. At any age, new neural pathways can be created and refined, and our gray matter can actually be thickened.
The brain’s plasticity is an infinitely precious quality that we can harness to move from habitual negative-feeling states, including depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) -- to an expanded experience of emotional well-being and happiness in our daily lives.
When you realize that what’s really driving our behavior is our thinking, then the next realization is that our thoughts are largely determined by our feelings -- and these are driven by our emotions. Our physiology is made up of our feelings and thoughts. It’s really simple when you think about it.
This is one reason that many athletes, students, entrepreneurs and businesspeople lose time and time again and experience numerous failures that completely wipe them out -- and why many give up after only one or two big failures. They let their feelings and emotions control their thoughts, and their thoughts control their actions. If they don’t learn how to change their emotions and feelings and turn their failures into success, then they will repeat them over and over again.
Sometimes, people will settle for second best or for mediocre lives because of their physiology. Their emotions. Their thoughts. They lose their drive and inspiration, and when they start feeling this way, this is going to affect their thoughts. Their thoughts may then lead to poor decisions or lack of decisions, which could ultimately cost them numerous breakthroughs, opportunities and financial rewards.
On the football field, when a player does not function at his best, part of that is because he doesn’t understand and integrate the complex internal and external systems and processes that need to be working harmoniously together to consistently perform better -- i.e., being in the flow. And we’re not talking about physical injuries that limit a person from achieving his best -- we’re talking about the emotional and mental processes.
When a player and his team lose a game, it’s important for the coaches and team members to take all of the bad plays, rethink the processes and create plans on how they can turn them into positives. This same physiological process can be applied to every walk of life, no matter if you’re a businessperson, a student, an athlete or a stay-at-home parent.
Being an athlete and having studied high performance for a great majority of my life, I am intrigued with the physiology and biology of my physical makeup, which has spurred a lot my research. I was fascinated with the thought that we as human beings are these giant computer systems operating on physiological data.
Physiology is just data or information streams like the data that is processed in a computer program. Your body is like a computer, and your information streams comprise your physiology. According to the online encyclopedia, a bit stream is a contiguous sequence of bits, representing a stream of data, transmitted continuously over a communications path, serially (one at a time). These vast streams of data are continually being sent and received from one physiological body system to another in the form of electrical signals, electromagnetic signals, chemical signals, pressure and sound and heat waves.
Everything is energy. Just like a computer, the human body is the ultimate performance machine, which is why it’s so important to take care of this body with good thoughts, good programming and good nutritious food and exercise. It doesn’t require different apps or an instruction booklet. It runs its physiological program whether we are aware of it or not.
At first, I didn’t fully understand the impact of physiological information flowing around our body 24/7. Very few people do. We all go about life existing -- almost like robots -- and some of us are more zombie-like than others. But the fact is, we exist almost on autopilot. We breathe, we eat, we think, we feel, we act, we love, we get angry, we get happy, we sleep, we dream. We experience highs and lows, successes, setbacks, heartbreaks and failures. Sometimes, we get up, dust ourselves off, and continue onward, doing the best we can and oftentimes, screwing up more than we succeed over and over again.
We seldom break down any one failure -- or success, even -- and try to figure out the components of the situation, let alone think about the data flow of information that comprises our systems and helps or deters us from the best performance possible. But if you’re anything like the high performers in the world, then you want to be the best. You’re not going to settle for seconds or thirds.
And once you reach the top, you’ll climb to the next plateau, higher and higher, over and over again. That’s the core makeup of high-performance individuals, and it’s all rooted in our physiology.