Research shows that when we are living in alignment with what truly inspires us, we are more likely to be productive, fulfilled, driven, intelligent, and creative. In other words, we are most likely to succeed.
And when you really think about it, what is success anyways? Society might define success in terms of money and possessions, but does any of that matter if you aren’t truly fulfilled? True success is something that should instead be associated with the level of fulfillment being experienced by each individual in their personal and professional lives.
Here is some information about what happens to your brain and body when you are pursuing what does or does not inspire you.
Living in Your Values
Behavioral development expert Dr. John DeMartini recently discovered that we all have a unique set of values that plays a major role in governing our behavior and perception of self. He concluded that all of our positive and negative emotions are a feedback system for whether we are living in or out of our values system. Our values are the things that truly matter to us in life.
DeMartini determined that when we are living out of alignment with our values, we are more likely to manifest addictive behaviour, self-sabotage, and procrastination in our lives. When we are living within our values, we experience better memory retention, focus, and productivity.
There is also a part of the by brain known as the reticular-activating system that is constantly filtering out information according to our hierarchy of values. Let’s take the example of a husband and wife walking down the street. If the man has a high value on relationships and the woman has a high value on animals, the man will notice the couple holding hands and the woman will notice the person walking a dog.
Our brain is constantly working for our system of values!
Creative magic happens when you’ve created cognitive resonance between the conscious and subconscious mind. This resonance also plays a role in being in flow-state. When you are living out of your values, you are inevitably in cognitive dissonance because your conscious and subconscious mind are out of alignment.
Creativity plays a huge role in success. It is responsible for sparking new ideas, inventions, and determining innovative solutions to problems. It allows us to think beyond traditional boundaries and pioneer new territory.
Dr. Kahn at the University of Arizona (2012) found that we are more likely to be creative when we have an open mind and are experiencing a positive mood. By pursuing what inspires us, we are more likely to experience both of these things.
Inspiration vs. Desperation
Dr. DeMartini also discusses the two main forces motivating people in his seminar The Breakthrough Experience. He says we are continuously motivated by either inspiration or desperation.
The source of desperation is fear-based thinking, and individuals motivated by desperation are in a constant state of seeking pleasure over pain. They are more likely to be on an emotional roller-coaster and to give up in the face of challenge.
The sources of inspiration are love and authenticity. From a place of inspiration, “we are more likely to embrace both pain and pleasure in the pursuit of our purpose.” (Dr. DeMartini) We see the bigger picture, and are better able to overcome obstacles in the pursuit of our vision.
Approach-Oriented vs. Avoidant Behavior
When we are truly inspired by the pursuit of our goals, our perception changes. We are less likely to see setbacks as failures because we are too busy seeing them as opportunities for growth. This plays an important role in removing limiting beliefs that are programmed in the subconscious mind.
In addition to this, a laboratory study conducted by researchers Schnelle, Brandstatter, and Knopfel (2010) showed that participants were more likely to exhibit approach-oriented behavior over avoidance techniques when they were participating in a task that they were inspired by.
In other words, we are more likely to tackle circumstances head-on when we are interested in what we are doing. We are also more likely to replace fear of the unknown with curiosity, enabling our learning process and advancement.
Neurochemical Response and our Body
Our mind and body are extremely interconnected. When we are taking part in activities or learning that we believe supports our values, our brains produce higher levels of serotonin and dopamine. These neurochemicals are more concentrated in our brain and physiology when we are taking part in inspired action. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter involved in movement, memory, pleasurable reward, and motivation. Serotonin is involved in well-being, appetite regulation, and the transmission of nerve impulse.
When we are involved in activities or work that we perceive as a threat to our values, we produce higher levels of cortisol and substance P. Substance P is the biochemical involved in the transmission of pain information, while cortisol is most commonly known as the neurochemical related to stress.
Over time, we are either energized or depleted by the types of neurochemicals being produced in our brain and transmitted throughout our body.
When you are aligned and authentic, your self-worth naturally increases because you have accepted your uniqueness and the things that you value. You are more likely to believe in yourself, be calm under pressure, and share your opinion when you are aligned.
When you are living out of your values, you are communicating to your subconscious that you are unworthy of owning who you are. The negative feelings that accompany low self-worth are simply feedback for you, telling you to stop disowning what’s important to you.
Personal fulfillment is largely associated with our ability to set and achieve intrinsic goals. And if you can’t be fulfilled, does meeting societal standards of success really matter anyway?
Remember: Change Doesn’t Necessarily Happen Overnight
Remember that establishing effective change takes time. Despite how much the information above might resonate with you, creating a smooth transition takes consistency, patience, and perseverance. Proper action steps are also required to bring your dreams to life.
Define your goals! If money was of no value, what would you spend the rest of your life doing? You can always find a way to monetize your dreams when you are living authentically.
Do your research and make a plan. What steps do you need to take? How much money do you need to save? How much extra time do you need to put into this each week? If it truly matters to you, you will go for it, and you will experience the rewards accordingly. Creating a timeline is also beneficial.
Tie your current job into your values. Rather than creating resistance towards what is currently supporting you, work to see how it is benefitting your long-term plan. By shifting your perception and seeing the benefits in your current job, you minimize resistance and will have more energy, resources, and productivity to move effectively towards your goals.
Perhaps you have to put an extra ten hours of work into each week to manifest your desires. But doing your life’s work will provide you with more meaning and substance in your life. Taking action steps towards creating a life by design will energize, not deplete you.
In the words of Maya Angelou, don’t forget that sometimes you have to “do what you have to until you can do what you want to!”