Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi conducted global studies on what people did to feel their best and perform their best. He found that states of flow or being in the zone where you are completely immersed in an activity where ego falls away and time stands still is crucial to doing your best and staying with a goal to its accomplishment. It’s like the best jazz music you have ever heard where performers riff off each other and follow their inner musical spirit.
Perseverance is a key to success in life and performance activities. But what makes some people quit working toward a goal and others who persist until they accomplish what they want?
It turns out that our brain produces dopamine as a reward when we achieve a goal. A study published in 2011 found that key receptors for dopamine act like ‘gateways’ that are essential to enable habit formation. “Dopamine neurons regulate circuits all over the brain but they need to be regulated too,” said Dr. Joe Z. Tsien, Co-Director of the Brain and Behavior Discovery Institute at Georgia Health Sciences University. Dr. Tsien says that this discovery speeds up the process of forming good habits and removing bad ones such as drug addiction or smoking since the same circuits are seemingly involved in both.
How can you increase your dopamine to achieve perseverance? Simple tools like changing your bed sheets act as minor hits of the feel good chemical. Creating a list of what you want to accomplish each day and reviewing it in the morning gives you a wonderful feeling. As you check off each task, the brain releases dopamine.
But even more than that, when you link curiosity with achieving goals, you are more likely to follow through. Make a list of 10 things you really want to know about. Curiosity stimulates dopamine and alpha/theta frequencies. When you explore your curiosities, suddenly there are bursts of gamma frequency that can lead to what we call the NEUREKA moment where dopamine bursts along side of the most exquisite intuition and understanding of your self. Then you begin to wake up to who you really are, and when there are major bumps in the road that hamper emotional stability, you come out of the bottom more quickly.