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The High Performance Journal

How I Train My Brain For Peak Performance

high performance journal Apr 16, 2024

Read time: 5 minutes

The High Performance Journal - April 16th, 2024


When I was in high school I was a major screw-up in life.

I was out of shape, had no purpose, and would constantly get in trouble for being a degenerate.

My lack of direction followed me into my 20s. I was working a dead-end job that I hated and spent most of my time either playing video games or getting drunk with my friends.

Then something happened that would change the course of my life forever:

At the young age of 54, my mom passed away.

She was the light of my life. The only person who would tell me that I was better than what I was showing. I was stuck, depressed, and missing the only person in my life who meant the world to me.

In a constant state of depression, I cried every single day.

In the process of wallowing in sadness and grief, a voice came into my mind. It was quiet at first. I couldn't hear it due to all of the thoughts of self-pity.

Between the bouts of crying episodes, I remember pausing to listen to what it said,

"Dan, you could either let this situation burn you down or you can use it to build you up"

I was incredulous. Who was this voice speaking to me and how dare it challenge me at my lowest point in life?

But it kept getting louder and louder until I couldn't ignore it anymore.

I had a choice to make: Destroy or build?

I chose to build.

I didn't know it then but this was the start of cultivating my Mental Gym.

What Is The Mental Gym?

The mental gym is a place I go to train my brain.

The mind can be your greatest ally or your greatest enemy.

We often think of training the body but rarely do we think of training the mind when it is the tool that tells the body what to do.

The best way to get what you want out of life is to have your brain working for you, not against you.

Enter the Mental Gym.

The mental gym is a protocol that helped me manage the 6 inches of space between my ears.

These are tools that have allowed me to turn my brain from one that seeks pleasure and distraction to one that effortlessly disciplines myself.

I've used it to get my body in shape, build profitable businesses, grow a social media following of millions of followers, and create the life of my dreams.

Think of the brain as a muscle and these are your exercises to make it stronger.

And if you take the mental gym seriously I'm pretty sure it can change your life too.

5 Ways I Train My Brain For High Performance


#1 - Exercise And Nutrition

The first step to gaining control of your mind is to exhaust your body.

In my journey to controlling my brain, I needed to exercise every single day. Working out is the ultimate brain training exercise on the planet.

Vigorous exercises like strength training and cardiovascular training improve neuroplasticity and stimulate BDNF, which is the fertilizer for the brain.

Even something as simple as walking can increase creativity and decrease stress levels.

Exercise was the first step to controlling my nervous system so that it became more balanced and less prone to fight, flight, or fright.

Also, my brain changed when my diet changed. The nutrients you take in through food have a tremendous effect on your mental health.

Eating nutrient-dense whole foods contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that nourish your mind and protect it from oxidative stress.

I didn't know it at the time but changing my diet from processed to unprocessed whole foods was not only fuelling my body but changing my brain.

Marrying both vigorous exercise and proper nutrition were the first steps to taking control of my mind and making it work for me.

#2 - The Mental Management System

There are 3 parts to the mental management system: Meditation, Visualization, and Self Talk.

Meditation and various forms of mindfulness practices have allowed me to increase the pause between stimulus and response.

Meditation changes the brain's structure through 4 areas:

  1. Gray matter is responsible for muscle control, sensory perception, and managing emotions.
  2. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for decision-making.
  3. The amygdala controls emotional response.
  4. The hippocampus is responsible for memory and learning.

The great thing about meditation is that you can get the benefits in as little as 5 minutes a day. When I wake up I start my day by sitting there and observing whatever thoughts come to mind.

Visualization is a way to train your self-image.

The self-image is the mental picture we hold of ourselves and it's what Maxwell Maltz the author of Psycho Cybernetics calls the most important factor of our success or failure in life.

My 2-step visualization process:

Step 1 - I visualize the person I'm becoming or the outcome I'm creating.

Step 2 - I visualize the actions to bring my vision into reality.

As I do this I try to get as clear about the picture I have in my mind as well as the feelings I would feel as a result of achieving them or taking action.

Finally, you have self-talk. I've noticed that the way I speak to myself leads to my behaviors and actions. The first way to get ahold of this conversation is to monitor the thoughts in your brain the previous 2 steps.

The next best way is below...

#3 - Performance Journaling

When I had better control of my brain and increased the strength of my ability to observe my thoughts I used journaling to mold the dialogue of my mind.

When I first began to journal I realized how much of a piece of crap I was to myself.

I was self-deprecating, insulting, and negative. When I saw how I talked to myself I realized that I was a better friend to others than I was to me.

When we journal our amygdala becomes calmer.

This allowed me to understand the emotions I was feeling so they wouldn't have the same intensity as before.

Most of the brightest minds I've studied (Leonardo Da Vinci, Oprah, Warren Buffet, etc) used journaling as a tool to improve their mental capacity and control their minds.

I've journaled so much that I've created something called Performance Journaling, which helps me log my wins, and lessons, and monitor my overall state of being.

How I do Performance Journaling:

  • Morning pages allow me to dump whatever is on my mind to begin my day, which releases the breaks on how I approach it.
  • Gratitude journaling allows me to focus on the things I have rather than the things I don't.
  • I note down lessons when things/projects don't go according to plan or when things are successful.
  • I jot down ideas as they come to me.
  • I write out my wins of the day, which is important for anyone who's a type A individual.

For me, it's not enough to keep things in my mind. To get the most out of life I must write them down.

#4 - Distraction removal

I would smoke weed every single day to escape my anxiety. I'd watch porn as a way to numb myself from the discomfort of boredom. I'd drink alcohol to the point of getting blackout drunk to "release my inhibitions".

Each vice acted as a distraction from reaching my full potential.

As we grow up we turn to certain things to help us deal with the stress of the world when the truth is they become the things that add stress to our lives.

I had to get real with myself and list out the distractions I was using to blunt the effect of life.

So one by one I worked at eliminating them and replacing them with healthier habits.

The funny thing is I thought life would get boring but what happened was that life became more fulfilling as a result.

#5 - Controlling My Perception

Something that's taken me years to figure out is that reality is malleable.

This is because our perception acts as the lens through which we view reality.

The unfortunate thing that I realized is that my perception was based on how others saw reality.

I would adopt beliefs about myself and the world because of how others viewed it and in the age of social media this is the most dangerous thing on the planet.

In a world that vies for attention, people will say some crazy things to influence your idea of what reality means.

Fortunately, we can also use this to our advantage. We can train ourselves to perceive life in a way that serves us instead of others.

 

 

Most people walk unconsciously through the world.

When we gain greater control of our brains and become aware of our perceptions we can create a reality that we enjoy living in.

Questions I ask myself to control my perceptions:

  • How is this happening to me?
  • Where's the opportunity in this?
  • Where's the lesson in this?

If the brain was the vehicle for life I was I was asleep at the wheel. I let others dictate my beliefs and ideas around the world and I didn't like it.

When I took control of what life meant to me my life changed as a result and I achieved more success as a result.

This is why the steps above are listed in order. Each one is a way to help us gain control of the wheel and dictate what life means to us instead of the other way around.

The Knot That Ties The Bow Together

There is a final part to this that may seem counterintuitive to what I just explained above and here it is:

You achieve what you want to the degree that you let go.

Most people think that achieving things is done through grinding and trying super hard.

But sometimes that's the thing that pushes what we want away from ourselves.

Also, many times our best-laid plans can go to waste and we get to the outcome in ways we wouldn't have planned.

This doesn't mean to not take action. This means that our job is to do the work, let go of trying to control things and focus on managing our participation in the events that happen.

There's a saying in the Bhagavad Gita that's held true in my life, which I'm paraphrasing,

"You are only entitled to the labor, not the fruits".

So control what you can and let go of what you can't.

Do this and life becomes less stressful and you end up flowing rather than swimming upstream.

Now you have the protocol I use to train my brain for ultimate performance but don't take my word on it.

Try it out and see for yourself. You might be surprised at what happens.

Onwards and upwards 🚀

- Dan

 

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