Rules for Success

Dr Thanh-Tam Pham - 04/04/2021

Success in life is whatever you define it to be. Being successful is not necessarily about being rich or having fame, it can be simply about personal fulfilment, achieving happiness and having good health.

Success is important as it gives self confidence and a sense of well- being. The most important thing is to have a healthier brain as when the brain is not healthy such as suffering from past emotional trauma, people are sadder, sicker, less wise and less successful.

1- Being in the present moment:

We are often distracted by ruminations on the past or worries about the future but the only time that we live and can make decisions possible is at the present moment. We have to fully embrace the “now” no matter what the situation is and we can find a solution to any problems in our life.

To be in the present is to be mindful and aware of ourselves internally and of our surroundings. Mindfulness needs to be applied in everyday living. We can periodically check what we are doing at the time and where our mind is. If our mind is not focussed at the present activity, we can gently pull our attention back to whatever we are doing at the time.

Our subconscious and unconscious mind is incredibly powerful and it is governing our thoughts and behaviour. Meditation is the best way to explore our deep mind. Meditation balances the left and right brain hemispheres to achieve a “whole brain synchronisation”. It has amazing benefits by facilitating faster and easier learning, excellent mental health, creativity, mental strength, intelligence, memory, problem solving, adaptability and healing depression.

In a 2011 study at the University of California- Davis (Jacobs et al), it was found that meditation increased telomerase by 40% (telomerase is responsible for DNA health) therefore it can increase longevity.

Another study found meditation boosts BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) that can reverse age related brain cell death and thus can play a role in preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

In a 2017 study (Tolahunase et al), it was found that meditation boosts “SIRT 1” by 52%, significantly reduce the rate of cellular aging.

Another study found that meditation boosts Nitric Oxide by 213% to 1000%. Nitric Oxide is the Super Life Extending “ Molecule of the Year” in 1992. It controls blood pressure, dilates blood vessels, signals the immune system, slows cancer and relays information from nerves to cells.

Meditation also boosts Glutathione the “Mother of all Antioxidants” by 41%. Antioxidants work by donating electrons to unstable free radicals, stabilizing them as a result. Glutathione hinders oxidative stress, plays a helping role in fighting cancer by slowing apoptosis (programmed cell death), boosts T cells, shields environmental toxin damage while super charging immunity.

2- Understanding our nervous system:

The nervous system is responsible for everything, the brain controls the body and the body in turn can affect the brain.

- Sensation: the brain receives information from the surrounding by getting signals from the 5 sense organs eyes, ears, skin, nose and taste buds.

- Perception: it is the process of taking in, collecting data from sense organs and interpreting it in the brain. It also involves paying attention to the sensation that comes in to be registered in our consciousness.

- Emotions: emotion is a subjective state of mind. Emotions can be reactions to internal stimuli such as thoughts and memories or events that occur in our environment. They can be fear, anger, sadness, joy, disgust, surprise, trust, jealousy, loneliness…

- Thoughts: thoughts are mental cognitions such as ideas, opinions and beliefs about ourselves and the world around us.

- Behaviour or actions.

When we want to change our mind such as to control anxiety or depression, it is very difficult to get the mind to change the mind as it is like grabbing a fog according to the neuroscientist Dr Andrew Huberman. We have to take actions such as exercises, meditation, using breathing techniques to stimulate the autonomous nervous system to overcome stress.

3- Improve the degree of alertness and focus with timing of light exposure, food intake and exercises. We are all aiming to be able to remain alert and focus but calm and be able to switch off at will to have a good night sleep. Normally, there is a cortisol awakening response peaking 30-45min after awakening in the morning. There is a correlation between light exposure especially sunlight (contrast between yellow and blue colours of sunrise) and this cortisol healthy increase. This is associated with the recovery of executive cognitive functions, alertness and working memory after awakening. It is also beneficial for people with depression or anxiety.

Early morning exercise is also beneficial as it leads to the secretion of neurotransmitters that promote mental clarity and an improved attention span. The early morning exercise gives us a sense of accomplishment to establish a healthier mindset for a healthier day. Morning exercise helps us to avoid distractions and less opportunity to make excuses if we can make it as a routine. It will also make us sleep better at night as it sets a routine for our circadian clock.

It is better to avoid light especially overhead fluorescent light and blue light from computers, tablets, mobile phones from 10pm to 4pm as it stimulates the habenula nucleus or disappointment nucleus as it may lead to a state of continuous disappointment, excessive focus on negative experience and hopelessness akin to depression by down regulating dopamine and serotonin secretion. It also inhibits learning.

4- Use of breathing techniques to control our degree of alertness and reduce stress response.

The rhythmic breathing control is in the brainstem but there is a second area, the parafacial nucleus, responsible for coordinating breathing for talking, crying...

Dr Huberman advocates a breathing pattern, the physiological sighs in which 2 inhales through the nose followed by an extended exhale through the mouth. The acute stress response causes rapid heart rate and breathing, dilated pupils and other body responses all subconsciously and all in about half a second. He explained the alveoli in the lungs collapse over time with stress and Oxygen levels start to go down and Carbon dioxide levels go up in the blood stream so the double inhale “pops” the alveoli to open allowing the oxygen in and enable us to offload the carbon dioxide in the long exhale.

This is a real time stool that people can use anytime, anywhere to reduce stress.

Wim Hof breathing: this involves deliberate hyperventilation about 30 breaths followed by a period of retention. The benefits are: boosting the immune system, improve concentration, mental well being, increase will power, energy and relieve stress and depression symptoms.

5- The Dopamine reward system:

According to Dr Huberman Dopamine is released anytime we experience something we really like especially when we think we are moving on the right path toward a goal. This is important to understand that the pleasure we get from dopamine is better obtained not by accomplishing our goals but by striving towards them. It doesn’t matter if we don’t fully accomplish what we were striving toward, we are still getting the pleasure from dopamine if we just try. We don’t have to get everything that we want in life to be happy, we just need to pursue growth. Dopamine rewards us and it gives us energy as it is associated with the release of adrenaline from the adrenals and epinephrine from the brain at the locus coeruleus. It gives us a sense of urgency, more energy to make the effort.

We should be aware that it can be detrimental if we have the habit of getting dopamine through unhealthy habits such as feeling a burst of dopamine from checking social media or other unproductive activities or unproductive habits.

We need to make a conscious effort to engage in healthy activities. Effort is the first gate that we have to go through in order to build this pathway that involves adrenaline and epinephrine.

Another key to use dopamine healthily is to focus on our internal reward system rather than external rewards. The internal reward system is the dopamine we get when we are making an effort, while the external reward is what we receive once we have reached our goal.

If we put the importance on achieving the goal, we will be actually disappointed when we reach that goal. Neuroscientists call that “dopamine prediction error” when people reach the goal and become miserable and don’t know what to do with themselves.

We shape our brain through repeated actions, so the more we find pleasure in the effort over the external reward, we will have more drive to continue to push ourselves.

Another way of saying is, when we want to achieve a goal and if we mainly focus on achieving that goal, we may be anxious that we fail to achieve it. Instead we have to be mindful in every step that we do on the way to achieve that goal so we can be happy and more efficient and try to give our best effort in everything we do. This will give us an internal reward in every small step that we achieve on the road toward our goal.

6- Commitment.

Making and keeping commitments are fundamental for our everyday lives, careers, businesses and relationships to achieve success. Making a real commitment means that we try harder and look for innovative solutions when faced with obstacles. We are persistent and resilient and do not consider quitting as an option. Unfortunately, most people quit at the first difficulty they experience as they chose to take the easy way out.

7- Keep things in perspective:

Life sometimes seems very overwhelming.

We have to stop and think and reflect on the situation. We have to accept things that we cannot change and stay positive and consider an alternative route.

Another way to put our life in perspective is to consider the whole situation, to reflect on what other people will do in our circumstances as we are often blinded by our strong emotions. We have to remember that things change and everything is impermanent and other people may be less fortunate than us.

One step to maintain perspective is to create attainable goals rather than focusing on too big or unreasonable goals.

8- Broaden our knowledge by reading a variable of topics and keep ourselves up to date with what happen in the world, in our country and in our society. Open our mind to new information, to new cultures, learning new skills and this will alter and improve our view of the world. People who have narrow view often have the tendency to be biased and have wrong beliefs.

9- Dr Joe Dispenza believes that we can use our mind to create our reality. To change our life, we have to change our beliefs.

Quantum physicists discovered “ the observer effect’ when the observer looks at an electron it behaves as a particle, but if not observed the electrons behave as wave or energy. With this discovery, mind and matter can no longer be considered separate because the subjective mind produces measurable changes on the physical world.

If all matter is made of energy, our mind is also energy so mind and matter are completely entangled. We are mindful matter. We are connected to everything in the Quantum field. Our thoughts are themselves energy, the electrical impulses the brain generates can be measured such as by EEG devices. They are primary means we can send out signals into the field. The feelings we generate and broadcast into the field draw events back to us. If we want a new outcome, we will to break the habit of being ourselves and reinvent a “new” self.


Dr Andrew Huberman podcast

“Becoming supernatural” and “Breaking the Habit of being Yourself” by Dr Joe Dispenza