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Chapter 1: Why Finding Your Purpose Changes Everything
So, why is it that finding your purpose can change everything? How does this help you to truly come alive? Why is this the key to success?
Have you ever heard someone tell you that they find passion to be a turn on? Many women say that they love seeing men who speak passionately about a subject, or busy at work doing whatever it is that they do. Why do you think that rock stars get so many groupies? It’s not just about the fame: if you go to a rock concert with a relative unknown they will still almost always have their pick of several women to go home with that night! The simple fact is that they’re doing what they love, they’re demonstrating skill and passion on stage and to the adulation of countless others. That’s a turn on! Women reading this: ask yourself when your guy is at his sexiest. Is it when he’s talking about something he finds absolutely fascinating? Or when he’s hard at work programming, or working out at the gym?
And the same works for men. Men might be a little less emotionally switched on sometimes and they may be unaware of just what it is they find attractive in their partners. But one thing that is always a turn on is seeing a woman who is passionate and driven. It exudes confidence. Think of that sexy violinist all in black, who is taken away by the music and who has the crowd eating out of her hand. Or an incredible dancer.
In fact, finding passion can actually be a trick for brining more romance and excitement back into your relationship. The sexist thing is the other. The unknown. It is seeing someone who is highly motivated and driven, who is passionate about what they do. When you spend all day on the couch with someone, the magic goes. You become too close. It’s hard to want what you already have.
Get some distance. All each other to grow. Explore your own individual passions and hobbies and let them do the same. And you’ll suddenly find that you both become more interesting to one another again. And for those of you who are single? Stop focussing outward by trying to impress people. Start focussing on yourself and what you love, and you’ll become endless more magnetic.
But that’s just a little bonus incentive. There’s far more to it than that.
Tapping Into Creative Flow
We don’t just become sexually more attractive when we’re focussing on our passion: we become more attractive in the visceral most basic way. Attractive in the sense that people want to be around us, to listen to us, to follow us. We become leaders, inspirers, beacons.
The reason is that we enter what is known as a flow state. A flow state occurs when you are focussed on something 100%. When you are so engaged with whatever you are doing, that all other distractions fall aside. More importantly, the part of your brain associated with your sense of self and with your self regulation shuts down. This is the dorsal-lateral prefrontal cortex.
This removes the parts of our brain that usually holds us back and that prevents us from being 100% in the moment. In other words, we are no longer worrying about our finances or about what other people think. Instead, we are highly focussed and 100% of our mental and energy resources are directed toward that event. And what happens when you direct 100% of your resources toward one activity? Well, it should come as no shock to hear that you become better at that one activity!
In sports, flow states can cause time to almost seem to slow down and dilate, giving us more time to react to things that are happening around us. When we’re writing an essay or painting a masterpiece, we see increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, giving us better focus on what’s happening inside our own mind and almost seeming to shut out the rest of the world.
These are different kinds of flow states but they both represent the same thing: being highly focussed and highly engaged with whatever it is that you’re doing and therefore performing your best.
And this is actually a highly exhilarating experience. Many people describe it as almost euphoric and enlightening: they feel so switched on and so alive because they’re forgetting all of their worries and all of their concerns for that brief amount of time: it’s almost as if they are in a meditative state. They love the thing they’re doing so much that nothing else seems to matter, at least for a time.
And from a neurochemical standpoint, this makes sense too: the brain floods itself with not only focus neurotransmitters (similar to hormones) but also endorphins to make us feel good.
And this is also the state you need to be in if you want to be highly successful. Because countless studies show us that great things happen when you’re in flow. It has been suggested that the vast majority of world records have been broken by people who were in flow states at the time. And it has also been suggested that all the most successful start-ups are in flow too.
Getting to Flow
Getting to this point is all about being highly engaged with what you’re doing and it’s all about loving that thing. Because flow is triggered by the salience network. This is the part of the brain (the anterior cingulate cortex and other connected areas) which tells us what’s important and what we should be focussed on. It does this via the release of dopamine – the ‘reward hormone’ – which our brains produce in anticipation of reward.
In other words, dopamine tells us that something is important and that it requires our attention. This directs the salience network – the attention network – toward the relevant brain areas. That in turn ensures that we remain focussed on those things and allows our sense of ‘self’ to fade away.
Flow states can occur when we’re in danger. This is why we often enjoy split-second reflexes when we’re snowboarding down the side of a mountain at break-neck speed. When this happens our brain comes alive and says ‘I REALLY need to pay attention to this’.
But when you LOVE what you do, the same thing happens. When you love what you do, the brain says ‘I REALLY need to pay attention’. This time it’s because you’re so engaged with that task and so enraptured by it, that nothing else seems to share the same importance.
Magnetism and Passion
Others can sense this passion and this focus and it sends powerful signals that you are someone highly capable, highly exciting to be around and highly engaging. Have you ever noticed how some people seem to be highly charismatic? Have you ever met someone who you just instantly wanted to like you? Someone who just won you over and was highly persuasive and interesting?