My work requires deep, intense concentration and creativity. R&D is like digging for gold; optimism and hope are offset by disappointment and failure respectively, as with most things in life. It’s an infinite, repetitive game** — often mundane but each step builds upon the last. All you can do is leave dots that will connect and form something unique and perhaps, leave a small mark on the world at the end of your life.
Lately, I’ve been more interested in neuroscience and understanding how the brain functions so I can be more productive and happier; to increase my rate of reaching the state of ‘flow’. I want to know what I can I do on a daily basis to get that extra dopamine (reward) to motivate me throughout the day. I want to hack the happy chemicals in my brain in the most organic way.
Here’s my list:
- Listen to music that I don’t understand. One less element for the brain to dissect.
- Bowl of Pho in the morning. Eating silently is very meditative, it makes me happy.
- Avocado + Banana smoothie. The best lunch and pack some great nutrients.
- Last km of a 5km outdoor jog. Awesome state-of-flow.
- Unsubscribe and all notifications off. Clearing the clutter improves concentration and reduce anxiety. If it’s important enough, people will call.
- Listen. I try to speak less these days and listen more. Usually, people just want to vent, be heard or seek validation.
- Puzzles. Small wins, win. Puzzles can exercise one’s brain, though I dislike chess cheaters…
- Exotic animals. Still awed at the type of delightful birds I often discover in the community parks near my house or the sound of birds chirping in the morning.
- Conversations with old people. As people transition into old age, they let go of the ‘self’, be more honest and focus on helping others. It’s very refreshing.
- Playing an instrument. A piece of string can produce so many tones, so many frequencies. Endless possibilities.
** Most people prefer finite, repetitive games as there are specific milestones and a clear destination but when you reach the end, it’s game over.