The Psychology Behind Success

Elizabeth Pearl Corey

Success is a thing many people crave, but aren’t so keen on achieving. Psychology (the study of the human mind and behavior, as well as how certain factors affect thoughts and actions) often offers many solutions to problems people may have, especially cases in which he may be searching to better himself, or change his environment.  Finding success is made easier when one understands the science behind it, and psychology is certain to help.

In order to understand how to “wire” your brain to be happy, ergo successful, one must first understand how the brain functions and the chemical reactions that come to play to create the desired results.  Dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin are three key hormones that affect success. Dopamine is a hormone that is produced by many areas of the brain and released by the hypothalamus (which is responsible for hormone production). It influences your feelings of reward and pleasure. The more dopamine is produced during an activity, the higher the chance you will find it rewarding. When people find something to be rewarding and pleasurable, they are more prone to strive towards it, or repeat the action. This can come in handy when trying to train yourself to enjoy something, or at least to prevent procrastination. Serotonin, on the other hand, which is produced by brain, but also the gut, is associated with feelings of happiness and tranquility. When one experiences eustress (good stress) they are more likely to perform better. Endorphins are hormones that improve moods, minimize pain, increases pleasure, and enhances attitude; they are sometimes referred to the body’s natural “pain meds” because of the effect they have on people. Certain foods can aid in the production of these helpful hormones. Foods rich in amino acids and antioxidants tend to aid in creating dopamine. Fish and eggs, for example are sure to help. Gum that includes phenylalanine and foods rich in tyrosine also increase dopamine production. For serotonin look to bananas and dark chocolate which increase its levels. Eating your favorite food also helps, as it makes you happy. Studies show that spending more time in the sun can also influence your serotonin production in a positive way. Dark chocolate also helps endorphin production, as well as the scent of vanilla or lavender. Exercising, singing, and laughter also boost the amount of endorphins in the body. Once your cortisol (the stress hormone which has both positive and negative effects and is often known as the “Jekyll and Hyde”  hormone), dopamine, and serotonin levels are settled and you’ve got endorphins released, success is sure to come easier.

Mindset and the environment have much to do with “rewiring” your brain. Mindset is your attitude towards the day and any situations that approach you. If one were to face a beautiful day with a negative attitude then the day would seem bitter to the cynic, and distress would be welcomed into their system. Some examples of negative mindsets are as follows: “I can’t…”, “It’s impossible,” “It’s useless,” “I don’t have the energy,” “I’m not in the mood,” “I don’t have time,” etc. All these phrases lead to even more bland thoughts and they belittle either the self or the approach to the situation, creating a lack of motivation. Just think of it, if one were to see something as pointless, or if they were to feel stale towards a situation, would they really work hard to do well and change their circumstances? Unfortunately, more often than not, the answer is “No.” That may be one reason as to why students tend to perform less than adequately in classes they have a distaste for (for any reason) as compared to classes they enjoy. What’s worse is the more you do bad in a class you don’t like, the less you like it and the worse you do. How tragic! Think of it this way, though: The more you like a class, the better you perform, the more you enjoy it, the more improvement comes around. Isn’t that true? To stimulate moods of incentive, affirm to yourself that things are all good: “I’m so happy!”, “Wow! I’m having a great day!”, “Today is going to be great and nothing can stop that”, “Nothing can get in my way today”, “I’m going to succeed and that’s a fact”, “I’m not going to let anything get to me”, “I’m going be happy and create happiness and bliss for myself”, etc. Some of these may seem a little strange, so rewording them to fit your voice is fine. A tactic used to incite a positive attitude that I’ve personally tried stems off of these phrases. Throughout the day repeat “positive affirmations” to yourself and bring yourself to believe them, even if they seem impossible, and even if things happen to bring you down, focus on something that makes you happy and pull yourself into a blissful state of mind, not allowing a thing to bug you. This works because it keeps you from getting stressed, which leads to annoyance, and then frustration. It also prevents worrying, which can create overthinking chaos. I’ve tried this “technique” in the past, and have stuck with it since. It’s not always easy to follow, but the effort is what matters, leading to success most of the time. When you focus on feeling good and filter out negativity from your life there is more time to accomplish so much more since you aren’t spending the precious hours sulking, complaining, and worrying instead of laughing, smiling, and getting things done. A good environment, also, is fundamental to success and a productive outlook on life. A stress-free atmosphere is organized, sanitized, and full of things that have been prioritized. There should be little to no clutter, the environment should be healthy and not a place where germs could fester, and there should be some sort of list or “chart” of priorities somewhere in the room, minimizing confusion which could lead to frustration. Try to leave little notes of encouragement to yourself, and little reminders throughout the room, also. Some things to take into account include the ambience, colors, and whether negative or positive decor or visual suggestion can be found. Ambience refers to the character and atmosphere of a location. A way to keep the ambience of a room or area calm, creative, and refreshing is to play the sound of water, or have some nearby. Water produces negative ions which actually have positive effects on a person. They produce feelings of inspiration and peace, which explains why many people do their best thinking in the shower. The ticking of a grandfather clock, a chorus of crickets, the rustling of wind, and the crackle of fire are all also good ambience and can help liven up the flavor of a scene. Color has a profound impact on a person’s behavior and may influence the subconscious as well. Color therapy and color psychology are popular concepts in a world where frenzy is frequent. There are main pigments that can alter the “state of being,” but different shades of a color can actually have a more intense effect on a person. Colors for calm are blue (mostly light shades like periwinkle, or deep royal blues), light violet (think cloudlike), lavender (soft), complete white (cream, or ultra-pure white), and complete black (shadowy or inky, like a country night); ‘complete’ is to say that the colors work better when covering most of the area of a place rather than just having objects of these hues nearby. Progressiveness can be inspired by dark greens (like emerald), and freshness by crisp blues and bright greens (icy blues and tree top greens). Motivation can be created by deep reds, but be weary of bright shades which may create aggressiveness or fidgeting. Importance is an air fueled by royal purples, royal blues, and regal reds, silvery whites, and golden yellows which are all deep shades of these popular colors. The choice of color is actually vital to a person’s character in a certain place. ‘Negative or positive decor/visual suggestions’ just refers to taking into account how things around you make you feel, and how they may affect your subconscious. Images, art, or scenes in the background that are depressing or forlorn may lead to feelings of such, as the subconscious mind gathers all information and processes it. Contrastingly, positive visualizations lead to a happy, productive mood. Taking into account one’s feelings and the area around him or her is a very important aspect of success that few people consider.

Although already so many things one can do to become more successful using psychology have already been mentioned, there are even more things that you can do to become improved in life and have things occur your way. To read more on these check out and Life can do so much to get in people’s ways, but there’s so much people can do to prevent it from doing so. Remember to always try hard to stay happy, because thoughts influence behaviors and outcomes. Sometimes, though, the best ways to get yourself happy, therefore in a mood for success, is getting or giving a hug or a smile, and sharing laughter; even connecting with those you love, be it nature, family, or whatever brings about joy for you will help you flourish. It’s always the little things that really determine the great things in life.