Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Perseverance - Hardwired in Your Brain?

That's the bad news:

Scientists have identified higher levels of dopamine -- also known as the "reward molecule" -- as being linked to forming lifelong habits, such as perseverance.

The good news is that you can trigger the release of dopamine in your brain, the "reward molecule" that make humans want to repeat whatever it was that triggered the dopamine production (including, in other bad news, drug addiction).

Christopher Bergland offers seven ways to trigger dopamine production, and thus, increase the development of perseverance, the elusive trait linked so closely to success in, well, everything. Many of the suggestions are simply changing your mind, a not-so-simple thing. By re-framing the outcome of an event in a more positive way, or by setting manageable goals, or by picturing yourself being successful, you can trigger dopamine production in your brain, which will encourage you to continue that behavior. Being methodical and breaking larger goals into smaller, achievable steps helps trigger dopamine release, as does tooting your own horn when you do something well.

The reality is that motivation and students can sometimes be like oil and water. It's hard; they don't want to do it. They can't see the end of the task so they don't want to start. In our culture today, you can have whatever you want in 3.7 seconds, so delayed gratification is harder to push as a valuable modus operandi. Scott Hamilton, Olympic gold medal-winning figure skater said, "Adversity, and perseverance and all these things can shape you. They can give you a value and a self-esteem that is priceless." Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers, figures it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to be truly great at something.
That's a lot of dopamine, but the rewards can be tremendous. We do the best by our kids when we model perseverance and help them develop and utilize that trait.

Patience + persistence = success/time (TM).

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