Pushing through tough times requires more than just willpower - it involves changing how our brain responds to stress.
It’s All In Your Head: the Neurochemical Response to Stress
When faced with challenges, our brain releases adrenaline and cortisol, which can make us want to retreat or give up. However, we have the ability to consciously override this response by focusing on finding meaning, rather than simply pushing through the pain.
Overcoming Challenges When You Know Dopamine’s Role
As discussed in a conversation between Rich Roll and Andrew Huberman, dopamine plays a crucial role in this process. Dopamine surges when we feel that we are on the right path, effectively suppressing the negative stress response and providing us with the energy to continue. So how do we trigger dopamine during difficult times?
By connecting our actions to a purpose.
Use the Dopamine for Meaningful Connections
For instance, running a marathon can be physically painful and at some point, our body may tell us to stop. But if we remember that we are raising money for charity, it gives meaning to overcome the pain.
Each step is a step closer to a greater cause.
For entrepreneurial parents building character strength in their children, helping them navigate tough situations is vital. Help them set their goals and find meaning in attaining their milestones, this can help condition them to regulate their own dopamine release and build a tool of resilience.
For example, when your child faces challenges at school or extracurricular activities, encourage them to explore their character strengths and make their own meaningful connections. Help them understand how their efforts contribute to their personal growth or how it aligns with their values.
Anchoring Efforts to a Greater Significance
It's important to acknowledge that our brain will always signal pain; however, we have control over whether we interpret that pain as purposeless agony from which we want to escape or as meaningful struggle worth persisting through. Any difficult task becomes more bearable when we anchor our efforts to something greater than ourselves.
By instilling these principles in your children from an early age, you can help shape their mindset towards perseverance and resilience.
- Help your children know what they want, and where they want to go: Encourage them to set goals and envision what they want for themselves.
- Guide them in finding their ‘why’ / meaning: Have self-reflection to know their values and purpose, helping them understand what truly matters.
- Help them Connect their efforts to that meaning: Show them how their actions contribute to their personal growth and the greater good.