Brian Sullivan

Test subjects taking part in an 8-week program of mindfulness meditation showed results that astonished even the most experienced neuroscientists at Harvard University.  The study was led by a Harvard-affiliated team of researchers based at Massachusetts General Hospital, and the team’s MRI scans documented for the very first time in medical history how meditation produced massive changes inside the brain’s gray matter.  “Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” says study senior author Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology. “This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”
Sue McGreevey of MGH writes: “Previous studies from Lazar’s group and others found structural differences between the brains of experienced meditation practitioners and individuals with no history of meditation, observing thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration. But those investigations could not document that those differences were actually produced by meditation.”  Until now, that is.  The participants spent an average of 27 minutes per day practicing mindfulness exercises, and this is all it took to stimulate a major increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.  McGreevey adds: “Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. None of these changes were seen in the control group, indicating that they had not resulted merely from the passage of time.”
“It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life,” says Britta H√∂lzel, first author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany. You can read more about the remarkable study by visiting  If this is up your alley then you need to read this: “Listen As Sam Harris Explains How To Tame Your Mind (No Religion Required)
Better by far you forget and smile than you should remember and be sad - Christina Rosetti
Brian Sullivan
In this riveting TED talk, Dan Pink makes a case for why everything we think we know about motivating people to achieve success is wrong – and then reveals the one thing that actually works. Watch this important video now (and you’ll also get the secret to the candle problem)…

Why is this TED talk important? 

As Tellman Knudson observed: "First of all, in my experience, it’s completely true. Personally, I am never motivated to achieve successor solve problems by some “reward” I will get at the end of it all." 

I’m not motivated by getting a bigger paycheck. I’m not motivated by the thought of a 3 day weekend or a big, shiny sports car (hey, those don’t really work in Vermont anyway ;)…

So what DOES motivate me? 

Exactly what Dan Pink talks about here: Doing something amazing for the sake of doing it. Solving “unsolvable” problems just because someone said I couldn’t. Improving the lives of others. Really. I’m not joking about this. It’s a serious matter. 

And here’s why this is a serious matter for YOU. 

Because if you are, or are even thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, you’re NOT going to be solving a lot of those straightforward, mechanical-type problems that work well with the carrot/incentive model. Nope. 

As an entrepreneur, you get to solve a LOT of the “cognitive thinking” types of problems. Those puzzles that have no obvious answer. The ones you have to be at the top of your mental game for. And if Dan is correct (and I believe he is), a big juicy carrot is not going to help you one bit here. 

So, the question is… 

Is there NOTHING that can help you be more on top of your game, get motivated, and attack the creative problems you need to solve to be truly successful as an entrepreneur? Do you have to rely on just some inner “intrinsic drive” to do something well? 

Not quite. 

Here’s the thing. As long as you’ve got the intrinsic drive in the first place, then there IS something you can do that will: 

1. Clear your mind of all distraction so you can be brilliant.
2. Help you do the “broad spectrum” thinking needed to solve tricky problems.
3. Motivate you to succeed massively even when the way forward isn’t clear. 
Brian Sullivan

"If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it'syour job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first." - Mark Twain

So you want to make that new habit. Twenty-one days is all it takes if only you get started.
So get he bogey over first thing in the morning, don’t have your coffee, tale an hour bath to get yourself in the mood.
Set your day up with a success.

A small success. Don’t make the target so massive that you put it off. Get success under your belt FIRST.
If a new habit Takes too long you will never have time to learn other things.

If you improved 5% on one life area in 21 days, then you could repeat the process 12 to 15 times in a year. That’s 60% or more by small improvements made into habits.   

So start off your day with a success, do the hard part first. The satisfaction will thrill the rest of your day.

Better by far you forget and smile than you should remember and be sad - Christina Rosetti
Brian Sullivan

For many years I had heard stories about the "Hundredth Monkey phenomenon" and was fascinated with the possibility that there might be some sort of collective consciousness that we could tap into to decrease crime, eliminate wars, and generally unite as a single species. In the 1992 presidential election, in fact, one candidate—Dr. John Hagelin from the Natural Law Party—claimed that if elected he would implement a plan that would solve the problems of our inner cities: meditation. Hagelin and others (especially proponents of Transcendental Meditation, or TM) believe that thought can somehow be transferred between people, especially people in a meditative state; if enough people meditate at the same time, some sort of critical mass will be reached, thereby inducing significant planetary change. The Hundredth Monkey phenomenon is commonly cited as empirical proof of this astonishing theory. In the 1950s, so the story goes, Japanese scientists gave monkeys on Koshima Island potatoes. One day one of the monkeys learned to wash the potatoes and then taught the skill to others. When about one hundred monkeys had learned the skill—the so-called critical mass —suddenly all the monkeys knew it, even those on other islands hundreds of miles away. Books about the phenomenon have spread this theory widely in New Age circles. Lyall Watson's Lifetide (1979) and Ken Keyes's The Hundredth Monkey (1982), for example, have been through multiple printings and sold millions of copies; Elda Hartley even made a film called The Hundredth Monkey.
As an exercise in skepticism, start by asking whether events really happened as reported. They did not. In 1952, primatologists began providing Japanese macaques with sweet potatoes to keep the
monkeys from raiding local farms. One monkey did learn to wash dirt off the sweet potatoes in a stream or the ocean, and other monkeys did learn to imitate the behavior. Now let's examine Watson's book more carefully. He admits that "one has to gather the rest of the story from personal anecdotes and bits of folklore among primate researchers, because most of them are still not quite sure what happened. So I am forced to improvise the details." Watson then speculates that "an unspecified number of monkeys on Koshima were washing sweet potatoes in the sea"—hardly the level of precision one expects. He then makes this statement: "Let us say, for argument's sake, that the number was ninety-nine and that at 11:00 A.M. on a Tuesday, one further convert was added to the fold in the usual way. But the addition of the hundredth monkey apparently carried the number across some sort of threshold, pushing it through a kind of critical mass." At this point, says Watson, the habit "seems to have jumped natural barriers and to have appeared spontaneously on other islands" (1979, pp. 2-8).
Let's stop right there. Scientists do not "improvise" details or make wild guesses from "anecdotes" and "bits of folklore." In fact, some scientists did record exactly what happened (for example, Baldwin et al. 1980; Imanishi 1983; Kawai 1962). The research began with a troop of twenty monkeys in 1952, and every monkey on the island was carefully observed. By 1962, the troop had increased to fiftynine monkeys and exactly thirty-six of the fifty-nine monkeys were washing their sweet potatoes. The "sudden" acquisition of the behavior actually took ten years, and the "hundred monkeys" were actually only thirty-six in 1962. Furthermore, we can speculate endlessly about what the monkeys knew, but the fact remains that not all of the monkeys in the troop were exhibiting the washing behavior. The thirtysix monkeys were not a critical mass even at home. And while there are some reports of similar behavior on other islands, the observations were made between 1953 and 1967. It was not sudden, nor was it necessarily connected to Koshima. The monkeys on other islands could have discovered this simple skill themselves, for example, or inhabitants on other islands might have taught them. In any case, not only is there no evidence to support this extraordinary claim, there is not even a real phenomenon to explain.

  • From Why people believe weird things: pseudoscience, superstition, and other confusions of our time / Michael Shermer; Henry Holt and company New York

Better by far you forget and smile than you should remember and be sad - Christina Rosetti