|‘Make your mind your mentor’ or ‘be the boss of your brain’
If you lack confidence, or feel like you need someone to look up to, you need look no further than your own skull. At least that’s what Steven Campbell says when he suggests people “make your mind your mentor.”
The adjunct USF faculty member now lives in Rohnert Park and has published a book on the subject of how our brains work. “Making your Mind Magnificent” was self-published in April and has been as popular as anchovies in a school of tuna.
“It’s just been explosive,” said Campbell over a cup of soda at a café. “It’s clocking with what people want to hear.”
That message is simple: You can do anything you tell yourself is possible.
It’s no “secret,” because this message focuses more on scientific research and studies, says Campbell. Though he is a Christian himself, he distances his work from the wildly popular book and movie on a similar subject. “I want you to get in touch with your mind, and The Secret wants you to get in touch with the universe.”
His message has been gaining support. He’s now “saturated” the retirement community circuit in the North Bay, speaking at some places to full audiences twice in the same week, each week. The message is popular among college students as well, and everyone in between.
How it works
The brain accepts what we tell it, says Campbell. If we say we can’t do something, “The brain makes sure we can’t.” But the opposite is also true, and that’s where the potential for change lies.
“The brain hates changes,” says Campbell, but sometimes they’re necessary. Change is not a good thing, according to our minds, because it disrupts the normal routine. But if you’re trying to lose weight or start a new career, change is necessary.
“The brain locks onto what we consider valuable,” says Campbell. By setting positive goals, we are focusing our brain on a good thing. “Worrying is negative goal setting.”
His lectures and classes are not like those of a motivational speaker. He gives scientific facts and demonstrates exercises on how to accomplish the desired results. “I’m not here to inspire you... I’m here to change the way you think.”
Why is this important?
“Our bodies are getting older, the brain slows down but doesn’t age like our bodies,” says Campbell. Consciously setting attainable goals - even small ones - is a good way to keep our brains active and functioning. “Without goals, we die.”
This is especially important amongst seniors. Campbell said one of his students is 103 years old and sharp as a tack. His exercises have a similar effect of doing a daily crossword puzzle, but instead of just keeping a minimum activity level they maintain a highly functional level of activity.
Campbell taught this class for Empire College in the North Bay for 20 years before going on his own. It was especially popular with students at the vocational college because many were starting a career for the first time, and that requires a positive mindset. He said his class helped improve intention rates for the school and was required for all new students.
“If you tell the brain you ‘have to’ do something, it pushes back or procrastinates,” or creatively avoids the problem or does just enough to get by. Teenagers and homework or chores come to mind as an example. The solution to this is “creative motivation,” sort of tricking your brain into wanting to do things you actually have to do.
Another part of his work focuses on “learned optimism.” Campbell’s wife, Mary, was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago. “I thought, how can I use what I know for this.”
Well, he didn’t ignore it. That was the first step. But then, instead of focusing on the problem, they focused on the eventual solution and told each other there was an end in sight. One of the hardest parts was realizing it wasn’t her fault.
Follow the leader
The idea of making your mind your mentor sounds like a simple concept, but what does it actually mean?
Campbell says once the brain is engaged or focused on a goal, the body will follow suit. So the idea is really about your body making your mind a mentor. But how doe you use your mind to make your mind your body’s mentor?
Whoa, step back a second.
“Think of the goal as if it were already true,” Campbell quickly and matter-of-factly. “It’s not about repetition, it’s about imprinting.” He explained for this layperson, that means focusing on something enough that it becomes an eventual reality in your mind.
An example is weight loss. If you’re 240 pounds, and think about losing weight it will be difficult. But if you are 240 and think, “I’m a 200-pound person” it’s easier for your brain to refuse that chocolate cake after dinner, to get up at 6 a.m. to go jogging.
Retirement is a busy time
Campbell is technically retired. He stopped teaching at Empire college a few years ago and started writing his book. His “retirement,” though, has been busier than work. Speaking at conferences of 600 people or more, expanding classes at senior centers and retirement communities - and now he’s started working with businesses.
“I’m working with Ensearch right here in Cotati,” he said, and is hooked into the local Chambers of Commerce as well. And people want to pay him for his teaching, which wasn’t even though of at first.
“Originally, it wasn’t for the money, I just wanted to teach,” he said. If his work continues increasing like this in popularity, he may just be the first Rohnert Park resident to grace Oprah’s stage.