FOCUS ON SUCCESS: 3 easy questions to train your brain

The denial of pleasure is unfortunately a consistent trend that Brighter Thinking clients from all cultures discuss during their coaching sessions with me. There is an erroneous belief in the corporate and business world (reflected by behaviour) that the working day has to take the form of hard slog, comprising a multitude of activities and tasks which are not generally deemed as “fun” from wake up to lights off, and that there is no time for anything else.

However, the human brain (or mind) does not perform best this way and like a small child denied favourite toys, it will soon start playing up. This will take the form towards easy distraction, a lack of focus on work, depleting energy and maybe even a snappy mood.

The brain requires a delicate balance of neurochemistry for motivation and performance. Punctuating the day with peps of pleasure encourages stability in this equilibrium as energy, motivation, attention and as a result, productivity are boosted. This helps to create an environment for what I call, brain-friendly peak performance.

Now, of course when you think of pleasure you may think of something in particular (!) which may or not be possible to act upon during the day’s busy work commitments! However, there are indeed lots of other ways which you can increase pleasure which will signal a similar (if perhaps not as satisfying!) reward in your brain.

Here are some ideas of tactile treats which clients (and I) report benefiting from:

Savouring your favourite hot beverage – away from your usual workspace

Lingering on the comfort and smells of a freshly laundered bed

Enjoying a daily dose of green walk in nature

Writing with pens and stationery that you really enjoy handling

Taking time to read a printed magazine or book not connected with work, childcare etc

Doing your hobby for 10 – 30 minutes: if you think that this is too indulgent, how about setting the timer for six minutes?

Lighting a candle: I know a CEO who regularly fragrances their office this way

Having a moment of mindfulness

Stroking a pet, the office dog (or partner!)

Ensuring that your work environment stimulates and relaxes the senses: ditch the clutter and anything that is broken, worn or that depletes your energy.


N.B. These examples are non-digital because whilst scrolling on your smartphone will feed the reward network in your brain (like an addiction), I’ve yet to hear a client describe this activity as pleasurable – or relaxing.


*If you were to smoke, you would have forty-five minutes to over one-hour extra break in the working day, according to a variety of research sources. Whilst this supposed pleasurable habit is not encouraged, it puts into context the time taken on a non-work task that is tolerated.