Continuing with yesterday’ blog about how much we take for granted I wanted to mention a few of the 100’s of things we look past every day. If you take time each day to Look for items in your immediate surroundings that are relaxing, comforting, inspiring, informative, or helpful, your brain in only a few days will do this naturally. This focus will keep it rooted in the positives around you not the negatives. Look at your outdoor surroundings and the beautiful trees or warm faces that you see. If outdoors is not an option, see if you can see or feel something beautiful, like a picture on the wall, a comfortable chair, or even the sturdy floor. Think of something or someone you are glad to have apart of your life in your present or past. Think of how easy it is to find decent, clean clothes. What would it be like if you had to walk a mile right now in order to get water from a well. Ponder for just a moment the images you see on TV of homeless, sick, hungry, and hopeless people. Focusing for the first time with real attention on any of these things I just mentioned will change your mood in just moments.
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So often at the onset of our day we start off getting annoyed if any of our modern convinces don’t function the way WE THINK THEY SHOULD. Not to mention our tendency to quickly dismiss these advancements. We complain when it takes an extra twenty seconds to send an e-mail. Twenty seconds to send our thoughts, which may or may not be of any importance to anyone but us, to the other side of the world! When I was growing up, it blew my mind to hear another voice on the other end of my new walkie-talkies that I got for Christmas. What about Facebook’s occasional changes? OMG, everyone starts flipping out as if it will stop the world as we know it, and the “I am leaving Facebook forever” chant begins. This program allows us to find in mere minutes a second grade crush! And for free! Our storming off is pretty much irrelevant to Facebook, yet our overinflated perception of our own influence is staggering!
How about an IPad or other tablet? I admit I have flipped out when it takes too long to get on YouTube. I’ve gotten indignant at how it is interrupting my workout on the stationary bike because I have no use for the twelve TV channels that the gym offers. It is all because I want what I want when I want it. And what I want is to be watching lectures from UCLA while I exercise!
Starting today, make sure a positive experience or modern marvel is never wasted again. Right now, look around and notice five things that are there for you in any way. These are your good facts. They may be from the past, present, or future. They could be people, surroundings, or technology, but either way these are things that can shift our perspective and thereby lift our mood.
The key is to find things to feel good about and never take another thing for granted.
You are hearing it everywhere. Every magazine, newspaper and even news channels are boasting about the amazing benefits of meditation or a mindfulness practice. Are they lying to us or just jumping onto the latest fad or craze? Neither, in fact one could say they are late to the party. The science community is finally embracing these practices due to the large amount of data proving their benefits, some have even referring to it as a technology of sorts because its effects are measurable; but the best part for you and I is you don’t have to believe in it to see results. It just works. The studies are repeatedly showing the same benefits:
• Increase focus and concentration
• Reduce emotional reactivity
• Reduce stress
• Improve memory
• Enhance empathy
• Increase cognitive flexibility
• Lower sensitivity to pain
I don’t know about you, but I would do almost anything to get all of these benefits at once! This is a vast subject that could fill 10 giant books but suffice it to say that you learn it simply by doing it. There is no other practice out there that can give you this kind of mental and emotional enhancement, producing the fastest changes in your brain and your life. A simple mindfulness practice every morning, if only for one to five minutes, is all it takes to start. Before you tell me you can’t do that because your mind wanders, know that such an argument is like saying you can’t go to a gym because you are out of shape. You do this to gain control over the wandering! Now don’t get all wigged out about this. If you are someone who has been avoiding this kind of practice, but are still unhappy. Maybe it’s time to give it a try. I promise there is no sitting cross-legged, no “ohm-ing,” and no trying to stop your mind from thinking! Thinking is what your mind does. The act of mindfulness or meditation is simply maintaining a pure awareness that allows you to become extremely aware of each thought going through your mind, allowing you to know what is traveling through your mind in nanoseconds. This awareness is what will allow you to finally control your moods.So just do start it already!
When beginning a mindless activity, pause and notice what your body feels like. If it is brimming with intensity, notice that just by taking a moment to focus on it, your body and mind will slow back down. If you continue to pause intermittently to take note of your body’s energies, you might be amazed at how fast the energy returns to a state of tension even after just one minute. If you are angry, you may feel empowered by this kind of energy. You may feel it will help you to finish your task more efficiently. It doesn’t, however, because the energy is there without a focused mind to make the most of it. Being still and breathing deeply will cause a physiological alteration that can bring a calm to almost any moment.
RULE: Be mindful when you are doing something mindless.
It is simply a matter of what you really want in life, how happy you want to be, and the commitment you want to make. As with sticking with the gym or a diet, you have to give it time to transcend into a lifestyle. This rule does not bend: joy can be experienced only in the present, not in the future or past. So if joy is what you really want in life, why go looking in places where it will never be found. Joy is a bit different than happiness or calm it is almost divine but it evolves from moments of calm and happiness.
What stops you from feeling the things you already have? You have worked hard for your home, car, job, friends, and family. When you were growing up, all you could do was dream about one day having these things. Now these things are available to you plus a host of other nice things, good things, great things, and kind things—but your mind barely notices them. Your brain has been programed to want to just move on so you can get to the next thing. It never ends; its appetite for the next thing is insatiable. It sees almost everything as a means to an end…some evasive “end” that never comes, like tomorrow. At best, it will see each moment as a tool; at worst, as another problem to be solved or overcome.
This is the dreary mist in which we walk around in, never really seeing, feeling, or tasting any of the precious things life brings to us. This has to change. We must understand that the degree to which we give this moment our full attention and focus will be the degree to which the next moment is prepared for us. Life is not a series of obstacles to get through every day. For what? When does the pleasure start? When we get home from work? When we get the kids to bed? When we get into bed? The pleasure is hiding in plain view within each moment we experience. The pleasure is recognizing that there is no other place to be but in this moment. It is the pleasure of not running ahead worrying about stuff that has not even happened, the pleasure of seeing the smiles on the faces of friends and colleagues that we normally only glance at. This pleasure entails smiling right now and knowing things don’t have to be perfect to feel good right now. Today we must come out of this mist and never allow it to control our attitudes and moods again.
On days when you are running around trying to cram three days of errands into one, life may jump up and slap you—it always does eventually—Most of us approach our list of tasks for the day as a challenge. Each task we can check off sends a shot of serotonin, making us feel accomplished.
However, no task is ever your goal; rather, your goal is to give the utmost careful attention to each moment. The present moment is not an obstacle to get past so you can get to the “next thing” No step you take can be seen as just a means to accomplishing the task; if it is, then most tasks will feel empty with no purpose until the very end when you check them off your “to do list” Why wait until the end of your task to get that serotonin when you can have it throughout the whole process? You will find purpose in each moment when you recognize that each step you take toward a task is in itself the purpose. This understanding is not complex, but it is the antithesis of how we think normally; Once you understand this fact your whole life will begin to feel different. so when life throws you a curve you will find your footing again by simply adjusting your perspective and refocusing careful attention to the moment at hand. Sometimes I stop, close my eyes, take a deep breath, and just feel my feet on the floor. That reels my thinking and emotions in quickly. Another tool I use if I am home is I stand on a balance disc . This works even under extreme emotion. It is a round inflated disc you stand on trying to blanche and not waver. By closing your eyes and trying to maintain balance you immediately stop all other thoughts as all your attention is drawn to maintaining your balance. See my website for more details http://www.shariespironhi.com.
Today I am looking for 3 volunteers to try a brand new new technique that calms your thinking mind when it has run a much with a fear or replaying an event. It is the most powerful tool I have found thus far and I am seeing outrageous results. Private message me and I will explain the technique and you can let everyone know how it worked after the weekend. Keep Smiling.
The newest part of our brain the prefrontal cortex, ideally should enable us to over ride our lizard brain and be calm and reasonable in the face of problems and disappointments. However, that takes maturity and our brains aren’t even fully developed until we are about twenty-seven years old. By that time we are pretty adept at allowing our rage and frustration to over take us. This prefrontal cortex is our awareness system; it is where we decide, plan, and make responsible choices. I referred to it earlier as our “head office” This is what gives us the capacity to think out into the future, back into the past and then evaluate both to make sense of the present.
Right now the one who is in charge of your behavior/feeling center is your back office, not your newer reasonable thinking front office as you might hope. Initially this older brain has most of the control in how you are influenced; it draws conclusions about people you don’t really know, deems others dumb or ignorant before you have even one conversation with them, and dislikes or champions people through beliefs you don’t even know you have. It will believe a total stranger and refute your friends based on a gut feeling instead of information, it will join a team of people you don’t know, and defend causes you know very little about. It is where your beliefs and opinions are protected to the death. In short this is your ego personified.
If you want to make a change in your life, at some point you actually have to do something not just contemplate it. But your amygdala will hit the sirens and warn you to stay put. It is how it kept you alive thousands of years ago, but in present day it is causing us to die of boredom, monotony, and a lack of purpose. Ignore those fears that say, “Not now, I’ll do it later, I have too many other things on my plate, I have to think about it” That s all contrived crap we come up with because our brains are screaming, “STOP! DONT EVEN THINK OF TRYING SOMETHING NEW” and we have no idea why it is doing that. Start a new habit today to do one new thing a day and in 2 weeks you will unstoppable!
If any part of your body bothers you can assume that your belief is subtly affecting your mood. Most hate to admit this because it seems a bit shallow, but that is our reality. Evolution has hardwired it into our brain that to be desired ensures our survival, and to be desired means to have the right looks, money and sex appeal. Hence, our obsession with the rich and famous. By addressing any subtle beliefs about your looks under the scrutiny of facts, you can alleviate the cringe factor.
The Power of Our Physical Insecurity
Subtle beliefs such as “my hair looks so bad today,” “I look so much older being bald,” or “I wish my teeth weren’t so crooked” can leave us with an underlying insecurity. If you are over 45 and are beginning to feel that your body is really showing it, you might be hearing more of these thoughts than ever before. It is like a problem that you can’t put your finger on. For me, I have to remind myself to adjust my perspective to the facts. Another way to remedy these relentless thoughts is to allow nice compliments about your looks or body to really soak in. Don’t play it down or dismiss it. Remind yourself that people are not saying something nice to you out of pity, even though your stupid amygdala may be telling you that.
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Yesterday I left off explaining what a mood is now I will explain where they can can from. When you find you are in “mood” you may be able to rattle off a list of problems as to why, but it is actually the thoughts/beliefs about those problems that lead your mood down the dark tunnel. Unaware, you might suddenly snap at someone who asks a benign question or fly into a rage when the driver in front of you can’t make up their mind. But the real reason you get angry may be that you were still thinking about the argument you had with your spouse that morning.
Yesterday I found myself battling a mood. I tried to blow it off and move on but I should know better by now. I needed to do some investigating. What was stirring the pot for me was I had received my credit card bill. A whopper of over $1600! What did I buy? ….AIR apparently because I could see no luxury item, no fun new toy, no new clothes, as I looked around my house and I guess air was going at a premium last month! UHG! I had no plans of this. But it was life stuff the kind of things that nickel and dime you into poverty. By not addressing this on a conscious level from the “front office” I was stuck in the “back office” being chewed out for not paying more attention, and not knowing where I would pull those funds from to pay the bill. Once I wrote down my pan the berating stopped and I was ready to move forward.
The amygdala is evaluating all thoughts and situations throughout the day, triggering both big and small warnings. We have learned throughout the years to dismiss the small warnings by simply pushing them away, like I was trying to do not taking the time to shine the light of reality on them. So over the course of a day, these small ones gang up on us leaving us in a really crappy mood by the time dinner rolls around. Everything from feeling ignored in a meeting to having someone talk to you abruptly or having your boss give you less than his usual big smile can have your amygdala sounding the sirens.
The muddy waters of emotions
Emotional moments are always a thought away. Like I have been saying, real or imagined, any thought can cause an emotional upheaval and during that time, your thoughts do not represent an accurate picture of the truth, the past or future. There are two ways an emotion is triggered. A thought may trigger an emotion, and the emotion makes us believe the thought was a fact. The second way is without words or thoughts; your limbic system (emotional area of your brain) evaluates a situation that does not seem favorable to you. In either case, the stress hormone cortisol is released, you feel bad, and then you try to find reasons that validate your emotion. We feel better when we know why something happens, even if we have to conjure up some plausible reason, and those reasons, are always are determined by our perspective. Feeling bad is your “check reality light.” It means a thought is being allowed to stand as a fact. You can’t allow that without confirming its reality first.