Brain Byte: What Enstein’s Brain Has to Do with Yours!

Einstein multicolor

Princeton Hospital Pathologist Dr. Thomas Harvey was on duty in 1955 when Einstein died.  Dr. Harvey performed Einstein’s autopsy and removed his brain, for which he studied for the next 40 years.  His goal was to uncover the secret of Einstein’s genius. He told a reporter, “nobody had ever found a difference that earmarked a brain as that of a genius.”  Dr. Harvey did not find any significant differences, but one of his colleagues did.

Neuroanatomist at the U of California at Berkeley, Marian Diamond announced an amazing discovery after examining Einstein’s preserved brain in the early 1980s.  She found an increased number of glial cells in Einstein’s left parietal lobe, a kind of neurological switching station that Diamond described as an “association area for other association areas in the brain.”  Glial cells act as a glue holding the other nerve cells together and also help transfer electrochemical signals between neurons. Diamond expected them, because of the high concentrations of glial cells in the brains of her enriched rats.  Their presence in Einstein’s brain suggested that a similar enrichment process was at work.

Diamond devoted her career to creating genius in the lab.  One of her notable experiments placed rats in a super-stimulating environment, complete with swings, ladders, treadmills, and toys of all kinds.  The control rats were kept in bare cages.  The rats who lived in the enriched environment lived longer and their brains increased in size, sprouting forests of new connections between nerve cells in the form of dendrites and axons.  The rats in bare cages died younger and their brains had fewer cellular connections.

Remarkably, as far back as 1911, Santiago Ramon y Cajal, the father of neuroanatomy, had found that the number of interconnections between neurons (also called synapses) was the real measure of genius, far more crucial in determining brainpower than the sheer number of neurons.  Diamond’s experiments showed that genius could be created through mental exercise!

Take away:  It is possible to create genius by providing sufficient stimulating mental exercise, therefore in my opinion, giving nearly equal opportunity to all brains.

So the question we ask ourselves is:

Do I want to become smarter?  If so, am I willing to put in the additional efforts required?

You are smart!  It is up to you to discover your genius and put it to good use.

Information provided in The Einstein Factor, A Proven New Method for Increasing Your Intelligence by Win Wenger, Ph.D. and Richard Poe (pages 8-9).

Holiday Relations: Strategize for Sweet Memories with Salty People

A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle. Proverbs 18:19 ESV

Memories…..we all have some fond memories of Christmas past, but sometimes there are those ouchie-not-so-fun, memories of the extended family gatherings or the spouse’s work party that went awry. These memories usually include a relational struggle, including two personalities that just didn’t have the right chemistry mix at the time or perhaps never seem to mix well. The nosey aunt always trying to figure things out and fix everyone else, in spite of needing “fixed” herself. You know the one-divorced more times than you can count on one hand, but always has strong opinions on what you should do in your marriage because she has had so much experience ;-). How do you handle her? Do you go: inSane, Stuff, or reply Sweetly?

The Benjamin Franklin quote, used much in the world of organization, “If you have no plan, you are planning to fail” also works with tense relationships. Yet it requires some introspection, and yes, some inner work on you and me.  Not the humanistic approach, ‘Just tell yourself how wonderful you are and don’t let anyone else’s opinions bother you!’…….Bunk! who can do that?? I mean, come on!  A mean spirited comment hurts. Now, some will allow it to fester much more and longer than necessary. But it does not have to be this way.

Steps for Success with {Genuine} Sweet Responses

Don’t go Judging!  Although it is HARD to believe, not everyone thinks just like you. In your heart and mind you have worked out levels of integrity and standards to live by that you deem acceptable to the world.  These standards are generally unwritten, but seem to make logical sense to us based on what we know to date. The key here, is based on what we know.  Your friend or relative may justify their standards by a very different set of lenses. Each person has different experiences in life: different upbringings, cultural influences, levels of guidance by others (some have many wise counselors in their life and some have/had very little mentoring growing up). Trust me, your holiday celebrations will be much sweeter if you do not make assumptions on what Johnny should think is “appropriate” or not.  Now, this is not to say that you must allow all forms of offensive language or watch programs that do not meet your moral code – it simply means you do not have the right to make a universal judgment condemning someone else’s choice. If you do, your response will look much different than one sweetened with grace.  Both ways get the results, one just leaves behind more damage than the other. You always have the option to leave the room and take your kids with you, if the environment is unhealthy. But consider carefully “how” you will exit with grace not disgrace.

Don’t Fester, Forgive.  I know: forgiving is hard business.  And it is serious business. It requires our full attention and our full surrender, humbleness and meekness. I wish it were easier to forgive AND forget, but usually we do not forget.  This is normal, but becomes problematic if we fester over our past wounds. It is like the Proverb says, A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city.  Don’t be like that wall: impenetrable, unyielding to others, stone-cold. These characteristics do not make for warm fuzzy memories – they make the type of memories we repress. Are you harboring an offense? Will you take this before the Lord now and ask Him to help you to let go and forgive – even if it does not seem fair? Afterall, you have been forgiven and it was not a fair trade.

My teenage son has a saying when he see someone over reacting, “Ah, it tastes a little salty around here.” May those who interact with you during the Christmas season, taste the sweetness of your grace and love, no matter the circumstances.

May you make many wonderful new memories to call up in the years to come. And it is my prayer that those needing reconciliation will see a degree of success in this season.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12 NIV 

 Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24 NIV

Brain Byte: What Did Einstein Say About “Genius”?

Some Things Albert Einstein Accomplished (from Wikipedia)

Albert Einstein (/ˈælbərt ˈnstn/; German: [ˈalbɐrt ˈaɪnʃtaɪn] ( ); 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist and philosopher of science.[3] He developed the general theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (alongsidequantum mechanics).[2][4] He is best known in popular culture for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2 (which has been dubbed “the world’s most famous equation”).[5] He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect“.[6] The latter was pivotal in establishing quantum theory.

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Einstein’s theory of Genius

In spite of Albert Einstein’s incredible contributions to science, it is said that he was late to speak, an average math student, and possible that he failed French.

According to The Einstein Factor, Albert Einstein believed that you could stimulate ingenious thought by allowing your imagination to float freely, unrestrained by conventional inhibitions.  For example, Einstein attributed his discovery of the Theory of Relativity not to any special gift but rather to what he called his “retarded” development.

“A normal adult never stops to think about problems of space and time,” Einstein mused. “These are things which he has thought of as a child.  But my intellectual development was retarded, as a result of which I began to wonder about space and time only when I had already grown up.”

Einstein_1921_by_F_Schmutzer_-_restoration

 

 

 

 

 

Footnotes: Body information from The Einstein Factor book by Win Wenger, Ph.D. and Richard Poe.

Travel People Watching: Beats, Braids, Booze and Beads

image

The smell is so overpowering; it comes from two rows forward. It is a good smell, but in such a large dose, it becomes a threat to me. Sometimes strong perfume triggers a migraine for me. Sensing the situation deserves a little offense, I reach for the pain reliever.

I love to fly. There is such diversity on an airplane, more so when flying overseas, but a national flight will provide a beautiful collage of colors, textures, smells, sounds – some louder than others – some screechier; some smoother; and surely some snorers.

There are passengers donning their Beats enjoying the tunes. Some choose to watch a movie to pass the time. Others determined to get ahead – or perhaps catch up – are frantically typing away while others are snoozing and some are snoring! A few strike up conversations with their travel companions while others meet for the first time and share their story.

Are you interested in the story when you meet someone on a plane? Do you ask questions? Which ones: What do you do for a living? Where do you come from? Where are you going? Business or pleasure? Who do you leave behind or who are you meeting up with?

Everyone has a story. Some are more eager to share theirs. Some are sure to make it obvious they do not want you near their story. There is a variety of ways that you can sit one inch from another person and keep your space personal:
Don’t make eye contact.
Keep busy in your newspaper, smart phone, or laptop.
Probably the surest is to put on headphones and don’t make eye contact.
I make it my goal to get the ‘story” :-) Yes, I am that type! I love people and I love unique stories.

This trip is over a 2,000 mile journey. I have shared stories with a woman who met the founder of my first career company. He ran for president years ago. I have held a high regard for him because the company was run with integrity under his leadership. He is a man who worked diligently; served our country by way of military service; honored veterans; philanthropic and certainly an entrepreneur (having run many large corporations).

Now there are all sorts of giggles happening, and oh yes, it is in the row with the powerful perfume. Not sure if the two things are related, but I am curious.

I have shared stories with a pilot going home for a month long motorcycle tour. He gregariously showed me pictures of past trips he took. I was so inspired by the sights he had seen with his small group of riding partners. He explained that it was an annual tradition for him. He was always the main ingredient to these trips which often times included new members and some seasoned. He enjoyed determining the locations a year in advance; mapping out each stop and sight to see along the way. He would be free flying in the wind for three weeks, just a quick stop at home in the Carolinas to gather up his bike and belongings to get him through. He shared another part of his story, he had a passion to help wounded warriors so he had created a website and had begun raising funds to help out American service men who had been wounded in action. This was a big man, I am guessing well over 300 pounds, with a big heart to go along with his frame. He didn’t catch much of my story and that is okay. I know my story, so I would rather spend time hearing your story anyhow. But it was funny because at one point he says, “You’re not one of those Bible thumpers so let me tell you this story…..” Perhaps if he knew my story, he might not have? :-) If Bible thumping is reading mine daily….than count me in. I listened to his story. He doesn’t like people pushing the Bible on him. Neither do I. So I didn’t.

But I can’t help but talk about God, because he is at the heart of my story. He gives me my heartbeat, he has already written my story I am just looking to him to help me walk it out. Some days I don’t listen so well and those days are a little to a lot more difficult! The days when I get up early enough to hear from the Lord first are generally the best days. They are the ones that allow me to sit graciously next the precious new person and listen to her story even when she is not at all interested in mine.

So the guy in front of me who downed the two booze bottles is now snoring, next to the woman in braids. The woman to my left is typing frantically on her laptop, the woman to my right is sleeping, so I think I will shut my eyes for a while too.

That is, until I hear a snore and am mortified to learn it came from me! Perhaps it was just a gasp for air….to be safe… Back to work I go. And a little more story gathering when my window seatmate takes a break.

Wise Wednesday: The Joy of Creativity

Hand Heart at Sunset

I have read many creativity books over the years  Most recently I am reading Thinking for a Change: 11 ways Highly Successful People Approach Life and Work, John Maxwell shares 5 Ways to Discover the Joy of Creativity:
1) Remove creativity killers
2) Ask the right questions
3) Develop a creative environment
4) Spend time with creative people
5) Get out of your box

I am using Maxwell’s 5 Ways as a starting point and adding insights from my experiences.

Remove Creativity Killers
Years ago I read a great book titled: No Yes But’s, and Other Creativity Killers. The premise of the book was that when you respond to an idea with, “Yes, but…” you infer the original idea was ‘not good enough’ and are sure to discourage and stifle all creativity from that point forward.

Learn to Eliminate Discouraging comments like:

It is not logical
We’ve tried that before
It has never been done
It can’t be done
It’s too much work
Be serious
Be practical
There is only one way
Don’t ask questions

Ask the Right Questions

To stimulate creative thinking, ask yourself:
Why must it be done this way? What is the root problem? What are the underlying issues? Why is it important? What is the opposite? What happens if we do not do this at all?
“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a creative mind to spot wrong questions.” – Sir Antony Jay, Management Trainer

Develop a Creative Environment

Encourages creativity
Places a high value on trust among team members and individuality Embraces those who are creative or different
Focuses on innovation, not just invention
Places high value on options
Willing to let people go outside the Lines
Values Dreamers

Also consider the physical environment: if you have white or gray all around you, perhaps you need to bring someone in to help set a more creative surrounding.  Put things on your desk that have color because color excites the brain for most people, it evokes feelings and associations and tends to spark creative thinking.  Place a few toys on your desk to play with when you need a brain break.

Spend Time with Creative People
Creativity is contagious!  And, personally, I believe it is FUN to hang around people who are creative.  They are unique in their thinking, dress, words, ideas and tend to get me out of my comfort zone because they think EXTRAordinarily.

Get Out of Your Box

The most effective way to help yourself to get out of the box is to expose yourself to new paradigms. One way we can do that is by traveling to new places. Explore other cultures, countries, and traditions. Find out how people very different from you live and think. Another way to get out of your box is to read books on new subjects.

Relational Smarts: The Balance Between Efficiency and Effectiveness

Balancing Male Female

Who is not trying to squeeze one more To Do or appointment into each day?  This is the age of movers and shakers; work-while-at-home; listen to a podcast while responding to emails — you get the picture.  There are so many wonderful systems to get organized and become more efficient at processing your In-Box and Project tasks. Yet, I implore you not to overlook the Relational effectiveness variable.

Should you focus too much on time efficiency: you may quickly find that you are stealing from relational effectiveness.

Think of this as an example:

A newly married couple, both had former marriages and children from a previous marriage.

Money is tight.

Work load is heavy.

Determined to make this marriage last they decide to spend Sundays together and resist the temptation to work.

Time/money perspective:

‘Well, I don’t know why they both have to go together.  If he stayed home, instead of making the 6 hour round trip to pick up Sarah (grandchild), then he could get more work hours.  They would have more money and be less stressed because now he will have to make it up (the work) during the week and I know they can use the money.’

Relational perspective:

The couple works tirelessly six days a week.  They are exhausted most of the time.  they have little time together to talk and laugh together.  Money is tight.  It is tempting for her to say, ‘Honey, I can go by myself and pickup Sarah. You stay here and finish the work you started.  We always have next Sunday together.’

He says, “No, I am going with you, you are tired and we can share the driving so that neither of us gets too sleepy on the road. We will spend the drive time catching up from these busy weeks that have rushed past us.  And I think we should stop at that Cider Mill you love so much to break up the drive and have a little fun. Plus Sarah loves their doughnuts.”

Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest. Exodus 34:21 NIV

There is still so much wisdom in the ancient text and it goes beyond our physical care and needs, this rest extends to our relational health.  We need to make appropriate quality time for important relationships a non-negotiable.  This will help us keep the delicate Relational Balance of Effectiveness and Efficiency.   On the other hand, too much together time can lead to trouble too:  if it steals time from work or other commitments; causes strife, generates boredom, or leads to relational laziness.  There is no magical formula or prescription for the exact amount to time. Take into consideration your personalities, life’s demands, total time available and set your priorities accordingly so that your special someone knows he or she is on the top of the list.

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 Intelligence does not translate to relational smarts – do not become complacent – work to develop your relational intelligence.  XXOO

 

Wise Wednesday: What Creative Thinking May Do for You

You can’t use up creativity.  The more you use, the more you have. — Maya Angelou

According to John Maxwell in Thinking for a Change, there are 5 specific things creative thinking has the potential to do for you:

1) Adds Value to Everything

2) Compounds into more creative thinking (given enough time and focus)

3) Draws People to You and Your Ideas – think about the Leonardo da Vinci effect: people are still talking about him 500 plus years later

4) Helps You Learn More – “Creativity is the joy of not knowing it all.” — Ernie Zelinski.  Creativity is having options

5) Challenges the Status Quo

Next Brain Byte we will look at some ideas on How To discover the joy of creative thinking.

Wood, Stone, and Fire: Beauty, Brawn, and Blazes – Reflections of Worship

“Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” Exodus 25:8-9

As we study Exodus chapter 25 through 30, we see that God is the Master Planner. In this case, God gives Israel the exact specifications to build the Temple where He will “dwell” among his people  The incredible part of this documentation is that it took place 2000 years prior to the birth of Jesus and each element and requirement laid forth by God, points perfectly to His ultimate sacrifice.  Whether you believe, or not, that Jesus truly lived and died for you – will you read Exodus 25-30 along with 1 Chronicles 21:24; Romans 12:1; 2 Corinthians 8:2; Matthew 1:23; John 1:14; Ephesians 2:19-22.  This reading could change your life. Forever.

The Tabernacle prepared for God’s presence. He provided the stone, the fire, the wood, and the precious gems to make this Tabernacle beautiful and worthy of His presence among his people.

Fireplace 2014

I am so thankful today for the joy I have gazing at the beauty of God’s creation.

I have an unusual love for stones [BEAUTY]. I delight in the colors, shapes, and original designs of nearly every stone I spy. It is a common sight to see me stopping on a walk to bend down and collect yet another rock from the dirt path.

God is the Master Planner and the Master Provider of all the materials and the skilled craftsman of the original Temple.  As I consider this,  I am especially grateful at the place I find myself worshipping God in my home. Here at the foot of my beautifully crafted split stone wall; the work [BRAWN] of my skilled and artistic brother-in-law; and near the warm wood fire, installed by the hardworking hands of my husband, who also laid the slate hearth and chops the wood for us. This place combines many things that are precious to me.  It is a reminder of God’s Master Design in Creation (stone, wood, fire) and God’s provision of family, love, and the warmth of fire [BLAZES].  As we seek Him and worship Him we know that He will show us the perfect plan for our day and give us wisdom (Daniel 2:21, James 1:5) for decisions that affect our future.

And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign LORD. Ezekiel 16:14 NIV [BEAUTY]

The LORD is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed. Psalm 28:8 KJV [BRAWN]

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105 NLT [BLAZES]

Wise Wednesday: Which Comes 1st: Cluttered Mind or Cluttered Matter?

organized and free flowing brainDo I tackle the clutter around me or inside me first?

I participated in a wonderful How to Make HUGE Projects Feel Easy Webinar today put on by April at Power of Moms dot com. She does a nice job of implementing the tools from David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.  She has created a niche for helping Moms to get organized using Allen’s GTD method.  She has a beautiful website with many visuals, podcasts and videos to help Moms to get organized and reclaim time to spend on family!  I love her aim and from what I have seen so far, I love her material.

It sparked my thinking, of course, about our minds and organization.  I stumbled upon an article on CNN.com featuring Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life.” by Margaret Moore.  She is the director of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital and the founder and CEO of Wellcoaches Corporation and Harvard psychiatrist Paul Hammerness.  Their theory is that one must first organize the mind prior to organizing the environment in order to see lasting change.

Personally, I believe it is very important to have an organized mind (that is why I teach Mind Mapping! And perhaps why David Allen includes a map on page 71 of Getting Things Done), but I also know from experience that an unorganized environment can cause your brain to be so overwhelmed it becomes cluttered.  When your mind is overwhelmed, it becomes stressed which causes it to freeze, so that you are not able to even begin a project. That is, unless you have a reasonable and incremental process to begin, as April puts it your “next step”.  In other words, focusing on ONE step at a time versus being in ‘overwhelm’ mode by looking at ALL of your To Do’s at one moment.

Check out the wealth of resources on David and April’s sites:

http://gettingthingsdone.com/ — David Allen

http://powerofmoms.com/  — April Perry

Now to you — what do you believe comes first?  Cluttered mind or cluttered environment?  I look forward to your comments!  And then we should all get busy uncluttering both our minds and our matter so that we are better equipped to have more time to enjoy our family and friends during this upcoming Holiday Seasons!  

Steps to the Mission-Minded Day

Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission. – Zig Ziglar

Do you have a written mission?  A mission in your mind?  Do you know what you want your life to portray?  Are your daily actions clearly reflecting your mission?

Sometimes…. honestly – many times – I can have way too many missions in my mind to do any ONE of them any good on a daily basis.  So I have decided to make a reasonable and manageable approach to being mission-minded each day:

  1. Write down the mission for today
  2. Compare it to my life mission – if it complements than it is approved, if not, it is re-worked
  3. Set my daily focus
  4. Take actions in alignment with the mission

For example, today my mission is financial organization and overseeing family. Both are agreeable with my life mission, so the FOCUS:

  1. Prepare for Austin’s movie party
  2. Revise budget and set new goals for 2015

ACTIONS:

  • Buy party supplies [food, drinks, movie]
  • Clean and organize game room and family room
  • Review financial data [stocks, insurances, retirement, estimated college expenses, etc]
  • Revise budget spreadsheet
  • Set meeting day & time to have family goal setting and agreement on spending

Of course there will be many other items screaming for attention.  There will be hundreds more action items; but the goal of the Mission-Minded Day is to have your top priorities at the front of your mind so that they become the main priority for this day.

A mission statement is not something you write overnight… But fundamentally, your mission statement becomes your constitution, the solid expression of your vision and values. It becomes the criterion by which you measure everything else in your life. – Stephen Covey

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