Brain Byte: Sell Yourself A New Habit

Bad Habits Store Sign

Photo Credit Brent Moore of Nashville

 

Habit is habit, and not to be thrown out the window by any man; but rather, coaxed down the stairs one step at a time. – Mark Twain

This is the time of year to talk habits.  Ridding old ones replacing with new ones.  I have written about the process of how habits form a pattern, or a groove, on your brain here.  According to Karl Albrecht in his book, Brain Power: Learn to Improve Your Thinking Skills, you can sell yourself on a chosen new habit!

He marks out the step-wise process of a professional salesperson persuading a customer to buy a product:

1)  Attention – the customer realizes the product exists

2) Interest – customer thinks the product fills a need

3) Desire – customer wants product

4) Action – customer commits to purchase and sale is closed

Albrecht says these same four steps, AIDA, may be used to sell yourself a new habit pattern.

1. Clearly identify the old habit pattern you want to change in specific, observable terms [Attention]

2. Clearly identify the new habit you want to install in your brain’s system of patterns; do not say “stop procrastinating” because your brain does not operate effectively to negative commands, instead specifically detail the desired results.  For example, “leave for work at 8:15 to arrive early for work”. [Interest]

3. Make yourself fully aware of the situations in which the old habit comes into play so that you can consciously replace the undesired behavior with the desired behavior. This may take several days to weeks to evaluate.  What is triggering the desire to do the old habit?  The new habit must become more desirable. [Desire]

4. Systematically act out the new behavior over and over until it starts to become an unconscious and fully established habit. [Action]

Remember it takes 21 days of consecutive action to form a new “groove” on your brain, i.e., to form a new habit.  It will take longer if you miss days or only perform the action one time per day.

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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!  

Wise Wednesday Brain Byte: Teen Brain

This week I had the privilege of hearing from a man who shared his very difficult and painful 2.5 year journey with his only son.  His son was in his early twenties, came from a healthy middle-class family, achieved a 32 on his ACT and was a great all-American kid (for those outside of the US, this means he was well kept, well-liked).  He attended university out of town, but had recently transferred to a University in his hometown.  This young man met a girl who had modelled in a metropolitan city and during this experience met up with the wrong crowd.  The type of crowd that lures unsuspecting successful kids into the life of drugs.  Since she could no longer keep jobs, she moved back to her home state and hung out on this same University campus, because there were many ‘partying’ houses that welcomed her.  It was at one of these parties that the two met.

According to the boy’s father, after piecing together bits of stories he came to uncover this picture: one night his son was drinking; the beautiful girl offered him heroine (or some precursor to it) and within three months this young man was HOOKED.  By hooked, I mean he was at the point of needing the drug so much he was stealing family heirlooms and money and his sister’s X-Box, nothing was off-limits to get the money he needed to get his next fix of heroine.

I opened with the fact that it was a privilege to hear from this father, and I feel this way because what he shared was what we would normally consider very up-close and personal.  You see, in spite of the father’s attempt to do everything he possibly could to help his son get clean – his son died  two and a half years after he first experienced heroin.  And because of what this father shared, I believe lives may be spared.  A little education goes a long way.  The one hundred people he taught that night will turn around and share with at least one more person, probably an average of 200 more people will have the ability to educate their children and their friends.

His main message:  The prefrontal cortex does not fully mature until the mid twenties.  Why does this matter?  This is where reason occurs.

According to the Guardian dot com:

Teenagers can do the craziest things. They drive at high speeds. They stand around outside loud parties and smoke weed in front of the cops. They guzzle liquor. They insult their parents – or lie to them – and feel no remorse, because, of course, their parents are idiots.

Using such tools as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET), scientists have peered into teen brains and found that typically, until a person hits his early to mid-20s, his prefrontal cortex is still rapidly changing. So are the cell endings and chemical connections that link the cortex to parts of the brain associated with gut impulses.

It is easy to blame peer pressure or wilfulness, but scientific studies suggest that at least some of this out-there behaviour has a physiological tie-in: brain mapping technologies show that the average teenager’s brain looks slightly different from an adult’s. The biggest differences lie in the prefrontal cortex – a part of the brain associated with reasoning – and in the networks of brain cells that link the cortex to regions of the brain that are less about reasoning and thinking and more about emotion.

When people are around 15 or 16 years old, many brain cells in the cortex die off while others are created, and new connections form among them. A lot of the basic cognitive abilities – advanced reasoning, abstract thinking, self-consciousness rapidly expand during this time, says Laurence Steinberg, a Temple University psychology professor. “The connections within the brain don’t fully branch out until age 22 or so. The kinds of capabilities that connectivity contributes to – emotion regulation and impulse control – probably plateau in the early to mid-20s.”

 

 

Wise Wednesday Brain Byte: Non-Conscious Mind

Research shows that 90 percent of what takes place in your mind is metacognitive, or at your sub-conscious level.  This leaves only ten percent of conscious activity of the mind.

 brain scan

According to Neuroscientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf, the non-conscious metacognitive level is where your unique metacognitive mix comes in, giving your individuality.  This is where memory building and all its electrochemical and electomagnetic reactions actually occur.

Dr. Leaf goes on to say, “your individuality implies and carries with it the taking of responsibility for your actions; you must consciously force the metacognitive and cognitive levels to interact.  You can do this by consciously thinking about what is in your mind which allows you literally to access the psychosomatic (body-mind) network where the memories are stored and redirect it.

She gives an example of detoxing your old, negative memories by recalling them and then creating a new positive thought pattern (memories) ‘over’ the old. This is Detox Step #4 – Take Responsibility and Take Control – in her book Who Switched Off My Brain.

In other words, think of an unhealthy habit: this brings it to your conscious mind.  Next, think upon a new and WISER choice; take action based on what you believe to be right, using God’s Word as your guide. What does God say about this unhealthy habit and what thinking should replace it?  You may need the help of a trained Counselor, prayer partner, Pastor, or trustworthy friend – all depending on the depth and destruction of the negative thought pattern.

“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. (‭I Chronicles‬ ‭28‬:‭9‬ NKJV)

 

Expectations of the Marthan Runner Married to the Walker

brain - knows what you want to say

Expectations.  Spoken.  Unspoken. We all have expectations.  The problem is that we do not always express these expectations to our spouse appropriately.

And even more importantly, we do not always have realistic expectations.

Why?  I believe it is because we think that we think more alike than reality.  We are oblivious, or overlook the fact that our spouse has a different personality type, learning style, or strengths.  So we impose our own personality, learning style and strength upon our unsuspecting spouse.

The results: mismatched EXPECTATIONS.

The result of mismatched expectations  = conflict.

Ask yourself is my expectation of my spouse fair?  Is it based on my needs and strengths/skills or his?

If you are a marathon runner and your husband is a walker, you would not expect that he would keep up with you when you run.  So why is it that the self-controlled/disciplined spouse expects her addictive personality husband to track with her in the same way she operates?  Overcoming addiction is a process. One step at a time.  If you are the self controlled spouse frustrated with your partner disappointing you one choice after another, I suggest you work hard to find each victory – no matter how small, and be sure to celebrate the victory.  Help your spouse to reinforce this small victory once again; and once again; until he/she is ready to take the next step on the road to recovery.

Help her to walk a little faster before she must begin to jog, and then a little faster until she picked up the jogging pace.  The a pace will take a great deal of time, effort, discipline and continued patience on your part to help her/him to get to an higher level than first begun.  However, not everyone has a desire or the determination to become a marathon runner.  And not every spouse has the same goal to accomplish the same level of accomplishment as his/her spouse in EVERY area.

You must give allowance to your spouse for his personality, learning style, and God-given strengths.  If you do not, you certainly will be setting him up for failure and yourself up for severe disappointment and frustration.

 

brain - knows what you want to say

Sometimes Little Things are Frustrating!

Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. James 3:2 NLT


Can you relate?  I sat down to do an activity that I, well, did not REALLY want to do.  My husband asked me to do it, and since he does so many wonderful things for me, I obliged (this time ;-).

I began typing a document with the attitude that I would complete it, but not to the level of agonizing perfection I have in the past, belaboring, changing every little tittle, too many times to count.  However,  I was nearly giggling as I texted a friend that I was almost done and had never had so much fun doing this particular task……and then IT happened.

Somehow I messed up the margins and could not figure out how to correct them in my relatively new word processing package.  So I copied and pasted and recreated the masterpiece, which took another 20 minutes, at least!  Ugh.  Then, I discover that another document is necessary.  I begin happily banging away at the keyboard: “creating” as I love to do.  Job two is now done.  Uh, Oh….another step is required to complete this dutiful task for my sweet man – I must complete a series of online questions.  I am on a roll, that is until I accidentally press enter – prematurely – and have to begin ALL over again.  And again. And finally with the third notice of a ‘system error’….This is really testing my patience.  It is really beginning to RUB me the WRONG way.  I am feeling my insides well up.  I am beginning to start the wrong mental program of ‘blame’, ‘anger’, ‘frustration’, ‘if only’, ‘why me?’, ‘how come?’ NO! Don’t go there, Kim. You have come so far from your “old ways” of reacting to the little stressors of life! Tell yourself that this is just an exercise in faithfulness, there is no serious life altering consequence.  Yes, you are losing some sleep and tomorrow will be rough, but remember how far God has brought you from the way you USED to react to this type of circumstance.  YIKES….those memories are ugly.

But now you are so much calmer.  The dog would have been seeking a place far away….now you are quiet and no one really knows what you are feeling.  You are calm and the effects of the failure will not have a lasting effect on you.  You can see things with a logical lens.  You are at peace.  You are confident in your efforts.  You are entrusting the results now to God because you put forth your best effort.  You do not have to continue to work harder and harder, but only smarter. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

In fact, what seemed like a catastrophe in the technology and timeframe realm, just  inspired this post.  🙂  I hope that in some way, that you can relate and are encouraged and will look to the ways in which God has freed you from old and negative thought patterns in your life rather than continuing down the same old blame game or dangerous anger angle.  God does not want you dependent on your circumstances or your emotions:  God wants you to depend on Him!  He is the only one who is good.  The only one who has the power to change both you and your circumstance(s).  So look up now and give him the credit He is due and ask Him for your next thought, emotion, action and even for success in everything that you do.

As for me, I put forth great effort; I completed every task within my power; the ones that were blocked by technology glitches I will either feel compelled to try again tomorrow or I will have a peace that I am done.  So I go to bed now, well after midnight with a deep, deep sense of peace and knowing that God is in control of all things and that He has changed me in so many good ways from my reactive, emotional past.  I am thankful and go to bed praying for each of you, my readers, that God will do a special work in your life on this day and that you will be ever mindful and thankful.

WHEN YOU PUT FORTH YOUR BEST, PERFECTION IS NOT ALWAYS THE GOAL.  PERHAPS IT IS MORE ABOUT WHAT YOU LEARN IN THE PROCESS OR…. HOW YOU REACT,,,,,,,, THAN WHAT YOU RECEIVE.

Wise Wednesday Brain Byte: Fear Affects Learning

Lessons Juggling CroppedWithin our Learning Workshops we teach participants to juggle as a way of applying a new Learning Model (Tony Buzan).  Most people think that they cannot juggle, so we use juggling as a way to show them they can do a thing they formerly thought impossible!  Sneaky, huh?  Somehow when picking up three balls to get started that subliminal message rises to the top of their thinking, so that instead of saying, “I think I can, I think I can” like the infamous little ‘choo choo train that could’; we say automatically, “I can’t!”

“If you think you can do a thing or you think you can’t; you are right.” – Henry Ford

I remember vividly that day in August 1994 when I first had an opportunity to learn to juggle. I was excited and discouraged at the same time, because I had bought into that subliminal self-programming, “You can’t juggle”.  And therefore, I could not.  I was so tense that I was cramping up in my neck and back.  I really wanted to be able to have the ability, but the results were slow coming.  It wasn’t until I decided to STOP; take a deep breath; determine that the world would not come to an end if I could not juggle-therefore why was I so tense?!  So I picked up the 3 balls again and began to toss them one at a time creating the toss pattern and rhythm just as I was instructed.  Aha, I began to get a “feel’ for the rhythm.  I did not complete a full cycle yet, but I gained confidence in this new relaxed state and began to have optimism and even more fun.

I continued to practice my toss and make adjustments: focusing on the process of juggling rather than the results (catching).  Eventually, I broke through and was able to complete one cycle plus one toss and catch…..and the process continued until eventually I would be up to 34 tosses and successful catches, and so on.

Michael Gelb, fellow Buzan Instructor and Master Juggler dedicates a full chapter in his book, Lessons from the Art of Juggling, to the Art of Relaxed Concentration.  In it he outlines the process of students tensing up when they first begin juggling three balls.  He asks the class “to bring their awareness to their breathing and body/mind state.  They are often amazed to discover how much a simple thought has caused them to contract.  We point out that their fear-based “psychophysical preconception” has become a negative self-fulfilling prophecy.”

What new thing would you like to learn today or have given up on learning because of this  fear-based thinking?  Whatever the skill or goal may be, please do yourself a favor and begin with a good model (Michael Gelb is a great resource for juggling).  Your model will be based on your learning style (audio/visual/kinesthetic); be mindful of your stress factor; take a deep breath; RELAX, and give it a go!

List your experience in the comments section.

Free Fridays

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is that time of the year again!  Time to break out the summer attire, take off your shoes and jackets and enjoy the sweet smell of fresh air!

I begin every morning with some quiet time to set my day on due course.  If you are not in the habit of doing this, will you give it a try today?  We will call it Free Friday because the more we open the Word of God – the more free of old habits we become.

Let the chains fall off.

Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living. Romans 6:18 NLT

Priorities Check List

“When you do what you have always done, you get what you have always gotten.” – Unknown

Sometimes, we just get in the rut of doing things the way we have always done them. A routine. What is it that you are routinely doing that perhaps you may change or purge altogether in exchange for something more productive?

In order to keep balance in my life and so as not to frustrate my husband 🙂  I find it helpful to evaluate all my ‘so called’ priorities with these simple questions:

WHY am I doing ______?

WHO benefits?  WHO is suffering from a lack of my time/focus because of this task?

Is it WORTH it? To me? To the benefactor?

WHEN can I do it? i.e., are there alternative times in the event another priority takes precedence?

WHAT else suffers or could be getting done?

FINALLY, is it time to

  • (A) Cut back
  • (B) End altogether
  • (C) Find a partner or other 3rd alternative?

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Brain Byte: Why Walking Meetings Are a Great Idea

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Have you heard the latest trend?  Walking meetings are being planned to boost productivity.  Popularized by tech magnates Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, walking meetings are a way to improve health while also strengthening work relationships, why, even President Obama is incorporating them into his schedule.

The moment I heard it I knew it made perfect sense.  Exercise generates endorphins which stimulate our ‘happy’ feelings as well as increasing blood flow and oxygen supplied to the brain.  Since our brain utilizes a large percentage of the body’s oxygen intake it makes sense to get out in the fresh air when creativity and critical thinking are required.

This age of technology and blog writing is creating a more sedentary lifestyle.  Since incurring a back injury a few years ago I have been half as active as I was when ran regularly.  Knowing that I cannot maintain good heart and overall health without moving more: I purchased a FitBit One.  It is a great tool to help you get a handle on how active (or inactive) you are presently and as a motivator to set goals and achieve greater fitness. It measures the steps you take, floors climbed, very active minutes, total distance, calories burned, and even tracks your sleep patterns.  I have had mine a week and I estimate that I doubled my activity from the week prior!  This is because I was much more aware of my benchmark and a higher standard.

Many of you are writers, bloggers, readers and entrepreneurs.  Did you know there are machines to support your work and your health? Check out workstation walking tables.  They are not inexpensive, for example the Sit-to-Walkstation Treadmill Desk is priced around $5,000.  However, if you work from home and need more cardio and fitness in your life to be more productive, it could be a great investment.  I have not done any research on these machines, so do your homework before buying.

So rather than get stuck in a stifling stark white conference room, try convincing your peers to join you for a Work-And-Walk meeting.  Not only will you all feel better mentally and physically, but you may be very surprised at your productivity as well.

This concludes this Wise-up Wednesday Brain Byte on Why Walking Meetings Are a Great Idea.

 

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