Brain Byte: Put Your Smartphone Down and Look Around

Photo Credit: Meme Binge on Flickr

Photo Credit: Meme Binge on Flickr

My husband has not worn a watch in the 30 years that I have known him, yet he can tell you the time within minutes. He seems to have an innate sense of time. He can also drive me almost anywhere within our state without using a GPS. In fact, he says, “Turn that thing off!” If I enlist the help of the friendly Navigator App on my smartphone. He has a keen picture in his mind of where he is going; keeps his sense of direction and navigates more by his internal compass than actual road names. He knows if he goes about 20 miles east, 4 miles south, takes a turn west at the destination road, that he will soon arrive where he set out to be.

He is also aware of the environment around him: he watches the clouds, feels the air, and smells a storm a mile away. According to the “world’s smartest person” Marilyn Vos Savant in her book, Brain Building in Just 12 Weeks, my husband is doing the work of a genius.

Ms. Vos Savant suggests in Brain Builders #44 that we stop wearing a watch or looking at a clock for one week and instead start tuning into time. She points to the fact that animals have body clocks and so do humans. However, we are losing touch with our natural rhythms of time due to the reliance of technology and not using our brain as our time tool. Think about the migration of birds and the movement of certain fish, like salmon returning to the same spawning hole each year at the same time.

Think about what you are thinking about or NOT thinking about.  How much are you relying on technology?  How much of the time are you relying on your own built in senses and bio-computer?  The more you do the later, the smarter and more equipped you become to respond to your changing environment.  I am afraid it is true: “Smartphones are making us dumb.”

My Brain Byte challenge to you this week: Put down the Smartphone and look around! Now go out there and get smarter.

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Brain Blooming

The best way to get a good idea is to get lots of ideas. – Linus Pauling (Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry)

Some will challenge this and say too many ideas can lead to junk. But how will you know that the last idea will not be the best?

Brain Bloom quickly and effectively by using a Mind Map to capture every idea while naturally ordering them with the hierarchy of the Map.  You will quickly see themes and be able to pick out the good from the bad in short order.

 

 

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.

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

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)

 

Brain Byte for Better Relationships: Celebrate Special Dates

This may seem like a given:  remember your loved ones birthdays, so that they know how special they are to you.

Birthday Pix

But I know is is NOT a given.  I have a WONDERFUL family, and yet special days come and go without acknowledgement from those nearest and dearest to us.  If given too much time to ponder upon the oversight–emotions take over. Feelings of sadness, lonliness….of being less important in the lives of the ones we hold dear.  Of course, the reality of the matter is probably no where near the emotions, most likely the offenders are busy with their own responsibilities of life.

Walking with a wise woman this summer, she explained, “I learned years ago to be sure to remind all of the people around me via email or casual conversation that my birthday is coming.”  She gave some funny examples of how she did this in a joking way and that this helped others to be thoughtful on the day of her birthday, so that she did not have to be left feeling sad that no one remembered!

So, for those of you who are in the habit of forgetting the birthdays, anniversaries, etc. of those you love and end up feeling guilty later: Take charge and mark your calendar now with all of the birthdays for a full year out.  If you are unsure, check Facebook or other online sources for your friend’s birthdays — REALLY, it is NOT.THAT.HARD.  Upload them into your Google Calendar or on your Smartphone.  One simple step that will take you less than 30 minutes will fuel positive feelings within the relationships that matter most.

Happy Relationship Building this year!

Brain Breaks for Better Brainpower

Phrenology1Recall during learning dramatically falls when a brain is not expected to get a break from information gathering for hours at a time.

The optimal time spent learning something new is twenty to fifty minutes.  After this, do your brain the favor of a break and it will return the favor by increasing your ability to assimilate and recall the information you are learning.

When you take a break, get up and walk around to get the oxygen flowing and to give your body a new position to relieve any tension from sitting or standing.

Break for five to fifteen minutes.  Less than five minutes is not enough time for your brain to get the relief it requires and more than fifteen minutes is so long that you begin to move away from short term recollection of what you were learning.

At work you are not always learning something new, but it will benefit your brain to break at least twice during the day for some well needed physical movement.  This helps your brain to refocus when you return and perhaps even create a little more enjoyment to your job than just sitting still for hours without a fresh view.

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.

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