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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Does Study Affect Your Creativity?

Success favors the prepared mind. – Louis Pasteur

Classroom with multicolor chairs

Where does creativity come from?  Some think it appears out of no where and some believe you are born creative.

Studies of highly creative people reveal that they nurture their creativity through a continuous quest for knowledge. Tony Buzan, one of the foremost creativity consultants in the world, defines creativity as ‘the degree of removal from the norm.’  Michael Gelb writes in Thinking for a Change that creativity is the result of a new combination of existing elements.  Combining these two ideas: to think outside the norm we must know more, coalesce the ideas, and produce new outcomes.

In conclusion, the more you know the more your capacity for creativity expands.

 

 

A Confidence Builder for Speakers and Writers – and a Giveaway!

Today, I am linking up with Cindy Bultema of Red Hot Faith to tell you about the great things that come from attending the Speak Up Conference.  Cindy and I are graduates of this fabulous conference and are both offering workshops there this July.

 “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” II Timothy 2:2 (NIV)

Reflections on my experience at the Speak Up with Confidence Conference 2010

Wow!  What a weekend.  I knew it would be good, but I wasn’t prepared to be floating home, full of excitement and the energy transferred from the conference leaders.  And it was a large team of diverse and qualified leaders, from many areas of discipline.  I should note that prior to attending Speak Up, I had been blessed with a plethora of high quality training as an employee of an international corporation and professional trainer, myself. I worked in Leadership and Professional Development for several years. Yet, I found my investment of time and money into the Speak Up Conference, very worth while.

This team of worship leaders, teachers, and some former participants poured out their hearts and talents upon this room filled with eager (and some trembling) students.  And the expectations were high for those attending: to receive and apply what was being given.

I am a kinesthetic learner, so for me, the most valuable part of this conference was the ability to give several presentations and receive specific, immediate feedback.  I still have my Speak Up Evaluation forms!  And for my last and most memorable presentation, Carol Kent stepped in to listen and give me direct guidance.  She was encouraging and provided me specific feedback.

The conference is fast-paced and kept my attention well.  There is an option to take a break; or for those of us who like to take in as much as possible, to choose extra sessions.  I chose one that gave tips on professional appearance.  It was fun and fabulously fashionable (I know, cheesy).

Oh… and I met the most beautiful people.  I fell instantly in love with one woman, we became fast friends.  Although several states apart, we are still in touch today.

In 2010 the conference only focused on developing speakers, now the Speak Up Conference includes a writers track with options to meet publishers to pitch a book idea.

When the time comes to an end, you purpose to come back every year because it is so life-giving.  However, we all know God is the keeper of our time and our plans are not always His!  I was unable to attend in 2011-13, however, in 2014 I was invited to join the speaker team.  It was an equally rewarding experience to be a part of the conference team. I look forward to sharing Mind Mapping: A Whole Brain Tool for Writers and Speakers, once again this year.  I hope you will join us!

GIVEAWAY:  Carol Kent is making a generous offer of $100 off Speak Up Conference registration to one winner from among all the comments. To be entered for the chance to win simply add your comment below stating whether you prefer speaking or writing and if you are being called to one or both.  A winner will be randomly selected.

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DETAILS: Starts today, Monday, May 4th and ends Monday, May 11th at 9 PM. Winner will be announced the week of May 12th.

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Cindy Bultema - She Sparkles

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Smart Everyday Strategies for Memory

Neocortical Neurons

Establish Routines: It is easy to find things if you put them in the same place each time, right?  The same is true with your thought life; the more you think or do the same process over again, the easier it is to remember to do it!

Write It: The repetition of writing what you are learning is a great way to help your brain have an additional physical record to recall the data in the future when you really need to bring it back to memory.

Say It Out Loud: Again, another method of repetition that aids your brain to deepen those memory traces for the future file location.  So for example, you have an item to return to a friend when you meet on Wednesday, say out loud, “I am putting Tammy’s essential oil bottle next to my keys for Wednesday.” Letting your ears register the information, increases your chance of calling up the info in time.

Do It: Practice does not make perfect, only perfect practice does.  However, when you learn something begin applying that information immediately.  The movement is an additional sensory input and gives your brain better chances of recalling the new process when you go to do it again.

Use Imagination:  The Roman Room method or Number Rhyme System are great examples of using imagination for recall.  In general when you have an item to commit to memory look for a landmark to help you by associating the item visually to the physical landmark. In studies, these imaginary cues roved to e as effective as external cues.  Also, the more senses you add along with the item, the higher the likelihood of recall.

 

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).

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.

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]

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