Improve Your Brain Circuits to Change

In spite of popular belief, new experiences don’t necesserally help us keep an open mind or make us more performant. They could more than likely trigger some negative thoughts like “I wish my relationship was this perfect. If only my boss could notice how hard I’ve worked on this project. I wish I could afford to do that more often.”

Are we doing ourselves a favor by being all over the place experimenting every new trend? According to neuroscience, probably not.

Once a negative thought enters your mind, you’re caught in a downward spiral, entertaining a bunch of ideas that disempower you. The new experience just confirmed to your brain that you’re not quite good enough and that trying to find the fault is the appropriate way to react to a new experience. You are hard wiring your brain to react this way, which in turns makes sure that it becomes an automatic unconscious response. It’s like if your brain is thinking “This must be the best way to handle this kind of situation since we do it all the time. Let’s make sure that we continue doing that.”

To help you change your ways:
– You need to become aware of these thoughts, usually by how you start to feel and the emotions that surface.
– Once aware change your train of thought or what you’re doing by choosing to question your perception asking yourself if it’s really that bad or if it’s only your brain playing an old trick on you.
– It’s now time to redirect your actions or mental processes to something productive and empowering.
– Take note of what just happened. You will be in a better position to reflect and evaluate your progress.

It’s only through repetition that you hard wire something and that it becomes a unconscious way of being or of doing something, in other words, a habit.
Yes, it takes time and effort.

Is it worth your while? You bet! Improving you, and improving your life is the name of the game.

Would like to know more?
Jeffrey Schwartz, MD and Rebecca Gladding, MD wrote a book on this subject: You Are Not Your Brain
Their website
Brain World Magazine

Tell me what habit you’ve tried to change and what you did, I’d love to know!

Being His Support System and Advocate

Tonight, I’m getting us (my husband and I) ready for his visit to his doctor.  He doesn’t get many appointments with him and he is still not followed by any therapist for his PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  So, I’m trying to maximize the time we will have in the doctor’s office.

After listening to Change Your Brain Change Your Life by Daniel G. Amen, M.D., (I often start by the audiobook and then move to the hard copy to highlight), I gained a better understanding of what I’m dealing with.  I’ve been aware now for 6 months that this PTSD condition is not him doing things on purpose to be a pain in the …  and after listening to Dr. Amen I’m even more aware of his inability to become better if he doesn’t receive the right kind of treatment.  I ordered the book and the cards, and tonight we sat down to fill the questionnaires to pinpoint which brain system is not working optimally. Very eye opening. Especially when you recognize that a brain system that is over or under active brings its specific problems and that until the system is identified and treated it is very unlikely that symptoms will get better.

I believe that being proactive and taking things, and especially our health, in our own hands is very important because you become a participant, not a patient patient.  Plus, who knows better than you and your loved ones what you are experiencing?  No one.  I think we have given doctors an Herculean task by expecting them to know exactly what’s wrong in a 15 minutes visit. In my husband’s case it’s important that I be there to relay the concerns and questions since he has a tendency to minimize the problem when facing a doctor or getting fixated only on one aspect when there are many.

Do I get discouraged of being his main support system?  Definitely.  Even though I think that being a LifeSuccess Consultant is a major benefit in this situation since I’m using all the tools I know about to help him change his mind and his brain.

Am I hopeful that the situation will get better? Yes or I wouldn’t be there.  And since I listened to Change Your Brain Change Your Life I know that the coaching tools I have used with my husband are very helpful since Dr. Amen prescribes them to his patient.

Now let’s see what his doctor will think.

Happiness, Love and Acceptance

I’ve been reflecting on the impact of love lately.  It seems that a lot of what I read as something about this.  And since there is no such thing as luck or coincidence, it’s prompting me to consider how to open up and see the difference love will make in my life.

I can say  happiness has been my lifelong quest.  As far as I can remember I have been saying that happiness was my main goal in life.  And it took a long time to get there.  Writing these words, something comes up saying Love has been a leading force.  And is that ever true!  Every time I’ve felt love I’ve followed the path love was on.  Be it an experience, a job, a relationship.  It seems that love and happiness have always been connected in my mind, almost in an exclusive way.  Nothing else could bring as much happiness as love.

And last year I became aware of the “I Love You” concept listening to a book by Joe Vitale and I. Hew Len, Zero Limits, where they explain the power of loving everyone and every situation around us.  I had to experiment with it!

If I agree to the concept that I am vibration, that I emit and receive vibrations, it makes sense that when I consciously choose to emit a love vibration toward someone or a situation that I am changing what is outside of me and what is inside of me.  So I tried it. When I was confronted to people who were unhappy or angry, I was thinking “I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you” as long as I wasn’t noticing a shift in their emotion and it rarely took more than 2 minutes before it happened.  How wonderful!

And that’s because when we feel loved, we feel accepted for who we are. Accepting who we are, accepting the other person, with our qualities and weaknesses, accepting the situation as it is, is love in action.

Love isn’t just a concept and an emotion, it also an action.

Lately, I had pushed aside the action part of love and things were getting tough and bizarre in many areas of my life. I was resisting, refusing to accept me, my situation and the people around me. I was stuck. And then I found a book with a reminder of the importance of love.  I’ve put it back into action and things are better!  It’s magical!  The book? The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino.

Now it’s clear that happiness, love and acceptance are all interconnected, in my mind.

How about you?

The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale

Today I received an email from Simple Truths with an excerpt of The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale and it prompted me to think of the first time I heard the recording of The Strangest Secret.  I was still very new to the personal development field, I had been to my first seminar and met an amazing man, Lee A. Haskin, that shared with me the link to the audio.  I’ve listened to it soooo many times, I trust you will like it too.  Here is the link on Mark Victor Hansen’s website where you need to give your name and email to receive the download link for free.  Enjoy!

Storytelling with Peter D. Clark

Today I had the privilege to hear Peter D. Clark, a New Brunswick storyteller share with school students a few stories excerpted from his 8 books collection of tales, stories and legends from New Brunswick. Kids and adults alike really enjoyed his stories.  Some of them were true stories as attested by adults in the audience that said they knew the people who were in the story.  Interesting.

Culture is really a reflection of life and Peter has done a tremendous job to document all those stories. His work reflects his passion to share what is and has been part of a province’s collective memory.  With our fast modern way of life we are not exposed as much as some other generations to the stories of our parents, grand parents and ancestors, which is part of the reason we feel so disconnected.  I believe that when we take time to reconnect with our roots we get a broader picture of who we are and where we came from in this intergeneration line and we get a feeling of being grounded, connected to this bigger web of life.

I really appreciated that he referred to the person who had shared the story with him and enjoyed his delivery style.  Among his true life stories he had some that where really recent like the one featuring Matt Stairs a baseball player originally from New Brunswick where I learned about this generous man’s actions here in his province.  He also scared, or might I say surprised, kids and adults alike when he told us the Dungarvon Whooper folktale.

At the end he was selling his books and I purchased “A Treasury of New Brunswick Art and Stories“ where I will read a story about Willie O’Ree, the first black hockey player in the NHL.  We have a arena named after this man in Fredericton NB. And of course some folklore tales.

Thank you Peter!

Blink – A Review

As a teenager I was totally revolted by judgments made by first impressions and what they lead to. My opinion was and still is that we make judgment on what we see first and then find the appropriate reasons and evidences to support this judgment, denying unconsciously any other new fact that would make us change our mind.  And I was proven right by many examples in Blink – The power of thinking without thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell.

Gladwell decided he had to look at the impact of first impressions after being in an argument with the police for 20 min.  He had decided to go from a short-clean-cut haircut to a long-hair style.  He said that at once he started to see changes in his life:  he started to get speeding tickets, getting pulled at security checks in airports and then one day he was pulled out by 3 police officers.  They thought they had found a rapist.  It took him 20 minutes to get out of that situation, caused by that large head of curly hair.  This was a trivial misunderstanding, but I’m sure you can think of visible minorities going through that all the time.

First impressions can be powerful and good, but they can also lead us into error and when we look back we wonder why we acted the way we did.

For example, a law professor in Chicago, Ian Ayres, did a research in the 90’s to find out:  “All other things being absolutely equal, how does skin color or gender affect the price that a sales man in a car dealership offers?  To do so he put a team of 38 people together, dressed them the same, they all had the same cover story and specific instructions for what to do. They visited 242 car dealerships. These were the results.

On average,

The white men received initial offers  that were 725$ above the dealer’s price;

The white women got offers of 935$ above;

The black women were  quoted on average 1195$;

And black men 1687$

Keep in mind that they all had the same story:  they were professionals with a college degree, they were systems analyst at a bank, all lived in the same neighborhood of Chicago, were dressed for success and bargained for approximately 40 minutes.

What do you think the reasons for these results are?  If you were to ask the salesman their beliefs on race and gender, they would argue that they apply an “equality for all“ code of conduct.  But yet facts are different. They have again and again done the same things: quoted higher prices to women and black persons.  And it would be so because of their unconscious beliefs about these groups.  Even in the face of the contradictory evidence of education, wealth and bargaining abilities they couldn’t change their actions.

To explain this difference between our conscious choices and our unconscious associations, researchers have put together a tool called the Implicit Association Test (IAT) that helps us identify what our unconscious response will be when we pair up two facts like male and family, female and career than male and career, female and family for example. It’s disturbing to see how easy it is to make associations between female and family and difficult to do the same for male and family.  The response time is much longer for the association we are less familiar with. Which would explain the lack of women in the higher ranks of corporations or government.

I encourage you to visit their website to find out what is your underlying system of belief in certain fields like racism, gender and career, obesity and thin persons.

Did you know that if you are tall you have better chances to climb up the corporate ladder?  Gladwell called about half of the corporations on the list of Fortune 500 to find that the CEOs on average are just below the 6 feet mark and a third of them are more than 6.2 or taller. Yet in the general American population only 3.9% are 6 foot 2 or taller.

Another study has shown that an inch of height is worth $789 a year in salary on average. That means that generally a person that is 6 feet tall will earn 5,525$ more per year than the person who is 5 foot 5 inches.

Really, first impressions and general ideas have a broader impact that we want to believe.

But there is hope! For us to change these unconscious patterns, we have to immerse ourselves within the ideas and circumstances we are trying change.  For example if you want to get rid of your leadership image associated with a tall male you can spend time with some tall incompetent male executives and with efficient women executives.  After a while you won’t have such a strong association of tall-male equals leadership.

Be aware of your underlying judgments and immerse yourself with new knowledge and experiences and you will have started a positive chain reaction.  That’s how we make changes in our lives but in society in general.