The brain is an organ we need to nurture, support, and appreciate. But sometimes the brain steers us in the wrong direction and if you’re like me, when that happens your well-being can get out of wack.
That’s when I end up having a love-hate relationship with my brain. Bear with me while I explain.
Let’s face it, that most sophisticated computer that rests within the skull that rests on top of the shoulders, doesn’t always get it right, like when the following scenarios occur:
- Insomnia because your brain wants you to figure out absolutely everything needed in order to cure the ills of the world – or at the very least, the ills of the small portion of the world in which you reside. Such future-focused attention doesn’t provide much present comfort, does it?
- Anxiety that doubles in intensity because anxiety is always fueled by fear – a fear that the brain expertly releases because of its innate fight or flight behavior that is simply trying to keep you safe but really overdoes it a bit…or a lot, if you’re me.
- Distraction gets in the way of full-functioning because too much input floods the brain so its ability to compartmentalize, eliminate surplus, and operate properly, stumbles a bit out of the starting blocks.
That’s just a few of the computer malfunctions that can take place within this wonderful mass of gray matter that no living being can do without.
But speaking personally, when I examine each of the bullet points above, I can willingly acknowledge that I might have more control over those anomalies than not.
- INSOMNIA: Instead of obsessing about the future – over which I have no control whatsoever while lying on my bed prepped for sleep – I can do my level best to be in the present where the future has no bearing whatsoever. Breathe. Read a book to sideline the brain’s worrisome thoughts about tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day. One thing I know for sure, just lying there being frustrated about my sleepless state won’t do me any good so at the very least it’s a good idea to get out of bed and do something soothing to sidetrack the future-focused craziness going on inside my head.
- ANXIETY: If I address the current state of my being and realistically assess what is and what is not happening – shifting my focus from hyper-alertness broad spectrum attention to in-the-moment reality – my fear of the “what if” has no place in my day. I’ve learned that what I pay attention to magnifies in intensity. If I’m just focusing on that lower back pain twinge, that’s all that exists. You and I both know that isn’t the case but if you’re me, that little twinge may as well be a life threatening stabbing knife.
- DISTRACTION: Understanding that multi-tasking is not productive and is a myth that has been perpetuated over the centuries, challenges me to do one thing at a time so my brain does its level best on one task and then moves onto the next one. The more multi-tasking that occurs, the more chances to make mistakes – some of which can be dangerous; multi-tasking while driving, or taking care of a child come to mind.
Of this I am certain, however: I am grateful for my brain that most of the time serves me very well. You see, my father died from Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 89 so I’m well aware of what can go awry in the brain’s circuitry, and there are so many other anomalies and abnormalities that can affect the brain, but I’ll try not to lose sleep over them!!! Although my brain isn’t perfectly normal, I will celebrate that it’s not all that abnormal so I will do my level best to not sweat the small stuff.
And although I don’t believe that it’s ALL small stuff, I can admit that a heck of a lot of it is.
By the time you read this article, I hope you’ve already read the reblogged article I posted entitled “Up Your Gratitude,” published in a Parade Magazine article earlier this year. That article was part of the inspiration for this article and can be found in this same Blog category.
I recently watched an Oprah Network special wherein Oprah visits families of Hasidic Jews. One of the families had NEVER seen a television show in their lives and didn’t even know who Oprah was until her staff approached the family about this project of interviewing a Hasidic Jewish family. This family consisted of the husband and wife and 9 children, the oldest of which was 17 years old and the youngest, 18 months. If you can believe what the 17 year old son said – and I think I do – he has absolutely never watched TV and is an extremely happy teenager. The couple’s 15 year old daughter loves not having the normal pressures associated with young teen girls. “There’s no pressure” she explained.
None of the children had ever heard of the names that Oprah tossed into their conversation: from cartoon characters such as Micky Mouse and Sponge Bob Squarepants, to Beyonce and other well-known entertainers. Nope, they had no idea what or who she was talking about. Considering they had never heard of Oprah, that’s not at all surprising.
And yet they were extremely happy and grateful people.
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT ABOUT RELIGION – it’s about the lack of wanting more,wanting better, and wanting bigger as it relates to consumerism. Each person Oprah interviewed talked about the lack of pressure in their life to want, want, and want even more. As a matter of fact, the wife in this family of 9 children, who is pregnant with her 10th child, said the only time she had a feeling of wanting more was when she was able to upgrade to a better wig when her earnings increased. (At a certain age, Hasidic women must cover their hair as a gesture of modesty, be it a scarf or a wig.) So when this woman was able to get a better wig she experienced an “Aha” moment – getting a better, more natural looking wig satisfied a want for something more that she hadn’t ever experienced. Gratitude abounded in this household that most definitely doesn’t resemble our idea of a “normal” frantic-ridden, electronic guided, household.
Time to check my own gratitude level – and level of personal satisfaction. When you receive not-so-good service at an establishment, do you trash its character to others so that they are aware of the establishment’s failings and will curtail their support of its business? It’s easy to complain about something isn’t it? It’s harder – but better – to compliment someone who does a great job:
- Writing a note to the manager of a salon you frequent, complimenting the stylist who always does such a great job on your haircut and/or color. It’s not enough that you tell the stylist how satisfied you are. Tell the one who signs his paychecks and sets his schedule – that’s where the thank you also needs to go so that your favorite stylist receives something for his/her efforts.
- Going out of your way to thank someone in person, or by thank you note, for their volunteerism at church or other community venue;
- Calling or writing a note, not texting, not e-mailing, when you’re grateful for something you received as a gift;
- When your coworker does a great job, or your child does something in the home without being asked, or when you are simply grateful for the commitment your spouse has to his or her job that assures constant financial support in the home – acknowledge their efforts instead of simply appreciating them in your own mind.
Who benefits from appreciative thoughts if they are not expressed to the person who inspired them? Gratitude expressed provides more benefit than you can imagine. Don’t you want to start a ripple effect of gratitude in your small corner of the universe? Get that ripple going – you’ll be better off as a result, and everyone to whom that ripple touches will benefit as well.
The attached article, published on January 1, 2012 in the Sunday newspaper’s Parade Magazine section, had a great impact on me; so much so that I wrote my own blog article today, about the effects of gratitude on one’s life. I hope you enjoy both articles.