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Dare To Play It Big, Issue #057 -- Changing Our Brains
August 17, 2012
Changing Our Brains
In this issue...
This past month has been very interesting (and nice!) for me...
The start of my new job meant that they sent me for training in Manchester (where the main offices are) for three weeks. In practical terms this means that, except for the weekends when I returned to London, I have spent the past three weeks living in a five-star hotel, with a substantive budget for all my meals, without any obligations after the office hours.
I adore having lots of time to read, write, explore a city, and find interesting things - so I absolutely loved having that time available. I used the spare time to revise many pages of the website, to read and to slow down (in fact, one of the books I read is "In praise of slow", by Carl Honoré).
Besides, things kept happening which brought unexpected gifts... For instance: there was a problem with the fan in the hotel room one of the Mondays (it was stuck and made a continuous noise), which I noticed when I started to settle in after the working day. I had woken up at 4.30 to catch the train to Manchester on time, so I was very tired and all I wanted to do was to get in my pyjamas and relax.
I called the concierge, who sent a handyman to check it. A second handyman was sent by the first one. As I waited while they were trying to fix the problem, still in my work clothes and fairly tired, I wondered why that was happening, as I only wanted to rest - and I believe that everything happens for a reason.
Both handymen agreed that the problem could not be sorted and that they would have to place me in another room. And so I was escorted to my new room... which was a suite, on the top floor of the building (14th floor!), with an enormous window and an amazing view - at no extra cost for the company! :)
The picture doesn't make justice to the view... suffice to say that the view was so amazing that I woke up a couple of hours earlier every day just to be able to work on my website looking at the dawn from such a privileged spot :)
May you have been as blessed as I have this past month - and may the blessings continue for all of us ;)
One of the first ideas that I came across when I started reading about positive thinking is that we can change our reality through the power of our own thoughts.
Some people may be skeptic about it... me, I bought into the idea straight away. I mean, why not? Part of me, the child-like part, still wanted to believe that the world we live in is much more magical than we think, and that anything is possible.
I have been reading lately about neuroplasticity. This branch of study comes to say that we can re-shape how our brains operate through changes in neural pathways - so it looks like we may physically be able to change our reality, after all.
Let me explain. Imagine that whenever you see that it's raining, you feel bad. There may be a whole string of thoughts and beliefs behind your reaction - for instance, your parents may have mentioned that it was 'a miserable weather' whenever they saw it raining, and without you realizing you grew to associate raining with feeling miserable.
In practical terms, what happens is that information circulates between neurons. The more you have the same reaction to anything (i.e. automatically thinking and feeling miserable because it's raining), the more the connection or pathway between neurons is reinforced.
It's a bit like when there is a large patch of grass between buildings, but people tend to walk only between two specific points - the shortest distance. After a while, there appears to be a path between those two points, where the grass has been consistently stepped over.
So say you wanted to create a different reaction in yourself. Say that, whenever you see it raining, you want to feel great. Well, it might be a bit difficult to create a new neuropathway - but it certainly is not impossible - this is what neuroplasticity comes to say. All it takes is that you actively choose a different behaviour once, and that you then repeat it a few times. That's how the new pathway gets established.
But... how do you get yourself to have a different reaction to something, when you've been acting in the same way all your life?
Well, that's where imagination comes handy :) You can play pretend. You can imagine anything you like - that the circumstances of your life are different, that you're about to receive a surprise, that you're a magician in disguise - anything, really, to allow yourself to experience how it would feel to act in the way you choose to act.
This applies to anything: from imagining yourself calm for an interview, to pretending that wonderful men are interested in you, to imagining yourself taller or thinner or rich or whatever!
See, when you pretend and imagine you allow yourself to relax, and you allow your neurons to create new connections without the pressure of 'what life is actually like'. Imagination, in short, gives you the space and time to fabricate new neuropathways, and in this way change your brain and change your life.
Starting today, take a few minutes every day to pretend something. This will make you not only feel good in the moment, but it will allow for previously non-existent connections between neurons to be made... All in all, you'll training yourself in a fun way to be more like the person you want to be ;)
Every month I receive emails from readers - some of them contain questions or comments, and some of them are contributions, such as a positive story, an article or a tip.
This month Alesha Wilson, from Wilmington, US, shared this useful article:
1. Have a plan. If you really want to achieve something, find a way to make it happen. Think about all the possible things you can do and make a list of actions you ought to be doing under a time frame you have set. Since you are still in the planning stage, you can write down all you want at first. To finalize, you can think the things you've written through to see which of them are doable.
2. Think positively. Positive thinking goes a long way. You have to make sure that you will not be a slave to negative thoughts because they will only make you hopeless. One good way to promote positive thoughts is by being happy, so make sure that you get your daily dose of dark chocolate.
3. Prepare for contingency. Some things may not go according to plan, but instead of sulking, you should be preparing for a plan B. Never plan without having a backup so that you will not start from square one in the end. This way, you might be able to salvage ideas that were originally for plan A and incorporate them into the new plan. Thinking quickly also helps.
No one is blessed with impeccable plan-making traits, but with practice you will learn how to work things your way. Don't be aggravated when your plans don't work at first—it's all a part of learning. Also, you have to keep your head cool at all times so that you can think properly.
Thanks, Alesha! :-)
This month I'm bringing to you a couple of things that will make you feel better... :)
The first piece is a short video which will make your heart expand. I won't reveal the full content to keep the surprise, but it will suffice to say that it has to do with humans saving dolphins successfully ;)
The second piece is a guided meditation, and it's called "A moment of relaxation". You don't have to watch the video, just sit back and relax while you listen, and let your attention be guided by the voice of Andrew Johnson. In less than 15 minutes you'll find yourself in a calm state of being ;)
I believe that being grateful for something is one of the most powerful tools to feel better immediately. Here are the two thanking bits of the month:
Thankful for... my favourite knife. You know when you have a number of knives for cooking... yet you have one favourite knife that you tend to use over and over? I have a serrated knife which I find just perfect - to chop onions, to slice garlic, to cut off the tops of carrots... which means that I use that particular knife all the time, and I don't even notice the rest of the knives I have - I'm so thankful for my serrated knife! :
Thankful for... stains remover. Sometimes I'm amazed at the little inventions that make a huge difference in our lives and which we may take for granted... for instance: stains remover spray. How handy is that?! A drop of coffee falls on your shirt, and instead of rendering the shirt useless or having to run to wash it before the stain dries, there you have a handy liquid which you just spray before putting the shirt in the washing machine... and the stain is gone! I look back at the generations of women before us who had to do housework, and I think that we have it the easiest ever! :)
What are you thankful for? Share your gratitude on this page and read what others are thankful for!
Thank you for reading this issue of Dare To Play It Big, the free positive thinking newsletter of The Benefits Of Positive Thinking.
Care to send me your thoughts about this issue's topics? Email me and let me know!
If you enjoyed this newsletter, please pass it along to your friends, family and colleagues, or send them to the Dare To Play It Big sign up page. I thank you in advance.
P.S. Feeling stressed and worried because of problems at work? Then check my handbook "From Conflict To Calm" - based on my own experience with conflict with my boss, my handbook gives you the keys to move from a powerless situation to one of peace.
P.S.S. Tired of procrastinating? Wish you got more out of your own life but you don't know how? In my handbook "Power Over Procrastination" you will find the exact plan, techniques and tools I use to get things done easily - leaving procrastination behind altogether!
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