3 Steps to a Happier Brain

Did you know that our brains have a preferential bias for the negative? Rick Hanson, Neuropsychologist, Rick Hanson, Ph.D., says that our brains are like teflon for positive experiences, but toBrimming Brain ensure our survival and keep alert for signs of danger, they are constantly scanning for the negative out there and then latching onto it like Velcro. No wonder we get depressed and anxious!

Thank goodness Hanson suggests three steps to overcome our negativity bias-

  1. Turn positive events into positive experiences. When someone compliments us or something good happens, we need to pay attention and not deflect it like teflon like we habitually do.
  2. More than just noticing it, we need to fully experience the pleasure, savoring it and intensifying the good feelings. As we allow our bodies to feel the positive emotion it gives the neurons more time to fire together and actually change the structure hardwiring of our brains.
  3. Now sense and focus intention on bringing this emotion deeply inside of you to the extent that you experience it becoming a part of you, ” becom­ing woven into the fab­ric of your brain and yourself.”

Positive thinking doesn’t just make us feel better, it actually changes our brains in visible ways, changing how it scans the environment and allowing us to see the world around us as kinder, safer, friendlier and happier. Read his interview for his book, Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom, http://bit.ly/1w559ca.

HOLIDAY PRESENCE

 Christmas Old Fashioned

Does your chest tighten and heart race, just thinking about the next few weeks? Do you wonder how you’re going to get everything done? Are you already dreading having to spend time with certain people? Are you worried about your finances?

No matter what our religious beliefs, December in America can run us through the gamut of emotions-love, joy and happiness, if we’re lucky, but also loneliness, anxiety, guilt, resentment and frustration. Just when we need it the most, we may also find ourselves not taking the time for our health and peace of mind.

Here are a few suggestions to make sure that you and your loved ones are able to enjoy the love and fun that the season promises and that you have time for spontaneity and to experience truly meaningful traditions.

1.  Take a few minutes to go back in time to 3 of your most beloved holiday experiences. What elements made it so special? Have you had any similar times in the last few years?
2.  Make a list of your top values and desires for this time of year.  To spend time with friends and  family, to show  generosity, to connect with your spiritual community, to have time for reflection  and for renewal?
3.  Now look at your to-do list and your calendar.  Are your desires reflected in your plans? Have you actually booked downtime?
4.  Now cross out everything that isn’t going to help you experience your truest desires.  Add back in time to get outdoors, listen to music, have a massage and visit some friends you haven’t seen for a while.
5.  OK, back to the list. . . of course there are some things that just have to be accomplished, but slow down and instead of viewing the holiday period as one long season, Wayne Dyer, in Holidays: How to Enjoy the Christmas & Hanukkah Season to the Fullest, suggests making every little facet a special experience. Be present and appreciate the acts of gift wrapping, decorating, and baking. Take in the aromas, sounds, textures and colors. Try to see it all again with the wonder and awe of a child.
6.  Don’t expect or even attempt perfection! Enter into the festivities with a light heart. Have you laughed out loud lately?
7.  Show by your example that it is not necessary to do anything for love and acceptance, starting with yourself!

HAVE A TRULY JOYOUS HOLIDAY!

My Gift to You-a Holiday Time Out Stress Relief Session

$25 off a 90 minute session (usually $125).  Available in my Northwest Denver office or for those of you further away, Skype and phone sessions are equally effective.

Call  720-760-0758 or email Victoria@technologiesoftheself.org  (Use by 12/23.)

 

 

 

 

Is Anyone Touching You? ( I mean physically.)

My strongest visual memory from my first class in psychology many years ago is a photo of some very sad, pathetic looking baby monkeys who were fading away, with “failure to thrive” because their “mother” was a wire mesh feeder,  instead of a warm, soft one. Researcher Harlow found that they valued being touched even more than a full stomach.Harlow cloth

We humans need touch to thrive, too. Touch is our first sense to develop, as early as the first 3 weeks in the womb. It is also the only one of our senses that is reciprocal. As a human mother cradles, nurses and strokes, her newborn her baby is affecting her, too, stimulating lactation, releasing pleasure and bonding hormones and even aiding her body to recover from the delivery by contracting the uterus.

With the number of single people increasing in America through divorce, postponement of marriage and widowhood many of us go long stretches without even a hug. We hear much about the need for sexual fulfillment nowadays, but the physical need for tactile stimulation is even more basic and primal. Fortunately, there are increasing offerings for somato-sensory experiences in most communities, at least if one has a budget to pay for a professional touch, like massage therapy and other modalities. In urban areas, one can even find groups created to provide safe environments for mutual cuddling, “Cuddle Parties.”

According to Hal and Sidra Stone, the developers of Voice Dialogue, our vulnerability is one of our first parts that we suppress, usually by the age of 5. We learn at a very young age that we get made fun of when we act “needy.”  We learn quickly to project an independent image to the world to not show how much we still would love to be held and nurtured.

Physicians rarely touch patients anymore, except to check pulse rate, certainly never for comfort or reassurance, and therapists are well-trained to restrain from physical contact with clients. With such an ingrained touch-taboo are many of us not thriving, just due to something as simple as needing a hug? Americans are spending millions on prescriptions and natural supplements. Maybe we just need more touch.

I have been rereading Where Healing Waters Meet: Touching Mind & Emotion through the Body, by Clyde W. Ford.

Touch is our first language. Touch is our one reciprocal sense. We cannot touch another without being  touched ourself.

Ford provides academic backing for the reminder on bumper stickers to “Give someone a hug today.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Animals have Gained Weight, Too!

fast-food-eating-animal-1-640x360A fascinating article by David Berreby in Aeon, takes a fresh and scary look at a lot of evidence that obesity may not simply be “the result of a lack of willpower and an inability to discipline eating habits.”

Many scientists who study the biochemistry of fat and the epidemiologists who track weight trends  “believe that personal gluttony and laziness cannot be the entire explanation for humanity’s global weight gain.”

As the American people got fatter, so did marmosets, vervet monkeys and mice. The problem may be bigger than any of us.

Berreby questions-In placing the blame for the obesity epidemic on individuals has our society continued in the same vein as Bruno Bettelheim’s blaming  autism on mothers with cold personalities and blaming natural disasters like tornadoes and earthquakes on sinfulness?

“History is not kind to authorities whose mistaken dogmas cause unnecessary suffering and pointless effort, while ignoring the real causes of trouble. And the history of the obesity era has yet to be written.”