EVENT + RESPONSE = OUTCOME

A story :

GULF WAR. Southern California.

LEXUS SHOWROOM: Recession was hitting hard and they found fewer and fewer people walking through the door. Nearing closure they decided to try something different.

They drove the cars around to local polo clubs, country clubs and restaurants where they knew the rich would be frequenting.

They set up shop roadside and started to offer Test drives for Free for fun.

They played on the human psyche; we are often satisfied with what we have until something better comes along, this is how Apple has been so successful in the past selling us the latest iPhone.

Many took up the offer and happily drove around these new Lexus cars but then found it very difficult to then return back to their own ‘lesser’ cars.

Suffice to say that the Lexus showroom did better and sold MORE cars during the recession than they did ever Pre-War.

Jack Canfield (author of Chicken soup for the Soul) uses this example to show how powerful the RESPONSE can be to influence the OUTCOME.

EVENT + RESPONSE = OUTCOME

Faced with the EVENT, Lexus went straight to the OUTCOME they desired and engineered the RESPONSE to make it happen.

This is such a powerful concept.

Once the EVENT has occurred at that moment it is equal to the OUTCOME… in the absence of an emotional RESPONSE.

Think about this for a moment.

An event without a response is just a neutral outcome…

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Blueprint for life? Learning to manage our core human needs.

mountains nature sunset summer

Growing up in a society where qualities of independence, maturity and responsibility are highly valued it has always felt like a weakness to admit vulnerability.

In a culture that prides itself on working hard and long hours, wearing high levels of stress as a badge of achievement;  admitting that we have needs has a sense of giving in to being flawed or weak.

Understanding how our brain has grown and evolved has been pivotal in my realisation that we do have very real needs that cannot be ignored and must be managed if we are to work towards achieving a healthy body and mind.

Rick Hanson, author of Resilient, outlines these three core needs and their evolutionary origins.

PRIMARY NEED FOR SAFETY – This is thought to have come from needing to stay alive and run away from predators and when met gives us feelings of being secure.

SECONDARY NEED FOR SATISFACTION– This perhaps evolved to give us the motivation to get things done and to achieve feelings of success.

FINALLY OUR NEED FOR CONNECTION– This is a connection with ourselves, our self-worth and connection to our community.  The feelings of being loved, understood and heard.

These needs have emerged from the progressive evolution of our primitive brain over the last 600 million years.

The oldest part of our brain is the Brainstem,  known as our REPTILIAN or Lizard brain; it is primarily concerned with raw basic survival.

The next structure to evolve from the brainstem is the Subcortex known as our MAMMALIAN or Hamster brain; wired to seek satisfaction.

On top of both these structures lies our crowning glory- the Neocortex, known as our PRIMATE or Monkey brain; concerned in particular with social connection.

During the flow of our day, there are many different situations that can easily threaten our wellbeing- if we let them.  They evoke various emotional reactions which, if we take a moment to be witness to them, are designed to show us where the work is to be done.

3 STEPS TO RECOGNISE, ACCEPT AND MANAGE OUR NEEDS

STEP 1:

Name the emotion to yourself, be it anger or feeling unhappy, lonely or unheard.

There is a lot of work written about the power of witnessing and naming an emotion as it arises instead of pushing it back down…guaranteed to resurface again when you least expect or want it to.

This is my work in progress. Painful and difficult they may be, to not run away from those emotions but to name them and through awareness, stay with them.

Incredibly difficult to do and very easy to write about; I know deep down I can only teach this to our boys through my own self-practice and discipline.

They give me plenty of opportunities to experience a wide range of emotions and for them to see me PAUSE, NAME and STAY with the moment without an instant reaction is,  I feel, the biggest gift of emotional wellbeing I can give them.

But my goodness it is so hard. I am failing often but I can happily say I am making progress as I keep in mind what I want to achieve:

To develop an emotional intelligence that both boys can witness and mirror for themselves.

STEP 2:

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Is it possible to Change and Grow your adult brain?

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I have been following Jim Kwik, who is now a world-renowned expert in memory, brain performance and accelerated learning. Termed as ‘The boy with the Broken Brain’ as a result of a childhood injury, Kwik created strategies to rebuild his brain and now coaches and trains clients such as Nike, Space X and Virgin in accelerated performance skills. He was on the set of the latest Avengers film coaching and supporting the actors through the learning of their lines.

Kwik speaks about enhancing your brain power with simple exercises that have been backed by research, one of which I would like to share with you.

Juggling

Learning to juggle has been proven to change white matter in the brain. Having been taught that neuroplasticity essentially ends as we approach adulthood, it has been incredibly empowering to learn how new science in so many ways is now proving this wrong. The brain has the capacity to change, grow and adapt. Arguably our ability to adapt is the reason we have survived as a species.

Researchers have scanned the brains of Taxi drivers and Jugglers before and after they acquired the skills needed to carry out their tasks.

London Taxi drivers are known for their encyclopaedic knowledge of the city including 25,000 streets of London and thousands of landmarks. ‘The Knowledge’ as it’s known can take 2-3 years to acquire. It was found that this incredibly difficult learning process caused structural changes in the brain with a resultant increase in nerve cells in the hippocampus, the area primarily responsible for memory.

blue classic car near westminster palace

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Learning to juggle is a much simpler task and has been shown to alter the white matter of our brains, with fascinating evidence of the adult brain pruning and refining its wiring system to operate more efficiently as a direct result of this learned skill.

Credit: moneyminiblog.com

This capacity to rewire different neural circuits in an adult brain absolutely blew me away and more and more research is coming out to back this up. Always keen to try different ways to enhance my own brain capacity and support my parents in their mental health and longevity…I began a mini-experiment of my own.

I sat down with my parents discussed the research and explained to them the process of juggling as explained by Jim Kwik (process outlined later).

Two months on, going from just being able to throw one ball in the air and catching it, my incredible father has mastered juggling 3 BALLS and I am so thrilled every time he shows off his new skills; living daily proof before my eyes that he has expanded his brain capacity and rewired his brain.

Genius.

My mum and I are works in progress. Mum is doing really well to juggle with 2 balls which is still a big leap forward… I’m, well let’s say I have a lot of catching up to do.

Want to change your brain with an easy exercise? Give it a go and share and have a competition with those around you to see who can get to juggle 3 balls and keep them in the air the longest.

PROCESS: Learning to Juggle

Equipment: 3 old socks each one rolled up into a ball

-I thought I’d use a few stones that I had to hand, bad idea on 2 counts. One they made a lot of noise constantly falling on the wooden floor and two…it really hurt when a stone accidentally landed on my head. You’ll know what I mean when you start this.

Location: Standing over your bed or a table or sitting down on your bed or floor

-I got very fed up of constantly and I mean constantly having to pick these socks off the floor. Much easier if I started off closer to the floor or near a surface at waist height.

STEP ONE:

Imagine a rectangular frame in front of you with your head in the middle

Hold one sock in your right hand and while your head is central follow the sock with your eyes as you gently throw it to the top left corner of this imaginary frame

And catch it as it falls straight down towards your open left hand.

Practice this daily trying to get a good height on the ball over your head as you throw it diagonally up and catch it in the other hand.

STEP TWO:

Now take a sock in each hand and as you toss one in the air and it reaches the top then throw the other one.

This takes practice but does come together with time

STEP THREE:

Now try with two socks in one hand and one in the other… this link may help you with added pictures and videos.

https://www.wikihow.com/Juggle

Let me know how you get on.

Remember each time you practice you are changing your brain and helping it rewire more effectively.

Happy Brain Training.


Taking Refuge

Finding a life raft in the ordinary.

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Life has a funny way of presenting us with unexpectedly difficult and challenging experiences. For me, it’s usually when I’ve worked hard to get my routine back on track, my head’s in the right space, I feel I’m in a good place and right then something presents itself and throws all my planning and work out of the window.

Rick Hanson, renowned Clinical Psychologist talks about how small moments of ‘awareness’ and ‘mindfulness’ or what I prefer to call- ‘Moments of Pause‘ can offer us a Refuge in the busy lives we lead.

Hanson describes ‘Refuges’ as places or moments that Uplift, Nurture and Protect us. He describes a process of seeking refuge to help us get through our often chaotic and busy lives.

These Moments of Pause or Refuges can act like a life raft and carry us from one situation to the next as we try and tick off our To-Do list, meet deadlines or often just, like me, try and keep my head above water.

shallow focus photography of man wearing black coat and black pants standing beside green trees

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Simple yet effective I’m working hard to try and work these into my day. The process is beautifully ordinary with nothing needed but an awareness of the simple moments of 2-3 minutes you have to yourself during the flow of your day.

These moments could be :

  • During your morning shower
  • Listening to some music you love on the way to work
  • Spending time in nature- even if it’s 5 minutes on your way to work as you pass a patch of wild flowers or see dandelions poking out of the cracks of the pavement, hear the chatter of birds overhead.
  • Or even a hot aromatic cup of  coffee.

I urge you to try this out with me, starting where you are right now to find those ordinary but powerful Moments of Pause to carry you forward through the rest of your day.

This is the process I use from what I have learned from Hanson’s very practical and relatable book ‘Resilient’.

Taking Refuge In the Ordinary

1. Pick small regular events that happen through the course of your day when you feel you may be able to Pause for 2 -3 minutes. For me it’s:

– A few minutes during my morning shower.

-The first few minutes on waking when I realise I have been blessed with another day.

Pick small moments where you feel a sense of safety, you feel nurtured or just peaceful, like those magical few minutes of silence before the rest of the house wakes up and all manner of chaos ensues (or maybe that’s just my house!).

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2. So you have your moment. As you practice this more, like me I hope you will start to find precious moments scattered throughout the ordinary flow of your day that maybe went past before unnoticed.

Now let’s imagine it’s your first hot aromatic cup of coffee of the day.

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All that’s needed is 2-3 minutes of staying with the feeling of being right-here-now, feeling the comfort of your first cup, inhaling the aroma, seeing the froth or the little swirl of milk at the top…its being present to the small details. Smile, take 2-3 deep long breaths while you hold that sense of calm.

Just the simple process of smiling and taking long deep breaths has been clinically shown to improve our levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. Both smiling and long deep breaths have also been shown to raise mood-enhancing hormones called endorphins and  lower blood pressure.

3. If you feel the chaos resurfacing- Imagine yourself standing safe, high and dry with the waves  crashing  down below you or under a shelter of leaves with the rain pouring outside and know this :

‘Eventually the storm will pass, all experiences do,

And the Peaceful Inner Core of YOU will remain’.

-Rick Hanson, Resilient

Just takes 2 -3 minutes, try it for one moment every day and watch your practice and your peaceful inner core grow.

Know that however busy, rushed or chaotic your life may be right now- You always have a Life Raft to get you to the next moment …and the next. Just take a moment to find it.

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Enjoy.

 


PART 2 – Using Sleep to hack performance

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Using Sleep to improve  Skill Performance

It has been shown in many studies that  7-9 hours of sleep can enhance a skill by up to 20%.

Key point–  If learning a new motor skill, like learning a new piece on the piano or learning to  play baseball,  7-9  hours of sleep after practising the skill may give you  a significant 20% improvement in the same skill performed again the next day.

boy in red and white baseball jersey tilt shift lens photography

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Using Visualisation before Sleep

Numerous studies have shown that just visualising a skill can be as effective as actually practising the  skill.  Both are equally efficacious in rewiring the brain and even better when both are carried out one after the other as seen below.

 

3  Key steps to Hacking your Performance

  1. PRACTICE: Spend the time needed daily to repeat and perform the skill. This allows your body to gain  a certain ‘muscle memory’ or ‘learned motion’ of a new movement you have not previously been used to.

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Sleep – The shocking science 4 part series

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This week I would like to share Professor Walker’s findings on Sleep having listened to this incredible man and read his new book:

Why we sleep?

by

Matthew Walker PhD, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and Founder and Director of the Centre for Human Sleep Science.

PART 1The scary statistics

PART 2Using Sleep to hack performance

PART 3Sleep and Diet

PART 4How can we Sleep better? What the research shows.

We are fascinating creatures with such complex internal systems with one goal in mind- to keep ourselves alive.
The more I study and read, the more I realise how little we know about our amazing bodies.

It’s taken nature 3.6 million years to develop and fine-tune this 8-hour sleep state. Why is it so important?

From an evolutionary point of view during sleep we couldn’t:

  • Care for our young
  • Search for food
  • Defend ourselves from predators
  • Find a suitable mate

So why is sleep such a big deal?

Since our two boys were born I had become convinced that I could survive on 4 hours sleep and still function at 150%.

After listening to Matthew Walker and reading about his findings from 20 years of sleep research, my whole routine and habits have gone out of the window. This shocked me to the core.

PART 1 – The Scary Statistics

Many studies have now categorically shown over a period of time that :

The shorter you sleep, the Shorter your life.

In the awake state, our body is producing waste and our normal daily activities result in minor brain damage which the body is designed to repair and heal and clean out overnight.

Findings show that the percentage of people that can survive on less than 7 hours sleep with no residual brain damage is equal to 0% of the world’s population.

Perhaps the most significant part of this is that the more sleep deprived you are, the more you feel you can cope. This is because a lack of sleep shuts down areas of the brain involved in logical thinking and increases emotional centres of the brain resulting in poor decision making and elevated emotional responses.

Daylight saving changes have given us stunning statistics :

Losing 1 hour of sleep has been correlated with a 24% increase in heart attacks.

Gaining 1 hour of sleep has been linked to a reduction in heart attacks by 21%.

Sleep and immune function

Natural Killer cells similar to secret service assassins actively search and destroy the bad guys, in our case all cancer cell activity. During the day we all produce cancerous cells. At night we have been gifted with NK cells that clean them up and reset us ready for another day.

4 hours of sleep has now shown to reduce the activity of these cancer-killing NK cells by 70%.

Sleep and risk of life-limiting diseases

Sleep has now been shown to be the MOST significant factor in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, cancers of the breast, prostate and bowel.

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Regan both reported to survive on 4 to 5 hours sleep were sadly both diagnosed with Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Deep Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep has been shown to clean toxins from our brain and reduce sticky proteins called:

‘Beta Amyloid’

which has been shown to increase in the brains of Alzheimer patients.

Sleep and shift work

Due to the poor sleep patterns involved the World Health Organisation has classified shift work as a Class 2A carcinogen – a possible cause of cancer.

Sleep and driving

Every 30 seconds there is reported to be an accident from drowsy driving more than accidents reported from drink and drugs.

Why?

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Leveraging sleep

A lot has been written about the power of the subconscious mind going to work while we are sleeping and how we often don’t fully use this power to our benefit.
short coated brown puppy sleeping beside grey dc skate shoe

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Ray Kurzeweil, coined the ‘Restless Genius’   by The Wall Street Journal,  Director of engineering at Google, legendary futurist and inventor shares how he gets inspiration for his brilliant ideas.

 

I’m going to try this out and I invite you to join me to do the same before you fall asleep tonight:
STEP 1.  Assign your mind a problem/ an issue that’s been bothering you or something you would like guidance or clarity on
Example:  I’m worried about my job interview, I get so nervous and I’m worried I may say the wrong things
STEP 2. Think about what you would like to achieve/What would be your best outcome to this problem?
Example:  I’d like to find a way to be more myself,  try and relax a little.  I’d like them to see me for who I am and not just a bundle of nerves.
Then:
●●SLEEP●●
STEP 3.  Journal your creative thoughts on waking
Keep a diary/ notepad/ journal by your bed with a pen and within 5 minutes of waking make a note of any creative thoughts and dreams you had.
SLEEP CONSCIOUSNESS
Freud often spoke about sleep conscious being absent of judgement,  boundaries and limitations.
It’s where we are free and relaxed enough to find solutions that our conscious rational mind would normally reject as impossible or unachievable.
I love this concept of a place where we can escape our conditioning and be our true selves with no limitations.
It is often our innate self-talk of not feeling we are good enough that stops us from achieving our full potential. Anything that helps us rise above this has got to be worth a try.
Mendeleyev was thought to have come up with the idea of the periodic table through a similar process of dream-inspired insight which solved many problems that his waking brain could not fathom.
What do you say?
Give it a go and let me know what happens.
Thank you for reading,  I aim to bring value to you through sharing new information, knowledge and my experiences.
 
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if you would like to help me spread the word and  make a difference.

Press Pause: Just 3 steps to calm

 

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STEP ONE:  PRESS PAUSE & FEEL

This is the most underrated step but in my opinion- The hardest.

Here’s the situation:

You are late for work, you didn’t sleep very well,  you spill coffee down your suit in a rush, your boys are fighting over football stickers and to top that off your puppy runs around the kitchen with wet muddy paws.

It is in this moment that your nervous system is mounting a response, most likely from your fight or flight sympathetic system sending a cocktail of stress hormones designed to raise your blood pressure to help you attack or run away.

It is in THIS moment that you have a choice.  This is the juiciest part when you realise there is actually a gap, a moment…an opportunity.

Just feel the rush of the emotions going on in your body. We so often run away or don’t want to feel our emotions, they then get pushed down only to resurface later, this time stronger and now demanding your attention.

I challenge you, as I do myself in these moments, to PRESS PAUSE and just FEEL what comes up in that moment…is it anger, pain, resentment?

 

You then have a choice to either :

REACT  OR   REFLECT  Which will you choose?

 

If you can get past this step and pause even for 20 seconds you are winning.  You are overcoming the inbuilt programming that we all have.

Every time you do this you will be able to pause a little more and even maybe move to STEP 2.

 

STEP 2: LOVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TO OFFER YOURSELF WORDS OF SUPPORT

Instead of saying or thinking to yourself:

‘Why me?

‘I should have been quicker, better, more organised, should have woken up earlier…’

You start blaming yourself and everything around you,

Think :

‘I have great coping skills, I can do this’

According to the fabulous  Marisa Peer, the quality of our self-talk is very important in building our inner self-worth and self-esteem.

 

Positive self talk  calms your nervous system and tells your brain that things can relax again… it’s ok,   you really DO have this.

Your brain can then go from SURVIVAL PANIC mode

to the calmer LOGICAL I-GOT-THIS mode.

 

STEP 3: LEVERAGE

Ok if you have got this far, you are pretty amazing.  It took me some time and many bad days to get this far.

So you’ve PAUSED, offered yourself some words of support. Now what?

LEVERAGEVictor Frankl in his very moving book ‘Man’s search for meaning’ wrote about his experiences in an Auschwitz concentration camp.  He speaks of how we have a choice, even in the worst situations imaginable on earth, those men and women that chose a positive outlook and reframed their situation were able to live and survive extreme hardship.

 

Leverage is reframing a bad situation into one that can offer us an opportunity for growth.

I am now using this with our boys and looked at what I say to them.

Instead of: ‘That will teach you a lesson or serves you right’

I now pause and say: ‘Well this is an opportunity for growth’.

They are fed up of hearing it but I have read that through repetition, the things we say as parents have been shown to affect the future self-esteem of our child.  Subconsciously, our dialogue, be it positive or negative, will become our child’s inner self-talk.  This is a huge opportunity to make an empowering difference to our future generations.

 

 We are now reframing ‘you are bad and deserve to be taught a lesson’

to

‘Mistakes happen, that’s ok, it is an opportunity for us to grow’.

 

I failed many times and I still do, but I feel I am moving forward as  I can pause for longer and react less and reflect more.

 

 

Thank you for reading,  I aim to bring value to you through sharing new information, knowledge and my experiences.
 
SHARE, COMMENT  and  LIKE
 
if you would like to help me spread the word and  make a difference.

 

Even if all you can manage is to press that PAUSE button you are almost there.

 

Good Luck and Keep Going.

It takes a lot of work and time but I know you and I can do this.


Are you having a bad day? I have one word for you : Leverage

man old depressed headache

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Robin Sharma, a leader in personal mastery, eloquently speaks of Leverage and in one word has transformed my attitude to bad days.       

Leverage,  defined as  ‘To use for maximum advantage”   has enabled me to now reframe a bad or unfavourable situation from:

 

Why ME ?

to

What can I learn from this ?

 

And now this isn’t easy and it takes a great deal of work but I can tell you that its work that’s worth doing.  I have constructed a 3 step plan for myself every time something bad happens.

So what changed? Well I started writing these steps on the back of my hand to remind me and well to live life means to experience the bad with the good so the ‘bad’ was still there I just didn’t see it as ‘bad’ but an opportunity.

 

 ‘Having a Bad day? Try my 3 step plan’

 

Have a read and do take a moment to comment, let me know what you think.  I’m trying to patiently reinforce it with our boys  and there is the challenge right there…

 

To ask an 11 year old to PAUSE and REFLECT and LEVERAGE  before he clobbers his 7 year old brother for destroying his art work… ok work in progress.  I’ll keep trying.

 

Thank you for reading,  I aim to bring value to you through sharing new information, knowledge and my experiences.
 
SHARE, COMMENT  and  LIKE
 
if you would like to help me spread the word and  make a difference.

 

 

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