It's that time of year again when EVERYTHING gets CRAZY!!!
Did you realize that other than the end of the year holiday season,
BACK TO SCHOOL
is one of the most stressful times of the year? Well it is!!!
I can tell you that at our house,
I personally feel the most pressure in the mornings
while we're all scurrying around trying to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!
Someone always forgets something,
didn't finish something,
or just plain old can't stand something....
and once that negative ball starts rolling...........
it just seems to roll and roll and roll
straight DOWN the HILL toward
an AWEFUL, TERRIBLE very BAD DAY!
So... is there anything that can be done about that.
The first step is being aware of those NEGATIVE feelings
that are roaming around in your house unchecked.
You know the kind.... the ones that linger for days,
the silent treatment, or the door slamming, or just plain ole' yelling.
Take a DEEP breath, count to 5 and
STOP them before they move in.
Watch this video for a few tricks we use at our house
to bring GRATITUDE back
in those moments of FRUSTRATION!
START today building NEW HABITS
for dealing with the BACK to School Business
by building the practice GRATITUDE into your daily lives.
Children are the most susceptible to changing their BEHAVIOR
when they see it modeled for them.
BE the person that someone else wants to be
rather than trying to FORCE someone to change.
We ALL know that doesn't work and it NEVER lasts.
In fact, statistics on the overall success rates for rehabilitation centers
averages between 2-20%.
PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO BE CHANGED,
but they CAN CHANGE
if what you have looks like something they would like to be.
Behaviors are contagious,
and we don't realize in every moment
we are teaching others how we react to frustration....
and if those (others) are our children,
chances are that's exactly how they will grow up and treat theirs.
START right now
and catch yourself the next time you are feeling frustrated
and remember how you would feel if those kids you're so mad at
were no longer in your home.
I personally use this little trick every time I get angry.
After my brother died, it put "the little things" back into perspective.
We teach without realizing we're teaching!
Let's all teach GRATITUDE!
If I told you it was possible to
change your life,
change your body,
and change your health
in 10 MINUTES a day....
you probably wouldn't believe me,
BUT, it's true!
According to a special publication by TIME magazine
entitled The Science of Emotions,
Exercise is one of the BEST and QUICKEST mood changers there is.
AND... the best part about that is
it doesn't have to be a LONG, ORGANIZED workout
with special training or equipment to be
BENEFICIAL for your BRAIN!
In fact, many studies go so far as to say
that exercise is the closest thing to
A UNIVERSAL MOOD CURE there is.
Exercise has shown in clinical studies
to combat depression, relieve stress,
change emotional states, and even fight cognitive decline.
The problem is, when we HEAR the word exercise,
most of our BRAINS instantly THINK of a sweaty gym,
training for a 5K,
or someone who can bend themselves in half
wearing perfectly matching leggings and a crop top holding a flowered Yoga mat,
THIS IS NOT WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT!
Instead, I am saying that just
10 minutes a day
is enough to
change your MOOD,
change your DAY,
and change your LIFE.
And.... Let's be honest
We've ALL got 10 minutes!
New Research from Princeton University
showed that participants in a 6 week exercise study
had a LARGE INCREASE
in New Neurons in the Hippocampus of the brain.
This is an area of the brain closely associated
with memory and regulation of anxiety.
Neuroscientist Elizabeth Gould went on to say,
"Exercise modifies the HUMAN BRAIN."
Walk to the Mailbox, Walk the dog,
Walk around your kitchen table....
or get a HULA HOOP and
set your timer for 10 MINUTES
and CHANGE your LIFE!
When I first began my dream of spreading
the Neuroscience of GRATITUDE to the world,
I wondered if anyone would care, or if anyone would even listen.
I remember vividly telling my professor
that I wanted to do my FINAL
Graduate Research Study on Gratitude
and putting a picture of MYSELF
(sitting behind a microphone)
on my Vision Board
and believing in faith
to BE on an iTunes Podcast
explaining how GRATITUDE
can change lives.
Well... 2 years later...
I can tell you this VISION
is now a reality.
This country girl,
Science of GRATITUDE. to iTunes.
Join us in a little
and help spread some happiness to the world!
Click Link to Watch Podcast
I have worked with lots of people in my 52 years of life,
but I can say that Gladney Center for Adoption
is right up there at the top!
From the moment I walked through their doors
I truly felt the kind spirit of ALL that Gladney is,
and ALL that Gladney does to help create
loving FAMILIES around the world.
My deepest thanks for allowing me to share in your Journey!
or connect on iTunes @
If you have lived longer than about 5 years of age...
then you've dealt with someone you didn't enjoy being around.
And the older you get, the number of "those people" seems to INCREASE.
So... WHAT DO YOU DO
when you LIVE, or WORK with
someone who drives you CRAZY & steals your JOY?
According to a recent article in Psychology Today,
Dr. Andrea Bonior also suggests
going into a controversial interaction with a PLAN.
Waiting until AFTER you're upset, angry, hurt or frustrated
is TOO LATE for your brain to make it's best decisions.
The secret to dealing with people & situations
that are NOT as you'd like them to be...
is KNOWING what to DO
you FEEL Your Emotions Shift.
Watch Today's Video
teaching YOU ways to
MAKE A PLAN to KEEP your JOY
When People Are Driving You CRAZY!
As human beings, we live every single day of our lives as EMOTIONAL BEINGS...
and understanding what to do
in the moment when you FEEL your Emotions Shift toward negativity,
keeps you in the Driver's Seat of your Own LIFE!
The minute you let someone else's actions
control YOUR FEELINGS,
you've lost the battle....
and I am a firm believer that
The BATTLE for JOY begins in your MIND!
Use the Neuroscience of GRATITUDE to KEEP your joy...
even in the midst of a JOY THIEF.
looking for ways to see things in a NEW WAY,
and begin to live a NEW LIFE!
We've ALL heard the saying...
"When LIFE gives you lemons, make Lemonade."
The only problem with that is
your lemonade is gonna suck without some SUGAR.
And.... in the words of my favorite 11 year old "Mom, it's up to US to be the SUGAR!"
Such wisdom from the mouth of a child....
but in fact, it is exactly what the research and modern Neuroscience will tell you.
The ability to adjust your perspective in the midst of adversity (Resilience)
is closely linked to our overall quality of WELLBEING!
So... what does that mean?
Resilience is our ability to recover from a negative situation
and according to suicide prevention programs around the country,
it is one of the most important qualities needed
to alter the overwhelming rise in suicide and depression rates
ALL across The United States.
Resilience, or the lack of,
is also directly linked with one's ability
to BE, or NOT BE GRATEFUL!
One of the leading Neuroscientists, Richard Davidson,
Founder and Director of The Center for Healthy Minds,
discusses how the amount of negative emotion we
has the direct ability to affect our level of HAPPINESS!
So.... what is the best way to alter what we're HOLDING ON TO..... it's GRATITUDE!
It's so easy to be HAPPY when things are going great,
however... the true measure of your overall state of WELLBEING
is the ability to bounce back, or be RESILIENT in the face of negativity.
GRATITUDE is the key to changing Resiliency!
Research shows those who rank
LOWESTon the GRATITUDE Spectrum
stay more focused on their obstacles and their weaknesses.
Developing a practice of GRATITUDE
has been shown in studies across the globe
to improve almost every single area of our lives;
from our ability to sleep, lose weight, be more productive at work,
lower blood pressure and improve our relationships.
But... most importantly GRATITUDE
drastically raises our ability to BE RESILIENT in the face of life's lemons,
because you KNOW how to become the SUGAR!
WHY are WE constantly criticizing ourselves?
WHY do WE continually compare ourselves to everyone?
WHY do WE think we'd be soooooooo much HaPpIeR if......
we were just:
5. married to someone who___________
6. got to go on lavish vacations
7. had a different house
8. had a different job etc., etc., etc.
The TRUTH IS.... Psychology and Neuroscience will both tell you
that after your BASIC NEEDS have been met....
HAPPINESS becomes a
you CHOOSE for yourself !
Modern society is under a SIEGE of Negative Self-Talk
and many people don't even realize
it's going on inside their BRAINS...
and IF we do BECOME aware
of those nasty thoughts we have about ourselves...
we often mistakenly THINK
they JUST live within the privacy
of our OWN HEAD!
IN Fact...NOTHING could be farther from the truth!
Every single thought you have about yourself
is telling your BRAIN how to interpret
WHO YOU ARE!!!
According to an article in Psychology Today
people justify the cruelty they "SAY" inside their heads by believing:
1. I deserve it... I screwed up
2. It keeps my ego in check
3. If I Expect the worst I won't be disappointed
4. I don't really believe it
Studies show that exactly the OPPOSITE is true.
YOUR BRAIN DOES BELIEVE IT!
and.... you are creating continual wiring inside your head
"YOU ARE A FAILURE!"
So STOP doing that!
Start today and CHALLENGE your inner voice!
NEVER be afraid to be WHO YOU ARE!
The problem is...so many people have NO IDEA who they are
because they’ve spent their whole lives
being who someone else told them to be!
It’s taken me 52 years to be OK to be ME!!!
Don’t wait that long!
I always wanted to be quiet, graceful and elegant!
I so admired those qualities in others
and used to hate that I was too loud, too rough, and not very lady like
I have FINALLY reached a place where I can embrace
my insanely loud laugh,
my hillbilly southern drawl,
the fact that I LOVE to wear tooooons of Turquoise Jewelry,
talk to my dog like he’s a human,
hug my kids like they’re still 3 years old,
continue to get excited when I put on a tutu,
am a total nerd about reading and learning new things,
drink lots of coffee,
and.... hope to wear heels up until the day I die!
Because....that’s WHO I AM!
What could you learn to embrace and see it differently just by BEING YOU?
The world LOVES a Superhero.
They give us HOPE and a belief that GOOD can triumph over BAD.
When my BIG son (now almost 30) was little we used to watch the X-Men.
I remember so very clearly him sitting in my lap
as we watched our favorite characters battle the forces of evil!
One of the definitions for a SUPERHERO
is someone or something having
SPECIAL Neurological POWERS.
Holy Moly.... I had no idea that nearly 30 years ago I was pretending to be something that I would later spend my days studying, researching and sharing with the world !!!
The idea of being able to CONTROL your MIND has always fascinated me.
And I think I "knew" .....long before I "KNEW"
that the battle for the LIFE I wanted was in my MIND
..... if only I could figure out how to control it!
Brent was only about 3 or 4,
but I used to SMILE from ear to ear as we would play in the floor
with his little plastic X-men toys pretending to be the characters from the show.
I always wanted to be Jean Grey.... who by the way, was the most powerful!
She could control things with her mind and move them and create explosions!
I have no idea why I liked her so much, but maybe, as a 26 year old mother,
who was at the very beginning of the "swamped" feeling
learning all the tricks I needed to DO LIFE with
work, mom-hood, wife-hood, house and a new job....
I think I secretly wanted to be Jean Grey so that I too could control
(what felt so very OUT of my control) in my own life!
Little did I know...that almost 3 decades later,
I would learn how to become my VERY OWN JEAN GREY
by also learning how to control my MIND...
because I now understand how to control my EMOTIONS!
Watch today's video about controlling your emotions....
and become the SUPERhero of your OWN LIFE!
We ALL have feelings and emotions on a daily basis.
Heck... many of us have them on a moment-to-moment basis!
BUT learning that YOU have the power
every minute of every day
to CONTROL them is truly the secret to gaining the control you need over your life!
Become your OWN SUPERHERO,
by using the special NEUROLOGICAL POWER
available to each and every one of us.
Understanding your BRAIN is the beginning of Understanding your LIFE!
Today (as an old photo came up on my TimeHop)
I looked backward at my LIFE and saw where I was
just a mere 4 years ago.
My eyes filled up with tears as I looked at that girl and her broken heart... barely able to recognize that was ME.
If someone would have had a mirror
able to show me how
LIFE WOULD LOOK as I JUMPED FORWARD
I couldn't have possibly imagined it was true!
I only knew a little about GRATITUDE at that time,
but had NO IDEA the Science behind it,
and was doing NO REGULAR HABITS
to build a Practice of GRATITUDE into my LIFE!
And.... I can tell you with 100% certainty
that of all the things I have ever tried in my life to "BE HAPPY",
... Building HABITS of GRATITUDE has single handedly
CHANGED MY LIFE MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE!
I never dreamed a few minutes a day
could alter the direction of my LIFE's Course.
But... IT HAS!
If you've ever wondered what BUILDING HABITs of GRATITUDE looks like,
It's really MUCH EASIER than you might think.
Join me in today's Video (below)
as I describe how I built HABITs of GRATITUDE
with just a notebook and a pen!
or... if you'd like to learn other "HANDS-ON" ways
to build GRATITUDE into your life
and change the way your Brain Works,
I'd love to have you join me at the GETgrateful Retreat
on June, 29, 2019.
Click Link below for more information.
Use discount code staci50 if you register soon!
Start TODAY... You don't have to have anything fancy
just a simple notebook or notecard and a pen can LITERALLY change your LIFE!
SUBSCRIBE to my YOUTUBE channel
by clicking the little RED button
under the video for FREE WEEKLY TIPS on
How to BUILD a GRATEFUL BRAIN!
When George Lucas first came up with the concept of "The Force" in 1977
it is widely noted that he envisioned it would be something that
gave people a UNIVERSAL feeling of POWER, as it should....
The problem for many folks is that they think "THE FORCE"
is something that lies OUTSIDE of themselves,
leaving them feeling HELPLESS
Thinking They Don't Have IT!
However.... Many Neuroscientists will tell you
that there REALLY is a FORCE,
but..... "The Force" is actually your Mind
particularly, its ability to VISUALIZE
and YES... IT IS WITH YOU
at all times (for good and for bad) !
In fact, recent studies on the POWER of the HUMAN MIND
have shown some fascinating results on the TRUTH behind
"THE FORCE" of Visualization!
When I was in Grad School I read a research study on the power of visualization by Australian Psychologist, Alan Richards where a group of basketball players were divided
into 3 groups over a 20 day period.
Group 1: Practiced shooting actual FREE Throws for 2o minutes each day.
Group 2: (Control Group) Did NOTHING in regards to FREE Throws each day.
Group 3: Practiced ONLY VISUALIZING shooting FREE Throws for 2o minutes daily.
At the END of the Study.... the groups were tested on their level of IMPROVEMENT from their PRE-test FREE Throw accuracy to their POST-test FREE Throw accuracy.
The RESULTS were AMAZING!
The VISUALIZATION Group was only 1 percentage point behind those who actually practiced shooting FREE Throws every single day for 20 consecutive days with the Shooters improving 24% and the Visualizers improving 23%.
Another Research study on Visualization/Perception
came from Harvard Psychologist, Ellen Langer
where she took a large group of hotel maids
(many of which were slightly overweight) to see if THOUGHTS matter.
After the maids had been through extensive physical testing
for blood pressure, stress levels, vitamin intake, etc.
they were asked this question:
Do you think you get the recommended amount of physical exercise daily?
A resounding number of them said NO... in fact, 67% said they didn't.
The maids were then divided into 2 separate groups.
Group 1 was given a lecture about how much exercise
they were actually getting during the course of their day
and were carefully shown what type of exercises
they really do to workout their muscles
as well as exactly how many calories each activity was burning. .
Group 2 was told nothing other than to carry on with their normal activities.
At the end of the month long study, the team repeated all the testing
and took physical measurements of each of the maids.
The results were astounding for only a 1 month study.
Group 1: who had LEARNED... about"THE FORCE"
of their exercise, showed improvements in
their blood pressure with a 10% drop.
They also LOST weight and inches!
THE FORCE was with them all the time, but until they KNEW IT, nothing happened!
So, today as you do all the things you do to make LIFE work...
Use THE FORCE of visualization to build your life
rather than WORRYING,
which is really VISUALIZING all that MIGHT NOT work
and tearing your life apart brick by brick.
And remember... if there is 1 person
who has ever accomplished YOUR DREAM,
then there can be 2.... You be that person!
Because THE FORCE is with YOU!
In a world where we are bombarded daily with the importance of education and status.... it is hard to believe that there might be something in the world that is ACTUALLY MORE IMPORTANT than LEARNING
.... but there IS...IT's DOING !
In fact, KNOWLEDGE is at the VERY BOTTOM
of The Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Pyramid,
with COMPREHENSION on the next lowest level,
while the skills required for ACTION are at the TOP.
So... what does Neuroscience have to say about the importance of DOING?
Harvard Health published a study from it's Alumni
after following a group of men over many years
who were asked to start taking SMALL DAILY ACTIONS
toward their health rather than PLANNING
to join a gym or start some BIG MAJOR workout routine.
AND... the results were astonishing....
for those who TOOK DAILY ACTION
and just took several flights of stairs each day
rather than remaining sedentary or taking the elevator....
those men had a 33% lower rate of mortality!
KNOWING or DECIDING
to get in shape, eat healthy, start a GRATITUDE practice...
is NOT ACTION.
Knowledge is just something that remains INSIDE your head
providing no benefit without ACTION!
To achieve ANY results, we must COMBINE the KNOWLEDGE we acquire
with the ACTION steps needed to "DO SOMETHING" ...even if it's wrong.
IN fact, recent studies show there is a great deal of benefit "to the brain"
for taking ACTIONS (that are later found to be incorrect)
because your brain creates what Neuroscience calls
Bayesian Brain Updating
to rewire information via trial and error.
So... the best formula for achieving successful results is:
KNOW x DO = RESULTS
The Benefits of DOING or Taking ACTION are incredible for the Brain:
1. DOING...is your brains way of activating INFORMATION and moving it to a higher levels of comprehension, which is why most all of us learn better from actual EXPERIENCE rather than just reading about something in a book.
2. DOING creates trial and error circuits in the brain that force your cognitive functions to update and rewire. (Extremely Beneficial for Cognition)
3. DOING or taking DAILY ACTIONs helps to form HABIT LOOPS in the brain. When your brain forms healthy habit loops it is much easier to live a healthy life!
4. DOING small DAILY ACTIONS is more Beneficial and much EASIER to maintain than trying to start a Huge new Program.
5. ACTIONS you choose purposely, create a sense of accomplishment in the brain which registers in the reward center of the brain releasing Dopamine (feel good chemicals) that boost your emotional state. ANY goal.... even small daily ones, give your brain a sense of accomplishment releasing dopamine.
START today..... and STOP Deciding and START DOING!
Even small daily actions over time can move your life to levels you never dreamed possible. You can begin with something as small as a daily practice of GRATITUDE. It takes less than 5 minutes to give your brain a boost that can last the entire day!
One might ask, "HOW can trying to be Perfect be a BAD thing?"
That's a good question, and one of which I am often asked.
However, new research on the subject shows an immense correlation
and overwhelming stress, anxiety, and depression.
According to the Webster Dictionary, Perfection is described as:
A REFUSAL to accept any situation which is less than perfect!
and... there in lies the answer.
If our brains are unable to accept anything less than perfection (which RARELY if ever comes) .... then we have just sent a signal to our brain, and our body chemicals, that WE ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH! Research around the world will confirm that continual feelings such as this are one of the leading causes of CHRONIC STRESS!
The research data on Perfectionism
did not even begin to build until the early 90's,
yet study after study has shown it has
devastatingly destructive consequences to our health
as well as leading the charge in debilitating anxiety and depression.
And, if that isn't bad enough, according to
a Journal by The American Psychological Association,
50% of SUICIDE victims family and friends
describe them as PERFECTIONISTS.
Click (Read More) to watch the video below
to help explain what NEUROSCIENCE says
about how Parents unknowingly
contribute to our children's Perfectionism
as well as our own.... and how
The Practice of GRATITUDE can help change it!
OMG! I am so excited to be back on the BLOg.
I had to take a bit of time to build my new business
and do some traveling to get things rolling.
BUT... what an eXcItInG adventure I have been on these last 6 months.
All my recent travels were my inspiration for this post however,
so it seemed fitting that
SETTING DOWN THE SUITCASE
would be the 1st POST back.
This.... is the most insanely overpriced suitcase I have ever purchased.
I bought it INSIDE the AIRPORT at Phoenix, Arizona a few months ago.
I'd been in Phoenix for almost a week doing different speaking and training events
and had A LOT of stuff with me....
as well as had gathered NEW STUFF during my week there.
HEAVY stuff I might add!
Books, training manuals, computer equipment and even a new light for my videos.... SO... When I got to the airport to come back to TEXAS,
I was overloaded to say the least.
My original bag was packed to the BRIM,
and was over the 50 lb. weight limit by almost 4 lbs.
So.... I had to take out items out of my main bag
and put them in my little tote style carry-on.
NOW, I was walking around the airport (IN HEELS)
because I'd some straight from a speaking event
with my already HEAVY carry-on and a new 4 extra pounds!
Today on the BLOG... Dealing with TOXIC Emotions.
Have you ever been the victim of someone else's anxiety,
bad mood, verbal vomit, disrespect or rude choices?
If so, then today's blog is for you.
Neuroscience has some fascinating information
about how we can take our power back
by understanding how the brain works
and learn to keep a level head in the face of someone else's NEGATIVITY.
Understanding the role of the Amygdala is crucial in taking control of your emotions.
Many scientists around he world study how emotions work within the brain.
A great deal of controversy still continues over exactly how they work
and where each specific emotion is wired in the brain.
However, most all scientists, psychologists and members of the educational system
can agree on their importance in one's overall state of wellbeing.
Understanding how to control one's emotions
is a SKILL that can drastically alter the quality of your life.
Watch today's vLog to learn more about how YOU can control Toxic Emotions
by using your own THOUGHTS
to actually reduce the negative response in brain's amygdala.
Welcome to the 1st EVER video BLOG day.
It wasn't as scary as I thought.
Maybe in my "New Season" I will overcome some FEAR.
Today on the BLOG...
How the Neuroscience of Gratitude works in our most significant relationships.
I would love any feedback you want to share on the Video Blog Format.
Since I have never done this before I consider all feedback as important information.
Have a wonderful end to your week and don't forget
to tell someone you LOVE... "Thank you"
for something they do for YOU!
"For everything there is a SEASON"... has always been one of my favorite verses,
and has truly helped me go through some major struggles in life.
Believing that "THIS too shall pass" because I understood "this is a season"
has pushed me onward with strength that I knew
could only be gained in the STRUGGLE.
I have also used this verse to push me through the "SEASONS"
like winter and the yucky, cloudy, depressing drizzly days
we have been in for what feels like WEEEEEKS now.
I know there are people out there who do NOT love the summer sunshine,
and they treasure the chilliness of winter.
So, for those people...this verse has helped me SHARE.
Today, as I was getting the buckets and buckets of Fall Decorations from the attic
(because it is my little son's favorite SEASON)-
I got my literal 100th message from a BLOG friend
asking me to please start doing videos.
The reason I know this is the 100th request
is because I HAVE been counting!
And.... secretly, when this all began I told myself
when then 100th person asked me for a BLOG video
then I would know it was the right time
(feeling VERY safe this would never happen).
So... Today while decorating our house for FALL
"For everything there is a SEASON"...
took on a WHOLE NEW MEANING
as I guess I am about to embark upon a new one myself.
To be very truthful, I have resisted the video form of media.
I HATE my voice and the terrible West Texas drawl that flows from my every word. AND... I have NEVER wanted to make anyone listen to me on a video or recording.
I sound like I should be on an episode of HEE HAW.
In fact, my whole life I have had countless people tell me TO MY FACE...
"Oh, I didn't know you were smart!" haha
I have to laugh and say yes, I know... it's the voice.
As I gather my strength to go WAY outside my comfort zone
and face my BIGGEST neurological negative "trigger" thought -
REJECTION and Abandonment ,
I promised myself that if I could preach it to someone else,
then I was going to have to live it as well.
NOTHING GOOD ever happens in THE COMFORT ZONE.
So... I am going to put on my BIG girl Boots, wash my face,
and give it my best shot next week.
My goal is to pass along the Neuroscience of Gratitude
with a BLOG and a video version
so those 100 people who have asked
can listen in their cars or while they get ready in the mornings.
and...I promise NOT to make them very long! haha
I'd love any type of feedback you could give me
on topics you'd like more information about.
You are welcome to Message me on Facebook
if you'd rather write your request there.
If you're not already my friend on Facebook,
my user name is - Staci Danford-Motley
I realize a video format will allow me
to explain things better and I sincerely hope
it helps to fill those of you who read this weekly blog
with a little more GRATITUDE.
May we all be more fruitful and thankful in "this new season".
Today on the BLOG....
The Neuroscience of Creative HOBBIES & My NEW Junkin' Truck!
For those of you who know me... this will come as NO shock,
and for those of you who don't.... this may very well cause you
to curl up your nose in disgust..... but either way it's TRUE!
I LOVE to dig through junk yards, garage sales, old abandoned buildings,
and YES.... I have even been known to climb INSIDE a dumpster
to rescue a lonely abused furniture friend that needed a new home!
AND... I have always had to bring these NEW friends home in my car,
which has torn my seats, ripped my window tinting, & scratched my dash.
I have even driven down the road with a table hanging out my sunroof
while my friend held the legs of the table on the inside of the car.
Because of this intense desire to save unloved items.....
I have wanted my OWN junkin' truck for over 20 years now......
and guess what my husband bought me this week?
YES...You got it.... my very own 1993 Chevy Truck!
She is the same age as my daughter and I thought that had to be a good sign. Though she hasn't held up quite as well as my daughter...
I decided to just think of her as having been SUPER LOVED for 25 years.
So... what in the world does this have to do with Neuroscience you say....
well, LOTS actually. Did you know that people who have creative hobbies are happier and more resilient than those who do NOT have a hobby?
A recent article in Psychology Today by Dr. Jaimel Kurtz says,
that people have come to wear their "BUSY" as a badge of honor."
In fact, most high functioning 21st century societies, look down on those
who make time for FUN hobbies and consider them "time-wasters".
According to a brand new study published
in January 2018 by Neuroscience News,
FMRI brain scans revealed people who engage in a creative hobby
or endevor actually have more blood flow to multiple areas of the brain.
Brain scans also found that those partaking in a creative activity
have a higher degree of brain connectivity throughout the inter-networks
than those who merely do nothing or watch TV in their "free-time".
One of my favorite lines from Dr. Brenae Brown (I'm paraphrasing)
is when you tell people you are having F. U. N.
they think you should get another J. O .B. !
So... today as I sit outside scrubbing on this old girl,
I have to just smile and think... man-oh-man, my brain is in TOTAL Overdrive
while I imagine all the wonderful things I will find on the side of the road
and be able to BRING HOME in my very OWN truck.
Right now my truck is looking a little tired,
but when I take her to get her new paint job....
she will be driving' down the road as "Lucy the Lemondrop" !
And... she will be filled up with treasures someone else threw out
because they saw the lemon, and I saw the lemonade !
So... if you're one of those people in the world
who have a creative hobby of any kind.
SMILE today and give yourself a NEW BADGE of HONOR
because you now know that people whose brains CREATE
are the only people we know of...
who are simultaneously using
a combination of the brain's controlled thinking power
and their spontaneous abilities ALL AT THE SAME TIME!
Wear your new Badge with Pride realizing that your brain
is firing on all cylinders and connecting multiple networks
while also increasing blood flow and boosting endorphins.
AND... let those who think you're having too much F. U. N.
go back to their J. O. B.
The NEUROSCIENCE going on inside your HOME!
I've had so many people ask me what my house looks like now
and for updates on our remodel and our "50 year old clutter clean out" project.....
so TODAY on the Blog...
is a whole post about the SECRETS of Neuroscience
you didn't realize were going on INSIDE your own home!
At the end of a Long Day... there is nothing BETTER or WoRsE...
than the first step inside your HOME.
Modern Psychology will tell you that one of BIGGEST factors
on the state of your MOOD... is the INSIDE of your own HOUSE.
So.... How can you fix that without spending a fortune on redecorating?
Here are a few easy fixes of some things Neuroscience can tell you
about what your BRAIN is doing when you walk in your door.
#1 Factor- The Entrance
Wherever it is that you 1st walk into your house, be it the front door, the back door or through the garage.... Make THAT space Clean, Neat, Organized and Inviting. Even if it means you have to move the junk, clutter or less than lovely stuff somewhere else. This is the very 1st TRIGGER your brain receives as it begins the looping cycle of how it feels about your HOME. Does it create anxiety, frustration, the constant weight of a project left on the "To-Do" list? Or, does it give your brain a release of the "feel good" endorphins that leave your body in a state of happy. Whether you know it or not, your brain is releasing chemical and electrical signals for EVERYTHING around you..... especially VISUAL stimuli. Your Entrance is vitally important and starts the circuitry your Brain uses to determine how you "feel" INSIDE your House.
#2 Factor- Color
This is HUGE, and one of the easiest fixes you can do to alter your MENTAL state of being. A can or two of paint can literally change the chemical signals you are releasing throughout your body. Like it or NOT, our brains respond to color. Did you know that the colors Red and Orange make you EAT MORE? .... so if you're on a diet and your kitchen or dinning room are one of those colors.... you might be fighting an uphill battle.
Ps... I giggle every time I'm at the sink.... thinking that old man is trying to play his cards right so he CAN hook up with the MERMAID!
When we remodeled our kitchen, we took down every single BROWN cabinet door
and repainted them white. It was an easy, inexpensive fix that
added what appeared to be countless square feet to our space
as well as lots more light.
We also took 1 set of doors to a cabinet maker friend and had glass inserted.
If you can't paint your cabinets, or love your brown woodwork,
then add in lightness with the accessories.
Granted... NOT everyone wants a 3 ft. Mermaid in their kitchen....
but that's the whole point.
Fill your space with things you LOVE and create YOUR OWN HAPPY!
If YOU love it.... then YOUR cognit network is signaling chemicals
for your joy and creating a state of HaPpY for YOU!
Here are a couple of color charts that will help you better understand
what COLOR is doing on the INSIDE of your Brain.
Here are a few more pictures of our kitchen.
It really is filled with some of my FAVORITE things....
and it's one of my favorite rooms to be in.
Soooo much of my Granny Rube is here with me in this Kitchen and it is one of the places I feel her presence with me most. Her precious memories surround me here!
#3 FACTOR- FUNCTION
See what is causing your house the biggest disarray or lack of function and just correct that problem! Ours was the "drop-off" area. I think everyone needs a place to set down purses, bags, backpacks etc. Which for us was in the laundry room..... so I went on a month long junking journey until I found this little typewriter table and BOOM... no more "drop-off" on the kitchen table.
Since this is also the laundry room... it still had to function in the most efficient way possible for 4 people's laundry. So...we gutted the room, removed one set of cabinet doors and took down the rods that ran along both sides of this tiny room.
Then Butch created one small rod coming straight out of the wall. It gave us back VALUABLE space in this small room and functions just as well.
Next... to get 4 people's laundry to fit in this small space... we used an old door and cut it in half to create 2 shelves. We now each have a basket for clean clothes, and I use the top as a folding table. This space is literally no more than 24 inches wide, but we made the best use of the inches we had... and I have to say I LOVE it.... every time I fold clothes, my brain releases signals of an enjoyable space rather than one that frustrates me due to BAD Functionality... which only made me HATE Doing Laundry.
#4 FACTOR- LIGHTING
Like it or NOT... Lighting plays an enormous role in the signals released in your BRAIN. It can change a mood faster than almost anything. Don't believe me... Wonder why all spook houses are dark...because it creates signals for anxiety and fear. Wonder why all fancy restaurants have soft lighting...because it creates signals to relax and eat more.
Natural Lighting is an easy, valuable way to create endorphins for "happY" inside your home. It stimulates the cells on the inside of the retina which also affects your circadian rhythm. Poor lighting, or dark lighting is one of the highest ranking characteristics in people who say they feel depressed. So.... open your windows, pull your blinds, or if you live in the country like me...... take those curtains OFF and let the light in. It will almost instantly CHANGE YOUR MOOD!
I have natural lighting SHINING in from every room in our house....
and when it goes down, I turn on almost EVERY light in my house.
At least now I have some science behind why we NEED The LIGHTS ON. haha
#5 FACTOR- ADD PLANTS
When you add plants to a room (even if they're fake)
research shows it has a comforting affect on the brain.
Bringing some of the outside IN also keeps a home feeling connected
and shows to signal endorphins that may also help with relationships.
#6- FACTOR- CURVED lines over HARD angles
Not everyone has curved furniture, or even wants it for that matter... but when there is nothing in your home but HARD lines, it seems to signal to the brain a state of coldness and unapproachability, as well as signals for uneasiness and fear in the brain. This is an simple fix too. Just add a curved pot, or any little "knick-knack" you have to something hard or sharp edged, and it's amazing how much softer a room feels with just the quick addition of a bowl.
#7 FACTOR- MAKE IT PERSONAL
Your house should feel like you...
and when people leave there, they should have a better sense
of just how wonderful you are!
Even if NO one likes it but you and your family...
then at least they know it's something they DON'T want in their house.
(maybe a 3 ft. Mermaid)... but that's why it's personal to you and your brain!
I rescued this old piece of wonderful from the side of the road many years ago. It's been at least 8 different colors and done at least 8 different jobs. BUT... now it's white and holds many of our family treasures and pictures of all 5 kids when they were little. It's in the hallway, and I walk past in at least 20 times a day with a SMILE.
#8 Factor- Change your THINKING
This may sound silly... but it works! If you hate your house, or are always complaining about all the projects that aren't finished yet, you are forming pathways in your brain as to how you feel EACH time you are in it! So... start today and say a little statement of GRATITUDE when you walk in... even if it's just... Thank you that you keep me from being homeless.
Start with just ONE area.... and focus on it
until you can be in that space and feel HAPPY.
Then move on to another one.
Don't worry about what anyone else will think about YOUR home.
You and your brain live there.
Their brain isn't signaling for you. Find some things you LOVE
and fill your house with ONLY that. Remove those things which do NOT
bring you joy, fill you with precious memories, or are useful!
If it's valuable but you don't use it.... sell it,
and free up some mental space to hold your own treasure!
#9 FACTOR- SMELL
Almost EVERYONE underestimates the importance of smell.
When in reality it is one of the most powerful triggers to the brain.
Utilize that factor and start creating a home that smells like HAPPY!
I LOVE the smell of coffee and I love my morning coffee bar because it fills my house with a mood changing dose to the Olfactory nerve that makes my morning GRIN last all day. I also have candles all over and light them almost every day!
Here are a couple of Olfactory charts that might help you
decide what smells you'd like in your home.
#10 FACTOR - Enjoy YOUR Own Space
The TRUTH is... Neuroscience has massive amounts of research showing your space affects your MOOD, your productivity, your creativity and most of all
Start today and ENJOY your space... give yourself permission to Make it YOU!
Your brain will love you for it!
If you've ever had a BAD habit, or wanted to create a NEW good one
.... then Today's Blog is for you!
Since most of the world is BACK-To-SCHOOL,
it seems so much easier to spot our habits... both good and bad.
1. Staying up too LATE
2. Wasting valuable time on FACEBOOK
3. When we eat, when we snack
4. Breakfast (do you or don't you)
5. Finding time to Exercise
6. Making Beds
7. Always running LATE, or always EARLY
8. Shower in the morning or shower at night
9. When you do Homework
10. and... the dreaded BED TIME
ALL of these things are products of our HABITS!
On our recent "Vacation Road-trip" drive to Arizona, we listened to the Audio version of a book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. (link below)
If you get a chance, or like informative books.... this one is a MUST have.
I have listened to it 3 times now and hear something I missed previously each time. It contains cutting edge information about how to create NEW GOOD habits
(like a daily practice of GRATITUDE), or for some.... BREAKING the
DESTRUCTIVE Habits that seem to haunt us:
from anything like staying up to late, to biting your fingernails,
all the way to excessive gambling, or drug and alcohol addictions.
IT is an incredible book that I highly recommend.
But... if you're not a reader, or that's not your thing ....
then I will give you the shortened run down right here.
Here is the Amazon link if you are interested:
I can tell you that our family is like most American families
where everyone is busy... and it is TIME, or the LACK of it
that leads to many of our BAD Habits!
IN our house- it's not having a set homework time,
or doing a grab and go meal because everyone is home at different times,
early morning rushing, or OUR BIGGEST problem..... staying up too late...
often times watching cat videos on Facebook...
when we KNOW that tomorrow always gets here about 2 hours too early.
YET.... why is it, we continue to do these things "WHEN WE KNOW BETTER!"
image by: Medical News Today
Research by Dr. Ann Graybiel, published in a February 2018 article
in Current Biology showed some very shocking evidence about
how our habits work. Dr. Graybiel calls this new finding "bookending".
Her research showed that when we have a repeated habit
the neurons fire a very specific signal at the beginning of the sequence
and then not again until the end.
ALL of the steps in the middle are part of
an "interneuron" network that are similar to
a passer-by along the habit loop.
Our brains are built for efficiency and this a way
to "box up" a repeated sequence and save valuable
Neuronal Real-Estate for other Brain Functions.
For example: Think about this morning when you went to go brush your teeth,
You probably did the whole entire thing as a Habit Loop.
If you don't believe me... TAKE A LOOK!
You most likely did not consciously tell yourself to:
1. Get toothbrush out of drawer
2. Get toothpaste out of drawer
3. Unscrew cap on the toothpaste
4. Squeeze the toothpaste tube onto the toothbrush
5. Raise arm to mouth
6. Brush teeth from side to side and top to bottom
7. Spit when your mouth becomes full of bubbles
8. Rinse out your mouth
9. Rinse off your toothbrush
10. Put items back in the drawer
image by: HuffingtonPost.com
We do the same thing on:
1. Our Drive to Work
2. Which shoe we put on first
3. If you put on your makeup first or fix your hair first
4. Do you listen to music in the car, a podcast, or like silence
ALL of these things are HABITS.
So... in our house (after listening to this book) we decided we were going to implement some new habits for the new school year, like better bedtimes, 3 nights together at dinner, and... the BIG ONE is we were going to make the boys start making their beds before going to school each day.
I have most always been a bed maker... and I can tell you now that I understand more about the brain, that there REALLY IS something about having a MADE BED that sends endorphins that signal accomplishment, goal setting, self respect, appreciation for one's space..... and there is just something about getting into a MADE BED that makes it feel just a little better than climbing into one that you have to dig the covers up from the foot or find your pillow that landed in the floor. Changing 1 small habit can activate new stimulus in the Basal Ganglia of the Temporal Lobe that can alter the brain's habit looping system just enough to make room for other habit changes.
Neither one of these beds are gonna win any prizes in bed-making...
but hey, it's a start! And 10 days later..... I can slowly see some new habits forming. I didn't even have to remind Brady this morning to make his bed.
He did it right after he put his clothes on....
just the same as we'd been doing it the other 9 days.
NOW... I'm not going to kid myself and think
that if I wasn't here to check up on the Bed-Making 101 Project
that either of these boys would still do it... but 10 days in...
I'm elated with the progress!
HOW does this affect ADDICTION?
All addictions are habits... granted, some are much worse than others, but they are habits none the same. One side of my family has been cursed with a looooooong line of addiction and I have always been fascinated as to how it works, particularly along genetic lines.
BRAND NEW RESEARCH from Duke University has found very promising evidence isolating brain activity in BAD HABITS. Research on lab mice has located a very specific gene in the Basal Ganglia called FSI cells that are activated during BAD HABITS. These cells make up only a tiny fraction, in fact, only 1% of the neurons in the striatum contain these FSI cells. HOWEVER, when laboratory mice were given a very specific drug that deactivated the FSI cells.... the BAD HABIT brain sequence no longer performed its loop. This is an incredible new discovery for those suffering from addiction and one that could possibly change the lives of thousands of people across the globe.
image by: positivepsychologyprogram.com
So...start today and try changing your negative habit sequences, or better yet.... work on creating some new ones like going to bed 30 minutes sooner, having dinner with your family, or starting a daily practice of GRATITUDE.
All you have to do it simply begin! One of my favorite quotes ever is by
Mark Twain, which says, "The secret to getting ahead, is GETTING STARTED."
Disclaimer upfront.... This post uses the word sh%t.....
so if that offends you then come back next week.
However, please note that I am not cussing AT anyone,
merely using the term in reference to unhappy situations
and how to DEAL with them.
The slang dictionary definition for Sh%t Sandwich is: Something highly undesirable made triflingly more palatable by attempting to surround it with more tolerable things.
image from dreamtime.com
WELL.... I can tell you this week has been a sh%t sandwich week for me.
And I have had numerous phone calls from friends and clients in the same boat....
which got me to thinking.....
"There has got to be a better way of dealing with this than the one I am using!"
So... I started reading through my Psychology books
and looking for the best ways to deal with less than pleasant situations....
and I can tell you that most of what I found was VERY VERY text book info.
and totally NOT helpful to everyday life.
Except for the part about Rumination.
According to an article in Clinical Psychology Review, February 2011
Rumination is the tendency to dwell on and replay a situation over in your mind, and is a high risk factor for depressive thoughts and impaired disengagment!
WOW!!!! That's exactly what I've been doing all week long.
that same negative situation in my mind
at least 50 times this week!
image from fuerahilos.com
So.... just to be blatantly honest....
I have ruminated (yes....negatively) ALL week
over something that happened on Sunday.
(Someone who I do not even know, and has never so much as spoken a single word to me,
doesn't know my name or anything about me, unleashed their WRATH on me in my own front yard.)
My 1st instinct was to lash out right back....
and if you know me... you know...
that I may be a little person... but I am a mean Tasmanian devil
when it comes to defending myself and my people....
However, I chose instead to remain silent and try my hardest
to find some form of a high road...
Knowing that Hurting people HURT people....
and forcing myself to acknowledge that this situation
cannot really be about me
and holds a much deeper issue for another.
PS... it doesn't make it hurt my feelings any less!
AND.....I cannot for the life of me...
"Let it go".... and I KNOW BETTER!
I've tried all my neuroscience tricks,
I've even written a letter to this person
(not to send...just to get all my feelings off my chest)....
and it just won't go away!
So.... I started reading and reading and reading
in both neuroscience and cognitive Psychology books....
until I saw the Sh%t Sandwich theory.....
developed by Mark Manson
That's just what I needed!
image from dreamtime.com
If you've lived longer than a couple of decades....
you realize that anything GREAT
comes with some form of a Sh%T sandwich along the way.
ALL the things we LOVE have drawbacks from time to time:
1. Raising children
2. Having an organized, clean home
3. A happy marriage
4. A successful career
5. Healthy eating habits
6. A regular exercise program
7. Aging Parents
etc. etc. etc.
This theory simply helps you realize that fact...
And requires you to ask yourself 1 BIG question:
What do you love enough to take a sh%t sandwich for?
This is a wonderful interview but is a little long if you don't have time.
You can skip over to about minute 13:00 to get to the sh%t sandwich part.
WOW!!!.... so today as I sit here and write this post....
I've had a new epiphany about this particular sh%t sandwich....
YES, IT IS ...something I love enough to tolerate unjust wrath,
an occasion sneer and unkind look....
or whatever second sandwich you throw my way....
because I now have NEWfound control of my own thoughts
in a way I'd totally lost ALL week....
I had completely let someone else's anger steal my joy.......
so NO.... you won't be getting any more of my HaPpY
because I'm owning this sandwich
and NOW willing to down the 1st bite!
Next time you find yourself in a situation where
someone or something has stolen your HaPpY....
ask yourself that question......
Is this worth taking a Sh%t Sandwich for?
Sometimes the answer is NO.... but sometimes it's YES....
so just bite that sucker and move on down the road kicking rocks!
I was working in my office this morning....
hanging my NEW DIPLOMA and rearranging old files....
when it dawned on me it was Thursday!
Since we got home from vacation
I have been off on my days
and just can't seem to get it together this week.
So.... I decided to just go with it...
NOT stress about being super scientific
and enjoy the LAST week
of my sweet (almost 5th grade) boy
being home for the final days of summer.
If I hadn't already done this once before....
(since my oldest son is almost 29)....
my heart might very well be in a totally different place.
BUT... God has given me the unique blessing of being a mom to
two generations of children.
Very easily my 1st son could be my little son's father.
And.... because of this, I do know how quickly
these precious days pass and how
dearly a mother longs for them
once they are gone.
So.... today I decided to just STOP
and not get frustrated that I didn't
have anything earth shattering prepared....
and focus on "The Little Things" for which
I am DEEPLY GRATEFUL!
And... as I sit here in my office,
I can hear the rumbles and giggles
coming from across the hall
as a room full of almost 5th grade boys
make a HAMSTER adventure video,
eat their 3rd pizza,
drink and SPILL countless glasses of tea,
create a bedroom full of blanket forts,
and dump almost every lego we've ever owned in the floor
..... I have to STOP and smile.
Because.... I do know for sure...
that it's these "Little Things"
that I missed the most
when my big kids grew up.
You turn around one day and realize
NOBODY is asking you to wash their uniform
for tomorrows game, or saying...
"MOM can you help me with my homework?"
No more hungry teenagers home from football practice
eating up my kitchen and
smelling to high heaven
as they sat their sweaty bodies on my couch.
No room full of giggling girls,
make-up all over the bathroom counter
or loud music shaking the walls.
It was these days of being NEEDED
by my children that I missed the MOST.
So... today we are just gonna play Monopoly
and eat lots of bad food.
Ride skateboards, bicycles and scooters
in clothes that don't match and...
be truly GRATEFUL
for every single minute of "Little Boy" that I have left.
One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Robert Emmons,
the world's leading expert in GRATITUDE, is.....
"Gratitude is a way of seeing that alters your GAZE."
We are on vacation this week and I can tell you that this quote has literally come to life as I've watched Brady experience things he's never seen or done before.
Genuine GRATITUDE (especially through a child's experience)
is something to truly treasure.
It caused me to also STOP
and look at things I'd seen many times before
with a FRESH Perspective and new pair of glasses.......
Brady's example during the 1st day of the trip pushed me
to also put on my GRATITUDE glasses
as we experience our vacation.
If I've heard the word "MOM look" once,
I've heard it no less than 500 times in the last few days....
IT's sooooooo easy to get annoyed
with all the questions and millions of comments....
until you take a moment to grasp
that this excitement and genuine wonder
is coming from a place we often lose as adults.
To see the Grand Canyon as a canyon or mountain range
does NOT due it justice....
but to see it from a 10 year old's perspective
left my heart with bubbles!
From that moment forward....
I have tried to experience each step of our trip
through the GRATEFUL eyes of a 10 year old....
one who sees things with AWE
(in his grateful glasses).
AND. I giggle to myself as I hear.....
"MOM, are you looking at this?"
"MOM, how high do you think we are?"
"MOM, have you ever seen anything like this?"
"MOM, out of all the places in the world,
why do you think this happened right here?"
"MOM, are we gonna get struck by lightening up here if it rains?"
"MOM, would you just look at this!"
"MOM, can you try to paint this."
"MOM, just look at all these colors!"
Thank you Brady.... for teaching me
that GRATITUDE is so much more than just being grateful...
It's also experiencing your life with a thankful AWE.....
IT's realizing... when you look at things with a FRESH perspective
you see them in a WHOLE NEW WAY!
Mountains become magical
Clouds become mysterious
Trees become monsterous
and Rocks become magnificent!
So.... when our 10+ mile trail ride
in the Tonto National Forest of Arizona .... (on horseback)
left me with tiny moments of fear and terror...
(I'm not a very experienced rider,
and I was on the side of a mountain
with my 10 year old on the horse in front of me)
I tried to channel my inner BRADY and see this moment
NOT OUT OF FEAR (of all that could happen)....
but rather from a place of MAGIC
for the moments we were experiencing NOW!
And when I got the million....
"MOM, do you see me?"
"MOM, are you proud of me?"
"MOM, I think I saw a bear."
"MOM, do you think we can drink that spring water?"
"MOM, isn't this awesome?"
"MOM, can you believe we did this?"
I just smiled and took a deep breath full of
10 year old GRATITUDE
and let the fear drift away
and let the excitement of a little boy
(who was experiencing this with AWE)....fill my soul.
So... I set off on my own journey
to experience something in a whole new way.....
and began to look at cactus...
NOT as a prickly bush that causes pain,
but rather a thing of beauty that has adapted itself
to live in a location with limited rain fall....
and WOW.... Brady's method worked...
when I began to wear my own GRATITUDE glasses,
I could see that I was missing out on so much.
We get so USED to the things in our life
that we no longer see their beauty.
This goes for our homes, our cars, our family,
our jobs and our pets.....
Could this be a new secret to GRATITUDE
that only children know?
Could I have learned something from a 10 year old
that hasn't been in a single book I've read in my entire Graduate studies?
So... as I watched Brady with a sick little pony
(who everyone thought would die any minute of colic)...
I saw him talk that little horse back to life.
I watched him tell that horse to
"JUST POOP and you'll feel better."
"You can do it, all you have to do is believe in yourself."
...and I knew that no book knew what Brady knew....
in the days that followed I saw that little horse
(who no one but Brady believed would live) come back to life....
and I saw his little face light up as he said
"MOM, I told her to be grateful she was alive!"
And.... as we left Arizona to head on to new adventures in New Mexico...
That little pony had "POOPED" and was up and eating!
AND.... even if she would have gotten well on her own...
to a little 10 year old boy,
having someone believe in you
and encourage you to find your own kind of GRATITUDE
worked for an animal just like it does for people!
So... as we head today to the White Sands of New Mexico....
I will be wearing my GRATITUDE glasses
and listening with my own kind of AWE
to the million questions and
million lessons about the beauty of life
from a precious 10 year old boy... named Brady!
Today's BLOG is a truthful self confession.
NOOOOOOOOO, I am NOT GRATEFUL all the time.
There I said it!!!
This past week, I had someone say to me,
"Wow Mrs. Grateful, I thought you never got upset!".....
WELL, the truth is YES I DO. Having a daily practice of GRATITUDE does not make me perfect any more than a daily practice of prayer leaves a life trouble free. A coach's kid can still drop the winning pass in the end zone, or strike out with bases loaded. The preacher's kid can still struggle with the same anxieties and peer pressures other teens face, a doctor's kid still gets sick, and the teacher's kid is not always the smartest student in the classroom.
The TRUTH is... NO ONE IS PERFECT!
We all have great moments and we all have moments when
we feel...less than perfect.....
BECAUSE WE ARE HUMAN!
So.... for all of the people out there who tell me,
" I just can't be grateful all the time.",
or "I'm not like you.... I still get mad sometimes.",
or "I'm just not feeling very grateful today."
Please know that's ok!
I'm not grateful every minute of the day either.
I still feel sad when people I love are hurting.
I still get mad sometimes too... and YES, there are people in the world that I truly just DO NOT LIKE and I choose to remove myself from their presence in order to keep my emotions where I WANT THEM to be.
BUT... that's ok.
And... yes, there are some days
when I don't feel that grateful either.
I still get my feelings hurt,
and sometimes people are rude to me
and yes, it does still sting a little. AND ...
NO, I'm not instantly grateful in the midst of heartache......
BUT I do recognize it quicker, and know that in order to change these negative feelings my brain is looping through, IT IS UP TO ME TO ALTER what I am thinking about!
Just this week alone, I've had:
1. Someone I care about disappoint me emensly.
2. Want something that I've really prayed for, and it just didn't work out.
3. Not been able to do something correctly even though I tried my very best.
4. Been extremely sad over my inability to FIX another's problems.
5. Miss a friend I rarely get to see anymore.
6. Been turned down for something I KNOW I would be great at.
And... yes, in the instant I was faced with these setbacks, it hurt.
A daily practice of GRATITUDE is not about burying your head in the sand and PRETENDING nothing bad ever happens. It is about realizing in the midst of the struggle, you have an opportunity to take a second look at what you consider to be the problem. Ask your self ..... is this "fixable" and use your brain to start thinking of solutions rather than telling every single person you know about the PROBLEM.
(This only makes the brain loop of that problem deeper and more profound)
Because..... truthfully, we ALL have problems and setbacks, and if you learn to change your focus to The THINGS you HAVE rather than The THINGS you think you've LOST.... your life will drastically change.
Yesterday, my heart was heavy and my eyes were filled with tears as my beautiful, precious daughter drove from Dallas to go with me to the vet to put the world's greatest dog to sleep. My children have loved this big old dog like a family member. Brook got him from the pound
with her Christmas money back in 2005
and he has loved us through the hardest moments of our life.
"Bear" rode in the back seat of my old GrandAm
back and forth to Snyder....
(at least a million times) to watch Brent play baseball...
taking up the entire backseat,
with his head out one window
and his tail out the other.
He is the very essence of man's best friend.
All he ever wants is a pat on the head, a rub behind the ears and an occasional treat. But.... he's really old now (especially for a big dog), and I can't fix him.
His back legs are crippled and I have to help pick
his 130lb frame up by the tail
every time he goes outside.
He sleeps about 23 out of 24 hours each day
and has started to whimper
while he lays at my feet in the kitchen.
And NO... I'm NOT grateful for any of this!!!!!
Brooklyn and I were prepared to say goodby.... we tried hard to think about all the precious memories we've had with this incredible dog, but tears rolled down our cheeks. As the vet examined him, he said, "Yes, he is hurting and NO, I don't have anything that will heal his crippled old legs. His body is big and heavy and his legs just aren't strong enough to hold him the way they used to. BUT..... I can see he still loves you guys and still enjoys being in your presence, and at this point I would say that even though he is hurting, his quality of life outweighs his pain level. AND... I do have some medicine that can alleviate some of that for you." That's all we needed!!! So, we got ourselves some new medicine, the biggest chew bone we could find, and 2 little short girls worked our butts off to get this old fella loaded back in the car and we headed HOME!
SO... this old dog came home to a mani/pedi spa treatment to celebrate the magical moments we STILL have together.
PS... I will NOT be going into the dog grooming business any time some! He looks like your grandma cut your hair while your mom was out of town. haha oops..... but hey, he's gotta be a little cooler.
AND.... this is NOT the real "BEAR".... this is the hair I cut off of him to make a fake "wig" Bear.... sometimes the creative in me pops out at the most awkward times!
Yes... I know our time with "BEAR" is limited. AND... No, I am NOT grateful for that. BUT.... I do know that my brain energy FLOWS where my attention GOES, and I am going to cherish the moments I have left. From all my research I can tell you the greatest lesson I have learned is when we focus our attention on what we DO NOT HAVE rather than what WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN, our life follows that same direction. So, No.... I'm NOT always grateful instantly, but boy do I work hard to change my thinking quickly. We can all sit and dwell on the people who don't like us, or the one's who won't change, or the car we can't afford, or the opportunity we didn't get....
OR we can focus on the people who love us instead of those who don't, the changes WE CAN MAKE for our own lives rather than all the OTHERs who won't do what we want. We can focus on the fact we do have a car to drive and are not WALKING in this summer heat rather than dwelling on the one that isn't yet within our budget, and we can believe that the opportunity we THOUGHT was ours, yet was given to someone else, is merely a small step compared to the one that's coming our way!
Where your focus goes..... your energy FLOWs.
The word GRATITUDE comes from the Latin word "gratus"
which is also the exact same root of the word GRACE...
"gratus" means pleasing or thankful... but when looking specifically at the word grace,
it also refers to having: favor, regard, generosity or goodwill.
WOW.... after three years of studying gratitude, and I just read this!
So... what does this mean to the average person?
It means... GRATITUDE (in it's most genuine form) offers a special GRACE
or favor, regard, generosity and goodwill
that is not always available to the same degree without it.
According to an article in Harvard Health, gratitude is strongly AND consistently associated with greater levels of happiness. Research has spent thousands of hours combing through the data in its quest to understand exactly why. Yet, over and over again, genuinely grateful people (from all walks of life) rank as the happiest people. What is gratitude doing to the brain that causes such a behavior shift?
image by psypost.org
This is where the term GRACE comes into play with GRATITUDE. The original meaning of GRACE has to do with favor and kindness GIVEN to another. It is considered an ACTION word.... and gratitude (in the scientific sense) is too. In order for GRATITUDE to have beneficial effects within the brain, it must be FELT. There has to be a purposeful recognition of WHAT you are grateful for....and.... an affirmation that the gift has been given to you from a source outside yourself. Sounds just like GRACE!
In my lifetime I can tell you I have learned more about the GIFT of GRACE from my mother than from any other place. She is the essence of offering favor, generosity and goodwill with NO thought of what she would receive from her gift. Over the years I have made countless mistakes, do-overs, changing of paths, and had multitudes of unexpected road blocks... yet, there has been one place I knew GRACE would always be consistent "My Momma".
Webster says - Grace is something given that you did not ask for or feel you deserve.
So... for all of you mothers out there who feel you DON'T:
1. make enough money
2. give your child enough opportunities
3. look the way you want
4. exercise enough
5. plan every meal ahead of time and have 3 squares a day
6. have a home that looks like Better HOMEs and Garden
7. provide healthy snacks after school
8. plan the perfect gifts months ahead of time
9. go on yearly trips to exotic locations
10. show your children a perfect "Leave it to BEAVER" example of marriage
THEN.... forgive yourself
LET IT GO
and realize that no matter how old you get....
a MOTHER's grace is the greatest GIFT you can offer.
Over the last 6 months I have heard from many, many mothers... and most of them wanting to learn how to "feel" grateful when they believe they have not been their best for their children. I can tell you NONE of us have. The social media world has made this "feel bad about yourself" syndrome drastically worse! However, no matter how much we KNOW IT... we seem to think everyone else's life looks great and ours never seems to match up. BUT... please realize that people are not posting REAL life. They are posting a "snapshot" of their BEST life in a series of photos. So... start today and give yourself the GRACE you need to be proud of who your are RIGHT NOW. When you know better do better! Look in the mirror and be kind to the skin you're living in. Know that you did the best with what you had and make a genuine effort from this point forward to look at life through the lens of GRATITUDE. Say thank you for the opportunity to show GRACE to the people in your life, and become a living example of graceful gratitude.
Today's BLOG is a life changing SECRET I learned by accident
on the road to REBUILDing my shaken soul...
and I thought it might be helpful for someone out there
who has also felt "Not good enough".
I have learned from Neuroscience
that our thoughts are like the "software"
that run the "hardware" of our brains.
People often consider the Mind and the Brain to be one in the same....
when in fact THEY ARE NOT!
This is an over simplified way to explain it... but if you think of your MIND as your (thoughts or a lightbulb) and the BRAIN as the (physical anatomy) or the THE ACTUAL GOOEY BRAIN
then you can better understand how I used them both to heal my own broken thoughts.
My daughter made a comment to me a while back
and it has really stuck with me.... she said
"Mom, I'm so proud that even after 50 you still find ways to have 1sts in your LIFE." WOW... I hadn't realized I was doing that until she mentioned it, but I had.
AND now that I see it, I'd love to pass this little secret on
to those of you who may have also felt like SECONDS.
For many people out there (like myself) who this is NOT your 1st go round at love, children, homes, jobs, marriage....etc. it's hard to keep the same level of excitement and giddy emotions you felt when it genuinely was your 1st. AND... more importantly.... it's extremely hard to "move on" without carrying the baggage in your mind (the lightbulb) of being "Not good enough" the 1st time. Whether you feel as though the fault was your own or someone else's.... the fact remains.... it's up to you to gather your pieces and learn to move on with grace and gratitude. It's a little like a car wreck... It doesn't really matter where the fault lies.... the truth is you've been in a wreck and there are broken parts that MUST be fixed in order to get back on the road!
images by carbuyingtips.com and from carfromjapan.com
So... during my recent trip to the beautiful mountains of Bozeman, Montana,
Butch and I made a purposeful decision to create as many 1sts
(granted some of them were silly) as humanly possible.
Clearly... this is neither one of our 1st marriages, in fact it's not even my 2nd,
so we had to work a little EXTRA to make memories
that belonged as "OUR FIRSTS" !
We used our thoughts (the lightbulb) to make our brain (the anatomy)
work the way we wanted it to.
This one was easy... because it really was our 1st... but we stopped and asked someone to take our picture so we could keep this memory as truly OURS... and as we sat and watched the geyser erupt we both observed nature's beauty with a renewed type of AWE at experiencing something together for the 1st time.
Sometimes you have to remind your (lightbulb) to work
so that your (anatomy-brain) can experience the benefits.
We see beauty every day and often don't even STOP long enough
for the memory to hold in the cortex of our brain,
or even to give it a second thought.
Now this one.... was a stretch. BUT... the laugher we experienced will forever be our 1st ! As we hiked up the mountain (which both of us had done before)... yes... NOT that exact mountain, but we knew what hiking was like.... so we purposely thought of ALL the things that we'd never done before (using our lightbulbs so we could have OUR own type of 1sts)
1. Taking BEAR spray on our hike. (I didn't even know that was a real thing)
2. Looking for all the wildflowers that were in our Cabin bouquet on the hillside.
3. Making it all the way to the TOP even though we were breathing like we needed oxygen tanks.
4. Dancing to our favorite song at the very TOP. (Thank you cell phone & Youtube)
5. Taking a nap in the wildflowers along the hillside.... EXCEPT I kinda freaked out that while we were sleeping we might get eaten by a BEAR .... so mostly this was just a silly 1st thought (and photo op)... but hey, it counted... I'd never worried about being eaten by a bear while napping before!
I know this may sound silly.... but there is research to back up the fact that neurotransmitters are releasing a special cocktail of chemicals (like dopamine and serotonin) in the brain when you are HAPPY (aka. endorphins) ... even if your happy is contrived and crazy... THE biochemical reaction in the brain is REAL.... so go ahead and make a silly 1st... the endorphins are the same!
We had to work a little on this one too, since we'd both seen a waterfall before and both stood next to one admiring it's beauty....BUT... We'd never asked a stranger in the car next to us to TAKE our picture beside the waterfall, who encouraged us to get a little closer.... not realizing I AM PETRIFIED of heights. So... this was the 1st time we'd stood together at a waterfall, entirely too close for my taste. And... the 1st time Butch had ever had someone grab his back in a "death grip clinch" while standing next to the waterfall... haha We do love this picture, and still laugh at what it took to get it.... most defiantly a 1st. (Thank you random man I will never see again.)
AND... now that I had my brave meter tested to the limit... I'd built my courage up... another 1st... so we stopped on the side of the road, took our shoes off and decided to walk through the river. Neither of us had done that before. AND... I had sure never climbed a pile of rocks to prove my new-found braveness was real.. haha You can see by the forced smile and the one hand clawing the side of the rock my braveness was fleeting. BUT... hey it was the 1st time I pretended to be BRAVE!
From gentle streams, to roaring rapids in the canyon...we stopped at every chance to spend the day at Yellowstone National Park creating our own 1sts.
Yes... many of them were contrived and crazy... but they were ours,
and I can tell you for sure... if you get a chance to have a 1st after age 50...
you should ALWAYS TAKE IT !
Montana is one of the most incredible places I have ever been in my life.
I can not begin to narrate with proper vocabulary
to expresses the profound awe
it felt to be a part of nature so untouched by human hands.
For me... it felt like we were walking with God,
in the simplicity of the original beauty that was 1st created.
If you have a Bucket-list... then you should for sure put Montana on it.
AND even more importantly... if this is NOT your 1st go round in life...
Start today building your own 1sts.
Use your own thoughts (lightbulb) to
experience the JOY of the chemicals released in your brain (the anatomy)
as you go through life knowing that someone's 2nds
can become their own type of 1st.
Release the sadness, anger, hurt, and blame you carry with you.
If you don't let go of the OLD... you don't have a hand left to grab the NEW!
Have you ever been heartbroken?
I mean shattered somewhere so deep within yourself ...
to the point you felt the life you planned was OVER.
I hope you haven't, but chances are if you're past the age of 30 then you have.
Once you've been hurt badly, it's easy to live on "Careful Corner"
just going through the motions and not investing too much of yourself into life.
Then... if something happens, you don't have your WHOLE heart on the line.
Or, you may even travel on occasion from Careful Corner to Bitter Boulevard, or as in my case to the very edge of Watchful Road.
The only problem with that however..... is while you're living in the house
YOU CHOSE to live in.... all safe and sound and on full alert for the next sign of pain... you've also boarded yourself in!
Neuroscience tells us that PAIN... whether it be physical or emotional registers in almost the exact same location in the brain. In fact, during the course of my degree, our professor had us read a book called SOCIAL by Dr. Matthew Lieberman. The book explains how our brains are wired to connect socially. AND when that social connection is broken (via pain) the signals to our brain are much the same as those you have if you break your leg. BUT.... the difference is.... it is socially acceptable for people to be kind and accommodating while you're healing in your cast. Yet, when we are hurting from a broken heart, others don't see your pain. Dr. Lieberman discusses in his book several research studies where people who were emotionally hurting were given Tylenol (the same as we would do with physical pain). The scientists then tested the patients' brains..... and the data showed that the pain relief was equally as helpful with emotional pain as it is for physical pain. I went back and read those studies several times and the research is astounding. Heartbreak is a REAL, measurable thing in the structure of our brain.
So... KNOWING that heartbreak is a real thing... leaves you with the choice of how you decide to move on from there. Will you remain in it for the rest of your life? Will you live on Careful Corner always keeping back some of yourself so as not to get hurt again? Will you live on Bitter Boulevard and blame others for the pain you live in, YEARS later living in anger and resentment for what could have been? Will you live on Watchful Road with your binoculars out searching for the "Red Flags" of sorrow coming your way? OR.... will you decide to throw it ALL IN and LIVE !!! Either way.... the choice is yours.... and your brain is responding to your subconscious choice.
When I remarried....AGAIN....
I had to let go of "what was" in order to build "what is"....
and together we decided to release our brains from past pain
and spend our "life after 50"
LIVING in fullness, JOY and complete GRATITUDE for the life we have NOW!
We are in the Magical Mountains of Montana this week on vacation,
and truly treasuring each and every experience the beauty of this state has to offer.
( I will write another entire post about Montana)
Yesterday we went on a hike in the hills and came across a FrEeZing cold creek.......
and while we were standing there in awe of the sounds it made,
saying OUTLOUD all the things we were grateful that our ears could hear....
Butch decides to do a BIG MAN jacuzzi cold plunge
in the 49 degree waters of Cottonwood Creek!
If you're gonna LIVE... then you might as well do it with ALL YOU'VE GOT!
We've all got 3 choices as to how we live our life:
1. In the PAST... which fills your brain with what could have been or what was... most always releasing neuronal chemicals that cause sadness and depressing thoughts.
2. In the FUTURE... which fills your brain with the Someday Syndrome... leaving happiness, joy and LIFE.... somewhere off in the distance. This releases signals in the our brain that usually create feelings of anxiety.
3. OR... you can live in the PRESENT moment.... making the decision that yes I might get hurt, I might hurt someone, and yes... it doesn't feel good.... BUT in the meantime, I am going to LIVE in the gratitude this MOMENT has given me and cherish all that it has to offer.
THE CHOICE IS YOURS!
Start right now... you don't have to be in the beauty of the Montana sky to be grateful. STOP where you are and take a look around. Be grateful for the eyes that allow you to see the smiles of the men and women in your office. Be grateful for the ears that hear the cars on the highway. And be grateful for the 2 legs that walked you into work this morning. If you still have air in your lungs.... then you have something to be grateful for!
Staci is a one-of-a-kind mix of JOY and Neuroscience who is teaching people all over the world to BUILD a BETTER BRAIN by using Gratitude to create a BRIGHTER future. She has a Master's Degree in Educational NEUROSCIENCE and 25 years of teaching experience where she developed a reputation for being able to uncover potential in others like no one else could. Let her teach you how to live a HAPPIER Life by using the neuroscience of GRATITUDE to rewire your brain and build a better future!