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!
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!