Monday, February 24, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Mental Picturing, 1

The human brain thinks in pictures. A thought is really just an internal mental picture. Visualizing is another name for the process of forming pictures in your mind’s eye. Robert Collier put it this way: “Visualize this thing you want. See it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blueprint and begin.” You “see” what you want to accomplish in your mind’s eye. The subconscious mind doesn’t use language, per se, but it can follow the picture that the words create. Because the subconscious is much more powerful than the conscious mind, the subconscious pushes you toward your mental blueprint. It is important to see what you want to have happen and speak positively about it. That goes back to Dr. Daniel Wegner’s “White bear phenomenon.” If you say, “Don’t think about the white bear,” a representation of a white bear goes into working memory and you think about it even more. Never picture what you do not want and only see and speak positively about what you want to have happen. More tomorrow.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Self-talk, 3

You train your brain by your self-talk style: positively or negatively. It is important do use positive words because your words are converted into pictures that the subconscious can follow, since it doesn’t use language, per se. If you say, “Don’t touch the stove,” a picture of touching the stove pops up, and the brain may follow that picture. “Keep your hand away from the stove” is more likely to get the desired result  “Remember your homework,” is more effective than “Don’t forget your homework.” You’ve no doubt heard on TV or billboards,  “Don’t forget to vote.” “Remember to vote,” would likely be much more effective. Estimates are that most people grew up hearing 7-10 negative comments or instructions for every positive.  People’s brains are filled with negative-comment tapes. No wonder people keep repeating old negative patterns of behavior. The subconscious doesn’t seem to understand the word “no,” either. It wants a yes! So, use “yes” plus a qualifier. “Yes, you may have a healthier cookie after you finish lunch.” Just keep repeating that as many times as you need to for the brain to “get it” and stop asking for a sugary treat right now.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Self-talk, 2

Studies have shown that the brain responds better to a specific communication style. The formula: speak in short, present-tense sentences as if what you want to have happen is already a done deal. Your brain tends to get in gear to help you if it believes this is a “now happening,” and not something down the line in the future. Use your given name so your brain known who you are talking to. For example, “Joe, this presentation is going well. You are remembering what you need to say.” Or, “Janice, you are drinking a glass of water before each meal.” If you say, “Janice, you are going to drink a glass of water before each meal,” the brain recognizes that as future tense and is likely to think:  “That is then and this is now. When then is now—if you still want to develop that habit—I will help you. Based on past experience, however, by the time you then becomes now you’ll likely have forgotten all about this. Just imagine all the time and energy, I, your brain, will have saved.” You are the only one who can program your brain positively for success. What are you waiting for? Time is passing. Embrace a new self-talk communication style. Consistently choose to think and speak affirmingly to help you be successful in living a high-level-healthiness lifestyle and age-proof your brain. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Self-talk, 1

What is self-talk? Simply what you tell yourself silently or aloud. Studies suggest that most people talk to themselves internally almost continually every waking moment. What self-talk style is your habit? Are you using positive can-do statements or negative failure statements? Are you imagining the worst in life or the best? The subconscious mind that includes your entire body and 80 percent of your brain is very powerful—more powerful than your conscious mind. The subconscious is also highly receptive to simple, positive statements (often referred to as affirmations), so use that information to your advantage. Program your subconscious with positive self-talk. That doesn’t mean you pretend that bad things never happen. It does mean you address the issue and then speak affirmingly—to yourself and to others. Affirmation is not a magic wand for unrealistic expectations. For example, if you are 5 feet tall, saying, “You are 6 feet tall” will just make your brain chuckle and think “dream on or buy stilts!” More tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Mindset, 2

Every thought you think is a health-relevant event that moves you toward or away from high-level-healthiness living; toward or away from health; toward or away from happiness and life satisfaction; toward or away from potential longevity. A negative mindset can drain your energy, decrease self-esteem levels, increase anxiety and depression, suppress immune system function, and trigger the release of stress hormones that can adversely impact your brain and body over time. Although thoughts do drive behaviors, thoughts are still just thoughts and you have the power to change them if you choose to do so. Jon Gordon wrote about it in his book Become an Energy Addict: “Think positively about the day ahead and you increase your mental and physical energy.” When you identify a negative thought, choose to change it into a positive one. Look for the silver lining in every situation  because there is one, just like the rainbow after the rain. You cannot prevent everything you would like to avoid, but you can choose how you respond to that event and how you manage it. Go for a growth mindset!

Monday, February 17, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Mindset, 1

Everything begins in the brain—with a thought. This is not “new news,” however. Marcus Antonius has been quoted as saying “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” That goes for your health, wellbeing, and potential lifespan, as well. In her book, Mindset, Carol S. Dweck, PhD, explains that people with a fixed mindset believe that who they are is basically carved in stone. Thus, they tend to interpret failure as the lack of necessary basic abilities, feel worthless, unlucky, often hopeless and helpless, and often give up. Those with a growth mindset believe that they can acquire almost any needed skill provided they invest effort and study. Even though they face challenges, growth-mindset people refrain from putting themselves down or   throwing in the proverbial towel. They just keep on building their skills and practicing. Having a growth mindset tells you that you can develop your skills—it’s still up to you whether you want to do that. It can help you live a less stressful and more successful life. Most children are already developing a growth or a fixed mindset by the ages of four to six. Do you have a fixed or a growth mindset? Think about it. If you have a fixed mindset, you can change it. If you have a growth mindset, that can help you implement strategies to age-proof your brain. More tomorrow.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Perspective, 2

Dump Gerontophobia: the fear of aging and of losing your brain functions, including loss of memory. Identify and examine your perspectives about brain function and getting older. Embrace: Growing older is part of the cycle of life and there are benefits at every stage—the best is yet to be. Think: Living is a privilege and I am fortunate to be doing so, especially since many are denied the opportunity. Do you see the glass of your life half empty or full to overflowing? Speaking of the glass half empty, in their book The Art of Possibility, authors Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander wrote: Those who say the glass is half empty are dealing with a mental abstraction of emptiness and lack. The optimist is describing a measure of physical reality, a substance that is actually in the glass. And since today is Valentine’s Day, there is no better time to take a look as the perspectives you have absorbed since early childhood about aging and the brain. There is no better gift you can give to yourself and to those who love you than this: Get busy age-proofing your brain!

(For more information see “Age-Proofing Your Brain” by Taylor and Briggs.)