ever have a bad brain day?

I was reminded today of something from my children’s early education days.

if-it-feels-yucky

That was fine when my kids were developing a sense of how to behave around other kids and caring teachers were asking them to give language to their feelings. However, as adults that’s not nearly enough of a “gut check” on the huge amount of messages coming our way all day, every day.  Our bodies give us so much information…heart rate, muscle pain, hunger, thirst, fatigue, shaking hands, sweating and so much more.  I know at least for me, the more I notice, well, the more I notice. 

And once you notice, you can’t NOT NOTICE.

Terribly well written, I know.  If we were talking in person that might make way more sense to you.  OK, I’ll try a little harder…

On one hand it’s a good quick question to keep in mind?  Does this feel “yucky” to me? However, yucky alone requires deeper exploration as grown-ups.  Is my body trying to tell me something my mind wants to override or disregard?

brain its the way it is lillibridge          bad-brain-day-lillibridge

My mind wants to override messages the rest of my system is sending constantly.

Sometimes I have to tell my brain to step out of the room.  Because it says some utterly crazy bullshit sometimes.  I’ve had a quickening heart rate in a situation recently and I took notice.  When I listened, I realized that what was required of me was courage, not medical attention.  I know I’ll tell my body to leave me the hell alone and let my brain take the wheel again, but now that I’ve noticed…well, you know, I can’t NOT NOTICE.

Positive Psychology teacher/author, Tal Ben-Shahar teaches that sometimes we’re having a “bad brain” day.  It’s simply offline.  Makes sense, right?  Just like having a bad: hair, back, skin, belly, knee, wrist, neck etc. day—we should gives ourselves permission to recognize that we can indeed have a bad brain day.  It’s just sending some false data today and if that’s the case, listening to our bodies instead can be the balance our system requires.

If I want to improve my listening skills with other people, I have to at least try to give myself the same courtesy every once in a while.  That means I have to listen more.  Talk less.  It’s 1:24 am and my body is telling me it’s time for bed.  Goodnight folks.

Why we need to question everything

This form of psychological abuse typically plays out like so: The gaslighter states something false with such intensity and conviction that whoever is on the receiving end is confused and begins to doubt their own perspective.

The term comes from a 1938 play called Gaslight, in which a husband drives his wife crazy by secretly altering things in her house and making her question her grip on reality.

the power of 5%.

I was reminded this morning of how I can be an ALL or NOTHING sort of person in my proclamations.  I LOVE CHANGE.  I love change so much more than the rest of my family and it drives them totally bonkers.  EXAMPLE:  If I could flip the rooms where the kitchen and the living room are I would do that.  I have to satisfy that part of my nature somehow and it’s abundantly clear that I must largely do it on my own. No public proclamations…or at least a helluva lot fewer of them.

I can be a little unrealistic: I WILL NO LONGER eat potato chips, drink beer, read news, use FACEBOOK, watch TV, eat meat or sugar, drive when I can walk, be critical of my kids or my husband, spend money on X…blah, blah, blah.

Thankfully, over the course of the positive psychology program I took through the Wholebeing Institute. I was taught something quite valuable and rather easy to incorporate into my daily life.  The simple trick of five percent.

I can improve 5% of damn near anything in my life…

then I can build on that incremental change.

I will try to exercise 5% more.  I will try to spend 5% less. I will try to eat 5% less sugar.  I will try to watch 5% less TV.  I will try to eat 5% fewer potato chips.  I will try to drink 5% less.  (NOTE:  I’ve discovered a great trick.  My beers are now 1/2 club soda and 1/2 beer.  Bartenders aren’t crazy about this order.  Who cares? It’s half the calories, half the alcohol and it’s much better for staying hydrated.)

SO, the next time you notice something you would like to improve in your life— think about a relatively painless 5% shift and just do it.

This might be all you need to get started on a desired new path.

Good luck!  Let me know what works for you.

Being my own best friend…

and modeling that for my children is really important to me.  I find this concept to be really crucial in my adult development.  I didn’t really understand this until I was entering middle-age. As an introvert, I’ve always loved my time alone.  However, the concept of really being my own best friend took years to fully integrate.  Thankfully, Lisa and I finally have this all pretty well figured out now…even though she can be a total pain in the ass sometimes.  I love her in spite of her flaws.

self love definedmy own best friend lillibridge

My Positive Psychology teacher Tal Ben-Shahar frequently reiterates that we have to give ourselves “permission to be human”.  This doesn’t mean that we have to accept every one of our behaviors as—”oh well, that’s me” and not even try to self correct.  It does mean however, that when we screw up, we can take notice, mend the damage, alter our behavior, move on and try to do it a little bit differently next time.

As our own BFF we have to encourage ourselves just as we would encourage a friend who is going through some of life’s trials.

own best friend lillibridge dakota

 

I would love to cut short some of these challenging years for my three children.  The hard years when we often aren’t so kind to ourselves…teens and early twenties.  I guess some lessons are like learning to walk before we crawl though. We simply can’t shortchange the steps.

Some of our growth requires more years of life’s joys and sorrows coupled with the experience and wisdom that follows. Regardless, I believe we can start talking to our children at a very young age about being their own best friend, enjoying their own company and knocking back negative self talk.

 

 

an experiment in leather

I have increasingly become inspired by usable art.  I have a lot of leather scrap at my studio and I’ve made bags, jewelry and clothes, but I’ve never experimented with housewares.  This was basically a sketch of what I would like to create.

A word of caution: if you are going to “bake or cure” your leather you want to do so when no one is around and the windows can be open.  It smelled pretty funky, however by baking it in the oven when it was damp it did somewhat achieve what I hoped it would do.  The piece held the shape I intended.  This leather was too floppy though.  I have to work with leather that has more structure.  I will be doing more of this in the near future. I’m always in favor of some experimentation.

“Learn to fail or fail to learn.” —Tal Ben-Shahar.

IMG_7686 IMG_7687 IMG_7688 IMG_7689 IMG_7691

IMG_7723

growth mindset vs. fixed mindset

brain changes carol dweck lisa lillibridge

When I read through these traits I was struck by a few things.

1. I’m so grateful to know that a fixed mindset doesn’t have to remain FIXED.  Think about it?  FIXED means unchangeable.  WHO POSSIBLY WANTS TO HAVE A BRAIN THAT IS UNCHANGEABLE?

2. I get really tired of people throwing up their hands and saying, “that’s just the way I am, the way I learn, talk and so on…so get used to it”.  No. I won’t, because it’s untrue.  However, this statement is—we have to believe that change is possible or real growth is way less likely to occur.

Neuroplasticity allows our brains to create new pathways by doing things differently.  It isn’t simple, I understand. However, the good news is that meaningful change in our lives is BOTH very difficult AND very possible.  One of the growth mindset traits: sees effort as necessary.

“Neuroplasticity refers to the potential that the brain has to reorganize by creating new neural pathways to adapt, as it needs.”    —http://www.whatisneuroplasticity.com/

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT NEUROPLASTICITY

“The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile”

― Tal Ben-Shahar

(Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment)

It’s so necessary to feed our brains novel experiences, thoughts and ideas for growth and it sure makes life a helluva lot more interesting.  Don’t you think?

Try something new today.  Your brain will thank you.

I spent last week…

at Kripalu in Lenox, Massachusetts studying Positive Psychology.   The program is an online course through the Wholebeing Institute.  There is a lot of helpful information on their site. I fell in love with the remarkable students from all over the world enrolled in this program (especially my small group and roommate).  I don’t quite even have words to describe the instructors and support staff…it will come to me eventually.  I’m truly grateful for the privilege of studying this material and being able to share what I’m learning with my family and friends.

Psychology has always been a passion of mine, however, I wasn’t quite ready to commit to finishing my graduate work (I have nine hours from the University of South Dakota—go Coyotes) and this program came on my radar.  To spend a week with people studying gratitude, authenticity, values, happiness, active listening and love was amazing. (There is a huge body of evidence supporting how much gratitude changes your brain chemistry and increases you happiness).  I thought my photos might actually tell more of a story about my experience than words.  Kripalu is a remarkably peaceful place in the Berkshire Mountains of Western, Massachusetts.  I can’t wait to go back in September.

Here’s the link Kripalu.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA