October 21, 2009

Five ways to improve your thinking

Brain researchers say growing old isn’t only a factor of a changed body, but of an unchanged mind. One of the healthiest things we can do for our brains is to liberate ourselves from the prison of traditional thought patterns, however comfortable they may seem. Here are five quick ideas for opening new pathways in your brain, gathered from the most current research on brain function and aging.

1) Whatever you normally do in a given situation, do just the opposite.
When the same irritating event repeats itself in life, resist your first impulse and consider the opposite reaction. We can invite a world of possibilities and solutions to old problems when we depart from habitual, automatic responses. Easier said than done, I know.

2) Change the channel.
If you think Glenn Beck holds a mirror on the world, tune in to National Public Radio for your news at least one day a week. Read the International Herald Tribune or another newspaper with a global perspective. Likewise, if you can’t tolerate Beck’s rhetoric, give yourself at least one weekly dose. A friend of ours was horrified to discover that my husband gets his news from the local newspaper. She saw nothing wrong with the fact that her main news channel was Glenn Beck. He couldn’t imagine how she could think Glenn Beck was a reputable source of news. See what I mean?

3) Change your routines.
If you sleep on the left side of your bed, reverse the pattern. If you have nailed a morning ritual that works for you, dare to change it. Move your furniture around—in your head and in your house, and see what happens.

4) Travel. 
Ever notice how your life sparkles after returning from a vacation? Changing your surroundings has an effect on the brain. Okay, maybe now isn’t the time to schedule that trip to Europe. But you can visit a new neighborhood. Try a new sport. Walk through a new neighborhood. Shop in a different grocery. Try a new recipe. Use your imagination. You’ll come up with something that constitutes traveling without going to the moon.

5) Practice suspending judgment.

All the great spiritual texts of the world address the problem we humans have with attachment. When you find yourself clinging to an opinion too dearly, know one thing: you don’t have to change who you are or what you believe to listen with understanding for a period of time. Try to listen to an opposing position without laying your personal veil on top. Appreciating people for who they truly are is a pleasurable experience. Resisting the reality of the world is a major cause of stress. The moment we judge how a person, a situation, or an issue ought to be, we can’t really appreciate what is. Life is just too short for that.

1 comment:

Patricia said...

Thanks for the posting Crystal. I really enjoyed it and I will try at least one of the suggestions. One at a time anyway!Patricia