Angst or Awe? 21 – 30 of 50 Anxiety-Free Power Tools

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It is estimated that 1 in 3 of us lives with depression, panic, fear, or debilitating anxiety that offers no apparent exit strategy. The series first blog includes the first 10 anxiety-buster tools and is followed by the second blog with tools 11 – 20 with post 3 below, of our anxiety-free series of five blogs offer proven exit tools for our personal escape to decrease anxiety in tough times, such as a pandemic!

Tools 21 – 30 above are included in this blog

Find the first 10 tools in previous blog, the second post at tools 11 – 20 in this blog, and in this third post find tools 21-30 in this blog. Try out any one of these practical suggestions that relate to personal anxiety triggers and our brain’s enormous capability to rewire and sustain mental and emotional health. Why allow anxiety to become our sucker punch to our gut day after day? Together, let’s step away from anxiety disorders and through these practical strategies let’s inspire others to do the same.

Tool 21 below, shows how the brain rewires nightly based on specific actions we do each day. Let’s say we risk speaking out kindly but firmly in a situation that hurts our feelings. That night as we sleep in REM our brains literally rewire neural connections to give us new courage to speak up kindly and feel heard. Rewiring is based on prior day’s actions and it leaves the brain better prepared to do more of those same actions going forward.

COFFEE CONSIDERATION 21: We typically find it impossible to fix tired, broken systems that work against us emotionally and mentally. When we rewire our brains however, we set the stage to create a finer model so that the old one becomes obsolete. One day we may be wired to wake up to cold rainy weather, ready to light a fire, get cozy and listen to raindrops hit the roof. On another occasion we awaken to a similar dark dreary day, and just want to crawl under the covers until the sun comes out again. We are wired to see things differently, and when bleak moods impact our frontal cortex where we make vital decisions, we fail to see options or choose well.

Brains work hardest when we are deep in REM, and out of the way

Since we’re less likely to make good choices that rewire our brains on a moody day, we are wise to wire up well before we see more problems than possibilities. On a day we wake up on the wrong side of life, our frontal cortex could well be wired against us, and our brains are likely not in position to rewire to help us avoid fires such as debilitating anxiety. Nor will we be prepared chemically and electrically to stop and enjoy experiences such as rain tapping on the roof. Mental health requires intermittent attention long before we break and slip over cliffs into depression, where a rainy day only darkens our moods to face it. Rewiring works best when we are up to building wellbeing and open to new ideas such as exchanging a mental filter or two as part of our regular rewiring practices.

Let’s say we risk speaking out kindly but firmly in a situation that hurts our feelings. That night as we sleep in REM our brains literally rewire neural connections to give us new courage to speak up kindly and feel heard. Rewiring is based on prior day’s actions and it leave the brain better prepared to do more of those same actions. Action equals mental growth away from anxiety and toward emotional health. Sadly, our actions work against us too however. Say we worry all day that we will fall short financially. You likely know what’s coming here. Yes, we will rewire for more focus on financial fears as we sleep in REM that night. Do this daily and we are likely headed toward a financial fear disorder like a hay wagon headed down a steep hill with no driver. Our brain digs in and rewires against us and blocks our emotional ability to handle money well.

So if how we think and act determines whether we will stall mentally in a broken system or rewire our emotional IQ to increase our ability to stay calm and cope well, what inspires us into action.

It starts by shoring up our emotional or intrapersonal IQ. Score ten intrapersonal items below to see your intrapersonal score. Scores from 8 to 10 rock very healthy IQ in the intrapersonal or emotional areas. Bravo!

A higher intrapersonal IQ score indicates we are likely equipped to roll forward, in spite of setbacks such as stress that pulls others down. Lower intrapersonal IQ, in contrast, sticks us in ruts and stalls our well-being in tired routines, unless we rewire those weaker areas.

Reflection after Tool 21 use: Either way we can win to overcome anxiety and enjoy emotional health!

Complete the survey below to rewire our A responses and celebrate our B responses:

1. a). Lower intrapersonal IQ – we need to be liked by all to be content.

1. b). Higher intrapersonal IQ – we retain contentment in spite of dislike by some.

2. a). Lower intrapersonal IQ –  we feel unworthy whenever we fail, so seeks perfection

2. b). Higher intrapersonal IQ – we accept failures and exchanges perfectionism for excellence

3.  a). Lower intrapersonal IQ – we feel stupid and without hope after making mistakes

3. b). Higher intrapersonal IQ – we apologize, enjoy letting go, start again, and enjoy hope

4. a). Lower intrapersonal IQ – we blame self when things go wrong and we fail to fix errors

4. b). Higher intrapersonal IQ – we admit wrongdoing – and focus more on crafting new starts

5. a). Lower intrapersonal IQ – we fear the worst will happen and fear leaves us miserable

5. b). Higher intrapersonal IQ – we accept that stuff happens and find new pathways forward

6. a). Lower intrapersonal IQ – we worry that failure will always or mostly define us

6. b). Higher intrapersonal IQ – we accept failure and then attempt to improve next time

7. a). Lower intrapersonal IQ – we depend on stronger people to show our best way forward

7. b). Higher intrapersonal IQ – we avoid dependency or enabling reliance in favor of growth

8.  a). Lower intrapersonal IQ – we deny, run from, or avoid facing inevitable conflicts

8. b). Higher intrapersonal IQ – we face problems yet take an active role to improve a situation

9. a). Lower intrapersonal IQ – we fear being alone for events that typically include others

9. b). Higher intrapersonal IQ – we enjoy being alone at times and engage some events alone

10. a). Lower intrapersonal IQ – we blame failure on our past and see past handicaps as fixed

10. b). Higher intrapersonal IQ – we dream beyond past injustices and strategize a finer future

Pause here to celebrate the good news of every B we scored and we’ll prep the brain to rewire those weaker A area scores. Remember, we grow higher intrapersonal IQ whenever we show kindness to ourselves in each of the above 10 situations. Yes, IQ is fluid, not fixed as we once thought, and personal kindness is a conduit for emotional health to grow, reboot and prosper. Rewiring nightly in REM, we optimize ways the brain uses our actions to upgrade its rewiring effectiveness. Do what we want others to see in us and that anxiety-free behavior begins to change and grow our emotional IQ.

The benefits of growing higher intrapersonal IQ in any areas above, include a lifetime of contentment! New tools help us take on holidays with the mind of an adventurer who expects delight. Yes, even when others might expect us to be anxious or stressed. The counterpoint to low intrapersonal IQ which fills us with cortisol’s toxins, is an ever growing intrapersonal IQ, which ensures we remain deeply content and resilient, even in the face of disappointment, failure or life’s underbelly that can try to sink us when we least expect. Worth a shot at intrapersonal growth in any one area above? Each time we act with higher intrapersonal intentions, we rewire to grow new neural connections to rebooted directions. Spot any high road toward the wonder and delight of increased intrapersonal IQ here?

Forget past failures! Rather than focus on past regrets, let’s rev up a new way forward the way Einstein did when he claimed he was no smarter than others, but simply stayed with problems longer than most people. Our brain comes equipped to rewire so we can cope with problems, learn new facts and come up with cool creative paths forward.

No wonder we begin to look like those close to us!

COFFEE CONSIDERATION 22: If we could peer into our brain while it works we’d likely live differently. We’d watch people we’d like to emulate more, for instance and perhaps live more ethical tips from empathetic people with positive perspectives. We’d capitalize in our own way on magical copy-and-pastes from our brain’s rather miraculous mirror neurons! Here’s how this mental mimicking works.

Observe happy or mentally healthy faces and our limbic system receives messages for well-being stirred into our own brain. Dynamite research here surprises even the experts. Check out this video on mirror neurons to see how an area in our brain comes equipped to mimic other people’s emotions or reactions.

We can literally adopt another person’s point of view without recognizing the transition – all because of our mirror neurons. Or we may merely dance because our mental mimicking kicks in like this video shows. Does that suggest to be mindful of company we keep?

Interestingly, brain waves reflect different mirror neuron outcomes in people with autism. How so? Whereas regular brains move the same brain waves when a person does a thing as when that person watches a thing, that’s not so with autistic people.

Reflection after Tool 22 use: Mirror neurons impact our choices for or against daily worries. They show us how culture comes from imitation and the video illustrates how we watch and mirror the culture others live. Deep inside our brain cells we are neurons that will fire in reaction to another’s emotions or activity. See new roots for compassion as it plays out in people’s lives? Wonder why even sports fans act out what they observe? It’s mirror neurons.

If we’re interested in working with more empathetic workers, for instance, we’d likely also be interested in new research that tracks empathy neurons in people’s brains with startling revelations.

Imagine having an ability to gather empathetic teams who integrate designs from art with the precision of top science? Follow the recorded actions of these 286 individual neurons identified. Then watch empathy’s wonder work to influence and teach us as never seen before.

Could this amazing discovery enrich our emotional reactions across differences in ways that obliterate anxiety and uptick courage to live calmly with uncertainty and then expect more grace than angst to follow us?

What meta-message could we alter in favor of building care & trust?

COFFEE CONSIDERATION 23: Meta messages say what isn’t meant and mean what isn’t said. No wonder anxiety strikes when we speak or hear meta-messages, because uncertainty flows between the lines when words we hear or words we speak are not what’s meant. It takes  healthy interpersonal or linguistic intelligences to avoid using stress-packed meta-messages that mask our fear. Anxiety flees when we converse honestly instead, in ways that use carefully chosen words to create calm, clear, and caring communication.

When meta-messages act to camouflage anxiety we tend to increase concerns by trafficking in convoluted meanings.  Rather than hide how we feel though, we tend to block refreshing opportunities to build goodwill. Whichever of the following meta-messages we speak or hear, we can be sure anxiety lurks in our exchanges. Has it happened to you?

1. We say, I don’t mean to be critical, when we mean, this stuff stinks!
2. We say, That’s OK, when we mean, cause you’re unable to get it right anyway!
3. We say, Catch me next time, when we mean, if you can run faster than me!
4. We say, It doesn’t really matter, when we mean, cause you’ll never understand what matters!
5.We say, It’s only because I care that I tell you this, when we mean, because if I didn’t say that first you’d likely pop me one when you hear what I plan to tell you!
6.We say, I’ll be happy to do it, when we mean, cause you’ll never help me anyway!
7. We say, No hurt feelings, when we mean, cause you’re too rude to waste my feelings on!
8.We say, I don’t really mind, when we mean, cause if I let myself mind I’d sue you for your last breath!
9. We say, Sorry, I don’t mean to be negative but … when we mean, you don’t get it, so I’m apologizing ahead of my exit.
10. We ask, How do you like my work, when we mean, Say it’s great, OK?

Reflection after Tool 23 use:  On the opposite side of meta-messages, our brain’s mojo fuels goodwill and caring tone. Rather than deliver ideas considered to be “tough love” (which often blames and accuses) we speak with genuine love for attaining the outcomes that inspire ourselves and others.

1.     Meta-messages fashion words other than speakers really mean. Sarcasm and cynicism run rampant, for instance,  in circles where a person says one thing and intends the complete opposite. Dr. Deborah Tannen found that mothers’ relationships with their adult daughters suffered needlessly because of meta-messages. Listen to an NPR interview about her book on this topic. It doesn’t have to be that way. With each insincere exchange, tone offers back an opportunity to target respectful, clear speech. Consider it a chance to express what you mean with integrity and without sacrificing truth that fuels well articulated honesty.  Rather than say you’re OK with issues that disquiet you, good tone skills offer you courage to suggest alternatives for any idea out there. Do you agree?

Words we communicate to mask meaning may sink us like a punt on a tsunami, but sincere, kind and truthful words spoken are likely to propel our anxiety-free communication to the peaks. I plan to examine my own words carefully today, to avoid anxiety by ensuring what I say is kind, truthful and beneficial to all concerned.

Model peaceful solutions rather than punch back toxins

COFFEE CONSIDERATION 24: Acts of aggression alter the mental chemistry of both bully and recipient. We teach our brains, however to remove oxygen from mistreatment, when we pound a caring path for surprisingly freer steps forward. Whether we panic from intimidation from another, or if we bully others from panic or stress, our brains offer anxiety-reducing tools. Luckily, our brains come fully equipped to recognize bully-packed anxieties and to turn our inner dial toward a non-bullying plan that converts fears into freedom.

Trouble sometimes starts before we’ve left our beds. We turn on the news and within minutes hear leaders try to divide us by heated rhetoric on a topic we care about. Infuriated, we react inwardly with heated taunts back, like ticker tapes racing across our mental radar.  Unless we begin to spot anxiety’s bully-brain-syndrome here, we cannot expect to find common ground with those who disagree.  Unaware, we slip into a bully’s trap mentally where we succumb to aggression or become a bully-brain ourselves. Since we cannot hold cruelty and care mentally at the same time, we avoid these opposites that bottleneck our brain by acting kindly to ourselves and others.

Fortunately, our intrapersonal IQ domains hold kind and reasonable responses to help us face aggression head on. When we come up with strategies to cut off oxygen from a bully’s taunts, we regain confidence to act. Not that we can always convert bullies into buddies or ourselves into caring influencers. But when we can find genuine ways to treat ourselves with golden-rule-kindness and prepare our brains to see a bully as human, rather than as a tyrant. Develop our intuitive IQ and we face bullying with more reasoned compassion than with panic or personal upset.

Few disagree that conflicts characterized by bullying cause grief, grudges, fears and regrets, all of which can create the opposite of confidence or caring responses. Bully-brain tendencies appear to insist that a kinder thing can’t be done. In contrast,  confidence and care help us to ignore inner and outward taunts when we sidestep the stress they fuel.  In other words, when we let go of any need to satisfy bullying’s unreasonable demands, we set a mental stage to shift into focus instead on personal care as an alternative to division or irritation that bully-brains bring.

It’s easier to distract or tame our brain’s amygdala before it gets overly upset as it does whenever we fly into fury as a response to aggression though.

To spot bully-brain-syndrome is to find alternatives within our inner worth.  We may even have to role-play kinder strategies in our minds until we get the best emotional shift down pat. Rather than offend or act offended, let’s say we simply remind ourselves of our own inner worth, and move on. Eventually, we begin to face bully-brain taunts with more personal worth than emotional collateral damage felt in past reactions.

Respond kindly and our brains rev up serotonin to help us do the rest. Avoid labeling another person as a bully, or condemning ourselves as unable to care, and we set the stage for better outcomes.  When we propose a doable solution to the problem that caused rage in the first place for instance, we focus our brains to face threats that can feel unsafe, with kinder interventions.  We tackle insults with caring counterpoints that work.

Reflection after Tool 24 use:  Responses we make determine the emotional effects from bullying.  Rather than beat up on ourselves for knee-jerk reactions to unreasonable demands, for instance, we look ahead with hope. Regrets tend to teach our brains that past responses possess harmful and toxic hurts that limit us going forward. Far better to gaze ahead into windshields, while glancing backwards only occasionally into rear-view mirrors. In reality, life comes to all of us with difficulties such as unreasonable relationship challenges. Teach our brains to leapfrog over past missteps and we also weaken blunders going forward.

When it comes to bullying, our brains come richly equipped with the following four tools:

1) An inner IQ to restore us from sinking emotionally when we are picked on or angered. Rather than confront the bully with knee-jerk taunts or reactive denials, we choose comfort from our inner value that has nothing to do with a bully’s digs.

2) An amygdala that tames our minds with our help and prevents us from becoming overly upset. Perhaps we were ignored at a family gathering, or criticized for ideas that differed, or laughed at because of a personality trait. An untamed amygdala will defend and taunt back, while a tamed one will laugh with an oppressor’s dig at us and then move on with our confidence fully in tact.

3) A basal ganglia that acts as our brain’s warehouse to store strategies we used to minimize the bullying. Each time we act more in accordance with inner confidence and personal worth, we store that calm and caring approach, so that it emerges again in similar situations. See a useful pattern we can develop here to side-step bully toxins by storing a finer fix?

4) A working memory with new tactics to convert upsets into wins and can even nudge a bully to stop. Our working memory now holds a few new facts to give us brain based tactics to move beyond hatred with helpful alternatives, all from tools within our inner IQ.

With a little help from us, our brain becomes our best personal advocate whenever tensions from a bully escalate.  Aggression is kept alive only when it gets responses that affirm problems without solutions.

The opposite of arrogance is kindness than tamps it down. If we’ve given into emotional trauma in past from hateful rhetoric, there may not be a quick fix here.  No one solution will likely eliminate those dangerous toxins caused by bullying. Yet, in spite of the harm and daily problems that aggression or anger hurl at us, our brains come well-equipped with mental interventions that add courage personally, and can eventually offer healthier alternatives for ourselves and for entire communities.

We’ve all seen how vile rhetoric can lead to hate crimes against humanity. And few would deny that bullying is anything more than a fear-generated behavior. Remove fear from our responses and we also remove intimidation from bullies. Solutions to bullying problems lies inside each of us.

It’s far easier to tackle taunts before upset overwhelms our brains and leave us feeling like David going up against Goliath, only without any weapon to survive. Luckily our brains come equipped to rebuild personal confidence and bully proof us mentally so that we win in spite of frequent aggression we face on-line or face-to-face. We can dash from fear to freedom with superpower-equipped tools designed to help us confront hatred.  Ready to respond to the next horrific angst with inner strengths found in our intrapersonal intelligence?

When anxiety becomes a problem IQ becomes a tool to demolish it

COFFEE CONSIDERATION 25: We possess multiple intelligences, yet do we engage all IQs to overcome anxiety?

We all come equipped with multiple literacies or intelligences of which we use very few to ward off anxiety. First, we may wonder how intelligences differ from learning styles or personality traits, for instance.

I’ve had the privilege of inclusion in book, “Intelligence Reframed,” and fun of  being encouraged by researcher Howard Gardner personally for over 30 years on this topic. He showed how IQ, to be included among his eight distinctive intelligences, must hold all six validation criteria: 1). Intelligence can be measured in psychological tests; 2). Prodigies, such as Mozart can be found. 3). Mental functions can be observed in specific brain locations; 4). A developmental history of growth stages can be evidenced; 5). Evolutionary history shows development over time; 6). It must have a symbol system such as musical or math symbols.

I’ve had the privilege of knowing and being encouraged by Dr. Howard Gardner for over 30 years. To be listed among his eight distinctive intelligences, six validation criteria must exist: 1). Intelligence can be measured in psychological tests; 2). Prodigies, such as Mozart can be found. 3). Mental functions can be observed in specific brain locations; 4). A developmental history of growth stages can be evidenced; 5). Evolutionary history shows development over time; 6). It must have a symbol system such as musical or math symbols.

Consider the last lecture or meeting where the topic of stress or anxiety came up. “How did participants actively apply and develop less anxiety with insights addressed?” Most of us would likely agree with research that shows how lectures work against growth in that no active applications occur.  It’s the same for meetings where few people talk for the most part. We retain less than 5% heard in lectures, while we retain more than 90% of what we teach others at the same time we are learning ourselves. Sadly, lectures benefit speakers only, as they are actively using facts to teach others.  

Multiple intelligence brainpower on the other hand, increases motivation and achievement for honing new literacy skills to address topics such as anxiety reduction. Let’s say we wish to learn more about financial anxiety, in order to understand why we’re suddenly spiraling downward.

Ask brain specialists and they may support at least 100 reasons to run from lectures!

Reflection after Tool 25 use:  Consider the following multiple intelligences or unique literacies that work against anxiety related to our finances:

1. Mathematical or logical literacy enables us to trace the logical chains of reasoning to discern where anxiety-causing problems may be rooted. It also helps us to organize our day around less anxiety and more alternative tried.

2. Verbal linguistic literacy includes our ability to read and discuss economic and other anxiety-causing trends.  Verbal IQ also equips us to write out a fun plan for economic growth that allows less toxins and more adventures, such as proposing our plan to a bank manager.

3. Musical or rhythmic literacy would possibly have us composing musical solutions or studying those who have expanded our economic wellbeing through music, or simply using ambient music as background to our financial planning for the month.

4. Visual spatial literacy equips us to create or use images, graphs, or visual portrayals to understand and explain economic problems so we can come up with possibilities and try them out.

5. Bodily-kinesthetic literacy engages us in movement, building and handling materials in ways that deepen understanding about past and future economic challenges we faced as a way to build new opportunities forward.

6. Interpersonal or social literacy helps us to discern and respond well to moods, temperaments, motivation, and desires of different people, especially as they relate to economic bust we may be experiencing and boon we hope to attain.

7. Intrapersonal or introspective literacy taps into our self-knowledge, integrity and discrimination for good or bad money choices for ourselves and others.

8. Naturalistic literacy gives us mental tools to draw on nature’s patterns and designs as a way to see real world problems and propose nature-related solutions, in this case for our economic growth.

After applying our unique intelligences to solving financial problems without anxiety, can you see how these abilities might also help additional areas of our lives also?

A new look at the brainpower within multiple intelligences helps us to improve daily adventures, and to face challenges we inevitable meet, without the heavy baggage and dangerous toxins that anxiety lands on our backs.

Have you seen brainpower unleashed in similar investigations? Above are sample tasks that engage each of our multiple intelligences in ways that grow IQ in each area of our awesome brain. You may discover far better ways to use these multiple mental tools to go after anxiety you face lately. It’s helpful to create a T-chart to get started. List the anxieties you face on the left side, and selection on of our 8 intelligences to try out an antidote on the right side. Try out your idea and do let us know how it works.

To advance in anything is to remain confident throughout mistakes

COFFEE CONSIDERATION 26: Treated as stepping stones, mistakes become the hallmark of stress-free mental growth. To work with the brain and turnaround mistakes we also reduce anxiety and free our minds from fear. Just like those who achieve great feats, tend to recover from mistakes that lead less successful people to give up over, we learn to let go and launch a better start.

Author, Henry Link showed why this is so, in the words:

While one person hesitates because he (or she) feels inferior, another is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.

Reflection is the mental tool that transforms missteps that create anxiety into worry-free mental growth. It’s a bit like a litmus test. By looking beyond poor tone spoken to a cranky colleague in past for instance, we might try a new approach. We learn and change through re-cycling our muddles into meaningful new starts.

Three smart skills  helped me mentally to turn my own mistakes into stepping stones and help other leaders I mentor to do the same.

1. Focus on new possibilities rather than regret lost opportunities. When it comes to the brain we truly do become what we think and do, and mistakes make better stepping stones when we learn from them by shaping new approaches that help us to move on.

2. Step back from each mistake you make and reframe a new approach for a similar situation in a more effective way. Ask others for advice. See evidences for success by imitating people we respect. Refuse to remain in ruts, or blame others. Risk courage for the change it takes to convert tragedies into triumphs.

3. Be good to ourselves, because we need our aha mental chemical serotonin to succeed. Make a decision to stop beating up on ourselves over past mistakes and then stick to that decision. Admit our mistakes quickly before cortisol takes us down – apologize if others get hurt by errors we make and the mental freedom that action gives us will help us to move on without anxiety.

When we revisit mistakes to reboot stress-free brainpower, worry flees.. Anxiety’s a bit like sexual abuse. Keep anxiety hidden or unspoken and stress wins while mental health weakens. Identify and re-cycle our mistakes in any area however, and anxiety along with stress step into sunlight and fade.  Mistakes become capital for stress-free folks, yet can bankrupt those who rewire brainpower more for failure than for triumph. What smart skills move you beyond past failures and away from worries?

Reflection after Tool 25 use:  It takes deliberate choices to revisit mistakes and reboot brainpower away from anxiety.  Starbucks brewed winning coffees, and drew many of us together, to brew similar successful ventures. Then, after recession struck and customers lacked the $4.00 daily fix, they nearly crashed. That’s before Howard Schultz set out to reboot Starbuck’s success.

My brain based choices to revisit and turnaround away from stress are much like Starbucks’ five areas:

  • Admit we blew it – Anger, fear, and frustration fuel harmful cortisol chemical hormones that stops success, while admitting errors stems its flow in brains.
  • Pop a novel fix – Venting curbs brainpower and creates neuron pathways into  more  complaints. Novelty adds the opposite for increased intelligence.
  • Push brainpower buttons – Buy-in from community and clients benefits from multiple intelligences for a winning array of answers.
  • Create rather than criticize.  Cynical or critical mindsets block creativity, limit talent and stomp out innovation. Creativity jolts brainpower for a better way.
  • Ride shotgun for risks.   Encouragement changes the chemistry of brains through raised serotonin levels, and fuels new risk-taking for profitability.

What else can we do to turn mistakes into stepping stones for stress-free success?

What could we learn about spotting toxins from each gender here?

Check out this hilarious video to decide if genders differ in our emotional distress or how we respond to challenges.  Most would agree that we cannot fix what we do not see. In addition, we cannot exchange what we do not articulate. At times both genders suffer emotional distress simply because we fail to spot mental toxins before they cause anxiety or begin to universalize misery.

Abusive behavior and mental toxins hide in our dark emotional spaces and avoid confrontation. Even if toxic habits remain unnamed or hidden they chip away our emotional security.  Our daily responses and our ability to face challenges without being damaged emotionally depend on our ability to identify dangerous hotspots. But do we differ as guy or gals in how we do this?

If boredom appears to be more our reality than passion for daily targets, we likely have slipped into a toxin problem. We actually choose boredom simply by staying within our comfort zone, clinging to familiar routines and resisting even small changes. Watch mental stressors slip away, when we drive a new route to work, wear colors we rarely don, invite a boss or peer for lunch, laugh at the little things, or during a boring meeting, jot down a dream we’ve yet to accomplish.  We step away from anxiety-causing toxins such as cortisol by acting in a way that adds and sustains serotonin chemicals. Cortisol related toxins flee in some settings and flourish in others. Could we help one another (across genders) to cope better if we shared our struggles and suggest solutions?

If daily life moves us to focus on more problems than solutions, we are likely attracting more anxiety than awe.  Luckily we can refurbish work area settings, alter furniture, tidy our area, toss in plants for nature’s support, play ambient background music, or organize one area we work to add more delight to an interest we enjoy. Do genders hold secrets to teach one another here?  

Does a person from the opposite gender identify accurately our emotional well-being and mimic our strategies in tough times such as a pandemic? Do friends call on us to laugh, care, give, walk, play, learn tips to eat well, or serve in difficult situations?  If so we’ve likely added serotonin for positive changes that shed stress in favor of fun and favor for all. When we shed toxins, anger can trigger us to step back, breathe or focus on a fun event, and ask peers what they’d do to prevent the amygdalafrom defaulting back into negatives. Without question, coping strategies work less well when people are already upset, so we do well to build resilience in calmer times.

Do we vent in similar ways across genders when problems arise? Or do we invent ways to build goodwill together on the other side of a controversial issue? Here anxiety or awe is spotted in our tone.   For example, if we build goodwill together with those who disagree, through compassion and respect for the other side – we erase toxins in favor of finding shared values.

Do we enjoy similar new projects and do we hope to learn similar cutting edge skills to apply emotional health improvements on a regular basis? If not, we may wish to take a risk to learn a new technology program from a person who differs. Or perhaps we could start an interactive blog for both genders to share input on a new project our teams has started. Possibly we could avoid sluggish emotional problems by inviting a social media expert from each gender to facilitate new online benefits for a hobby or business bonus.

Music can alsolift moods and increase non-toxic fuels for focused productivity in both gender, but do the tunes differ?  If we lack focus we might test different background tunes to compare centering effects. We’d likely discover how music puts us in touch with our inner beliefs and find tunes that help to focus, relax or reflect at work. Yes, some tunes make us moody, edgy and anxious. These tunes increase toxins since different beats shift our brain waves that control how our neurons talk to one another.

Do we talk more, or engage both genders equitably? Do we listen and learn more to one gender than another? When we ask questions that will generate great exchange of ideas on our topic. Start with a round-table discussion over lunch, on stubborn traditions that describe each gender, and that block best strategies from ridding our lives of emotional turmoil.

Diversity training shows how equity issues likely come packed with toxic abuse issues.  New  research however, shows diversity may prevent toxins in any workplace – but rarely in ways that training suggests. Compare how race, gender and other social distinctions foster more thinking and better results, inspiring groups to mix it up. Though  miracles of neurogenesis, we even find inspiration to live beyond emotional destruction in our senior years.

If ruts or routines define most of our daily activities it’s best to repeat one newly learned task a few times today to exchange toxins such as passivity with lack of vision and embed innovation and renewal into basal ganglia. What could we learn from the opposite gender?

Start by deliberately doing one task from each of our 8 intelligences together with a person of the opposite gender First, let’s run from cynical drawbacks to create something, develop a talent or simply enjoy innovation and inspire others to do the same. We may discuss with a skeptical friend how cynicism stomps out brainpower, and we may suggest several tactics to build on creativity and curiosity rather than succumb to cynical opposites.

If we  choose focus over frantic in challenging situations, we have used our intrapersonal intelligence, to reflect on toxic areas where emotions suffer or succeed across genders.  To speak up honestly, and to benefit others around us is to model emotional health insights from both genders. Why not walk today toward lower stress, and listen to improve your tone when stressors hit. Walk up stairs rather than take an elevator, walk during your breaks, find excuses to move more as you work. When you walk more, you increase the brain’s oxygen for solutions against stressors that enter most workplaces. Did you know that 22 stressors strike the average worker on an ordinary day?

If we seek mental security for both genders we‘ll begin to look at problems with solutions in mind daily. Suggest one approach to doable solutions for a problem faced today and our brain will do the rest. For example, displace a large T chart on a desk or bulletin board. Then write a problem to the left of the T. Invite a trusted person close to us to offer solutions by listing them on the left side of the T. Then meet again in a week or so to discuss follow-up solutions, and tweak the best solution agreed on for use.

Do women’s and men brain differ in how we name toxins and balance behaviors to overcome distress issues? What will others around us witness to ensure their well-being because we spotted a toxin and attempted an alternative approach?

Our tone determines our communication outcomes for good or bad

COFFEE CONSIDERATION 28: Does the beauty and simplicity of jeweled tone skills carry you peacefully through sticky situations such as bullying? Could tone become majestic, and consistent in a professional way within our leadership? Given pressures from a tough economy, a lethal pandemic, or changing cultural norms there may be weeks where we feel anything but glorious or even regal. Perhaps we find it impossible to stand against the epitome of utterly ruthless conflicts that cross our path. And while we know that to run or ignore tension, tends to merely add more discord to its encounters, we race to safety in mere efforts to survive.

Tone, in these times, offers a way to cast hope and fortune into tough situations, to lead away from arrogance or greed as it revs up brainpower, to offer an olive branch to opponents.  It’s the jewel that inspires courage to engage voices respectfully on the other side of conflicts in spite of thorny issues we face. It glimmers beyond wicked shades of lies, merely by adding sunlight, to jewels of truth we deeply desire. Etched in gold, it’s far more striking than stress that tends to  kill brainpower.

Most of us hold useful insights that could dynamically improve our lives and enrich our conditions in spite of conflicts. Yet why do we often  remain silent when controversy strikes? Perhaps courage to speak up takes tethering good tone skills to access humility’s force for life-changing advancements. Especially when our chips are down.

Bravo whenever we tap into serotonin that builds good will, as well as multiple intelligences that sustains talented communication. What tone tips would inspire us to engage more diverse views for genuine solutions?

Tone polishes and cuts communication to perfection, like a brilliant gem it bounces rays of rainbow light over a dim cavern at times. Tone transfixes relationships with enchanting jewels in impossibly bright colors. Good tone gives our insights an ethereal glow. It shimmers across conflicts with a radiance of its ability to glow brighter and shine for those whose hues dim.

Research shows tone as the choice between awakening angel or devil parts within our brains. It either shines like the sun’s rays lite on ocean waves at dawn, or it envelops a vintage stone clenched in advance by a few who dominate others to enrich personal ego.

Stress defaults us into poor tone if that’s our stored habit. Unless we deliberately target effective growth, poor tone will likely rise up like a viper and spew toxic chemicals that work against entire networks. Have you seen it happen? It radiates features that expose the scorn that broil inside conflicts, when faced without humility.

Not surprisingly, the brain  hardwires us for healthy or horrid reactions to stressors. You may have noticed especially poor tone skills used in online forums, where open comments are encouraged. People show astonishing anger or hatred over slightest differences in view. Or perhaps you’ve encountered negative tone that flashes quickly into angry words when differences arise.  As the body language of communication across diversity, tone ripples online beyond its origins within seconds.

Frustration triggers lack of respect, or intimidation sparks toxic silence in public and then downgrades into venting in private. Even social media can help or hurt tone. Poor tone slips into communication in a flash, while brain based approaches call for time and reflection that result in brain powered tools to disagree. Yet few people realize the power of tone to move our lives forward or backward in an instant. Tone will either prosper productivity, or will isolate us and weaken any efforts to upgrade a difficult setting. Fortunately, it’s a matter of choice.

It’s no secret that some gene pools come with a stronger proclivity for good tone, against cynicism. Others, like me, will want to develop more polished tone skills, like we improve other brain based tools. Either way, watch tone’s brainpower add goodwill across differences. For each barrier met, we can target learned tone skills that counter that negative force. It’s a deliberate choice, and like other brain based skills positive tone grows dendrite brain cells for more of the same, with each use.

People who learn and use good tone, rarely get hung up on the common barriers to tone. They simply act on a barrier’s opposite. In other words they choose to communicate tone over heated or deceptive barbs. What do your tone skills say?

We target good tone skills when:

1.     Hurtful humor often comes at times when people can least absorb the barbs without feeling their amygdala heat up. Yet use of good tone in light of hurt feelings through careless comedians, calls into choice tools that diffuse difficulties, and that build goodwill. Tone models the best of laughter since it laughs quickly at self, while at the same time refusing to make others the butt of jokes. Have you seen good tone used in humor that finds more listeners laughing? If so, we will have also experienced the enzymes and healthy chemicals that surge through the brain in response.

2.     Unfair competition or disagreeable settings that diminish some people to favor others, often stir outright fights. In such situations emotional intelligence can run low, and passions rage, to further blur any calm responses. Competition that gives access to some yet locks out others, due to unfair or unclear ground rules, calls for unique tone skills. No question, rivalry in our fast paced world can become an uncomfortable mishmash of inequity, or even brutality. Good tone skills prevent us from feeling daunted or uncomfortable when battles heat up, or antagonism gets out of hand. Likely they’ve already practiced tone skills in personal and professional relationships, and so they’re far more ready to speak out calmly, ask for rationale and hopefully help to improve the playing fields.

3.     Excessive critique is taught and tossed into too many circles to the detriment of good tone. Think about it. We step up to offer an idea, when the criticism starts flying faster than bees to honey. Folks often tell us they feel criticized from the time they enter certain circles, and some add that critical people find justification in flawed systems they frequent. Critique can be a good thing when tone affirms the good at times, thanks people who differ, shares in others’ experiences with respect, and finds courage to build on mistakes in ways that bring resolve errors and move on.

Reflection after Tool 28 use:  Tone improves when we  practice its calm in tough times, such as financial loss. Why so? Because in doing any act of good tone, the brain rewires for more of the same – when further conflicts arise. That may mean laughing when we feel tears well up. It may mean deliberately looking for delight in tasks that once brought fear. Showing reasons for hope where media reports on despair. Reaching for divine help when human simply cannot offer answers. Shifting to strengthen a positive belief when faced with cynicism. Looking for concrete proofs rather than remaining in doubt. Tone takes different shapes in different settings. That said, it often meets its finest opportunity to create life-changing respect and caring that leads to more success. Yes, even in flawed or broken exchanges.

It refuses to blame others when things go wrong, it teams with others to address problems in any circles. It offers tactics to disagree respectfully  beyond a mere recognition of the cynicism, anger or intimidation that triggers tone’s nemesis.

Successful tone builds goodwill by:

1). Affirming another’s insights before sharing views on the other side. Not that we have to agree, or even value other views especially. Yet tone shows that we heard, considered and valued the person who holds different views.

2). Thanking people for different approaches – and show how you will try a few new methods based on what you’ve learned from theirs.

3). Sharing personal experiences – with respect, so that others would enjoy thinking about these together. Rather than a need to replace original ideas presented by others.

4). Asking a 2-footed question – before you offer personal ideas on the topic. For instance, you could ask – “Have you thought about…? What if…? Could another possibility be…?

If we add even one unique idea to the mix we can inspire others with confidence. If we make it more a part of an invigorating discussion, than any need to top another person’s points, others are inspired to contribute. Whenever we support our own best ideas – with concrete examples, others tend to see more possibilities in what we present.

Looking for a surefire grin to reboot a glumpy mood?

The brain sees a smile as a serotonin stoker. That’s why even a fake smile can boost moods. Taken a step further, laughter is a fun way to reduce stress and eradicate anxiety. Especially when a smile leads to a laugh at ourselves. Did you know that to laugh at ourselves is also to laugh away our stress? 

Why smile in rain? Science shows how we trick our moods into increased joy, as our brain acts out a happier role and rehearses new ways of thinking. This practice grin primes a desired flow of events into our day. When chips are down, it’s worth reaching for a finer mood by faking a smile if just to test out numerous Harvard studies about a grin’s enormous worth to our moods.

Imagine a smile that holds mental superpowers to lower our stress and add unexpected joy on a bad day. Want much more than coping? We discover new initiatives through a lighthearted attitude that often brings eureka moments of unexpected inspiration. Even a fake smile lowers our stress!  Research shows that with humor the brain increases activity in our anterior cingulated cortex, in preparation for problem solving.

A smile can change our brain’s chemistry. Fake it till you make it, a status-enhancement theory suggests that we also gain influence by smiling with confidence. Smiling suggests we’re competent and content, so others often elicit the same back. Some argue that to fake a confident smile seems dubious at best and delusional at worst. Yet science proves we actually trick our brains into becoming more successful, finding friendships, and increasing overall happiness. We can create scientifically-backed strategies for faking our way to a better day, a healthier relationship, or a better mood, simply by faking a smile.

A study in the journal, Psychological Science  asked 169 university students to balance chopsticks in their mouths as a way to shape particular facial expressions. One looked neutral, one showed an average smile, and one flashed a sincere smile that engaged their eye muscles in addition to their mouth muscles. After participants learned the best expression, they were challenged with complex, stressful multitasking tasks to complete.  They traced a star with their non-dominant hand while looking at a reflection of that star in the mirror. Interestingly, those subjects with both the genuine and average smiles scored lower heart rates after completing the activity. Those with the neutral expression indicated they were more stressed, and frustrated.

Another similar study asked participants to either raise their cheeks in a way that shaped a smile or contract their eyebrows into a frown.  While judging images of neutral, happy, and angry faces, the participants expressed more positive reactions to all images when smiling. In fact their positive benefits lasted for four minutes beyond the grins and tests.  

Amy Cuddy, a Harvard social psychologist found that by adopting a confident smile can also change our body chemistry. People who maintain a smile show a decrease is their stress hormone cortisol and an increase in testosterone, a hormone related to confidence. Smiles govern how we think and feel about ourselves, in ways that literally change our minds from down to delighted.

If tensions flee in the wake of a simple joke, and brainpower boost over a funny faux pas, what holds our smiles back at work? Laughter may be the best balancing elixir of the human brain, and yet still tops the missing -list in most workplaces. Does hilarity hail from your circles to replace the doom that comes from media or fellow workers?

Whether we cut up over one-liners or fake a smile on a tough day, we’ve likely also seen humor’s upshot to our brain’s insight. Smile today to to lift morale, reduce tension or communicate differences in side-splitting style, and we can expect innovation to follow.

Banter with a baby who laughs easily or smile during a zoom meeting and we can build trust among colleagues or clients. Have you seen it happen?

It’s a win-win. Simply because smiling involves additional operations and areas of the brain’s limbic system, it helps us to focus more on fun than frustration. We release endorphins, trigger health, increase relaxation, and alter brain chemicals in the direction of winning. The choice between a smile and a sneer seems easy until the chips slip and we may need a reminder to cop a smile again, and expect the best.

What would balance our cravings and lead to better health?

Our chemical and electrical circuitry works in tandem with our mental reward system.  When stimulated, it can delight the reward center much like crack cocaine enchants pleasure at the peaks. Dopamine increases most if we crave or overindulge. If addicted, this chemical acts as an alert signal that links food or drink to pleasure. It also affects what we do. Because of dopamine, we learn better from success than from failure, for instance.

Rewards, cravings, and motivation interact so that we experience a dopamine boost in the striatum which is a brain region involved with reward and behavioral motivation. Our brains are highly sensitive to food stimuli, produce more dopamine when we see favorite foods. This dopamine increase links to foods to which we’ve been conditioned to crave or enjoy most.

How do we move beyond a habit we hope to break to enjoy benefits from brain chemicals we hope to cultivate? Addiction can hijack the brain but any object, event, or activity can be a reward if it motivates us. Perhaps we learn better, or perhaps the action elicits pleasurable feelings.  Neurons that release dopamine are activated when we expect to receive a reward.

Motivation can satisfy the soul like a small bite of fine chocolate gratifies. Our brain comes equipped to change itself through chemical and electrical circuitry. It’s a matter of neurons and dendrite brain cells that spark new synapses for change.

Chemicals, called neurotransmitters, release in each synapse. Cell processes such as axons and dendrites can regenerate – regardless of age. The brain uses the outside world to reshape itself physically and mentally. Through plasticity the brain rewires itself to alter our bad habits and build new neuron pathways for improved approaches daily. Brainstorm with a person you trust, to identify one specific action to replace a bad habit, and then do that preferred practice. Invite feedback to determine the effectiveness of the new approach. Make adjustments if needed and act on changes.

Can you see why successful people tend to flee from anxiety or fear mongering, and why relaxed people create more innovative solutions? Does our brain’s electrical wiring work mostly in our favor? Good news for those who crave cigarettes. Scientists recently discovered a molecular switch to shut off nicotine cravings. The key is to effectively block hypocretin-1 receptors that lead to craving for nicotine, and thereby lessen our desire for cigarettes. Is it possible to adjust the molecular switch to control craving? If so, how is dopamine a key element in this transformation?

Our brain triggers a yearning for food, nicotine or alcohol, when certain chemical reactions occur. Can you imagine a novel way to help addicted smokers or alcoholics to break unhealthy habits? Or can you imagine craving food that fuels our brain as we fill our plate?

Do you crave calorie laden desserts or fast foods? Whether that chocolate box or doughnut platter gets passed or projects scrumptious images onto your mental screens, dopamine  increases most in people who crave and overindulge. In addictive people, this chemical then acts as an alert signal that links food to pleasure. How so?

Check out Kristin Leutwyler Ozelli’s description of what’s going on in the brain during cravings at ScientificAmerican.Com. It seems that the brain of a person who exercises and maintains a steady weight using brain imaging technologies, and we’ll see less dopamine.

Rewards, cravings, and motivation interact so that we experience a dopamine boost in the striatum which is a brain region involved with reward and behavioral motivation. Our brains are highly sensitive to food stimuli, and researchers are still trying to figure out why some produce more dopamine when they see favorite foods. Without question though, the dopamine increase is linked to foods to which we’ve been conditioned to crave and enjoy most.

Interestingly, dopamine can increases simply from smelling or seeing the food, even in cases where people are told they will not be able to eat it. In fact, fatty foods, according to research, renders the brain resistant to chemicals such as insulin and leptin which tell your brain to stop eating, so that you can easily overeat in that state.

Dopamine increases come in similar ways to most people who crave foods. For instance, these neurochemical responses come to drug addicts who watch images of people taking drugs. It’s often thought to be a matter of balancing this chemical – since both extremes can be harmful.

Unfortunately, both drug addicts and obese people show reduced numbers of D2 dopamine receptors in the brain’s reward areas, compared to people with healthier appetites. Researchers suggest that fewer receptors is the brain’s attempt to compensate for the repeated surges of dopamine stimulation with drugs or food. It more a matter of balance though, than of simply decreasing dopamine. Why so?

While too much dopamine can cause compulsive behavior, too little brings boredom and lack of motivation at work? Or worse, too little dopamine can spell ADHD. The jury is still out on why some get rushes of dopamine and others struggle with too little at times.

Could researchers help people who crave and over-indulge, to turn off that molecular switch in the brain and end some obsessive behaviors? For instance, dopamine production can be increased by practices such as adding more vitamin C in our diet.

When we lack motivation our wellness drops to the ground. We build motivation simply by doing tasks that stimulate incentives. In this way, motivation also adds wings for putting us in touch with our healthiest selves.