Angst or Awe? 31 – 40 of 50 Anxiety-Free Power Tools

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If we try to live with anxiety, panic, fear, or debilitating depression, we are less likely to consider healing exit strategies. The opposite is also true. This series first blog includes the first 10 anxiety-buster tools and is followed by the second blog with tools 11 – 20 with the third blog tools 21 to 30, and below the fourth blog tools 31 to 40 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 31 – 40 above are included in this blog

Tool 31 below, shows how the brain comes hardwired to overcome stress by transferring stress-free solutions. Learning itself does not remove stress. We overcome anxiety by using mental tools to exchange facts into working solutions. Transfer is not automatic regardless of genius insights. Action creates change.  Brains hold new facts for a short time in working memory and actions transform and store this data into usable skills.

COFFEE CONSIDERATION 31: Learning itself does not remove stress.We transfer facts into reality by doing a thing as we learn it.Brains come hardwired to overcome stress by transferring stress-free solutions. We overcome anxiety by using mental tools to exchange facts into working solutions. Transfer is not automatic regardless of genius insights. Action creates change.  Brains hold new facts for a short time in working memory and actions transform and store this data into usable skills. To hear or read directions is not enough. Transfer is learned by doing- and is not automatic.

While we used to assume that what we teach at university will get used in practice, it’s not so. We now know more about how transfer takes active engagement and practice in the real world – at the same time new facts and skills are being learned. To gain new insights in a university class, is to engage working memory – which holds these facts for brief periods of time.

Ask the lecturer in this video and he will say he engages listeners.  He might even go on to suggest today’s audiences expect too much, stress without cause, and give too little. Ask listeners though, and they usually support these 100 brainbased reasons to run hard from lectures! Doing a thing as we learn it transfers facts to learners. We rarely need more information as much as we often need more action. To attend meetings or listen only is to block brainpower while active practice engages our beliefs!

Renewal is to the university community today what Renaissance was to the Middle Ages. Both encompass a resurgence of learning. Both tap into more potential from the human brain. Check out Carnegie research to see if online gets superior results to lectures and labs at college?

Traditional university communities, on the other hand, remain in crisis when they resist mind-bending changes to connect learners with 21st Century advances. One dean at a large research university pinpointed the problem this way: We pretend to teach them, they pretend to learn.

Few deny an urgent need for innovative change to align universities with mental benefits from high performance minds. It takes open and courageous leaders who take risks to stand on the front lines. Brain based tactics highlighted in the ebook, MITA Strategies in the Classroom and Beyond, inspire leaders to learn again, for instance, while igniting learners to lead at times. Have you seen it happen?

Reflection after Tool 31 use:  Each time we engage one tool in this series actively,our brains change. When Aristotle said, We are the product of what we repeatedly do – he likely did not know the brain’s basal ganglia retains and repeats each move we make. Consider how this impacts stress and anxiety as our way of life. We stress over small things to our peril because each stressed reaction spawns another opportunity for the brain to create similar reactions to the next stressor.

We know that reading this blog does not remove stress.We also know that brains come hardwired to overcome stress by transferring stress-free solutions. So what if we overcome anxiety today by using one specific mental tool to exchange facts into working solutions for a calm reaction to a stressed situation? To transfer insights from this series of tools, let’s act to create change.  

Our brains hold a few new facts for a short time in working memory and our newly shaped action will transform and store this data into a usable skills. I will eat only healthy food today, for instance, because I’ve been consuming too much sugar and that adds stress. I plan to track and record what I eat today to ensure I am mindful of health with each bite consumed.

What will we create today, calm or chaos?

COFFEE CONSIDERATION 32: We curate mental space for creativity when we organize, develop and share the best of our strengths and differences.Creativity collapses mentally when we listen more to outward stressors than to inner strengths, just as originality collapses socially when we listen more to politicians than to poets.   

Brains come fully equipped to create calm from daily chaos, beauty from ordinary, and awe from angst. We prime creation’s mental pump whenever we: say we can, focus forward, spot possibilities, optimize talents, re-imagine rather than blame, risk, laugh at self, collaborate and engage ethics.

We cannot curate mental space for creativity, however, if we …

1. Say we can’t. The brain creates when we tell it to do something original.  Ford was right when he said: “If you say you can or you say you can’t you are right.”

2. Focus on perfect. A brain needs wiggle room to build stepping stones forward on mistakes. The Wright Brothers remind us that these steps may even become successful flights.

3. Whine over problems. To create is to look past a problem and see a possibility. It’s much the way Edison failed dozens of times and before the light bulb lit up his determination for possibilities.

4. Downplay our talents. Refuse to take a shot at things because others seem more talented or compare ourselves to those who developed skills that rot in our garden if not picked.

5. Wait for resources. When mother Teresa taught one teacher at a time, under a tree, some people told her to use her time to organize big groups and rally for more support. She did not.

6. Blame others. The brain’s cortisol and stress chemicals for blame – differ from its well-being chemicals (such as serotonin and dopamine) needed to create, and imagine and wonder.

7. Refuse to risk. The brain increases dopamine needed to take risks and create – with each risk to create that one takes. Take no risks and dopamine takes no boost to help us.

8. Take ourselves too seriously. Unless we can laugh at ourselves – our brain remains unprepared to move creations forward into original places that may get back a laugh (or even a sneer)  from others.

9. Cannot collaborate. None of us can possess multiple intelligences at their highest levels. We need to learn how to join forces with other creative people – for mutual benefits as we create with our strengths and theirs.

10. Lack ethics. Play against our moral compass and that moral compass will block us from the hot mental equipment we need to build trust with others in ways that prosper creativity.

What mental and emotional qualities curate your best creations into a stress-free day?

What helps us to sustain curiosity on a busy day?

COFFEE CONSIDERATION 33: Curiosity, or a craving of more information can help us adapt to new situations by nudging us to explore novelty. Fear however, also holds potential danger to drive us away from new explorations. Interestingly, curiosity and fear are provoked by similar situations, and similar mental functions. Curiosity’s excitement sometimes overrides our fear of exploring new things. Yet fear may form part of the excitement of curiosity. We know that brain systems linked with wanting to receive external rewards such as money or food can activate to replace fear when we grow curious.

But curiosity has also been associated with characteristics that reflect risk taking, stress tolerance and thrill seeking. This is how curiosity got its bad wrap as a mortal danger to felines.

We receive implicit warnings as kids sometimes, that asking questions is more about nosiness or rebellion against authority than about interest or wonder related to what could be. In fast-pace daily schedules we learn to focus on the mundane tasks of any day, rather than question the possible goals we could create going forward. To grow a sense of surprise is to fuel our brains for delightful learning and discovery quests.

When we cultivate curiosity we set a mental stage to improve our ability to process new information concerning what made us curious in the first place.  Curiosity activates several areas of the brain, particularly decision-making areas in our hippocampus, and dopamine chemicals we need to live beyond the box. We facilitate curiosity when we act as guide to the side, rather than as  sage on the stage.

Any breakthrough discoveries or remarkable inventions we make will likely be tethered to our curiosity. That niggle to seek out new information and that zest to experience or explore unknown possibilities is a basic attribute of our brain’s ability to stir up a sense of wonder. Curiosity connects us to all eight intelligences, and it helps us adapt to uncertainty and live with ambiguity at times, even during external pressures such as a pandemic.  When we trigger curiosity we tend to think wider, deeper and more rationally about creative solutions, and we examine more choices to improve our situation.

Research findings make sense if we consider that when curious we tend to seek more insights from those around us, gather information from peers who differ, and  collaborate with others to boost our creativity as we confront situations that need improvement.

Start with areas of interest and ask what makes us curious about that topic today? Specifically name one thing we neglect or avoid throughout day. Then reflect on how you’ll approach your work today with these questions in mind.”

Questions can trigger reflections such as, “What topic or activity would add adventure today? What new insight could we learn about a project we’ll complete today? It’s as easy as pausing to approach our day with one interesting question in mind.

Such a curious trigger, even on a boring day, stokes innovative follow-up and mentally primes us to implement novel solutions to stubborn problems.

When we are curious, we view tough situations through a different filter that views possibilities more than problems. We grow less defensive when stress strikes in a relationship, and less aggressive when provoked by surprise attacks.

Research suggests we often perform better when we’re curious about a project. In the same way curiosity opens us up to wonder about what it is like to walk through a conflicted situation in another’s shoes. We take more active interest in another person’s ideas and feel less compelled to argue for our own perspective.

If we seek efficiency and ignore the loss of discovery however, we’ll often default back to old patterns with water-tight ways. Under pressure to complete a project quickly, we find little time to inquire about alternative processes that better serve our overall goals, for instance. Our curious brains, in contrast, tend to view tough situations more creatively.

It takes determination and resilience to sustain a sense of discovery and to avoid barriers to curiosity even after an interest sparks wonder. Here are five strategies our brains come equipped to support a curious approach even on a busy day.

Reflection after Tool 33 use: We sustain mental interest or curiosity to explore and discover when we …

1. Require an evidence of risk: A participant at my European brain conference transformed her medical clinic into curiosity circles, by telling staff the clinic would be run on trigger questions, not water-tight answers, whenever problems arose. It became staff’s job to figure out and suggest answers to pressing questions, so that no problem would be heard in this leader’s office unless a doable solution was suggested at the same time. This clinic grew from complainers to performers led by skills (such as asking questions, exploring new approaches, and gathering innovative teams) that sparked serotonin chemicals for creativity.

Once the curiosity ball starts rolling in this way, it will extend into interests beyond our workplace. We’ll lay down new neuron connections for reading new books unrelated to our career. We’ll explore questions more for the sake of knowing interesting answers and we’ll discover excitement that comes from newly discovered opportunities.

2. Model imagination: Each we pause to inquire about ourselves, others and life itself, we learn to ask motivational questions daily, such as, “What one thing could I do to make things better for us?” Others in our group soon begin to join in, simply because they get motivated to see rewards that materialize.

As we ask similar questions and genuinely listen to others responses, we model curiosity that helps ourselves and those around us to fill in gaps together.  It’s self-sustaining. As we expand interesting knowledge we grow motivated to ask further questions and to investigate more. Curiosity is sustained whenever we ask questions rather than impose our ideas as answers.

3. Identify gaps: To admit limits of our own knowledge and skills is to open new doors for curiosity to flourish, and the powers of discovery to spawn. If we fear we’ll be deemed incompetent, indecisive, or unintelligent, we may be hindered from curiosity. When schedules bulge too big, or if we sense time is more precious than inquiry, we tend to settle for fast, easy to access answers that will not bother people.

If we see ourselves as experts in any topic, we may ask fewer questions since we sense we have little to learn. We may feel we’re expected to talk and provide answers at gatherings, and not expected to ask questions for genuine gap-filling discoveries.

4. Emphasize relationship connections across differences: Interestingly, when we demonstrate curiosity about others by asking questions, people enjoy us more and view us as more competent, and the heightened trust makes our relationships more interesting and intimate. By asking questions, we promote more-meaningful connections and more-creative outcomes.

Similarly, when we concede we don’t have an answer to a question, we show curiosity’s value within the process of looking for answers and the approach of inspiring others to embrace discovery toward a shared vision.

5. Demonstrate discovery’s questioning approach before pressured times shortages become our barrier. Ask, “What can we learn?” and our brain begins to cobble together various options toward inventing creative solutions. Before time pressures force us into grasping for one recognizable option, stretch for results that work well in tough challenges. By focusing on discovery or exploration we’re naturally focused on finer goals, often through a cross-pollination of ideas in ways that boosts motivation to explore deeper.Genius persistence can override ruts we default to when pressured, and can optimize opportunities for innovative solutions, in spite of stressors.

Before a day gets busy, reflect and develop a mindset to ask one good question that would challenge an existing perspective that’s tired or outdated. As we enjoy many benefits of curiosity we tend to sidestep disadvantages along the way.  The jury is still out on the full range of benefits associated with curiosity as part of learning.

We certainly know some benefits related to the neuroscience of curiosity. For instance, we know how little we remember when forced to learn about topics that lack interest for us. Brain specialists also demonstrate how that invigorating curiosity boosts our memory for interesting facts. We also know that curiosity activates mental domains such as our hippocampus where we make good choices, and it increases chemicals such as dopamine, enabling healthy risks.

The link between curiosity and learning can actually be seen in the brain and in our creative results. Curiosity engages more of the brain’s plasticity (ability to change itself), for example, because those who change and create based on new insights, rewire faster for ongoing renewal.

How we remain curious or sustain active interest and desire to know more about life may increase discovery and joy for some, yet to others inquisitiveness seems impossible when time seems inadequate. When educators claimed they had too little time for curiosity if they were to cover all the required material, one 10th grade teacher shot back, “Even a cat covers its material!” Another followed up with the reminder that Einstein, Edison and the rest of us each have the same number of hours in any day. Perhaps we will discover curiosity’s ultimate secret ingredient if we answer the question, “What separates innovators and inventors from the rest of us on a busy day?” What do you think?

Until we begin to value differences we may well be biased against them

COFFEE CONSIDERATION 34: The brain that weaves together differences well, also creates a harmonious whole. Interact only with those we understand however, and we’ll never grow better than we are. We find amazing people and insights even among those we may dislike. Diversity is our best defense against bias that poisons our past, limits our present abilities, and endangers our future vision.

The brain shapes itself from diversity we focus on, and changes based on what we do. Neural specialist Dr. Doidge found that brains do not distinguish well between should or should not. Exclude different views and we build neural pathways toward gridlock, anxiety and other fiascoes.  Learn from different strengths, and focus less of what people do poorly, so that diversity taps into plasticity to change itself.

To build or contribute to a diverse community is to experience its propensity for wellbeing and prosperity.

We tend to dislike diversity training according to the MacKinsey report. And my lifetime work in 20 countries showed me five troubling toxins that tend to kill variety, for several reasons pointed to by MacKinsey. First, flawed approaches become habits that hold participants hostage. Second, trust erodes as some feel threatened by newcomers’ talents. Third, workshops without specific applications or follow-ups, cause jaded mind-sets and prevent diverse offerings. Fourth, progress is not tracked so poor habits tend to return. Fifth, naysayers dominate and impose narrow-minded views, so diverse thinkers tend to retreat.

To foster diversity is to engage many different parts of our brains. Mita diversity approaches include:

1. Question possibilities across differences.

2. Target improvements by integrating talents from diverse pools

3. Expect quality for a wider community when diversity guides us

4. Move multiple intelligences into harmonious action

5. Reflect where to from here to ask – “How can we foster diverse and caring communities?”

Why do we often settle for compromise rather than tap into diversity for growth? We settle for gridlock when we pass over what differs, judge harshly what we lack courage to try, and torpedo innovations that seem less familiar to us.

Diversity activates neural pathways for risk fueled by brain chemicals such as dopamine, and we  remove fear from new talents tossed into a diverse mix.  When diversity gets labeled as a deficit model however, any sense of celebration from added brilliance is suddenly lost. In contrast, we stoke emerging talents as a way to harness diversity for a finer future together.

It takes a deliberate decision to value differences, yet anxiety-free benefits are endless for those who step beyond speed-bumps such as gridlock. We celebrate endless inventions beyond mere compromise, when we engage multiple intelligences, that cross differences.

Reflection after Tool 34 use: Over the years, my MBA leadership classes showed numerous benefits in innovative projects as our entire graduate communities buzz with passion and diverse discoveries. Spot new gems across ethnicity, gender and age, mixed in at every level, and we also discover original solutions – because human brains come poised for these mixed mindsets.

During a lifetime of travel, research and work with multi-cultural  leaders in the High Arctic, Mexico, Europe, South America, Ireland, China, Canada, Caribbean and the United States, I developed many of these brain-powered tools to facilitate mixed mindsets based on changes in the brain through observable actions. For a richer culture where differences become assets, for example, we shift to escalate the wonder of richer talents.  Innovative international leaders taught me to see diverse windows into wealthier benefits for all.

An innovation era is urgently needed during challenges we face such as the pandemic,  with more diverse leaders, who risk engaging the brain’s plasticity for a nobler vision through shared talents. Only then can we capitalize on diversity to develop problem solving skills for innovation, with the brain in mind.

Imagine blended talents that increase our wins, and we’ve already begun to access richer DNA pools that many crave, and only diversity delivers.  Brainpower comes equipped with mirror neurons so others begin mimic and celebrate gains that follow. Watch different people respond so that hope takes wing.

When we  cling to one side only, tides turn away from innovative and rejuvenation remedies that may well have transformed cortisol -driven traditions into serotonin’s blended and diverse benefits. What differences will today engage?

Choose the tool that goes after a stressor that still stalks

When stress hijacks our day and stops us in our tracks, it’s either general, so we can no longer identify a toxic source, or it’s a specific cuff to the chin that leaves us powerless. In either case it’s vital to sidestep any emotional sucker punch in order to see toxins that fuel anxious onslaughts that result.  Perhaps the sucker punch is all we feel, and maybe we cannot spot a killer cuff from any one specific stressor. Nevertheless we can reduce anxieties by rewiring and transforming our brains to survive and cope.

Does today’s expectation or reality leave us either brain powered or brain drained? Whether we are mentally charged or overwhelmed and emotionally drained, we can learn to spot uncertainty and boost mental benefits worthy of our celebration. The survey below helps us to identify a place to start, as a tool to ensure we are not getting pummeled by a hidden stressor in ways that sink our hope.

Spot silent killers in this survey before they sucker punch moods!

Respond either yes or no to each survey question and then simply apply one tool found in this series of 50 to move in an opposite direction. It’s best to practice these ahead of an emotional storm, since our brains respond better before stress storms stall good choices to heal in the amygdala and hippocampus.

1. Is boredom more a reality on quiet days than passion for interests or talents? Yes ___ No ___

2. Does your daily setting inspire others to transform problems into solutions? Yes ___ No ___

3. Does frustration describe your attempts to use new technology skills? Yes ___ No ___

4. Does anger tend to fuel bullying of those you mentor or lead? Yes ___ No ___

5. Is venting amplified to those around you when things get rough? Yes ___ No ___ 

6. Do you fear or ignore financial problems rather than enjoy your assets?  Yes ___ No ___

7. Does music you play or listen to  keep you agitated and edgy?  Yes ___ No ___

8. Do you talk more when nervous or engage others by listening less?  Yes ___ No ___

9. Do you kill novel incentives or adhere to traditions because of panic? Yes ___ No ___

10. Do you model lack of diversity by failing to see wisdom in differences?  Yes ___ No ___

11. Do you fail to laugh at the little things or to laugh easily at yourself? Yes ___ No ___

12. Do you feel rejected or misread by people you care about deeply? Yes ___ No ___

13. Do big changes leave you cringing and worried? Yes ___ No ___

14. Do you glance into the future with more concern than celebration?  Yes ___ No ___

15. Do cynical mindsets seem to stomp out your innovation? Yes ___ No ___

16. Would a lack of focus be a typical characteristic in your day? Yes ___ No ___

17. Would you consider yourself vibrant and smarter because you overcome? Yes ___ No ___

18. Does discouragement lead you away from novel opportunities for growth? Yes ___ No ___

19. Are relationships tense or is trust lacking with people you value? Yes ___ No ___

20. Do you fail to integrate hard and soft skills to solve pressing problems? Yes ___ No ___

21. Does stress appear often in tone to act more as silent killer in conflicts? Yes ___ No ___

22. Do you fail to speak most names in thoughtful and generous ways? Yes ___ No ___

23. Does a past memory still roll over your emotions to sink or distress you? Yes ___ No ___

24. Do you look at complex problems with doom or hopelessness in mind?  Yes ___ No ___

25. Do you doubt your worth and downplay your talents frequently? Yes ___ No ___

Every YES response in these 25 stress inducers above highlight a highly toxic stress chemical that still lurks inside our awesome brains? They might slip in because you rarely hear you are loved, we hearken back to hurtful criticisms a loved one hurled, or we simply cannot get past the panic that comes from nowhere, and leaves us exhausted by toxic fumes.

When we learn to recognize our brain’s contorted moods caused by stress which results in rage, blame, or self-loathing, we grow ready to reboot our brains with new neural pathways replete with plasticity’s supercharged elixir to change itself. Our launching pad into mental and emotional freedom from stressors such as enormous fear, starts with a recognition of where stress leaks into our minds. After completing the survey above to spot hidden or disguised stressors still lurking in ambush, we’re ready to grab a tool from this series (see anxiety reducing tools listed below) and rewire our amygdala and hippocampus to sidestep stress and celebrate new strengths.

These 30 tools are described and referenced in this series

When it comes to stressors it is less important who is to blame for their presence, than how can we transform them into strengths. So we may not get the hug we crave from a loved one, and yet we still can rewire our enormous mental and emotional capabilities to take on and win over the 25 stressors above and more. How so?

Grab an anxiety reducing tool in these 50 listed supports above and alter one small behavior to lay down new neural connections. Let’s say we responded yes to stressors in number 12. Then we might apply the forgiveness tool in number 4, which helps us to move forward and find freedom in spite of an absence of hugs or kindness from another. It’s us who change and grow, with these tools, and that makes sense since it is also us who carries around the awe and wonder of emotion freedom from anxiety and fear.

What motivation to choose well and then act!

Broken pieces form magnificent mosaics, just as broken experiences can shape enormous emotional beauty. Self-manufactured Kinase A+ protein, the brain’s emotional health transformer, uses daily actions to rebuild (and even pass on) alternative mental habits that can overtake emotional features we inherit.

Let’s say we have a parent who over drinks and often rages at others when drunk. We may come with a weakness for addiction or anger disorder. Yet every time we avoid over-drinking, or act with kindness and care in a conflict, we become more likely to build new functions that we can possibly pass on as a strength to the next generation. This is especially good news for those who fear mental disorders they see in past generations, such as dementia.  

Kinase A Protein offers good news whenever we fear inheriting weaker mental qualities. We can now shout from the rooftops that we do not need to succumb to DNA failures in our past.  Thanks to research, we now have discovered a way to overrule unwanted cells in our DNA and replace these unhealthy proclivities with cells for wellbeing. We know that every trait we come with in our DNA pool resides within every cell of our body. Simply stated, that makes this process of healthy cells overtaking toxic cells, quite a feat.  We do make choices that help. To overrule addictive, or rage tendencies, for instance, we now know we can create new neural pathways for attributes such as balance and care, in ways that push their opponents out and settle in for your lifetime journey. Even more amazing, we can also pass along newly situated cells in our genetic offerings to our own offspring, and thereby break toxic cycles in children’s DNA also.

Good news – research shows how our brains come equipped with an extraordinary healing potent. Called Kinase A protein, it that can overtake or replace poor or negative genes in our DNA. How so? Protein kinase A is a family of enzymes with various functions in a cell, such as glycogen control, sugar regulation and, and lipid metabolism guides.

One of two gene functions can change our gene pool or DNA, if we act opposite to our natural tendency. Each cell in our body contains all our DNA. Genes make a new protein (Kinase A) when turned on or expressed, which alters the structure and function of the cell.

Simply stated – those actions we choose and do today could literally become another building block in our DNA. They could lay down new and healthier emotional and mental traits to become the person we’d like others to see in us, or to pass on through our birth children. 

Why fight cortisol and lose when we can win with kindness?

Emotional disorders such as depression set in when we may fight back but fail to find our way back from the blues. Just when we crave inner kindness most to regain emotional balance, we berate, beat up on, or begrudge ourselves in ways that block serotonin intake. Then, when we begin to regret this propensity, we only strengthen toxic grips that keep us down.  

Emotional health starts long before the toxic takeover of a major trauma.

Once we’re yelling at a child, blaming others, or trapped in miserable moods or memories, we’re not positioned for heavy-lifting needed to shake off emotional toxins. Brains bottleneck when we welcome toxic fumes yet hope to dismiss them at the same time. Cortisol doesn’t budge when we fight it, but flees with kindness to self and others.

We sometimes see people around us handle stress and its pressures far better. We may ask, Why do some seem to have less cortisol than others? And they do! If we remember that we are born with certain chemical levels and we also gain or lose more by the actions we do or choices we omit.

Few people refuse tangible offerings for higher brainpower, yet far fewer see themselves building brainpower by moving from cortisol traps to  serotonin taps. You?

To golfers, a serotonin tap may be a small bag of nuts with a few yogurt covered peanuts tossed in, and given on the 1st tee. Ask at the 9th hole – how serotonin tap impacted scores for the game. Nuts can turbo charge a golfer’s brainpower.

To cranky parents, a serotonin tap may be simply a smile and a few encouraging words. Each time we emulate good tone tools, we help others to rewire mentally for more of the same. Move tone into action by modeling its strengths and we set our mental stage for newly inspired insights from multiple intelligences.

To aging neighbors, a serotonin tap may be a challenge to remove barriers and add opportunities for newly discovered adult brain cell regeneration. We may yearn for youth because we cling to common myths that adult brains cannot grow new cells or regenerate current connections. New neuro discoveries challenge seniors to age voraciously rather than retire graciously.

To unemployed friends, a serotonin tap may be a survey to highlight hidden or unused intelligences. Inquiring minds spark more working memory which is less available to those who settle for old or  revert to ruts that shape old socks.

To burned out peers, a serotonin tap might be suggestions about how sleep choices are vital. Or it could be a few tips about how to renew with the brain in mind. We’ll likely find far more serotonin taps in brain-powered settings, while far more cortisol shots tend to exacerbate problems in toxic seas of cynics. Luckily, through newly discovered neuro tactics, we can improve brainpower and add hope to circles we frequent.

Brains may bottleneck when we welcome toxic fumes but they flourish if we embrace serotonin every time cortisol strikes. Not that toxins budge when we fight them, but cortisol flees with kindness to self and others.

Our amygdala holds the next reaction we make to emotional stress

COFFEE CONSIDERATION 38: Wonder what tirades or tenderness our emotions will gen up today? Happiness or horror sensibilities get stored in our amygdala daily. Past reactions to challenges shape future responses that await in our amygdala for reuse in similar situations.  

We’ll either flare up for a fight or manage finer moods that trigger healthier reactions. It depends less on triggers and more on merry or miserable moods stored through previous reactions. Smile rather than stress and we store kindness by default. Meet a cranky retort with a compassionate reply and we can expect robust replies for a similar response next time we encounter emotional snipers.

Reflection after Tool 38 use: Reactions in the moment default to our amygdala’s emotional wheelhouse, only to reappear as a grin or a gripe depending on what’s stockpiled. See why anxiety arises or why we react with worry and fear? Or see how emotionally confident strides show up by default to help us deflect those future fearful stings?

COFFEE CONSIDERATION 39: To maintain emotional and mental wellbeing we integrate hard and soft skills as more effective tools to resolve stress-related problems.  Traditional hard and soft skills seem ill-suited for mental and emotional tools essential in this era.  Hard skills for instance, emphasized “rational,” as left-brain functions thought to supersede emotions both in quality and content.  Soft skills operate right-brain in contrast, or “emotional” operations, and often appeared less valued, less remunerated and with fewer credentials required.  New facts about human brains bring into question old definitions of both rational and expressive actions.

Examples of smart skills that draw from hard and soft skills as published in Wiley International Handbook of Mentoring, include tools to process a brain’s chemical and electrical circuitry along with skills to apply specific actions that optimize brain functions to improve real life situations.

Separation of hard and soft are supported in traditional careers such as engineering for hard skills and fine arts for soft skills. In fact a few are ranked higher and become worth more money and prestige.

Smart skills however integrate engage whole brain functions for the era we have now entered, with emotional and mental benefits from both right and left brain hemispheres.

Reflection after Tool 39 use: No need to let development of these emotional aids for decreasing anxiety in tough times, add to your busy assessment schedule though. The sample chart below is monitored mostly by learners – yet kept and checked by a facilitator, who gathers information to foster growth.

This 50-smart-skill-chart allows us to resolve situations on personal levels with less anxiety, and to skip around in ways that develop unique anxiety-reducing supports. It’s especially useful to show evidence of emotional smart skills that support calm reactions in anxious moments.

What if you see today and improve it as a genius would?

COFFEE CONSIDERATION 40: The moment we spot a problem, an invention awaits our creative mind. According to Robert Lee Holtz, Wall Street Journal Science Columnist, Researchers found that sudden insights or Eureka moments show unique neural activity in EEG sensors.

Why invent intelligent solutions to replace anxiety we feel? With each problem we spot, our brain adds plasticity to invent an innovative solution that benefits all concerned. Anxiety adds the opposite of genius force if we vent or complain and seal our fate for misery. Discovery and invention, core tools of innovative genius, dies if stress or anxiety reigns. What if we look at today’s possibilities as a genius would?

Look at our day with the brain in mind, and we see possibilities pop up alongside every problem we face. Furthermore, wherever a compelling idea exists that will solve a problem we face, an invention awaits our touch today. How so?

Sure, curiosity fuels an inventor’s ignition, and great questions spark brainpower for creative answers. Yet we hold endless talents to invent dynamic improvements to transform stress into a calm and innovative way forward.

Check out Jeff Hawkins’ inventions in a video posted at Nibipedia, to see how brain research is changing the way computers will operate in future. You’ll likely know Jeff from creative solutions such as the Palm Pilot, and the Treo, yet he’s since moved into applied neuroscience full-time. Watch for even more dynamic inventions from Jeff in the near future, as he combines brains and better computing devices. 

In similar ways to Hawkins, Michael Neuvirth‘s company Chutzpatent, invents creations that change the world. In his blog, Doctor of Invention, Michael makes innovation appear as easy as the inspiration that drives his own thinking. What solutions could that fact yield from our brainpower by the end of the day?

Not surprisingly, when we believe in solutions enough to create an invention,  we’re also ready mentally and emotionally to demonstrate those beliefs with robust results.

Checkout life-changing facts about our brain that help to power-up invention on a daily basis. The opposite is also true. Rarely does invention spring from worrisome, anxious environments or by living mental mythsMultiple intelligences fuel invention though, in contrast to complaining, venting, stressing or anxiety that all tend to work against healthy or calm problem solving.

What problem might we encounter today that calls for an invented improvement and compels our brainpower into action?

Have you ever thought of practicing to be a genius at anything? Several gurus in intelligence, claim that endurance and hard work get higher grades than raw intelligence scores from IQ tests. Do you agree?  Einstein claimed he was no more intelligent than others – but he stayed with problems longer. You?

Ericsson calls this the 10-year-rule. Simply put, it takes 10 years or 10,000 of committed practice to master complex skills. You may remember Anders Ericsson‘s work from its reference in the Outliers, which landed in top 10 books of 2008.

Dynamic brainpower yielded by practice makes sense if we consider that each night our brain rewires – based specifically on what you did that day. How does our world shape our brain for benefits – even in tough times? Or how can we learn to expect calm under pressure?

Neuro-discoveries changed life forever, yet it’s up to each one how they will win or lose because of these changes. People complain that youth are losing their love for books. If we consider how brains work, though, we’ll see how innovation happened over time. We’ll also see how new brain discoveries can work in our favor for the future. Think of change here as the tug-of war between a brain’s basal ganglia which is a bit like a backpack and working memory which is more like a wine glass that holds a few doable facts at any time. How does innovation work here?

Whenever we interact more with technology we rewire for more of that back-and-forth sort of learning engagement, and we likely grow less interested in reading without much opportunity for active exchanges, for instance. It’s the same for anything we do today — the action itself shapes neuron pathways to follow and reconfigures our brain for future interests and actions. It’s wild when we think about a brain shaped differently daily – yet it’s based on our decisions to act. Why so?

Brains rewire through stimulation to the world around us. Plasticity kicks in and it’s quite miraculous when you think about it. Simply put, action on our part sparks changes in our brain’s shape and capacity.  Sure, coach potato passivity yields far less rewiring, and attending  lectures can work against our brainpower, yet multiple intelligences can help us invent daily.

Not surprisingly, highly talented change agents tend to rely more on their working memories, that short term memory system that maintains relevant information in active status, which can be accessed quickly to solve problems. We also create serotonin settings, to avoid anxiety-causing pressures that limit our attempts to create solutions.  Under pressure innovation withers.

Reflection after Tool 40 use: Our working memory rarely receives enough credit for its capability in our day. It’s quite miraculous when used. How so? Tiny as a thimble, it’s in tug-of-war with our basal ganglia which stores boring routines and ruts. Don’t get me wrong, without our basal ganglia, we’d lose our way to work, go naked, and likely forget how to drive.

Yet it’s our working memory that nudges us to risk innovations that can change lives. It grows in size with use, while boring habits hold it back. We store isolated facts in the brain’s basal ganglia till they stink like dead fish, yet working memory plucks them out and integrates into new directions.

Our brain’s equipped to hold ruts and routines up the gazoo, and in mental comfort zones. This is why we can even bore ourselves at times. Bureaucracy, tenured positions, and tired traditions do it best! Luckily though, it doesn’t have to be that way.  We can reboot daily for far more!

Facts fly at brains far too fast to act on all. It’s important to note that facts not acted upon will flee our working memory to make room for new fads flying in. If we knew the power or limits of working memory we’d never encourage one-shot workshops for those who crave lasting change?

Constantly try out new ideas that reshape or replace old worn out practices, and we begin to grow our working memory for creating effective and lasting change. Our basal ganglia refuses to work with new ideas — it’s created to default back to ruts. Know that and we live much more in our working memory. Ignore it and we settle for stagnation.

Our basal ganglia is like the brain’s packrat for all experiences and routines. We can live beyond it and risk the discomfort of wonderful new journeys into growth, rather than allow our basal ganglia to snare yet another day with its fears or worries. Check out these brain myths stored in basal ganglias to rate our brainpower and we prime innovation in working memory  realities.

When we practice a new skill we begin to shift fleeting ideas from the working memory into application and a lifetime storage within the basal ganglia.  New knowledge works in our favor on a regular basis when we sustain change and growth as on-going practices to prevent ruts that kill innovation in our life. Ready for the challenge of a lifetime?

No magic bullet can offer stress-free solutions to every learning setback seen in this YouTube video. Consider though, how information technology, distance education, and other biotech inventions generate change from knowing a thing?  Innovation shapes enormous challenges and yet offers advantages with significant results.

At MITA International Brain Center we ask: How will higher education transform neuro-discoveries into brain centered practices that propel higher education into a new era? We’ve discovered international and local challenges within brains that can cause university communities to resist even the kind of innovations that thriving entrepreneurs model. How so? Our basal ganglia, or the mental equipment for safe routines creates a sort of tug-of-war with our  working memory, and the winner determines our stress-free ability to invent improvements and move forward.