2020 Change or Stay the Same?

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Feeling stressed, alone or overwhelmed during a holiday, while those around you seem to revel in festivity and fun? If so, you’ll be glad to know that our brains hold enormous tools for another run at a life in a healthier, more enjoyable lane. It’s also true that when we change an unhelpful habit or routine, we also change the chemical and electrical circuitry of our brains for doing more of the same.

Whenever we slam into ruts or slip into broken routines and find ourselves frustrated, we also bump up against choices to change. For this purpose, our brains come equipped with working memory that lifts us beyond stress for another go at life. Find festivity and we also boost our intrapersonal IQ. How so?

When we live each day as it should be, in spite of setbacks, we also lift our capacity to live well when barriers appear. Scott Fitzgerald said it best.

Our brain’s basal ganglia keeps us running on endless treadmills, but working memory, in contrast, gets us up and running toward new and finer destinations. What’s not to love here? We move from stuck and frustrated to talented and transformational by using working memory to shift gears mentally.

Let’s say we hope to relate better to that family member who always seems angry at us, or rarely seems to appreciate who we are. Or perhaps we feel alone and long to belong to a caring circle where we can become the person we want others to see in us. In both cases working memory enables us to rely less on miserably tired traditions that ticker-tape across our minds in endless succession. Why slip back into unhealthy habits such as sadness that robs holiday fun, when working memory hands us a “get out of jail free card.”

Regardless of age, situation or background, our brains come equipped to propel our life and leadership to new heights. Tap into its wonder and wealth, and we find ourselves letting go of robotic routines in favor of desired new directions. How so? Start by identifying beliefs you live by. Since faith sits at the center for me I look for doable ways to access agape love to fuel working memory efforts to learn something new in an enjoyable and fun way. So I remind myself of personal value and worth, beyond my capabilities, and because of undying love. In spite of stalls and setbacks, for instance, I set aside time daily to learn piano to play some of my favorite hymns. For me, agape love that I access daily helps me to engage working memory and risk moving away from frustrating challenges of playing piano for the first time, toward my goal of talented and transformational piano playing.

As I increase awareness of God’s unconditional love, and working memory’s wonder, I am better able to live a more joyful day in spite of setbacks. You?

Our working memory positions new facts up front, so other parts of the brain can use any finer possibilities we place there to help us problem solve. It’s a bit like a sticky note on our brain. It holds new remedies, insights, possibilities or data in a temporary grip as we craft and reshape a better pathway forward.

Neglect Working Memory and Progress Stalls

Our mental problem-solving equipment not only increases and refines focus on fun, it also offers us new ready-to-use facts we need most whenever stress stalks us. And good news, we hone mental skills for personal wellbeing each time we use it well.

Don’t be deceived by its small size though. Although our working memory offers us only one data bit at a time, its mental capacity holds vital facts we can weave into life-changing solutions for complex problems.

Be Aware of Hot Spots

Join a service group such as Rotary, or get active in a golf or bowling group to see working memory at its best. Recent research at Monitor on Psychology suggests how working memory offers possibilities as hot spokes that drive more fulfilled individuals and teams.

Want resilience that overtakes stress and leads others past tough places too? Find amazing solutions illuminated by working memory’s ready to roll mental miracle.

Beyond Setbacks that Hold Us Back

!Basal Ganglia

Benefits of working memory enable us to move beyond a business-as-usual approach, and raise our expectations for  wonders that come daily if we learn, risk, lead, and propose new alternatives to broken routines.

Unlike our brain’s basal ganglia that defaults us into habits and routines or slides us into ruts, the working memory springs us forward to triumph in life-changing opportunities.

Progress and new directions are merely a matter of stepping forward again, but with our working memory in mind.

How Working Memory Kicks In

Unless looking for lost golf balls that hide behind bushes and hold up fellow golfers, it’s often best to stay with a thing until we find what we are looking for. Working memory helps us discover and benefit from hard-to-see innovative answers on opposite sides of broken issues!

The brain’s working memory kicks in to land life-changing dreams, when we GO FOR IT. On the flip side of waiting for windfalls – we run as winners toward What if … possibilities. Working memory equips us to land new deals and sidestep old snares. A teenager showed how it works best, even when we face overwhelming stress or other holiday handicaps.

An autistic teen ran for his chance, from a basketball bench when his team lost yet another devastating shot.  J-Mac wondered what if he could score – in spite of the fact he’d never before been allowed off the bench.  With all hope to win the game already lost, the coach pointed to J-Mac, who suddenly shocked an entire nation.  As if Magic Johnson shot, he scored 20 points in the final four minutes. Working memory kicked in and an autistic teen won the title for Greece Athena High School. Nobody except this alert teen expected it. In fact, when denied a place on his dream team, J-Mac  agreed to serve as water boy, cheer leader, and captain just to participate.

In Spite of Setbacks Hold Onto a Dream

A resilient what if question led J-Mac to win gold on his first time off the bench, and the same brain equipment will kick in for each of us. Working memory triggered a best selling book for J-Mac with Daniel Paiser titled,  The Game of My Life: a True Story of Struggle, Triumph and Growing Up Autistic. We may not end up on CNN with book deals as J-Mac did, but imagine a barrel of fun and festivity stoked into our lives today.

Wins rarely take as long as people think, and often come with more missteps than most expect. J-Mac put it this way, “My first shot was an air ball. Then I missed a lay up., and then as soon as the second shot, as soon as that went in, I started to catch fire.”

Think like a Genius

Ask what if, and jump in with two feet? Let’s power up both sides of our brain, as J-Mac did in the last few seconds of that losing game. From the second he suited up, J-Mac expected gold. Others saw an autistic player enter an already lost game.  J-Mac spotted an opportunity and his working memory did the rest to set up a win.   It’s the same working memory that let those few see J-Mac’s genuine talent, and that let’s us choose a growth mindset when we risk running toward a win!

The way we think and act determines if we stall or step-up our intrapersonal IQ, which contains emotional IQ and our ability to increase mental health in spite of difficult situations.  Score ten intrapersonal items below to see your intrapersonal score. Scores from 8 to 10 rock very healthy IQ in the intrapersonal areas. Bravo!

People with higher intrapersonal IQ 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.

Complete the survey below to identify your b responses:

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

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

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

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

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

3. b). Higher intrapersonal IQ – apologizes, enjoys letting go, starts again, and enjoys hope

4. a). Lower intrapersonal IQ – blames self when things go wrong and fails to fix.

4. b). Higher intrapersonal IQ – admits wrongdoing – and focuses on crafting new starts

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

5. b). Higher intrapersonal IQ – accepts that stuff happens and finds new paths forward

6. a). Lower intrapersonal IQ – worries failure will always or mostly define us

6. b). Higher intrapersonal IQ – accepts failure and then attempts to improve next time

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

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

8.  a). Lower intrapersonal IQ – denies, runs from, or avoids facing inevitable conflicts

8. b). Higher intrapersonal IQ – faces problems while taking an active role to improve situation

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

9. b). Higher intrapersonal IQ – enjoys being alone at times and engages some events alone

10. a). Lower intrapersonal IQ – blames failure on our past and sees past handicaps as fixed

10. b). Higher intrapersonal IQ – dreams beyond past injustices and strategizes a finer future

Good news! 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. But the brain uses our actions to upgrade its effectiveness.

The benefits of growing higher intrapersonal IQ 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 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 winning brainpower as this teen did. Start by mentally reinventing a novel approach to a problem that holds back paying delight forward. What if questions open success opportunities, one brain cell at a time. Stoke curiosity for what could be, and our brain’s creative capability begins to convert ordinary steps into winning strategies toward finer futures.

Brain gurus would say J-Mac generated new neuron pathways to achieve his dream. Whatever we call this mental reboot, it takes less effort and adds more dividends to a day than most people predict. What if we triumphed today, as J-Mac hit gold, over one challenge we face?

Why let our brain’s basal ganglia default into boring routines or slide you into ruts, when our  working memory can spring you forward to triumph in life-changing opportunities. Worth a risk?

When Working Memory Kicks In

Einstein claimed he was no smarter than others, but simply stayed with problems longer than most people. Our brain’s working memory comes equipped to help us stay with problems, learn new facts and come up with cool creative paths forward.

In fact, whenever we look for new answers or attempt to create original anything, our brain’s working memory kicks in, And while it may not always hand us life-changing outcomes, working memory adds zest to any day. Let’s say we decide to create a children’s book to teach younger readers about their awesome brains.  Ask, what if  a young reader  understood and enjoyed learning new brain facts?  … and working memory helps us to write about new brain facts in a language and style so that delight can happen. How so?

With all hope to win lost, the coach pointed to J-Mac, whose working memory suddenly shocked an entire nation.  As if Magic Johnson shot, this autistic teen used every fact available, in his working memory to score 20 points in the final four minutes.

Working memory kicks in magically when we expect awesome success, agreed to serve as water carrier if needed, and actively participate in whatever is needed to step forward in spite of setbacks.

A 2-footed question to engage working memory and get us on our way might be, What part of my best legacy could I launch and step toward today with delight and working memory? Write out a response in 25 words or less and ask a peer of family member to help you clarify those 25 words. Then simply take one deliberate step in the direction of your legacy target.

To customize my 2020 challenge, I posed the further 2-footed question, What daily act of kindness would leave others more appreciated and ourselves more victors than victims? That question sparked my working memory fueled project that I will start on Dec 25th to offer a kindness to somebody who least expects it on a daily basis and to record my kind acts in a special kindness calendar. The results should be fun and adventurous, and I cannot wait to start!

Remember, working memory wins rarely take as long as people think, and often come with more missteps than most expect. J-Mac ‘s first shot was an air ball. Then he missed his lay up. Nevertheless, as soon as the second shot, he jumped back into his dream shot, and in his words he, started to catch fire.

Working memory suits us up to catch fire and to expect we can mine gold. We simply use its new (and briefly held) facts to prosper before data flees from its tiny capacity.

Where to Begin to Achieve a New Dream

In most cases, what if questions can open successful opportunities. To ask what if, is to stoke curiosity and motivate a run for what could be. Thanks to  our brain’s creative capability we too can  convert ordinary steps and stalls into winning strategies forward.

Worth a risk? If so … you may enjoy this video that shows J-Mac’s brain in action when he needed it most.  Check out the amazing video illustration of J-Mac’s story. Or, help to create and manage a dynamic brain based culture of your own.

In spite of great books about memory and the brain’s amazing ability to remember, we still search frantically for keys as we fly out the door. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Books such as, How to Develop a Perfect Memory, by Dominic O’Brien, work well for those interested in remembering things like an entire deck of playing cards. And drawing from neuro-discoveries you can learn or create brain based tools to retrieve facts when you need them. How so?

Overlook keys? – Every time we put them down, snap them onto a bag usually carried.
Forget names? Use them a few times to address the person soon after hearing the name.
Fishing for facts to ace a test? Draw simple pictures with details, as we read or study these facts.
Forget directions to Martha’s house and end up at Harry’s instead? Jot down street names and left or right turns.

Surprisingly, forgetfulness comes from the ways we train our brains – often by default – to think more like slugs than superheroes. Frustration tends to follow, whenever we’re expected to perform like a race horse, and yet seem to head from the gates with the brain of a doorknob.

People who override the brain’s default for forgetting, tend to remember more when they reach into memory for names, keys, or directions. Do you?

Forgetfulness follows from our everyday choices, that rewire our synapses against remembering. Below are five surefire ways to empty key facts from our memory, while prompting people around us to expect we’ll forget again in future:

1. Eat a heavy meal before we give a talk and we’ll have to call our brain back to attention, for every bite it’s now working hard to digest. We just assigned our brain to the busy role of digesting. With a brain’s shifted focus,  how can we expect facts to pop up simply because we’re next on the speaker’s list.

2. Panic when key words flee, and we teach our mind to misfire or defend  panic, more than to create new neuron pathways to memories we need. Still looking for keys to open that door? One way to remember, is to hook keys onto the same familiar place. Panic may seem far faster on a busy day, but it robs brainpower from remembering?

3. Flip our keys into any corner nearby, and our brain fails to record the chaos created from constantly changing locations. Disorganized people may see tossing things around as part of getting on with their day. Unfortunately, disorder shapes our basal ganglia defaults into confusion – so it’s no wonder we fail to remember the last dark hole’s location.

4. Tell ourselves that memory leaks out with age, and watch our brain abandon dynamic plasticity and live up to our expected loss. Predict doom, and our brain abandons its natural proclivity to remember risk and adventure, in favor of an easier role of the slug we’ve just assigned it. Remember, brains are shaped by what we expect, and memory’s limited each time we perpetuate memory misconceptions. Eventually a new reality hard-wires in and we’ll forget what’s needed to keep our brain fueled and well oiled. We’ll forget that memory’s more about use it or lose it than about age.

5. Blast somebody near us for our lost keys, and our mind fills with the stress hormone, cortisol, that precludes remembering where they’re hiding. Cortisol comes with angry words, and shuts down the brain’s help to remember. Anger leaves us alone to find our damn keys again, on our own – without memory’s keen guidance. Has it happened to you?

Research supports common reasons that memory can fade through –

  1. Stress
  2. Pregnancy or menopause
  3. Thyroid problems
  4. Some drugs
  5. Depression
  6. Long-term excessive drinking
  7. Normal aging
  8. Concussion or head injury

The flip side of memory loss – is to develop tactics that sharpen memory when we need it most. For example, hook a new fact onto something already known. Whenever we link ideas to something familiar, we hang new knowledge hats onto familiar hooks inside our cranium. See how new facts stick?

When new facts hook onto known facts, our brain remembers where to find both. Take the lost keys, discussed earlier.  I hook keys in the same place daily and luckily haven’t had to search for years. What could we remember for a finer today?

People far younger than me waste endless hours looking for lost keys, while new research about memory and aging brains brings amazing good news monthly for those who use its tools.

Simple memory tricks magically free up our working memory  to focus on integrating new facts needed to solve real-life problems with life-changing actions.

For example, working memory holds new facts a very short time, so we may wish to  sketch the fact in a quick image or diagram next to its meaning.

Learned forgetfulness can be turned around today into a new brain based memory tool for tomorrow. New research about plasticity enables us to rewire your brain nightly as we sleep. It’s based on activities we do in memory’s favor that day. In other words, try any of the tips in this post, and that action alone will build new dendrite cell changes for remembering.

Try any of the new tricks below and jog our memory to  calm down and we’ll likely retrieve facts we need.

Start here just for the fun of remembering – and then try one tip to add zip that will stoke your day.

a. Eat light and avoid fats and sugars before a talk, presentation or a think tank.

b. Stay calm and link what we hear to what we already know so when we hear a name we link it to a feature on a person’s face. I once met a guy called “Harry Bignose,” who had a hairy nose the size of a country pump. OK – that one was easy.

c. Attach a small hook onto our keys and snap them onto a belt or bag, but make sure it is the same place repeatedly, so our brain grows new neuron connectors for finding keys in the same place.

d. Tell somebody else about these tips and tools to improve holiday memories. Did you know that to teach a thing at the same time we learn it, helps us retain 90% more of what we learn. Not bad returns for sharing a simple tip to help a forgetful friend.

e. Thank people around us for anything they do in our favor and our brain stirs in serotonin, a hormone that fuels well being. Not surprisingly, serotonin also opens the brain to peak memories, just as anger causes the brain to forget.

Did I just say we can teach our brain to forget?  OK, it’s true … and now the secret is out. Our brain operates more by how we use it, than by our age. Good news for those who plan more than gracious existence and expect to age voraciously – with memory in tact.

Teens also love to use these 25 brain based study skill tips to learn more, in less time, and with fun strategies, that draw more from their awesome brains.

It’s often a simple case of outsourcing core facts, to free up our mind to relax and enjoy a holiday, for instance. How so? Why not remember directions next time a person tells us three turns at main intersections – by outsourcing brief details into a list written to ensure our memory’s peak performance to get us there. Simply list three adventures you plan to do on your holiday. Then do them delightfully, whether alone or with others.

Emotional health often determines our change or stagnation, and new research shows how our emotions survive even after memories vanish.

Only low intrapersonal IQ can keep us stressed, alone or overwhelmed during a holiday, while others with higher emotional IQ seem to revel in festivity and fun. As discussed earlier, our brains hold enormous working memory tools for another run at an overcoming life in a healthier, more enjoyable lane.

When we live each day as it could triumph over setbacks, we also lift our capacity to live well when barriers appear. Scott Fitzgerald said it best. It’s never too late to change and to choose new adventures that will replace old habits that hold us back for another year.

If looking for ready-to-roll materials to benefit from more working memory, check out my TpT site.

Related tool: Yearly planner with brain boosters and prompts to reboot your brain so that you tap and develop hidden and unused capabilities.

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Created by Ellen Weber, Brain Based Tasks for Growth Mindset