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The Power Source That is Our Minds

May 10, 2019 by  
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It’s totally amazing to me that the human brain can create so much energy of its own. Just a change of thought can quickly give you a huge burst of energy, and it’s not just when the brain stimulates the production of adrenaline because you have been suddenly surprised by a bear in the woods or get cornered by a stranger in an alley. We know that the brain also gives more energy to the body when it releases serotonin and dopamine, the feel-good hormones. And, of course, we are familiar with how setting a big, exciting goal can stimulate us too, getting us to jump out of bed in the morning and spring into action.

A man named Nando Parrado was able to save his life and 16 others when he set a huge goal, one that was literally a matter of life or death, in his mind, giving him an incredible amount of energy. That energy gave him enough strength and endurance to climb over the top of the highest peak in the Andes after he and 16 others survived a plane crash in those snow-covered mountains. He walked, climbed, and crawled in freezing temperatures for 11 days with virtually no food and lost 80 pounds in the process. His brain kept telling him that he could make it and save many others, which gave him the energy and strength to keep going. He had no equipment or experience in doing such a thing, and yet, he and a companion made it to safety.

You may remember the story. It was the subject of a TV documentary, a movie, and a book, all entitled Alive. The plane that crashed on that glacier high in the Andes was carrying members of the Uruguayan Rugby team to a match in Chile. Along for the ride to see the match were friends and family. On impact many of the 45 passengers on board were killed and others died within days. Still others died later from exposure and starvation and more died when an avalanche came racing down the mountain during one of those tragic nights. Only 16 survived and did so by eating the flesh of their dead teammates. They somehow miraculously stayed alive for 72 days with temperatures dropping below zero at night.

Without the energy created by the determination in Parado’s mind, everyone would have died. That certainly shows us the huge power buried in the human mind. We should never forget this story as it should motivate us to set goals and think about exciting things that stimulate our brain to create energy. These thoughts will, of course, make our lives more productive and exciting and help make the world a better place.

 

Learning About What It Takes to Make it to 100 … from Kids

January 27, 2017 by  
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kauai kidsI’m am sure hoping that you, my reader, are not getting tired of me talking about being on the beautiful beaches of Kauai and sharing some of my insights and discoveries on life and living. Why? Well, because I’m once again on the beach and am still thinking, talking and writing about “100 wonderful ways to live to be 100”. I do, however, want to add one of my own to that list to make it the list of “101 Ways to Live to be 100.”

The list of 100 does include “have a family” but I would add this to the list:

101. Hang out, play with, observe, and learn lessons from your kids and grandkids.

This addition to the list is one activity that will certainly bring a smile to your face and, no doubt, will add years to your life. Right now, as I write this, I’m watching my son and grandson as they begin their snorkeling adventure not too far from the shoreline. Their excitement, especially my grandson’s, is so sky high because it’s such a new experience for him. Meanwhile, I can see my wife and our 4-year-old grandson and his 8-year-old sister having an absolute ball splashing in a very small and shallow pool of water surrounded by coral and lava rock. Such simple entertainment can bring such a high level of joy and happiness.

As adults, we can, and should, learn so much from these kids. Why do such simple activities bring so much pure joy and entertainment? It’s because these things are new and unusual for them and our brains are always seeking novelty. When we experience new things, our brains are stimulated to produce two brain chemicals that make us happy, excite us, and make us feel good. Those two brain chemicals are serotonin and dopamine. The problem with being adults is that basically we’ve been there and done that so many times that it’s not new, novel, or exciting to us.

Heavens … you can give a small kid a cardboard box and it can keep him entertained and happy for an hour or more as the kid crawls in and out, over and under, or makes it into as a hiding place. As adults, we can, and usually do, get great satisfaction and joy from just watching kids do these things, especially when those kids are having a blast doing them.

So, my 101 on the list is to take time to hang out and closely observe kids doing, what is to them, new things and watch how much joy and fun they get out of it. Then go one step further (and maybe this step should count as 102 on the list) and challenge yourself to come up with new activities, adventures and experiences that are very novel to you and that will most likely stimulate those two pleasurable brain chemicals.

I’m pretty darn certain that stimulating those brain chemicals is a major factor in how I push myself to visit new and different countries and cultures and to go out of my way to meet new people and make new friends. Just today I saw this very tall, good-looking guy at Walmart and noticed he had an accent. I just had to go up and ask where he was from. My guess from his height and accent was that he was Dutch. And, sure enough, he was from the Netherlands. Rob turned out to be a film maker vacationing in Kauai. Even though it was a short conversation, we decided to stay in touch and I walked away feeling great from the brief encounter because, yep, those two brain chemicals were at work.

What new and novel things excite you? If you need help identifying new things to do and try, just ask around and see what other novel and exciting things people are doing. These new experiences don’t need to be elaborate or expensive. The simple act of meeting Rob today was great, and even just driving through a totally different neighborhood, or walking, hiking or jogging on a new mountain trail can do the trick. Take time right now to make your own list. It can be eating at a new restaurant, eating a new type of food, trying out a new exercise, or making friends with complete strangers.

It’s all so worth it because not only does it make you feel good right now but it’s bound to help you live longer and live in better health–maybe even to live to be 100!!

The Positive Activity List

April 13, 2012 by  
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We all have great wants and desires. Without them we’d have virtually no motivation to do anything. But there are a lot of hidden land mines that lie in our path just waiting for us to step on them and explode our dreams, desires, and goals. Our very wants and desires that are so important to our lives of passion can make us absolutely miserable if we don’t know what to do with ourselves.

As McGonigal states in her wonderful book The Willpower Instinct, “… desire is neither good nor bad–what matters is where we let it point us.”

We all know that frustrated desires can lead us to search out bad or negative ways to boost or otherwise change our mood—-by using drugs and/or alcohol, binge eating, or even going on a shopping spree. These all work well to increase dopamine and serotonin—those mood altering chemicals in our brain—giving us a high and one that can be addictive. These activities can too easily and too quickly become detrimental to our health, our finances, and our relationships. But what if you were able to increase these mood altering chemicals with something positive and productive, gaining a natural high and moving towards your goals at the same time?

I am sure anyone of us can come up with a few examples of positive activities and actions that will improve rather than harm our lives but let me give you some of my list. You can use these as a start or as examples for your own list. Use your positive experiences and what you want out of life to help create the ideas for your list.

Then when you feel yourself turning towards those old tried and true (and negative and harmful) options, chose something from this positive list instead. Do this diligently for at least a week and take note of how much better you feel about yourself and your life. I bet you’ll not only enjoy the activities you’ve used as substitutes but you will be much happier overall, looking back at all the positive and productive things you did.

Here is my list:

1. Work out: Just 6 or 12 minutes on the stair master, doing sit-ups and push-ups or using weights
2. Get a tennis game going
3. Write out my bests thoughts for the days
4. Read a good book
5. Listen to favorite music (create a custom playlist online)
6. Arrange a get together with family and friends
7. Get a massage
8. Hike or bike in mountains or just take a walk in the neighborhood
9. 5 to 10 minutes of meditation
10. 5 or 10 minutes of simple yoga

Now … what goes on your list?

**If you like what you’ve read in this blog please send it on to people you know and love, to people who you think this message and information may be very helpful. There is nothing in the world that brings greater satisfaction than helping other people. Don’t you agree?