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Stretch Your Thinking and Turn Up the Volume

9 Apr

My life feels so packed these days. If I add one more thing, I just know I will explode.  Each day, however, I am bathing my brain with nourishing activity and firing up my neurons without taking away from what I need to accomplish or using any additional precious time. I consciously turn up the noise and amplify what I am already doing.

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The really cool thing about this process is that you don’t need to add more activities nor do you have to find time to fit anything in. You simple must be aware of more that is going on around you and experience more.

Here’s a pretty mundane example. I woke this morning to a sink filled with yesterday’s dishes that I could not leave all day.  I had to suck it up and get them done.

I live in Southern California and we are experiencing an extreme drought so it is crucial for everyone to be strategic about water use especially when doing every day tasks like doing the dishes. With that in mind, I sorted the dishes so I could fill a big bowl (one that held last night’s popcorn) and use that water to rinse everything that needed to move to the dishwasher. That fired up the area of my brain that plans (executive functioning) and sorts (categorization).

CategorizationI tried to focus my attention on how the water, the sponge, and the different types of dishes felt.  I closed my eyes and tried to identify the material as I reached for each item focusing on my sense of touch. That let my brain know that I can identify what I need with more than one sense and kept that area of my brain active.

We always have a soundtrack playing in our house. This morning that was the early news. As I went through the motions I switched my attention to what was happening on the news. They were talking about opening day at Petco Park, the San Diego Padres home ballpark.  So… I took myself on a mental trip to ballpark and imagined the sounds and smells I associate with going to a baseball game. Two more senses fired up and fully engaged.  And I caught myself smiling….

Hose line

All of this took no extra time and I did not add things to my overstuffed life. I just boosted the quality and value of those moments by stretching my thinking and being conscious about nourishing my brain.

Here’s a quick puzzle using a photo that shows what it is like to really stretch! How quickly can you find the three differences in this Find the Difference puzzle?

little man greibel puzzle

What activity will you use today to turn up the noise on your life?

Monday Morning Melodies

14 Sep

A few weeks ago I volunteered in the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation booth at the AARP Ideas@50 conference doing memory screenings for all who visited the booth. I met and spoke to so many kinds of people from vast and varied backgrounds. Each, without regard to background or education level, was worried about memory – not all for the same reasons but all genuinely concerned.

Here was my message to them and now, to you. Fill your life with things that keep you active, make you want to stay involved, challenge you to do and be more, and make you smile. Amplify your experiences by infusing more of everything that feels good. Make each and every everyday task a fuller, richer sensory experience and you will, without question, enhance the quality of your life.  Be happier, smile more, feel hopeful, and dive into the sensory experiences in your life and…the rest will follow.

Let’s dive in just a bit more deeply.

Music fills my life and fuels my brain like nothing else. It engages my senses, transports me in time and space and fires emotions.  Music can help me look at life through a different lens and can actually change how I feel.  How many times have you put on music to lift your mood or change your outlook? I rely on music to help me remove obstacles, change my perspective, and find my way to answers big and small. How many passive activities — just sitting back and listening — can do that?  Now that is real power.

I can amplify that experience even more by engaging more actively!  Dancing (yep, chair dancing does count) fires up those pathways that send messages to the rest of my body. Dancing also involves coordination, balance, and timing so, even more than running on the elliptical (my addiction) or resistance training, dancing involves higher thinking processes.

On those days where I know I need a real brain booster and mood lifter I sing, reading the lyrics as I go!  Ready for an exhilarating, smile inducing brain workout?  Prepare to fire up your language centers and workout your smile muscles!  Here are some of my favorite perspective changing sing-a-long songs (with lyrics included).

When the world is spinning out of control and I need to find some hope, this song lifts me up. See if any of the words, as you sing a long, surprise you, move you, or change your perspective.

How about multi-tasking? Singing, dancing, and smiling!

Sweet memories with this one. A few of the lyrics are not what I remembered!!

What song makes you smile, inspires you, makes you want to move? Look it up on YouTube, type “lyrics” behind the title and sing a long!


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