Direct Your Feet to the Sunny Side of the Street

Charlie the Labradoodle has all four feet directed to the sunny side of the street. I think that brain chemistry and mental health are fascinating subjects.  And, I think that the power of diet, exercise and intention to affect brain chemistry and mental health are sometimes lost on people (including myself).

Here are some interesting tidbits (or bits of tid, as my hysterically funny friends Ryan and Lisa would say) on the subject that I hope you’ll find intruiging too.

Martin Seligman

A recent Globe and Mail article, The wedding's over. Now what?, mentions a new book by University of Pennsylvania researcher Martin Seligman about positive psychology.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“In his new book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being, bestselling author Martin Seligman even goes so far as to say that we should teach positive psychology exercises in schools. He moved into the study of positive psychology after 30 years in traditional psychology, which “had been almost exclusively about removing the disabling conditions rather than creating the enabling conditions for people to flourish.” One of Dr. Seligman’s top exercises is the What-Went-Well practice. (It’s also called the Three Blessings.) In order to overcome the brain’s “natural catastrophic bent” – our sky-is-falling tendency to dwell on bad things that could happen – we have to learn the skill of thinking about what went well. From an evolutionary point of view, catastrophic thinking is a survival tool. The Neanderthal who focused on how cool his cave was, but neglected to worry about food, did not survive.”

Read the whole Globe and Mail article here.

Gretchen Rubin

Two of my amazing girlfriends recently gave me a copy of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (which I mentioned in a recent post is one of the books on my nightstand) and it has a great accompanying website. A recent post about re-evaluating your mantras caught my eye and made me think about one of my favourite self-help authors, who I’ll mention in a minute.

Rubin  says,  mantras “can have an enormous influence on the way that you act and the way that you think.” See the video below for more.

Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins, one of my favourite self-help authors, gave a talk to students at the Harvard Business School which was recapped in the student newspaper called The Harbus.

Robbins described a “four-step framework that he says anyone can use to create an absolute competitive edge for themselves”. Those four steps (which you can read about in more detail in The Harbus here) are:

  1. Raise your standards
  2. Create a unique identity and consistently live it
  3. The power of state
  4. Give more

Regarding step three, “the power of state”, which is similar to Rubin’s mantras, Robbins said this:

“Living life the way you want is rooted in understanding that the body tells the brain how to feel. He noted that once you understand how to efficiently adjust your physiology – by studying and learning your physiological habits – you will always have the power to ensure you are in the best state to deal with work, academics, or family.”

Also echoing Rubin’s mantras and Seligman's "What-Went-Well practice" is chapter eight of Robbins’ book, Awaken the Giant Within, titled “Questions are the Answer.” Robbins says that by asking the “right” questions we can change our mental state and improve our quality of life. What are the right questions? Robbins states that “our questions determine our thoughts” and therefore “a genuine quality of life comes from consistent, quality questions.”

Don’t roll your eyes until you’ve tried asking yourself some quality questions! I have a little piece of paper in my nightstand that has morning questions and evening questions to being and end the day. I challenge you to try asking yourself these questions regularly and see what happens!

From Awaken the Giant Within:

Morning Power Questions

  • What am I happy about in my life now?
  • What am I excited about in my life now?
  • What am I proud about in my life now?
  • What am I grateful about in my life now?
  • What am I enjoying most in my life right now?
  • What am I committed to in my life right now?
  • Who do I love?
  • Who loves me?

Evening Power Questions

  • What have I given today?
  • What did I learn today?
  • How has today added to the quality of my life or how can I use today as an investment in my future?