You don’t have to be a genius to be a genius. In fact, some of the smartest people I know are not necessarily geniuses at getting the best out of their brains. But they don’t have to, ‘cuz they’re already geniuses! Now I don’t have the IQ of a genius, but I can be a genius at getting my brain to do amazing things for me. By attending to a handful of details in life, you, or anyone can get your brain to work at a high level of health, power and awareness.
I know the arguments against changing how you do things, here it comes…”it will take too much time,” or, “it’s too much of a risk, what if it doesn’t work?” To that I say if you knew how much your brain is involved in every aspect of your life, it would shock you! Your beauty, your thoughts, your weight, your children’s performance in school, your partner’s health, your future, your memory, sleep patterns…and this is just a partial list!…are all directly and indirectly affected by how you treat your brain. In fact, I challenge you to come up with one thing that troubles you in your life right now that is not related to your brain’s health!
If you make a commitment to check in and attend to your brain, you will change your life. So states Dr. Daniel Amen in “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life” and “Unleash the Power of the Female Brain”. I wholeheartedly believe him! I have lived these results and can guarantee that if you commit to making your brain healthier your quality of living improves in unimaginable ways.
15 years ago, when I discovered my sensitivity to sugar, flour and wheat I made a decision that has changed my life. At the time, I didn’t know how much this decision would positively impact everything about my future, or, how much I would learn because of it. All I knew was that when I ate any food with a high glycemic index, or with sugar flour or wheat, my stomach caused me pain and worse, my thoughts caused me pain. I suffered.
Suffering is what made the decision to stop consuming those foods and to stop consuming alcohol, easy. Ever since then, for the most part, my thoughts and consciousness is a friendly place for me. My reasoning and decision-making functions much better than it ever did before, and feeling good is a strong motivator to keep feeling good! My brain is on my team and it works for me!
After reading Daniel Amen’s work, I realize why. Those substances were unhealthy for my brain. When my brain wasn’t functioning well, my thoughts and cognitions were not accurate, kind or gentle. In essence my thoughts were not useful or helpful to me. One of the most important recommendations made by Dr. Amen for giving yourself a brain check is to look at what you are feeding it.
After over 80,000 brain scans assessing the qualities of highly functioning and healthy brains, he says, data overwhelmingly shows that our thoughts, perceptions and cognitions are effected by what we put in our body. Smoking, drinking alcohol, eating high fat or high sugar foods, severely diminish our ability to make good decisions, control our thoughts and conduct ourselves in relationships and work. Now I don’t mean to be a big party pooper and it probably sounds boring to give up all that fun stuff, but wouldn’t it be more fun to feel good? Can you imagine how it would feel to rely on your perceptions and executive function 100%? You can when you give your brain the chance to really do it’s job.
Here is a short ‘Brain Check List’ for you to get started. It’s not a complete list so let this just be a beginning step toward befriending your brain and taking care of it, so it can take care of you.
1-Lifestyle: Find ways to feed your brain. Learn new things in a social environment with other people. Exercise or get out in nature every day, preferably with other people. This also feeds your brain, pumping good, oxygenated blood into it. Try this every day and watch how your thoughts start changing. Do brain puzzles. Start a project based on your curiosity. One of my clients recently did a project by accident. He followed his curiosity about the game Dungeons and Dragons and while he was at the bookstore looking at books about it he got into a conversation with the sales clerk. Next thing he knew, he was hosting a game at his house with a bunch of new friends and he and his girlfriend were having a fantastic time!
2-Biological: Get a brain scan or have your hormone levels checked. Having your hormones out of balance or trying to function when your body is low on certain nutrients heavily affects your brain’s ability to do good work. Learn what areas of your brain need attending to and strive for balance.
3-Cognitive: Question some of the thoughts that are causing you to suffer. It may seem simplistic to say that all you have to do is think different thoughts to feel better and if it were that easy, wouldn’t everyone just do that? You don’t have to change your thoughts to feel better, but sometimes you do have to question your thoughts. If you have a thought that causes you to suffer, for example, “My world is unsafe.” Then you can inquire about that. Check it out! It may be an old thought or belief leftover from past experiences. It may be a thought you can do something about. According to Dr. Amen, “Harmful habits and wrong ideas were ingrained into you since you were a child.” One of these may be stuck on a replay loop in your consciousness. Byron Katie has a wonderful worksheet to help you inquire about thoughts that cause you to suffer, and then dissolve them. If your thoughts seem to uncontrollably gravitate in a negative or disturbing direction, challenge them! Use other resources to help you!
4-Environment: Even though our brains are separated from the outside world by bone and skin, our brains are very fragile and susceptible to outside influences. Toxins or poisons in the air, even other people’s emotions and eating habits can directly impact us! Be where you are happy being. I recommend playing the ‘Brain Game’ with yourself and with loved ones. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing or planning to do, check in and see if it is healthy for your brain. Do a brain check and if it’s not a healthy option for your brain, take a rain check!
Note: for some healthy and delicious recipes go to HealthyCookingWithLove.