Training Brain Flexibility
I woke up very early this morning, took a quick shower and rushed to get in my car to catch a flight. On my way to the airport, I noticed an email from the airline letting me know that my flight had been cancelled, with no notification of rebooking a new flight. I was not happy, especially considering I had back-to-back flight delays causing a very long day of cross-country travel on my way here. Deep breath.
My driver was great, letting me know I had several options for airports here in New York, and we pulled over so I could call the airline. It turns out I had been re-booked on a flight that would require me to hang out for 6 more hours or I could go to a different airport, get on a multi-stop flight and arrive around the same time. Deep breath.
I took the later flight and rather than go hang out at the airport, which I would have done in the past, I decided to return to the hotel, check back into my room and take my time having breakfast, catching up on work, and perhaps catching a quick snooze. So here I am, reflecting on my morning and realizing that this is not how I typically operate. What’s happening to me? Why am I so calm right now?
As you may know, I hate to fly. In fact flying and public speaking are two of my greatest fears, so much so that I laughed at the idea of doing this work when it was first brought up about 8 years ago. I quickly declined the opportunity – “I don’t travel unless absolutely necessary and I definitely don’t get up on a stage.” Yet when I began to stretch out of my comfort zone and I realized the amazing opportunities that lie ahead if only I could push myself to do what I didn’t think I could do, one small step at a time, I found that the anxiety of travel and speaking became smaller as the intrinsic reward of speaking about healthy living became larger.
Through over a decade of research, both personally and professionally, I have seen the amazing potential of our brain to support us in accomplishing our most important missions in life. I’ve also seen and experienced how we can train our brain, using very simple strategies that we repeat over time, to be stronger, more flexible, and more resilient. And today I again experience the benefit of that training in my sense of calm during a time that once felt like a storm.
That’s not to say that this happens without an effort. It still takes a bit of extra energy to keep calm and mentally flexible in times of challenge, but I truly believe that the daily gratitude journaling I share with friends and family in addition to my daily brain recharge practice has made my brain operate in a much more effective and efficient way, giving me added mental flexibility.
If this is something you’d like to train in your own life, you can start with just 10 minutes of daily brain training: 1 minute each morning write down 3 things you’re grateful for and share them with someone if possible (I personally do this via Facebook for added accountability and in an attempt to make it contagious). Then, schedule three daily appointments for yourself to recharge your mental energy by allowing your brain to just be quiet.
You can download the free e-book The SHARP Brain Recharge on my website at www.synergyprograms.com/braingym. As you continue your practice you can develop more advanced recharge skills, but be sure to start with a strong foundation of just a few minutes at a time so that your brain doesn’t feel like it’s too much change for your system to tolerate. If you would like to try a more extended recharge break, join me for one of my free Monday Meditation Mixers, which I’ll be starting as part of the May SHARP Challenge – you can sign up here: www.learnitlive.com/heidihanna.