Here we are, a week and a half into the new year. It’s been a bit rough so far, hasn’t it?
When I sat down to write this, I looked at what’s going on in the world, the holidays this month, etc. It’s always a bit fun, as, sometimes, the holiday of the day is pretty weird.
Today is Houseplant Appreciation Day. Well, my brother Pat would poke a bit of fun at me with that one! I got a small spider plant for Christmas from one of our other brothers, and Pat said that no one can kill those things – except me. I pinched him, but it’s true that over the years he has given me plenty of spider and other house plants and none have survived… I think I don’t have enough sun shining into this house to give them what they need. (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)
Because of events in the last few weeks, in the US, and in honor of Martin Luther King Day, I think I’ll talk about kindness today. For some of us, kindness is second nature, but during tough times, it can be a difficult practice to keep up. Here is one of my favorite MLK quotes: “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
Most of us want to be kind, and try to do things like: chat a bit with our grocery clerks, send notes/cards to relatives far away or people in assisted living homes, call on our elderly neighbors to see if they need anything when we go to the grocery store, etc.
One way to remind ourselves to make a special effort to be kind each day is to piggyback our small act of kindness with another task that we already do. For instance:
- When writing up our grocery list, we could place a note in colored marker at the top of the list reminding us to call a neighbor who is a single mom to see if we can pick up anything for her while we’re out.
- Or, add a note to the bottom of the list to pick up a couple of cans of veggies to drop off at the food bank on the way home
- While combing our hair, have a box of notecards near our comb with a list of people we want to send a little note off to, and take a minute or two to write one up at least a couple of times a week.
- While physical restrictions are still in place, we can make a list each Monday of people we want to chat with this week and leave it by the phone charger, so every time we charge up, we’ll be reminded to give someone that we know lives alone, and may be lonely, a call. It may be the very thing that makes their day!
If we think a bit, I’m sure we can come up with lots of small ways to be kind, as well as how to make sure they get done, using the above examples.
This piggybacking a new habit onto a task we do anyway is something that the new science of Neuroplasticity has shown will help make new pathways in our brains to achieve goals that we want to accomplish. Rewiring our brains for new habits is easy when you know what tools to use. And, I will add here that willpower has NOTHING to do with why you haven’t been able to achieve these new goals/intentions thus far. It’s all about the wiring in our brains!
Making new dendrites in my brain has been important to me for a few years now, and one thing that I have piggybacked is improving my balance while brushing my teeth. Using a simple task like toothbrushing, which we all do twice a day, is important for re-wiring that efficient brain of ours. You see, our amazing brain steers us down the same old pathway for tasks that we do regularly, like brushing our teeth. The brain goes on autopilot to save energy. When we add something different like balancing on one foot, it’s difficult at first, but after a few weeks of balancing while brushing, every day, we have a new pathway that’s pretty strong, and so that efficient brain of ours prunes out the old one!
When that happens, I switch again! Right now, I am doing squats while brushing my teeth to improve my knee strength. It’s a little bit challenging at first, but after a few days, it becomes easier and after about a month or so, it’s second nature and I’ll switch it up again.
I’m really excited about these simple ways to keep making new pathways in our brains, and I’m constantly researching more ways to help our brains continue to make new pathways, grow new dendrites, etc. to help me keep the dementia demon away.
My next course on using Neuroplasticity to lose weight, up your workout game, or meet any goal that you’ve set, is coming up next week. If you want to make 2021 the year that you achieve all your health goals, while making new brain pathways, let me teach you how to use new brain science to do so, and you’ll have the tools you need to keep achieving those hard-to-reach goals for many years to come! Anything is possible when you have the right tools.
Meanwhile, try some “Super Brain Yoga” to keep that brain healthy!
Best of Health,