I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about the brain. Basically, mindfulness is re-training the brain to be here now, and priming it for happiness. Did you know that every day that amazing organ inside your skull is developing new pathways, reinforcing old pathways, with much of this activity as a reflection of our experience… that is, what we are doing and thinking. We get stuck in old grooves and rarely try new ones… like a record (if you are old enough to remember LP’s) that gets stuck and plays the same ol’ tune.
So, the answer is (drum roll)… the brain loves novelty. Novelty is also associated with release of dopamine… the love chemical 🙂
There is a reason why people go on holidays to new places aside from the relaxation and break from work… it’s all new! The brain loves to experience new and different places, sights, sounds and smells…. because it brings the mind completely into the present moment… the only place to find peace, inspiration and excitement. Remember a time where you were last excited or inspired? My guess is that you were completely in the moment, like a surprise or pursuing something you are passionate about.
Do we need to go on holidays to experience this? Of course not…mindfulness is all about finding novelty in the everyday, being curious about others, things, places.. as Henry Miller said:
“Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music- the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself”.
So, do you need a kickstart? I did a one month experiment this January where I resolved to do one new thing a day. This thing does not need to be big, just something new and perhaps out of your comfort zone. It can be as simple as taking a new route, making a phonecall, being brave and saying something that needs to be said, or better yet, changing an old pattern by NOT reacting in the usual way, trying a new sport for new neural pathways and body memory, eating a new food, spending time with someone new, being curious about a particular topic, exploring a new hobby. You might be surprised by how routine we can become…and..
You might be amazed at a few things:
- one new choice can lead to many more. It’s like a snowball gaining momentum. My new interest in photography has led me to new people, places, awesome art and also gateways to other creative pursuits
- you can expand your comfort zone in ways you never knew existed. By doing One. New. Thing.
- You might find your fears around certain things might not be valid
- the bigger things can lead to the smaller things. Caution: you may begin to notice new, novel things and people in your life you overlooked before.
- Your new, bold, novel choices affect others. When others see what you are doing, or not doing, they may be ruffled or surprised, but you are showing them a new path that is OK.
- It is never too late to try new things, stop old patterns and change your brain!
- Think of one thing, however big or small (doesn’t have to be bungee jumping) you have wanted to do, or felt the need to do, and do it today if possible.
2. Set a reminder on your cell phone if you carry one (I used Habit Maker.. it’s free) otherwise a sticky note will do to do One New Bold Choice Everyday… even if it means going to bed earlier. Stay open to new possibilities.
Hop on over to Facebook at Mindful Living Now and let me know what new, bold choices you are making for yourself and others.
“You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.”
― Tina Fey, Bossypants
ps… if I ended up doing double-blacks on a new ski hill, then anything is possible :0