Why did I listen to the bullies … and other questions worth contemplating?
A few days ago a colleague of mine gave me a book from his library by Dr. Amit Sood, Immerse: A 52-week course in Resilient Living. I started reading it — slowly — almost immediately. And I mean slowly; I’m not even to Week 1 yet (there are a handful of introductory entries).
Three gems stood out immediately.
- He asks himself, “Why did I listen to bullies and the teacher who didn’t care about my wellbeing and not the many others who loved me?”
- He notes (partially as an answer to the question above) that our brains are hardwired for survival, not peace and comfort.
- He includes a link to a YouTube video on a few things you can do to help make your brain happier. It includes practices of:
- immediately upon waking up thinking about five people you are grateful for and why,
- in the first three minutes of seeing a loved one again — like at the end of the day — treating them as if you haven’t seen them for over a month (more than likely you’ll pay happy and engaged attention to them then); and
- for the first two seconds of talking with someone, silently wish them well.
The intent of each of these simple practices (the 5-3-2 Plan) is to combat our brains’ natural tendencies toward worry, distraction, and suspicion; and reorient from a better vantage point.
Tomorrow I visit with my therapist again. I’m going to ask her if she knows about Dr. Sood and his advice. No matter the answer, her advice sounds a lot like his.
My problem has been how to remember when and how to reorient the brain. I’m often put in a situation where I get reactive, when what I should do is be silent and exercise one of the practices Dr. Sood or my therapist would advise.
Easier said than done. I’ve tried wearing a bracelet so that when I look at it while in a tense situation (for me), I remember to reset. Well, that was worthless. I never thought about my bracelet when my mind went into “fight or flight” mode.
More practically (I think) Dr. Sood advises people to put a Post-It Note on their bathroom mirror. If they hadn’t yet thought of five people they are grateful for, he says (paraphrasing) “Go back to bed and start your day off right.”
I need things like Post-It Notes … everywhere.
One thing I’ve thought of doing is creating a screensaver that lists all the mantras and practices I should consider to be both proactive and less reactive. The screensaver would say things like:
- Be silent, especially if you feel inappropriately compelled to react.
- If you can feel your muscles tensing up, take several deep breaths.
- Start the day out right with exercise.
- Think of something (or five people) you are grateful for.
- Listen to your favorite music.
- Do a headstand … anytime … because headstands are fun.
- Want to feel peace? Weed your garden.
- Etc., etc., etc.
I once asked my therapist if she knew of a Sparks Notes or cheat sheet similar to what I may put on a screensaver. Unfortunately her answer was “no.” But she did say I could probably make millions by creating one.
I have a feeling Dr. Sood would not be happy with me using his advice — and other people’s advice — to become a millionaire. So maybe I’ll just make a screensaver for me and my friends.