Job loss, economic woes. Why do tough times stir despair in some and courage in others, especially during holidays like Christmas? When people feel life hitting back – below the belt, why do some rise and some fall?
I’d been inspired recently in discussions on this dilemma, with Robyn, Eva, Greg, Pamir, Jeannie, Lissa, Janet and Dean. Great ideas from smart leaders whose blogs nudge us deeper into keys for Christmas contentment. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah or others, key principles for contentment come hardwired into your brain. What’s your take?
Listen to this year’s Christmas stories out there, and you’ll hear endless tales of overwhelmed and overjoyed polar opposites in people’s response to holiday stress. Surprisingly, overwhelmed people sometimes sport bigger bank accounts, better health – even positive attitudes, or finer intentions. Have you seen it too? Equally surprising, is the fact that some people in the overjoyed camp often face life’s bigger challenges. Their 401K nest eggs melt into 101 ashes, health care drops off their firm’s benefit package just when they need it most. You can likely name endless other direct hits from our troubled economy.
Research shows how human brains equip people to fill holidays with cheer – in spite of debris that washes up to spoil life’s shores. How so? The brain’s power tools can help you build wonder in places where you’ve settled for woe’s misery in the past.
Act now on what you’d value in your future. Research shows how actions literally reshape your brain for more of what you expect.
Smile, regardless of how you feel, for example, and your brain’s plasticity changes in your favor. The action triggers your brain to create new neuron pathways toward a happier reality.
Give even a small gift of encouragement or support, without conditions, and in spite of personal loss. In response, your brain raises levels of serotonin chemicals for sustainable well being.
Mimic the actions of a person you most admire for their holiday spirit, and your brain rewires dendrite brain cells for more of the same admirable spirit in you. Develop a new intelligence at the same time, and your brain rewires itself for further growth in that area.
Laugh, especially at yourself, and not only will others laugh with you, but your brain will create enzymes for clear thinking, better learning and adventures brimming over with possibilities in spite of turbulent times.
Discover one new insight by converting a rut into a renewed reality you’d like others to see in you. Phone one person you dislike today and invite that person to lunch to find out what’s working well in life. Curiosity and this call moves your brain’s basal ganglia from the rut of loathing into newly created possibilities lived from within your working memory.
Support one person who thinks on the opposing side of your own holiday views, and watch how your concrete defense of that person will leave you mentally able to override your brain’s default for ruts that held you back in past. The action shows you new possibilities where you may have slipped into limiting problems in past.
Can you see how brain based recommendations here carry you beyond hopeful or positive thinking? Do a few simple behaviors, and your brain does the rest for you.
Use any one of the above brainpower tools by simply doing a related act and you’ll spark brain cell regeneration for more satisfaction. Or create a brain power tool of your own and then use it, in spite of troubled times. Scientifically speaking, these tips come from neurogenesis research on how adult brains can grow new cells or regenerate old ones. Worth a try?