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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

If You Don’t Know What Your Next Thought Is, You’re Not Alone

If You Don’t Know What Your Next Thought Is, You’re Not Alone

I find it rather easy to get lost in thought. Although I do enjoy this journey through my mind, there are times where I must pull myself out of this excursion. I am reminded of this every time my 3-year old daughter asks me, “Daddy, are you here?” This question hits deep.

I am learning the importance of being present in the moment. One book I turn to for this is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Let’s take a look at what we can all learn from Tolle in his powerful book.

    Life is a series of present moments

    If I asked you where everything happens, what would you say? The answer should be quite simple – everything happens in the present moment.

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    “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you will ever have.” – Eckhart Tolle

    Tolle teaches us that the past is nothing more than all present moments that have gone by and the future is a collection of present moments waiting to arrive.

    We fill in gaps with painful thoughts

    For some reason we incessantly fill our mind with painful thoughts about the past and worrisome thoughts about the future. Yet, we can only live in the present.

    Think of a straight line. At one end is the past and the other the future. In the center of the line is the present moment, where you exist. Now picture gaps along the line on each side of the center. The center (the present moment) is the only spot that should contain our thoughts. However, we fill in those gaps on each side of the center with painful and worrisome thoughts that do not matter. These thoughts do not matter because we can only live in the center – the present moment.

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    One question to freeze your situation

    There exists one question that can freeze any system in its current state.

    “What will my next thought be?”

    By repeatedly asking yourself this question, you can actually delay the answer to the question – your next thought. This is a powerful way to interrupt your mind and separate yourself from it.

    This is an effect from physics called the quantum zeno effect. Essentially, the quantum zeno effect demonstrates we can freeze a system in its current state by endlessly observing it. The key to being in the present moment is observing the present moment.

    Give it a try now.

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    Pull your mind from your body

    Imagine for a moment that you could pull your mind from your body to observe your thoughts and actions. Well… you can. Think of playing a video game where a dialogue or decision box pops up above the character requiring you to make a decision about what to say or do next. What else is happening in the game? You are freezing the game in its current state – in the present moment. It freezes the present moment in the game and in real life, think about that.

    Now think of a recent moment in your life where you had a negative thought. Freeze that moment and visualize yourself as the video game character. In a video game, we don’t judge the character we are controlling, we simply observe the decision or action that needs to be made.

    “Your entire life consists of the present moment.” – Eckhart Tolle

    We all have negative thoughts for which we cannot wish away. They will continue to flood our stream of conscious. The point is that we must stop judging the thought. We can’t stop the thought from entering our mind, but we can stop the judgement of the thought.

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    The next time a negative thought makes its way into your conscious, just acknowledge its existence and remember… it does not control you. Take a moment to observe the thought and analyze it.

    Finally, if you desire to be more present, you must be present. I am reminded here of one of my favorite quotes by Jim Elliot.

    “Wherever you are – be all there.”

    So, wherever you are… be all there.

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

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    Dr. Jamie Schwandt

    Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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    Last Updated on February 19, 2021

    15 Simple Ways To Supercharge Your Brain

    15 Simple Ways To Supercharge Your Brain

    Your brain is the engine that controls every action you perform, so needless to say, you should keep it supercharged and ready for action throughout the day. Here are 15 scientifically-proven (but yet surprisingly simple) ways to recharge your brain!

    1. Take a daily Vitamin B12 supplement

    Vitamin B12 doesn’t just supercharge your brain, it actually grows the size of your brain.[1] As you age, your brain gets smaller, which Vitamin B12 fights. The vitamin has also been proven to help you learn, concentrate, think critically, and even boost your test scores! Taking a Vitamin B complex supplement will ensure you get your daily recommended dose.

    2. Eat a lighter dinner, earlier

    Eating an earlier, lighter dinner has a ton of health benefits[2] (like that it helps you lose weight), and it can also supercharge your brain. Eating earlier helps you sleep better because it gives your body more time to digest food properly, and prevents food and alcoholic beverages from disrupting your sleep. It also provides your brain with a more consistent flow of energy, without spiking your blood sugar levels like a huge, late dinner can.

    3. Eat more almonds

    Almonds are referred to as a superfood for a reason. In addition to their innumerable health benefits, almonds and other nuts “are good sources of the antioxidant vitamin E,[3] which is associated with less cognitive decline as you age.” They’re also chock full of amino acids and essential oils, which help your brain focus. Just be careful about eating too many—there are about 150 calories in 20 almonds, though they’re great for you in small doses.

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    4. Listen to music

    Numerous studies have shown that listening to slow, relaxing music slows down your pulse and heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, and actually decreases the level of stress hormones in your body. Listening to music is healthy,[4] recharges your brain, and best of all, is a ton of fun. What’s not to love?

    5. Meditate

    I’ve had a daily 30-minute meditation ritual for a few years, and can’t recommend the practice enough. Meditation is proven to help your mind de-stress and relax, and the practice has even been shown to reduce your blood pressure and levels of stress hormones! I also find that meditation allows me to de-fragment my thoughts, which heightens my ability to learn and retain information.

    6. Drink apple juice

    According to one study,[5]
    “apples and apple juice may be among the best foods that baby boomers and senior citizens could add to their diet” because they help your body produce essential types of neurotransmitters that aid your memory, and help you retain information. Apples and apple juice have even been shown to protect your brain, and reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s.[6]

    7. Have more sex

    Sex is a lot of fun, but did you know it can help you supercharge your brain as well? Sex has been proven to cure headaches, reduce your stress levels, help you sleep better, increase blood flow to your brain, and increase your brain power in general.[7]

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    8. Spend time with friends and family

    Spending time with your friends and family has “far-reaching benefits for your health.”[8] Belonging to, and investing in a social support network rejuvenates your brain and provides you with more energy and inspiration, increasing your security, self-worth, sense of belonging, and even reducing your stress levels.

    9. Go for a massage

    Massages are so beneficial for your body and mind that I’m surprised more people don’t take them. Even a single 1.5-hour session can significantly lower heart rate, cortisol levels and insulin levels, and rejuvenate your mind.[9] Especially if your health plan covers massages, going for a massage is a no-brainer.

    10. Read

    Reading is a powerful way to provide your mind with an escape, and one study found that reading can reduce your mental stress by an astounding 68% because, “your mind is invited into a literary world that is free from the stressors that plague your daily life.”[10]

    11. Invest time in a creative hobby

    When you invest time and attention in a creative hobby, as with reading, you provide your mind with a much-needed escape from your day-to-day stressors. You jump into a zone that has no pressures, deadlines, or rules, and provide your mind with a chance to recharge. Whether you’re into writing, painting, or woodworking, investing time in a creative hobby is a fantastic way to supercharge your brain.

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    12. Exercise, or play sports

    Exercise has consistently been shown to be one of the most productive ways to supercharge your brain. It has been proven to make you procrastinate less, focus more, act more disciplined, and even “[reorganize] your brain to be more resilient to stress” in the long run.[11]

    13. Expose yourself to more natural light

    Too much exposure to artificial light zaps your brain of energy, gives you less control over your attention, and even affects the quality of your sleep.[12] Especially if you expose yourself to a lot of artificial light, expose your body to natural light to supercharge your mind.

    14. Go for a nature walk

    Going for a nature walk not only provides your body with exercise, but it also significantly rejuvenates your mind. One study found that, even when it was dead-cold outside, participants’ memory and attention spans improved by 20% when they took a walk through nature.[13]

    To give your mind an even more productive break, I personally recommend leaving your phone and iPod at home when you head out.

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    15. Stop multi-tasking

    When you try to take on too many things in one moment, your mind can become overwhelmed and eventually, something has to give. Multi-tasking has a huge impact on your productivity, but it also can impact your brain. Multi-tasking affects your memory, because it makes it harder for you to distinguish between what’s important and what isn’t. It has also been shown to make you more prone to errors, and add stress to your life. The solution? Stop multi-tasking!

    Featured photo credit: Siora Photography via unsplash.com

    Reference

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