Dear friends,

Are you still asking yourself – When is my life going to get back to the way it was in December? Then you likely are in a “stuck mindset”. We all wish the answer could be by tomorrow, but it is now more than 6 months since things have been severely disrupted. Being stuck is not only bad for our mental fortitude; it is also devastating to our mental attitude, our sleep, social relationships and feelings of self-worth. So how do we forge ahead?

Brains to the rescue to “unstick” our life! What I find most amazing about the inner workings of the brain is its incredible design. It is intricately and elegantly wired to innovate, to imagine beyond what is, to create new possibilities of what can be. We do have to be intentional about drawing upon this underutilized superpower.

Innovative, flexible thinking is to the brain as aerobics are for the body. This way of thinking not only makes our brain stronger, more fit; it also helps us shift our perspective from what is lost or diminished to seeking what is still possible. The way to do this is by challenging our stuck thinking, acting as if things will always be the same. Instead, every day we need to push our brain fitness workout to discover new approaches, consider a wider range of solutions, be open to different connections, and learn from broader perspectives.

Here are some ideas to explore:

  • Flex your brain power of possibility thinking. Address a specific issue you are facing by listing a minimum of 3 – but try hard to push for at least 7 – choices you can make. Stay tuned to your inner thoughts as “AHA moments” of new possibilities will emerge. Take note of these fortuitous brain insights, and they will come faster and grow over time.
  • Stretch your adaptive brain power. When you feel stalled by the stress of current circumstances, consider that simply waking up to a new day with a roof over your head and loved ones to surround you can be a small victory. Complete two small steps toward a bigger goal to feel a sense of progress and accomplishment. These daily steps will move you forward when your circumstances make you feel overwhelmed.
  • Tell yourself regularly and often: “I can do this. It can happen.” Repeating this mantra increases your brain’s level of dopamine, the powerful neurotransmitter that helps propel you into positive action.

Practicing these intentional innovation habits will build a more adept, agile mind and resilient spirit to find ways to not just survive, but to thrive in daily life. As an added bonus, you will be strengthening your neural efficiency (meaning: the amount of mental effort to do things will become less effortful and more dependable) by giving your brain these powerful workouts.

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Published August 21, 2020

See more messages from our Chief Director, Sandra Chapman, PhD here.