DAY 17: Suffering is optional
Day 17 Self Reflection:
For todays self reflection, watch the three minute video to the left of this message: entitled “The Chinese Farmer.” Afterwards fill out Day 17 of your workbook and realize how the “law of unexpected consequences” has already played out in your life.
Day 17 Micro-Science: Stages of Development
Erik Erikson, a famous psychologist, hypothesized that all humans go through distinct phases of life with corresponding internal battles at each stage, calling this framework the Psychosocial Stages of Human Development. Erikson stated that at each level the needs of the individual and the needs of the community come in direct conflict. He went on to state that if a person did not completely resolve issues at earlier stages it would hinder them from fulfilling future stages successfully. For instance, in infancy a person is trying to figure out a basic understanding of the world and must determine if the world is ultimately “trustworthy or untrustworthy.” If a persons primary caregivers are predicable and consistent that an individual would learn to have hope for the future. However, if mistrust begins from an early age then that person would struggle to form bonds over their entire lifetime, until adequately addressed at a later time. This framework of psychosocial development helps many people better understand what they need to work from a personality perspective in order to have a more healthy and productive relationship with the world around them.
FACT: When a trauma event happens at a young age, cells in the brains hippocampus (learning center) can overheat and die, causing the brain to only remember fragments of the event. Trauma also impacts an individuals dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (timekeeper)in the brain causing them to think the the event is occurring in the present instead of the past.
TAKEAWAY: Therapy can help individuals with trauma see how the event fits into the individuals life timeline, thereby allowing their brains to distinguish that they are safe “now” even if they weren’t safe “then.”
Day 17 Meditation: Micro Vacations (Practice Pausing)
Its so easy to run through our lives on autopilot and the brain would love it if you did. Mainly because it would mean less work in an organ that wants to be as energy efficient as possible. However, living on zombie mode may be good for our brain but bad for our life. Therefore, from time to time throughout your day its good to remind your brain that your actually the one in charge not it. When your practice pausing throughout your day, your doing just that, giving your brain the message that you can control your actions and don’t always need it to take the wheel. If you practice this enough then maybe the next time you drive past a McDonalds or Wendys you can stay the course and head home instead of packing on the pounds.
FACT: Synapses (connections) in the brain that fire together wire together. Meaning if certain cells are activated, such as your impulse control cells, that those cells will form hardened connections that will be easier to activate in the future.
TAKEAWAY: This means that if you work on your impulse control in one area of your life it will help have impulse control in another area of your. For instance, if you struggle with eating high fat food, you could practice impulse control in other areas in your life and miraculously you would be better at avoiding high fat foods in the future.
Day 17 Meditation: For today’s meditation the goal is to pick a time in your day when you want to practice pausing, any place that your sure you will pass today. For instance, if you pick “before I brush my teeth” or “when I’m about to open my car door” literally stop yourself and take a two second break before moving on.
Day 17 Movement Task: Walk Slower Today
Mindfulness at its root is about slowing down and taking it all in, marveling at the ordinary. Slowing down the speed at which you do things is one of the best ways to do this. It also sends the delightful message to your brain that everything you do all day isn’t an emergency that needs to be done at breakneck speeds. Once you realize this your grip on life might just seem to be a little bit looser.
FACT: Science has shown that when you walk in nature your subgenual prefrontal cortex (rumination center) deactivates significantly, compared to when the subjects walked in an urban setting.
TAKEAWAY: Nature provides a “soft fascination” for people in it, not too stimulating not too boring. If you want to calm down your brain walking in nature is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to accommplish this.
Day 17 Action Task: Today’s task is pretty simple to do but hard to remember to do. Just walk slower today then you normally do. Take a moment to pick your head up and look around when moving from point A to point B. You might be surprised how much this tiny step of not being in a rush all the time can positively effect every aspect of your life.
Day 17 Bonus Material:
#1) Ted Talk: How Meditation Can Change Your Life
Check out this Ted Talk about the numerous positive effects daily meditation can bring to your life.
#2) Why Meditation is the New Caffeine
Check out this awesome and relatable talk from Emily Fletcher who describes meditation and its effects in simple and easy to understand language.