Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Release the Weight of the World

I knew she loved strawberries. Putting on my cheery parental host voice, I announced, Oh, look, I have some strawberries over here. Ellie, do you want one? ELLIE: Yes. Louie, perhaps wondering why Ellie was being given strawberries and he wasn't, suddenly valued the urgent playdate with his train a bit less than before. While they ate strawberries, I snuck the pink train away. If other people were watching this scene, they would probably react with something between annoyance and bemusement, depending on whether their particular learned expectations for appropriate conduct in a cafe leaned more toward being child-free or child-friendly. However, imagine the reaction if, instead of offering strawberries to children under my care, I went and offered strawberries to the children of strangers without their permission. That might trigger entirely different norms that would put me outside the bounds of acceptable behavior. Watching my mom go through chemotherapy was beyond difficult because I knew that she was in a lot of pain. There were times she couldn't even see. The tumors had spread to above her eye, and she woke up one morning and she couldn't open it. And when she could see, everything tasted like what she called a brand new shiny quarter (read: when you have cancer things may start to taste like metal). During the last four months of her life, she wasn't eating anything at all but (and, this is graphic) she was still releasing decades worth of fluid that was still in her body. Yet, somehow she refused to suffer and managed to always smile through her pain. She had been in the hospital for a few weeks, and I had to make sure that I warned the staff about my mom's special conditions. They weren't, like, really special, they were just all the things the CNAs usually forget or purposely look over because they are paid peanuts and fairy dust. Before I'd go home each night, I'd leave a note on her chart with every detail they needed to know. She hated jello. A public utility firm's senior leaders decided to reach out to board members and engage them in a project of change, namely, making the company more green.

Like everything else in this world, change has a price. The board members should be down for investing into these changes. Systems thinking expert Charlotte Roberts partnered with the leader of the environmental science department to find an acceptable way of presenting the continuum of positions the board could embrace. Choosing between Environmental Stewardship and Environmental Leadership engaged the executives and directors a lot, and a deep dialogue took place over these positions. Environmental Stewardship would incorporate activities inside the organization. They would keep a sharp eye on evidence that proves the green initiative would be a sound decision from a financial point of view, providing acceptable return on investment. Thus Stewardship is a more risk-cognizant approach. Environmental Leadership would put a great emphasis on research and development, experimentation, introduction of new technologies, and teaching people about new discoveries. This is a more costly and financially risky approach. I would like to share them with you. It is my feeling that through music, dance and prayers, we evoke the positive energies from our ancestors. We evoke the force that is in us. I achieved this by joining the Hungarian Shaman drum session, by taking part in a Zikr performed by Sufis and whirling dervishes, by being in a Christian procession in Fusilier France, by singing Bhajans with people from Art of Living, by chanting mantras during Buddhist Pujas. MY MESSAGE TO THE SHAMAN DRUMMERS You evoke our ancestor's power, the force. Actually, you wake it up, because it was always with us, within us; As Obi wan Kenobi would say to a Jedi (or Yoda Master would say to Obi wan Kenobi), the force is with you. Here I continue the thought. You are the force. Even if one per cent of the human population engaged with each other with love, the future painted in John Lennon's song `Imagine' would surely become the truth, some day.

AT LAND, WE have a tradition that's grown over the years. Every person who completes the rehabilitation programme successfully is thrown a farewell party. It's a beautiful celebration--other members of the programme share their memories, dress up in their best clothes, decorate the Therapy Hall with bright streamers and hand-drawn cards, and there's plenty of laughter. In the time that they've spent at Land, most participants travel a great emotional distance, discovering truths about themselves, finding a new love for life and, often, a new sense of purpose. Frequently, those who are new to the programme, still caught up in traumas from the old addict's life that they are in the process of leaving behind, would have their first glimpse of a life of hope, possibility and joy at someone's farewell. These are special occasions, and most programmers leave on a wave of beautiful memories, goodwill and benedictions. Ex-participants often return to Land, sometimes many years after they've sorted themselves out. They are always welcome, though we leave it up to those who've graduated to decide on how often they want to come back. Some visit once a year, spending a few nights at Land, walking from the silver gates to the lawn outside, sharing their experiences and their lives after the programme with the new batch of people, who listen against the background of the green, gently sloping mountains of Haji Malang in the distance. These rites of passage amplify the ability to adapt to new circumstances and environments. According to Daniel Siegel, when adolescence begins, the frontal cortex changes dramatically. As unused brain cells get pruned away, new neuronal networks are being created as the teen or young adult learns new skills and has fresh experiences. Intentions, focus, sensing, and attention activate and strengthen these connections. In addition, during this growth spurt, myelin sheaths proliferate, covering and protecting the membranes of the cells, facilitating faster and more efficient processing of information coming from inside the body/brain and from outside sources. One of the most impressive changes is integration of the self and personality as the prefrontal region links input from the midbrain, the brain stem, the body, and the social world. The frontal area is involved in both the shaping of our own internal mental processes such as thinking and decision making, as well as the social processes such as empathy and moral behavior. This increased cortical integration enables such diverse abilities as cognitive control, emotional regulation, gist thinking, self-understanding and social functions to change and emerge throughout adolescence. How to Help Build Better Brains Since the brain is clearly modeled and shaped by its experiences and relationships to others, how do we guide students--whether children or teens--to weaken maladaptive neural circuits (neurons and synaptic connections)? Laughing out loud, having true genuine fun, being extremely silly, all while exploring and learning new things, this is good for the soul and keeps you young as well.

When you decide to have a great time whenever you get the chance, plan much laughter, and it will greatly enhance your life, especially if you are sharing this time with somebody that you really love, like your closest friends and family. Have Fun & Laugh Out Loud We all love to have a good laugh because it usually makes us all feel so good, and for that moment, nothing can take away that feeling overwhelming joy that you feel. Whoever that person is that you can get together and laugh uncontrollably with, spend as much time with them as you can, every week if possible. Not only is laughter therapeutic, being around those you love, but trust can also help to lift up your spirit, when you are laughing so hard that you feel like you may actually lose a gut or urinate on yourself, this is great to get rid of stress. Time Management Working to achieve better time management is a good thing to do, because when you make it a habit to be mindful of how you are using your time, the more you will accomplish, which will probably result in you producing a higher quality of work. Knowing what is important, and having your values in place and living your life in direct harmony with the goals that you are trying to achieve, will increase positive outcomes. Making sure to use your time wisely is essential to living an effective lifestyle as well as ensuring that you live in a more peaceful manner, due to less stress. There are a number of reasons it inhibits your brain from functioning at its highest level. For one, it steals your ability to concentrate. You will not be paying attention to what is going on around you because your attention will be directed at whatever the source of your stress is. When you are feeling the effects of stress over a long time, it becomes the most active presence in your mind. It will take the wheel away from you if it is allowed to. It can even debilitate you because you can feel so much pressure that it is literally like a weight pulling down on you. You will feel unable to handle your daily life because doing anything will seem like too much. All you will want to do is lie in bed, and even then, you will still feel the symptoms- heart-pounding, limbs shaky, feelings that your world is going to implode at any second. You will not be able to eat or sleep. It will take over your life if it is not stopped. Now, imagine if I brought strawberries to a board meeting in an attempt to get people to stop arguing about a serious business objective.

The voice of reason operates within the group dynamics and cultural norms of the participants, and it completely falls apart when trying to address problems outside of that group's most prevalent cultural norms. The interventions that the voice of reason will suggest in a high-stakes board meeting might look more like this: Agreeing to run a test to validate (or invalidate) one of the suggested solutions An appeal to authority that allows a mutually respected decision maker to make the call, or an action item to follow up with a recommendation after the meeting A compromise allowing one of the parties to disagree and commit, choosing to safely register an opposing opinion without slowing down the momentum of a project Though these interventions diverge from the doling out of strawberries, they appeal to the same underlying norms of sharing, taking turns, and escalation that children in a cafe are held to. The upside of the voice of reason is that when we share cultural norms and respect the same higher authority, we have lots of great tools for resolving differences of perspective in a nonviolent way. The downside is that as culture changes, and as groups grow or shrink or otherwise evolve, cultural norms that used to have wide acceptance fall out of favor and become less useful. For example, not too long ago it was acceptable for parents to spank their children, even in public, when they misbehaved, and it was acceptable for rampant misogyny to go unchecked within corporations. She wanted lots of ice chips, but no water (because she knew they weren't coming back for hours, so she'd let the ice melt). And the most important note that I highlighted and wrote in all caps was for the nurses: IF YOU CAN'T GET THE IV IN, CALL HER DOCTOR. My mom's veins were so teeny-tiny that they often liked to play hide and seek with the nurse's needles. I made sure to explain that to everyone. That wasn't the cancer. It's just genetics, because my veins are just as disrespectful. And that disrespect makes it hard to put IV's in. One day, I walked in on a frustrated, near irate nurse struggling with my mom's wrist. Be clear: I basically freaked all the way out. My mom, on the other hand, was not freaking out enough as far as I was concerned. The left end of the continuum, Compliance with Regulations and Follower of Best Practices, are the conventional standards based on which companies operate.

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