A mathematician recently noted that if you take 6 standard lego blocks there are 915 million ways of putting them together. And hence I suppose the choice: follow the instructions, or go solo - either way you're bound to come up with something fun! Applying this to our lives, we can all no doubt remember times when things just seemed to fall into place ... when out of the hundreds of millions of possible answers we just seemed to arrive at the right one ... right?
One way to achieve more is to USE the lego sets in our brains. There are three things we can do to make the most of the absurd collection of multicolour blocks in our heads:
1. Understand it
2. See ourselves using it, and
3. Enjoy the journey!
It is useful to understand that the brain is a bunch of lego blocks. There are 100 billion of them and each one has thousands of connectors (known as axons and dendrites) so the possibilities are effectively endless.
This is why we need focus. When we see ourselves doing or achieving the things we want, we are setting out specific and unambiguous instructions to the subconscious brain which acts like a perfect team saying "Ok boss, leave it to us. We'll get it done" and we are sometimes surprised at how quickly the team delivers. Lego the company very nearly went bust in the 1990's, losing focus and control of everything from theme parks to the colours of its blocks. A new CEO saw the future quite differently (simple colours, social input into design, girls as customers). It's now the No.1 toy company in the world.
Finally, it's when we enjoy ourselves that we are most effective and our visions most likely to come to reality. Enjoyment is essentially evolutionary encouragement. Positive activity, interaction and thought are enjoyable precisely because they produce chemical responses in our minds which encourage more of the same - and that's good for our survival. Perhaps the little people with removable hair and hooks for hands (who now outnumber humans in the world by the way!) are onto something - thanks to them there is now even a Professor of Play at Cambridge University.
We all have lots of lego in our heads - let's USE it!
As we head towards Summer our work-loads might increase as we prepare to head off for a well-earned break. If you find yourself working longer hours or feeling you are on an endless treadmill, you could look to ways of helping you feel calmer, brighter and happier, even before you get to your holiday.
As a solution focused hypnotherapist and member of the Cornish business community one of the most common areas that people come to see me about is anxiety, and in particular stress at work. Workplace stress can manifest itself in a variety of different ways – not just in the office but also at home and socially. People who struggle with stress in the office may find themselves angrier than they'd like, struggling with sleep patterns, perhaps becoming more insular, or restricted in their thinking.
There are parts of our brains that are very adept at dealing with perceived threats. We have evolved to be quite sensitive to danger, and our reactions to stress are an evolutionary coping mechanism - they are there to help us survive. Sometimes this a very good thing - we are generally quite good risk managers. Sometimes however these responses become disproportionate and can be unhelpful in our day to day lives.
Disproportionate stress is caused by negative thinking. Every negative thought we have ends up in what I call a “stress bucket.” As the levels in the bucket increase so our primitive responses work harder. They are just trying to help but they can become less and less appropriate and actually make things worse until eventually we find ourselves struggling to keep on top of things.
Fortunately it’s not the events in our lives which end up in the stress bucket. It is our thinking in response to those events - and this is good news because this is something thing we can do something about. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy helps people focus their thought energy on things they want, more than what they don't want. This helps to empty the stress bucket and get us back in control.
A key part of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is the safe use of a trance state, which is a natural way to reduce stress so that after a number of sessions people can start to feel better able to cope with life. And trance is natural - we do it all the time - out for a stroll, walking the dog, driving, listening to music, having a great conversation. Even complex work tasks can induce a positive state of trance.
If we can combine little bits of positive thinking with regular spells of relaxation - however brief - it makes for a powerful combination which engages the positive, subconscious parts of our brain. This helps to improve creative thinking, decision-making, productivity and confidence - without us really having to try. This helps us get the most out of our work, but also make the most of our time off.
Yesterday I uncovered a 190 million year-old fossil - a priceless ammonite which hadn’t seen the light of day since Jurassic times. Now that doesn’t happen every day. Although it turns out, it quite easily could. A section of the Dorset coastline is littered with these ancient, spirally molluscs. How can it be that things that seem so distant and rare turn out to be so close and so everyday? And you can pretty much go down to the beach and pick them up.
I had been returning from my father’s 80th birthday. Driving along, I found myself reflecting again on time. So much happens, and so much stays the same. Old is the new young, according to one of his birthday cards - and once we’re 40… 50… 60... 80 ... we seem to be surprised by the numbers. How did that happen?! "I don’t feel any different." How fortunate we are, I suppose, if that is the case.
Anyway, zooming alone the high road through southern Dorset I found myself taking a turn-off onto the Jurassic coast. Ancient mud cliffs with ‘cement layers’ spill onto the beach, and small piles of broken up stone litter the sand where countless groups of fossil hunters have sat and smashed away with innumerable little hammers. There is a ‘code’ which suggests people stick to the beach and don’t take rocks from the cliffs, and there are plenty of loose rocks to pick from. It took me a while to get my eye in - lots of picking up and examining ... no sign of any ancient life. Then a lone fella who was leaving the beach gave me his hammer and chisel - he too was transient, passing by only for an hour or so on his way to a remote contract the next morning. He had bought his tools at the local cafe for a few quid. He had in his pocket a couple of shiny ammonites, a dinosaur turd (he reckoned) and a bullet-shaped belemnite. Neither of us had a clue what we were doing.
Then, as is so often the way with these things, bounty appeared. As soon as I felt like I wasn’t really trying any more, I was picking up bits of rock left by other smashers, and on each one was the clear imprint of several spiralling shells. Ancient beings. Tapping one fist-sized fragment of rock with my hammer, it gently split open, revealing a fresh specimen. This ammonite - long dead, but something of its spirit remaining, had been quietly sitting in that rock, in that mud, there, for … 190 million years. Now it was visible, in the fresh air, being observed by live eyes - available to another consciousness, for perhaps the first time ever.
It led me to wonder - what rich experiences lie just beside the paths of our lives, containing the wisdom of the eons. And how much can we enjoy if we can create just a little time - to follow our noses and our imagination. Where else might this curiosity lead?
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