Today a huge crowd of Chamber of Commerce members arrived at the beautiful Cornwall Hotel and Spa to see if there is such a thing as a free lunch. After two courses I gave a talk to the assembled crowd, while three chefs and an array of mouth-watering puddings waited patiently.
For the talk I used a twist on my usual theme of "USE your Brain". The title was "USE your Self" and I explored the notion that much of what we need, we already have within us, although we don't always use it. I offered three things we can do to help:
1. UNDERSTAND your Self
One helpful thing to understand about ourselves is that there are at least 3 parts to our personalities, with distinct corresponding areas in our brains:
What makes it so much easier for this to happen is when we are calm. The best way to achieve this is to go to sleep. When we are asleep our brains are four times more active when we are awake, in very helpful ways that are very interactive between the various parts, particularly when we dream. However a similar thing happens when we are awake and in a state of calm, focused attention. An easy and powerful way to achieve this is to use your imagination and memory to think about things we like. Which brings us to point 2:
2. SEE yourself doing good things.
A client who came to me this week with a fear of driving told me she has a very vivid imagination. From what she'd told me about the "literally 100 million things that could go wrong" - I could see she was right, about her imagination! And we agreed - that's how she could get so scared so quickly, easily and effectively and why she hasn't driven on a motorway for 20 years - it was quite a skill! I asked her what it might be like to apply her amazing imagination to something good instead, like how amazing it's going to be to have her freedom back.
As she sat opposite me and started to imagine delighting her family up-country with a surprise lunch visit, her brow softened, her eyes moistened, colour came to her cheeks and she began to smile. It's quite something to witness someone letting go of something that's held them back for so long. Imagination is incredibly powerful. (See Émile Coué for more on this).
3. ENJOY your Self
And my final tip was: Enjoy yourself. Because enjoyment is like an evolutionary encouragement to do things that are good for us. A happy boss is a good boss and a happy team is a productive team and even monkeys can be good company when they're relaxed. Every time we do something positive, or interact in a positive way, or even just think about positive things, we get a reward. We feel pleasure, satisfaction, courage and motivation. It's a chemical reward designed over our entire human history to encourage us to do more of the stuff that's good for us - like being active, interactive and focusing on good things.
And if we really enjoy ourselves - and I mean REALLY enjoy ourselves, other potential distractions like puddings can be enjoyed too, on our terms, with us in control, rather than the other way round. Like Donut Lady, but that's another story.
The whole event was kindly sponsored by the social enterprise Real Ideas, whose name is either an oxymoron or a tautology (or both perhaps?) depending on your views on 18th Century philosophy or the power of your imagination. It turns out you can have your pudding and eat it. There is a free three-course resource which is already yours. Enjoy it!