Will You Dare to challenge your brain to change?

Will you Dare? - Quick Easy Ways To Challenge And Wake Up Your Brain

When was the last time you did something different?

I’m not talking about a big change in your life or going on vacation to a new place.

I’m talking about your everyday life.

We go through days on auto pilot, simply engaging in everyday activities without any thought or attention.

How many times did you leave your house in the morning, got to work and didn’t really remember how you got there—you couldn’t remember the drive or the subway ride?

Or how many times did you do something but then you weren’t sure if you had done it or not?

Right? I know you know what I’m talking about.

Quick questions (try not to think before you answer):

—What hand do you usually hold your coffee mug or glass of water in?

—Which side of your mouth do you brush first?

—When you go up the stairs, do you start with your left leg or your right leg?

—When you go into the shower, what is the first thing you do?

These are such small, insignificant things that you may ask, “Who cares?”

Well, your brain does. That is, if you want to keep that brain of yours working for you and helping you stay as smart as you are right now (or even smarter).

What am I talking about?

You know how we all want things in our lives to change. We want a better life. We want a more interesting life. We have a secret wish to be brave and do adventurous things. No matter how great your life might be, if you’ve been living it with these kinds of wishes for a while now, you have gotten used to it and are starting to itch for some change.

We are all “wired” that way.

Well, simply putting it, if we want something to be different, we need to do something different.

And before doing something different, we need to open up our brain to think differently; we need to activate our “dormant” brain and wake it up to find new ways to create new neuron pathways.

If we keep doing the exact same thing, we will continue to get the exact same results!

Maybe the changes that we would like to make are big and unknown, and we spend hours thinking about ways to achieve them.

What I’m suggesting here is opening up our brain to think differently, to open up to something completely new.

I’m talking about waking up our brain and ourselves from its “lazy, no-brainer, automated pilot” routine in our daily lives.

I’m talking about staying alert. I’m talking about paying attention and reconnecting with ourselves.

Are you willing to get to know yourself better?

Are you willing to do something different?

  1. Get to know yourself better by observing our habits, paying attention to the most mundane, automated actions/reactions/habits that you commit or pursue. Why are you always leaning on the same leg when you stand? Why do you nod your head in a certain way when you pass someone at work that you know?
  2. Try another way. My father always used to say to me, “If it doesn’t go one way, try another way.” He meant it more in the bigger picture of life, of career and big goals. This is a great saying to remember when it comes to our big goals in life, but I found that by even doing small things (including those that are going great) in another way, my brain creates a new pathway that allows for new ways of thinking and new ideas.

How?

  • Take a new route to work.
  • Brush your teeth with the other hand. Or change the hand you use for any other small activity, like pouring, eating, opening the door and such.
  • Change one thing in the order of your morning routine.
  • Go check out a new grocery store, and while you’re at it, choose different brands from the ones you always pick to buy. (Ask yourself why you buy the brand you always buy and not a different one.)
  • That leg you always use when you start walking up the stairs (and yes, it is always the same leg, and we are not even aware of how subconsciously we measure our strides in order to reach the first step with our preferred leg)—switch it up and start climbing the stairs with the other leg.
  • Do you cook? Mix your cooking with the other arm; pour water and ingredients with the other arm.
  • Open doors with the other hand.
  • What shoe do you put on first? - Start with the other one.

Do one. Try to do all. Be prepared to spill, splash a little, stumble, and bump—enter the arena you once experienced as a child, when your mind was open and you could care less about the splashes, spills and stumbling; when all you cared about was trying again and again and again, exploring and finding your way, celebrating and enjoying the trying just as much as you enjoyed your triumphs. Do you remember how proud you felt the first time you filled your cup from that huge bottle of juice and didn’t spill even a tiny little drop? How grown up you felt when you could do all these things, and do them better as you practiced them? Your brain was so wide open and curious and you wanted to explore and check everything out, and the biggest and most joyful adventure you took every day was learning how to do things.

We are such habitual creatures. You’ve been using the same leg to start going up the stairs since the day you started climbing stairs; you’ve been holding your drinking cup in the same hand since you started holding a bottle in one hand. You’ve been opening the window with the same hand, carrying your bag on the same shoulder, putting the same arm in your shirt first when you dressed in the morning and the same leg in your pants first!

We just get used to doing something a certain way and we continue to do so. No questions, no reevaluating, just continuing.

We are “sleep-walking while awake” through our days.

Doing that one small thing different awakens our brain—that small challenge of mixing our salad with our “other” hand opens our brain to new possibilities, and from there we can find the answers to the bigger changes we want to make in our lives.

A few months ago, I decided to start pouring water into my coffee machine with my left hand, needless to say, the first few attempts resulted in more water on the kitchen counter than in the container. It was messy and shaky and lacking in coordination. This morning, as I poured my water into my coffee machine, I was surprised to suddenly be aware that I was automatically, comfortably, in perfect coordination, pour my water into my coffee machine with my left hand - naturally, habitually, without even knowing it, it became my new habit...

That’s how we start creating changes in our lives—we wake up our brain and challenge it with simple things that force our brain to rewire itself gently, and to be “uncomfortable” as we approach the edge of our comfort zone.

Because that’s where all changes begin—at the edge of our brain’s comfort zone.

Help yourself create the changes you want by assisting your brain in finding new ways to accomplish them.

Are you willing to wake up your brain, step to the edge of your comfort zone, and courageously start creating the changes you want?



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8 Comments

  • I strained my hamstring severely more than 2 months ago. Everyone who knows me knows that I can’t sit still for very long. For that reason I have been trying alternate ways of of standing up and sitting down, of walking, of ascending and descending stairs to compensate for and protect my injury,.

    It’s true as Lian says. When I experiment with these simple actions, my “dormant” brain goes into high gear. It’s fun. It’s encouraging. It makes me proud.

    • Eileen, I hope you are starting to feel better. Strained hamstrings are very painful and limiting in so many ways. It’s a tough injury to deal and heal with. I’m glad to read that you are managing to meet such a challenge with a curious and positive look – choosing a perspective of an encouraging to challenge conquer and feel proud with. I’m proud of you too 🙂

  • Eek! I might have the opposite problem. Innovation is one of my personality triggers, so I love new. I have to be careful to not create chaos and instead find value in consistency. BUT, I know I’m the exception and not the rule! 🙂

    • Thank you Amber for your honest sharing. Yes, sometimes, in between the changing and the growing there is much needed room to rest, enjoy the view from where we are and bask in our now. 🙂

  • Lian, thank you for the challenge. I’m going to start paying attention and bumble my way through this exercise. If it can help bring on more creativity it’s worth a few spills. 🙂

    • Thank you Jodi, I’m glad you’re intrigued into a place of play, fun and curiosity. I would love to hear from you about What you noticed and chose as your first challenge to do differently and your experience with it.
      I just added a paragraph in the article of how I just noticed I ‘habituated’ my brain and body to pour water into my coffee machine with the left hand.

  • Lian, love, love , love these ideas to start (and show ourselves that we can) repattern our brain! I really like the idea of starting with something small and physical – like the “what side do you brush your teeth” awareness and then mixing that up. Thanks for some great ideas and insights.

    • Thank you Maritza 🙂 It’s amazing how much ‘automated’ we are in all aspects of our lives. Awareness and gentle practice wakes us up not only physically, but also emotionally, at first a little sloppy and uncomfortable, but eventually into new and better emotional habits, connections and more joy in our lives – which is what we are all seeking more of. 🙂

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