Ann J. Polya constantly looks for novel and challenging life choices, which are vital for an "Invincible Summer". This is her third non-fiction book that draws on her varied life experiences as psychotherapist, coach, professor, and senior corporate executive, and former spokesperson in government.
She has lived and worked in France, Belgium, UK, Japan, and the USA. Born in Great Britain, she now lives in Florida.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.36(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Aligning our Powers
By Ann J. Polya
Balboa PressCopyright © 2016 Ann J. Polya, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.
"Never look back unless you are planning to go that way." – Henry David Thoreau
There is nothing worse than wasting time as it requires more time to do things again, and even worse, it can cause us to miss opportunities and annoy others. Yet, we can control how fast our brains function and our decision-making processes, and consequently improve our time efficiency and ensure that our timing is suitable.
If our minds are slow, and ponderous, we will lag behind and cause delays to the whole system. This happens when our brain 'muscles" are not exercised regularly, and they take a voluntary "holiday"; as a result we hear a part of what is being said and often miss the main message. Others react increasingly negatively, as many find this selective listening to be irritating, and some may even toy with the idea of a "disorder" label. Whereas, in fact, all is well, but the brain is just cruising without any challenge to force it out of the easy way into proper functioning.
When this happens, it is as our brains are akin to an old computer, such as a 1998 HP Pavilion, which has a slow processor of 75 MHz, limited RAM (8 MB), a slow hard drive (850 Megabyte), and very slow memory capacity (over 500 times slower than a medium priced one these days); additionally that old dinosaur has limited video and sound capacity, and the internet access is via dial-up and extremely protracted.
Such a situation is annoying and make us stand out as way behind the times to our peer groups and family. We need upgrades and to keep challenging our minds so that we can improve our mental sharpness. Using the computer analogy, it as if we cannot access broadband, Wi-Fi, HD live streaming, Social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram, and connect our various devices.
We need to be in tune with our time; otherwise we are like a hummingbird looking for pollen at the wrong time and in the wrong way.
Thanks to advances in Neuroscience we can boost our mental processing speed and improve our minds' ability to think more clearly and quickly, improve reaction time and alertness and awareness. As a result, we see solutions more easily and can be react at the right time, and make quicker decisions.
This swift data transfer means that our queries can be answered almost immediately and we get responses very quickly. This is a speed-driven environment, which is made possible by more user friendly computers, tablets and smart-phones.
Tuning-up our mental faculties uses the simple techniques of brain fitness, and is available to all adults and all adult generations. It enables us to make decisions faster, remember more accurately, problem solve, recall facts, allow us to formulate thoughts more clearly, and boost our ability to expand and control our emotions so that we do not waste time on deviations or even wrong routing.
This helps older generations catch up with the younger set, and also permits younger generations get a beat on their cohorts.
We can use Brain Fitness techniques to speed thinking and clarity of thought and emotional balance. To start the process we have to trigger chemical reaction that ultimately sets a growth of new brain cells or neurons, and we can nurture this growth so that it improves our ability to process data more efficiently.
This is demonstrated by considerable research that shows our Brains are not "hardwired" in early adulthood, but are pliable, elastic and can be expanded throughout our lives. However, we must choose to exercise our minds as this growth depends on what Azar (2002) in her APA article called "Use it or lose it" basis. In other words we have to keep using our minds and upgrading them in the process as this promotes their development.
Activating Brain Cell Growth
To activate this growth of brain cells and reap the benefits of keeping out brain up-to-date, we need to activate it by using a choice of the simple following exercises that easily can become our pattern of behavior.
There are three components to trigger an internal chemical reaction, which sets off a chain reaction to grow new brain cells. Each of these components must contain novelty, be challenging and require our focus. These involve the following:
If we visit Internet sites for Brain Training we notice immediately that these programs totally ignore the physical exercise portion, which actually is the most important as they account for 60% of brain cell renewal activation. The other programs are significant too, but together account for 40 % of new brain cell growth.
This is the most important element for brain cell stimulation. Perversely, time is the number one reason that people say they do not work out, and yet it is a major time saver. It requires very minor investment; about 20 minutes daily for four times a week. We begin to see the benefits of faster functioning brain, when we keep this up for a few months; yet many will want to do that as it is enjoyable and worthwhile.
This exercise must be novel and challenging and requires us to pay attention, and can include running, biking, swimming, golf, tennis or walking on a treadmill or outside walking the dog. Plus, we know that exercise also helps us feel better and less stressed and good for our bodies.
Mental and Intellectual Exercise
The mental and intellectual activities can be varied and range from learning a new language, playing bridge, doing crossword puzzles, doing Sudoku, reading, designing a website, develop a new social media response, painting, or any other activity that stretches our minds and requires our attention.
This component, which is usually the focus of internet sites, can be fun and enjoyable while we learn new skills or apply ourselves to challenges. It can also include a social aspect that challenges our social skill sets.
Being sociable as a member of some group challenges our brains to remember names, codes, ways of behaving, views of the group, goals, and options for action and relationship skills.
We may seek out social environments that best mirror our own views, or not; even so that stimulates recollection of beliefs and values. Social engagements activate our own social and relationship skills and may challenge or reinforce our accepted way of thinking and feeling.
Brain Fitness- Keeping it up
Once we have triggered the chemical reaction, (see Diagram 1), to grow new brain cells, we want to ensure that these additional neurons are put to good use and will help us improve of efficiency and advance our cause to feel that we belong and our contribution is appreciated.
To do this, we move to balancing our thinking and control of our emotions.
Logic plays a big role in our ability to think and the underlying rational. All too often our thoughts are circular, and we go round and round on the same point. This wastes time and effort. Hence, we can speed thinking by directing our thoughts and the reinforcing or cementing them with our new pattern by repetition, and by giving ourselves rewards. As we improve our speed of thinking and thinking things through, we can positively influence our thoughts and thereby our emotions.
Speedier processing means that we obtain data quickly without procrastination, or planning a trip to the library or consulting an encyclopedia; so we can dispel doubts or confirm theories without a major upheaval or causing more an emotional disturbance.
Mastery of Emotions
Thoughts and feelings are linked- even though they are stored in different parts of the Brain. These are more difficult to master as they do not depend on logic- as do thoughts. Yet we can be in a position to direct them more effectively using the techniques of Emotional Intelligence.
As we do so we are better equipped to design our reality to fit our needs for speed and also belonging.
Short-Cut to Brain Fitness
One way to help this process towards Brain Fitness and improving the way our minds function so that they are faster and more balanced is to use a short-cut. A prime example is that stated by Neuroscientist, Carla Schatz (1992), who wrote that "neurons that fire together wire together". The basic concept is that when brain cells or neurons communicate frequently, the connection between them strengthens, and as messages travel along the same pathway in the brain repeatedly they begin to transmit much faster.
Experts realize that this can be negative or positive. For instance, if we ponder on a negative thought, it will become more entrenched and a negative loop is created. Yet it can be extremely beneficial to have neurons wired together. For instance, if a student has a positive classroom experience on a regular basis that is stimulating and intriguing, then the student is likely to associate learning as something positive.
We can use this concept to get our brains to associate actions and events and emotions that happen together and encourage them to bond together. This is an effective way to forge positive change, and indeed, with enough repetition they can become automatic. This whole process helps us act faster, better and smarter, and encourages us to share thoughts in our network.
Benefits of Improving our Minds
There are very few costs associated with Brain Fitness as it largely involves an investment in ourselves that takes a little time and attention, but enables us to understand the process and what how we can move ourselves forward.
Our investment involves some physical work-outs that are simple but just require our focus and that we ensure it is challenging by moving our resistance forward, and some form of mental activity, such as bridge or Sudoku, and some contact with a group for a little shared interaction.
In contrast the benefits are huge. We save time; the gain in efficiency is a way of adding minutes or hours to our day, and this can be compounded by having clear plans or goals. All age groups, including members of physical gyms, can benefit as an investment in our wellbeing.
The physical activities are not only good for our bodies and can reduce our stress and propensity to many forms of illness, and they are significant way we can promote new brain cell growth that will add to our mental abilities and flexibility.
All types of activities can be enjoyable and fulfilling and help to make us feel better about ourselves physically and mentally as we are better able to think more clearly, communicate effectively, remember better, make faster decisions and expand our awareness and interest in others and gain greater control over our thinking and emotions.
Imagine you are a scientist at the Columbia University, New York, and you read the following lines at the beginning of a report: - "The last man on earth sat alone in his apartment. Suddenly there was a knock on the door".
Change one word in the first sentence to make the man's isolation complete.
© Dr. Ann Polya 2016CHAPTER 2
We Are What We Think
- Walter Anderson
Thoughts vs. Feelings
Our thoughts and feelings are inextricably linked. Hence, if we are feeling down we will tend to have blue-tinged thoughts, and if we are feeling upbeat our thoughts will trend towards the rosy. This is natural, and we retain all our emotions or feelings from the first ones we ever felt. These feelings include anger, fear, love, joy, shame, and anxiety.
While this may have some advantages growing up they do not necessarily help us as our intellect grows. For some people they will remain scared of dogs because of an incident that happened when they were very young and were bowled over by a bouncy dog; however, many of the emotions are no longer valid when we get older. Nonetheless they persist and mold our thoughts.
The problem is that this connectivity can slow our thinking responses as we get weighed down by substantial considerations to ponder. This can happen even when our thoughts are logical, abstract, and focus on finding solutions to problems. Yet these logical thoughts get revised by feelings that cause us to go off on a tangent and we become emotionally engaged in what otherwise would be a rational discussion. This structure leads to multiple potential delays, which is made worse when we are not aware of how we are feeling, and thereby is a huge waste of time.
Moreover, we can exacerbate this waste of time when our thoughts go round and round in a perpetual circular motion that keep us stuck along the same track, and we may even lose track of what was in the forefront of our minds.
Thoughts and feelings come from different parts of the Brain. Thoughts emanate from the Frontal Cortex while Emotions are stored and come from the limbic system in the back of the head.
What is Thought?
"I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered; but when I didn't believe them, I didn't suffer, and that is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared-not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always".
- Byron Katie.
Thinking allows us to interpret and make sense of our world, and it enables us to make plans, devise strategies and make predictions. These are useful and energizing options.
However, there are times when we can get mentally stuck in a repetitive loop, and we are recycling the same thought. It may be related to a worry or concern or some idea. Such repetitive thoughts can cause difficulties and it as if they have us instead of us having thoughts.
When this happens we can't stop thinking about something and is often an indication of worry, anxiety or some grudge that we hold against someone and will neither forget nor forgive. This may be due to a false premise or prompted by a feeling and this prevents us from seeing the totality of the issue and keeps us either circling or on a misguided path. This is a fine way to waste time and get upset needlessly.
Much work has been done in this field by Byron Katie (2002) who has helped multitudes of people adjust their thinking in order to help them reduce and even eliminate the suffering and pain that they had endured for a long time. Byron Katie went through a very tough period herself and during that process she devised a way to work through the pain and re-establish balance, and not only is she a teacher, but also the author of many books and has several websites (2016) to help others modify their thoughts to get rid of pain. Her techniques enable us to undo those thoughts and allow our minds to return to more peaceful and creative ways.
Directing our Thoughts
"Too often we ... enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought".
-John F. Kennedy
Often we borrow opinions from broadcasters or "experts" and repeat their views as if they are ours. This may impress, but it is also may be hard to justify. Most of our own thoughts will reflect how we feel about a subject. These thoughts will tend to be rational when, but are tainted by emotion and sometimes inaccurate feelings that set us off on a false premise.
It is helpful to identify what we are feeling: - is it anger, fear, joy, anxiety, shame, love or sadness? Once we can spot the feeling we can apply logic and progress, either by discarding or by amending the thought.
We can then go deeper to review the truthfulness of the thought and explore our reactions by the following questions:
Is it factual?
Thoughts are logical and therefore it is essential to ask if there is factual evidence to support the thought or is it based on an opinion, and if so, what is the basis of the opinion. This allows us to observe and critically examine our thoughts impartially, and, it can help if we can imagine that it is being done by a third party.
Excerpted from Invincible Summer by Ann J. Polya. Copyright © 2016 Ann J. Polya, Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part 1 – Time Efficiency, 1,
One: Time Proficiency, 3,
Two: We Are What We Think, 14,
Three: Spinning Reality, 26,
Exercises: - for Brain Fitness, 36,
Part 2 – Belonging, 39,
Four: Presiding over Emotions, 41,
Five: Effective Communication, 59,
Six: Multicultural Dimensions, 69,
Exercise:- Self-Rating Chart of Emotional Intelligence, 77,
Part 3 – Recognition, 79,
Seven: Originators, 81,
Eight: Types of Recognition, 89,
Nine: Balance-Positivity and Self/Other Focus, 95,
Ten: Empathy and Compassion, 102,
Eleven: Social Connection and Trust, 110,
Exercise: - Boosting aspects of Emotional Intelligence, 118,
Answers to Quizzes, 127,