3 Easy Applications of Neuroscience in Real Life
I've always been fascinated with the human brain. What's so amazing to me is how little we really know about our brain, despite decades of intensive study. And even as we learn more, there is so much that cannot be explained, like when I know my sister has a problem and call her before she tells anyone anything is wrong.
My friend Melissa Hughes published a book late last year called Happy Hour with Einstein. I knew, based on my experience in being connected to her on LinkedIn and beBee, that the book would be approachable, fun, and insightful. I was right. What's more, though, is that it is neuroscience that we can apply to our daily lives to improve not only our own brain activity, but the brain activity in those around us.
Surprise can intensify emotion by up to 400%
That one sentence changed my musical performance. I realized that I could improve my impact on an audience dramatically by including some element of surprise. During a performance recently, right before I sang one of my favorite songs "Hang on Little Tomato", I described the song to the audience, but only mentioned the title when the accompanying musicians started the introduction. The title caught the audience off guard and made them laugh, and then I sang what I consider an inspiring, emotional song. The audience loved it. In previous performances of that song, the audience enjoyed it, but when combined with that introduction, the emotion of the song had more impact.
I've been finding ways to apply the element of surprise to increase emotion in other areas as well, like when my family is sitting at the dinner table. When our conversation turned to gratitude the other night, it was easy for each of us to mention something for which we are grateful. As an experiment, when it was my turn, I used the *f* word in my sentence. Why? Because our children don't usually hear it come out of my mouth! It caught them completely by surprise. They couldn't stop laughing. Out of nowhere, our 15 year old son mumbled: "I love you, mom."
...from a scientific standpoint, laughing and smiling has been clinically proven to have a positive effect on physical, emotional, and social health and well-being.
Remember that mental states become neural traits when they are intense, prolonged, or repeated.
When we choose to be positive; when we choose to see the good in people and to be grateful, we change our neural pathways. When we have prolonged stress, and repeat negative beliefs and behaviors, we change our neural pathways. That's why we must choose to see good in the world around us.
One morning as they were getting ready for school, our sons got into an argument. In the car, I looked over to see our younger son with a scowl on his face. He was holding onto the negative interaction with his brother, more than 30 minutes after the argument.
You know you have a choice, right? You can choose to let this one, brief, negative interaction impact your entire day and stay grumpy, or you can choose to let it go. Frustration and anger are normal, I'm not asking you not to feel those things. I'm suggesting that you can limit the amount of time and energy you spend on those feelings.
We were quiet for the rest of the ride to school. As he climbed out of the car, he looked back at me and said:
I know, mom, I have a choice. I'll make a good choice today.
What will you choose each day?
Sarah Elkins is a professional coach and consultant, helping people and businesses improve their communication through the art of storytelling. She’s also the President of Elkins Consulting, the company making a splash with small, face-to-face, affordable interactive conferences called No Longer Virtual.