Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Happy Hour: Train Your Brain

Just breathe. Everything is alright. The sun is shining and it’s warm outside. There’s nothing but fresh air flowing through the open windows. The kids are all out playing and the trees are covered in spring blossoms. It’s 78 degrees in March. Enjoy each day as it comes. Life is good.
This I know, but sometimes I let the little stresses creep in and the to-do list nag at the back of my mind too long. I let worry keep me up at night and doubt harbor space in my thoughts. My heart skips a beat in anxiety and I scratch at my skin to try to find some relief. The whole mental process of trying to stay on my game soon spirals out of control and I recede into a melancholy filled with unpleasant thoughts. It’s not the end of the world, but certainly uncomfortable for a spell. I know I am not alone; I have inherited these familiar traits. And I suspect it is a common side effect of being an adult.
I am not an expert at how to solve anxiety, but I have heard that scientists are working hard to understand this part of the brain, the part that involves emotions. One thing they have discovered is that when people undergo cognitive therapy they can retrain how the brain thinks “so we can become more resilient, less negative and, possibly happier.” No, really, I’m not an expert, just an avid listener to NPR and I could relate to a recent program with neuroscientists Sharon Begley and Richard Davidson and the discoveries they have made. (You can read about it HERE.)
So, I got to thinking about my own habits and how important “Friday Happy Hour” has become  by turning every week into the best week ever, even when it’s not. Even when I struggle with stress, anxiety and sleepless nights, the simple task of finding the positive and focusing on all that is good every week is one way I have begun to retrain my brain. In fact, I have not done a proper Friday post in a couple weeks and coincidentally my optimism is in the toilet….so I am recommitted to the "Friday Happy Hour". It has nothing to do with drinking, but if you want to raise a glass to positive thinking then you have the spirit.
These were a few of the reasons why this was the best week ever:
·         Did I mention 78 degrees?
·         Fresh brewed ice tea, shorts and an impromptu pedicure.
·         The boys are outside and out from under my feet.
·         Painting every day. Check out my Countdown to Spring Project!
·         A two hour lunch with my husband while the boys were in school. Sweet!
·         Finding a book I really love.
So, how do you cope with your emotions? How do you have the courage to have the best week ever, even when it’s not? I have a lot of work to do to retrain my brain, but if I can just make one step in the right direction, and I can bring you along as well, then I know I’m happier just thinking about it!


  1. 78 degrees sounds amazing - that would absolutely be a favorite for me...

  2. This whole week has had amazingly wonderful weather. We are in the 80s in Florida! :D

    Positive post! Reminds me that life is good. I'm going to have myself a couple of ice, cold beers by the pool today.

  3. Anytime I mention my insomnia to anyone who is older (and wiser) than me they ask me if I've tried meditation. I've been asked this enough times now by enough wise people that it might be time for me to take the hint. Meditation is, after all, a way to "retrain the brain".

  4. Running behind, but here are a few of my reasons this will be the best week ever.

    -Got to participate in an inspiring writer's group
    -Fabulous husband plucked a chronic discipline issue from my platter
    -Received good new about our next move