ELEPHANTS – COULD THEY REALLY HOLD THE KEY TO UNLOCKING THE SECRETS OF CANCER?

elephant-864943_640ELEPHANTS – COULD THEY REALLY HOLD THE KEY TO UNLOCKING THE SECRETS OF CANCER?

It’s time for #FACTUAL FRIDAY Friends – and the perfect time to discuss the development of cancer and – of all things – the elephant.

Of course, the relationship between humans and elephants goes back thousands of years. The elephant has played a major role in the folklore, art and cultural development of human beings for centuries. They have been an integral part of daily human life being used for transportation, in armies, on labor forces – and have symbolized the embodiment of Gods in many religions throughout time.

As the largest land animal on earth, the elephant also is one of the most intelligent. They commonly demonstrate humor, cooperation, playfulness, problem solving and excellent learning abilities evidence by their ability to create and use tools. Moreover, they are family-oriented, dedicated and loyal to each other. They often remain in relationships until death and then grieve much like humans – becoming quiet and depressed, often digging a shallow grave and covering the deceased with dirt and branches.

And, throughout our long relationship with these incredible creatures, it now appears that the elephant also may help humans unlock the secrets of cancer development. So, let’s explore this fascinating possibility by reviewing two factors typical of cancer growth.

First, we know that the larger a living creature is, the more cells make up the body. And, when the number of cells within a body increases, the number of cell divisions increases. And, this means the chance of developing mutations that lead to cancer also increases. Second, the longer a being lives the more vulnerable its body cells become to damage and disease, including cancer.

But, here we have an elephant. Not only is it the largest living land animal on earth – but it also is one of the longest-living creatures on earth – often living until 60 or 65. Indeed, there are records of one elephant who lived until the age of 86. Yet, elephants rarely die of cancer.  In fact, while up to 25 percent of humans die of cancer, less than 5 percent of elephants die of cancer. So, why is that??

Well, it appears that the elephant has more of a particular type of gene that suppresses tumor growth. Researchers have found that a gene called TP53 contains a protein that inhibits the growth of cancer cells. Referred to as the “guardian of the genome” an elephant inherits at least 20 copies of TP53 from each parent. In contrast, humans only inherit one copy of TP53 from each parent. And, in humans when one of these two inherited genes doesn’t work right the person may develop a condition known as Li-Fraumeni syndrome – a condition which increases their lifetime risk of developing cancer to greater than 90 percent.

Now, in recent studies conducted at the University of Utah School of Medicine researchers collected blood samples from 8 elephants – 2 African and 6 Asian. Researchers also obtained blood samples from 10 people with Li-Fraumeni syndrome and 11 people without the syndrome. The blood cells were then exposed to radiation, which we know is a risk factor for cancer.  But, when a healthy cell is exposed to radiation, TP53 steps in and triggers a series of events that kill the cell before it can become cancerous.

The results of these studies were not surprising. Those individuals with Li-Fraumeni syndrome experienced the least cell death of only 2.7 percent – meaning the majority of their irradiated blood cells were not destroyed by the TP53. In other words, there simply were not enough TP53 genes in their bodies to make a significant difference. In healthy individuals without Li-Fraumeni syndrome 7.2 percent of the irradiated cells were destroyed by the TP53. But, in the elephants a whopping 14.6 percent of the irradiated blood cells were destroyed. And this, of course, explains in part why elephants rarely die of cancer.

Clearly, the study helps us understand why we humans are so ill-adapted to cancer. We have far fewer of the tumor suppressor TP53 genes in our bodies. But, what if we could increase the number of these genes in the human body??  Or expand their cancer-fighting abilities?? Or find ways to incorporate the qualities of the TP53 gene into cancer research, development and treatment??

Now, while the studies substantiate the cancer fighting power of the TP53 gene, it’s not clear if the gene’s properties could help prevent all human cancers in today’s world. For example, it might not be effective in preventing the lifestyle cancers related to poor diet, tobacco use or sun exposure.

Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating finding. And, the information gathered from these studies about TP53 adds more knowledge and provides us with more tools that will only strengthen our cancer-fighting abilities in the future.

We have always had a close and interdependent relationship with the elephant. And now, it appears that relationship will grow in a surprisingly new and expansive way. They say that elephants never forget. Well, I’ll never forget this! It’s an amazing world out there and this is an eye-opening bit of information that makes for a perfect #FACTUAL FRIDAY.

Once again, thanks for joining me everyone. Until next time stay in GOOD HEALTH and,

TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!

 

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FIVE MORE WAYS TO GIVE YOUR WINTER BLUES THE BOOT

woman-570883_640FIVE MORE WAYS TO GIVE YOUR WINTER BLUES THE BOOT

It’s #WELLNESS WEDNESDAY everyone. And, as promised, today we’re going to continue our discussion of depression – post-holiday depression and the general winter depression so many of us feel at this time of year.

Now, it’s important to remember that depression or feeling let down or feeling blue – is a very common experience at this time of year. First, the wonder and excitement of the holidays is over. The festivities and fun have come to an end. All our planning, anticipation and general “busyness” of the season are done. We don’t need to rush anywhere, we probably don’t have friends and family to entertain and our adrenaline doesn’t need to pump nonstop anymore.

Second, while the holidays are filled with fun and joy, they also are filled with stress. If you’re like most of us, there’s usually a bit of family drama to deal with, activities that did not meet our expectations, small daily disappointments and even in the midst of it all, feelings of loneliness or being alone. Especially, if the holidays were spent without loved ones.

Now, let’s add to that the fact that in many parts of the world January is a rather cold, gloomy and dark month anyway. Winter – all by itself – can produce feelings of depression, emotional apathy and physical sluggishness. When we combine all these factors, we have a perfect storm in which our morale, our outlook and our energy can be impacted in a negative way.

So, if this sounds familiar, it’s time to do something about it. Because, it’s one thing to recognize the problem and understand the cause. It’s quite another to find a way to solve it.

We began this discussion earlier this month when we discussed how certain foods could ease the blues. Nourishing and nurturing ourselves through good nutrition is a great way to relieve depression. The key is to pick foods that rev up our neurotransmitters so that our bodies can produce more “feel good” chemicals like serotonin and endorphins – and stock our bodies with omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids and B vitamins. Foods such as fruit, fish, nuts, olive oil and chocolate all fit the bill.

But, to our “nutrition package” let’s add FIVE MORE WAYS we can give ourselves every opportunity to feel good, stay positive, be healthy and remain energetic throughout the post-holiday season and the winter months ahead.

  1. PLAN FUN ACTIVITIES: Now is a great time to revive some excitement – or a little simple pleasure – for yourself by planning a few favorite activities. Perhaps starting a new class or scheduling a group movie night. Try having a few friends over for dinner and a game of cards. Attend a sporting event or plan a weekend out of town. Get tickets to a concert. Read some of the books on that list you made last year. Take up a new hobby. Stream that series you’ve been meaning to watch. Choose activities that interest you and fit into your budget. These don’t have to be big plans. Just something that you’ll enjoy. Something that you’ll look forward to and anticipate. Something that just sounds like FUN!
  2. EXPRESS YOURSELF: One of the classic symptoms of depression is when our sense of fun – our sense of playfulness – or our creativity – is blocked. This is when we need to exercise our imagination. We need to get those juices flowing again. Take time out to play – with a friend or your pet. Try painting or drawing. Play a musical instrument or dance. Sing! Try writing a poem – or designing an outfit – or sewing. Listen to music – or compose music. Whatever sounds like fun. And, don’t forget that wonderful self-expression of laughter. Anything that makes you laugh is great! There’s nothing like laughter to release all those “feel good” chemicals that will lighten our mood and make us feel better. So, consider a funny movie marathon – or conduct an online search for funny quotes and stories. 
  3. LET THERE BE LIGHT: Light makes us feel good. It’s welcoming. It’s visually pleasing. After all, what would you rather come home to? A house that’s completely cold and dark? Or a house that has a few warm lights shining through the windows and on the front porch? Be it artificial light or natural light, both have an impact on us physically and emotionally – and both can make us feel good and positive. In small doses, a little sunshine every day helps the skin produce vitamin D, which in turn improves the immune system. It also decreases our risk of developing arthritis, high blood pressure and even some cancers. And, if you live in a place where winter sunshine is rare and you feel a bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD from the lack of sunlight, check with your doctor about the benefits of Light Box Therapy. Light is a wonderful way to fight depression and bask in mental well-being.
  4. FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE: When we feel depressed it’s hard to be positive or see the good things all around us. Yet, this is exactly the time when we need to focus on these things more than ever. Try these simple tips to get you going. Spend some time with other people. This will help focus your attention on others rather than on your blues. Do one small thing each day that you enjoy – like baking cookies, watching sports on TV, walking your dog or playing with your child. Start the day with one positive affirmation such as, “I feel great today!” Or, “I have all the energy I need today to do everything I need to do today!” And, every night write down one thing that happened during the day for which you are grateful. Remember, small steps can lead to big changes!
  5. EXERCISE: Well, you knew this one was coming :) A huge part of mental well-being is dependent upon physical well-being. It’s vital to get up and move every day. But remember, exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to be effective. Take a short walk. Vacuum the house. Rake some leaves. Do a few stretches. Just move! Nor does your exercise routine have to be long. We’re not talking about spending four or five hours in the gym every day or running marathons. If you can, start with five minutes a day. Then work your way up from there. You’ll be amazed how physical movement can clear your mind, increase your energy and boost your mood!

And, here we have a perfect recipe for overcoming the all-too-common post-holiday and winter blues. Focus on the small things in your life that bring you pleasure. Have fun. Laugh. Eat right. Move more. Spend time with family or friends. And, bring in the light! Give it a try and see how you begin to feel. Remember, inch by inch it’s a cinch!

So once again, thanks for joining me everyone. Wishing you GOOD HEALTH and until next time,

TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!

Time to Review Susan’s Blogs:

RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR: FIVE SIMPLE TIPS TO RE-TRAIN YOUR BRAIN FOR 2016

6 GREAT FOODS TO TURN YOUR POST-HOLIDAY BLUES INTO BLISS

 

 

 

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TO MAMMOGRAM OR NOT TO MAMMOGRAM – THAT IS STILL THE QUESTION

dahlia-999891_640TO MAMMOGRAM OR NOT TO MAMMOGRAM – THAT IS STILL THE QUESTION

Welcome back to #WELLNESS WEDNESDAY everyone. Today we’re going to return to an old topic of great importance. Yes, ladies, here we go again!

Mammograms and guidelines. When do we start having mammograms? How often do we have them? Are they really effective? Do they really save lives? And the biggest question of all:  Will the medical community ever make up its mind?

As you recall, mammogram screening has been a tricky topic for years. I wrote about mammogram screening guidelines two years ago when the guidelines abruptly changed. And, I wrote that the one thing we could always count on was that the guidelines would change again. And, so they have – and here we are.

The huge controversy concerning mammogram screening began in 2009, when the US Preventive Services Task Force, or USPSTF, said that most women should wait until they are fifty to get regular mammograms. The Task Force also said that screening only needed to be conducted every other year.

This idea flew in the face of then accepted guidelines that said most women should begin regular mammogram screening at forty and repeat the procedure every year. General uproar ensued. Then in 2013, the debate reached a new fever pitch when yet another study was published recommending we return to the previous guideline in which forty is the proper age for women to begin screening.

Last week, however, the guidelines changed yet again. And, this time it was the American Cancer Society that changed its recommendation from yearly screening for women age forty and up – to women aged forty-five and up. The USPSTF still stands by its recommendation for screening of women aged fifty to seventy-four every other year. While the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists or ACOG sticks with its recommendation of screening for women aged forty and up every year.

Wow. It’s all very ironic considering a guideline is supposed to reduce confusion — not increase it.

So, let’s dissect this mess. After all, we’re talking about our lives and it’s incredibly important we understand what’s going on.

For most of the last twenty years or so it was generally accepted throughout the medical community that mammogram screening for women should begin at the age of forty for women of average risk. It also was accepted that this screening procedure should — in most cases — be repeated once every year.

Now, this guideline remained unchanged until the 2009 report by the USPSTF, which stated that women should not begin mammogram screening until the age of fifty – and then only once every two years. So, why after so many years of substantiated guidelines did the USPSTF say this? There were two main reasons.  The first was that screening women at the age of forty didn’t save enough lives to justify the expense of screening.  The second was that screening women at the age of forty exposed women to needless worry and unnecessary procedures that might result from false positive results.

Let’s talk about the first reason. This logic is based upon something known as a cost/benefit analysis. The Task Force decided that not enough of us die from breast cancer between the ages of forty and fifty to make it worthwhile to provide the mammograms that might save us. You see, mammograms cost money. Someone has to pay. And, typically it’s either the government, the medical facilities or the insurance companies.

This is a point of contention. Let’s take an example. Let’s say 500 of us are in the middle of the ocean on a burning ship. A rescue team could save us, but decides not to. They contend that because there are only 500 of us, mounting a rescue would be too expensive and not worth the effort. It would make more ‘CENTS’ to let us die and save the money rather than save our lives. Now, let’s suppose there are 5,000 of us on that burning ship. At this point, a decision to launch a rescue might be supported — because saving 5,000 lives might justify the amount of money the rescue effort would cost.

Ladies, how does that make you feel? Don’t you ever wonder who makes up these Task Forces? Are there any women on them? Don’t the men on them have any women in their lives? Wives, daughters, sisters or mothers? It’s something to think about. In any case, that’s how a cost/benefit analysis works.

Now, let’s talk about the second reason. It’s true that mammograms are not infallible. Sometimes they fail to see a problem that exists. Sometimes they reveal a suspicious spot that turns out to be harmless. This is called a false positive. When women begin screening earlier, more mammograms are conducted. When more mammograms are conducted, the number of false positives may increase.  When the number of false positives increases, more women may experience needless worry. And, more women may need to undergo a biopsy before they know the positive result is false.

According to the Task Force, this unnecessary worry is unacceptable –as is the unnecessary medical procedure these women may have to undergo.  Now, here you need to remember — the medical procedure typically is also paid for by one of the above-mentioned entities. So, we’re talking about more money that someone doesn’t want to pay out. As a result, the USPSTF concluded that women should just wait until they’re fifty for screening and to repeat it every other year. Saves everybody a lot of trouble.

I don’t know about you, my friends. But, I would rather be alive and experience a bit of needless worry and temporary discomfort — than be dead because I didn’t receive a mammogram that might have saved my life.

Indeed, a mammogram did save my life. And, as many of you know I have always adhered to the guideline still supported by the ACOG, which says most women should begin mammogram screening at the age of forty and should repeat screening once every year. And, this guideline is supported by research from Harvard Medical School, which conducted studies based upon the number of women who had never undergone a mammogram and died of breast cancer as a result.

It’s also good to know that current health care law in the United States requires most insurers to pay for screening mammograms once every twelve months without charging patients a co-pay. In addition, Medicare and Medicaid also are required to cover the cost of yearly screening mammograms for their patients. 

But remember, what is best for one woman may not be best for another. There are many factors to consider before adhering to a screening routine that makes sense for you – which makes this, of course, an excellent topic of discussion for you and your primary care physician.

Moreover, high-risk women who have a history of breast cancer in their family, women who have a first degree relative who has or had breast cancer, women who have an anomaly of the BRCA 1 and 2 genes and women who have certain physical characteristics like fibrosis of the breast will in all likelihood require screening earlier and more frequently than women of average risk.

Hopefully, this helps shed a bit of light on a controversial and confusing topic. And, as I said last time, the one thing we can count on is that another study will come along in the next few years that once again will change the guidelines for breast cancer screening. So, until then do your homework and always take a PROACTIVE APPROACH to your health!  BE INFORMED, BE COURAGEOUS and BE BOLD. Your life depends on it!

Thanks again for joining me everyone! Until next time,

TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!

Revised from my guest post on It’s a Glam Thing for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, 2013.

 

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6 FLAVORFUL FOODS TO TURN YOUR POST-HOLIDAY BLUES INTO BLISS

ID-1001945416 FLAVORFUL FOODS TO TURN YOUR POST-HOLIDAY BLUES INTO BLISS

HAPPY NEW YEAR Everyone and WELCOME to the first What’s on the #MENU MONDAY of 2016!

January, of course, signals the end of the holiday season and the beginning of a new cycle filled with expectations, opportunities, hopes and dreams. But, the end of the holiday season also can signal a period of feeling let down and depressed. After all, the Christmas tree and poinsettias are now sitting in the gutter by the street, the lights are all packed away, the gifts have all been opened, the great holiday treats have all been consumed (clearly evidenced by the scale in the bathroom and the fit of last year’s jeans), the seasonal music has ceased and the parties are over.

The shopping is done, the holiday cooking for family and friends is finished, the greeting cards are no longer sent or received and the months of preparation, anticipation, excitement and great fun are over! Wow. No wonder we can feel a little blue when the December holidays come to an end.

Well, if it makes you feel any better, this phenomenon is VERY COMMON. In fact, it’s discussed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition – or the DSM-IV for short — a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association. Now, this manual is a classification of all currently recognized mental health disorders. And, right in there with all the other disorders you will find holiday blues, or holiday depression, or post-Christmas blues – defined as “the mental distress occurring after the winter holidays and festival season.”

So, you see – you’re not alone! And, it’s not all in your head! There actually is a biological factor that comes into play with the post-holiday blues. In fact, this end-of-season letdown is similar to a very mild bipolar cycle called cyclothymic or a “cycle of feeling.” When we are in the midst of the holiday planning process – and all that it entails – we are excited! Our adrenalin and other super-charged chemicals are pumping with all the mental and physical activity of the holiday build-up. And, when the holiday is over these chemicals dissipate and our bodies are left with the normal, not so fun, much less exciting chemicals of ordinary, everyday life, which by comparison can be rather bland.

The good news is that we can do something about it. We can change those feelings of disappointment, depression and sadness so many of us feel this time of year and turn our emotions around. And, the really good news is that we can do it by eating! That’s right. EatingJ

So, let’s get started by listing 6 Flavorful Foods to Turn Your Post-Holiday BLUES Into BLISS:

  1. FRUIT: When it comes to healthy eating, the natural companion of our go-to veggie is always fruit. Citrus fruit in particular. And, the really important component here are the flavonoids found in fruits like oranges and grapefruits. Remember, flavonoids are antioxidant compounds that may lower the risk of many health related issues, including cardiovascular disease and cancers. Moreover, flavonoids have been found to inhibit the symptoms of mild depression
  2.  FISH: Certain varieties of fish are loaded with essential oils called omega-3 fatty acids. Now, research has shown that omega-3 can alleviate several mental disorders, including schizophrenia. It can significantly improve our mood, lessen irritability and decrease depression. And, some of the best sources of omega-3 can be found in anchovies, sardines, mackerel and wild salmon. There must be one fish here that appeals to you!
  3.  NUTS & SEEDS: But, just in case you don’t like fish, why not try eating nuts and seeds instead? You see, omega-3 fatty acids are found in a variety of these foods as well, including walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and flaxseed. In addition, many nuts and seeds like cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds are packed with lots of B vitamins. Similar to omega-3, the “Bs” can help increase a positive mood and decrease our chances of falling into a depression.
  4. TEA: We’re all familiar with the soothing qualities of a hot cup of tea on a hectic day. And, it’s not imagined or just in our heads. You see, tea also contains wonderful flavonoids. And, these flavonoids stimulate parts of the brain that produce a feeling of relaxation. There really is a chemical component to the relaxing cup of tea. Among the different teas, green tea brewed the old fashioned way and herbal teas such as chamomile are great for inducing that feeling of mental and physical relaxation. A cup of hot tea can decrease anxiety and increase an overall sense of well-being.
  5. OLIVE OIL: Yes, olive oil has become one of the new super foods. And, with good reason. It too contains an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids. Once again, omega-3 is a good-mood enhancer. A big dose of olive oil every day mixed with your salads and vegetables can decrease irritability and lessen your risk of falling into a depressive state.
  6. CHOCOLATE: Yep, this is the one you’ve been waiting for. The ever popular chocolate. And, research has confirmed what most of us already know. Eating chocolate makes us feel good! You see, chocolate contains ingredients that signal the brain to release the feel-good chemical dynamic duo of serotonin and endorphins. It also contains methylxanthine, which inhibits the body’s tendency to fall into a depression or deflated mood. As always, the darker the chocolate the greater the health benefit. But, no one needs the weight gain or the guilt that goes with it, so try to limit yourself to one small piece of chocolate a day :)

And, there we have 6 great foods to help you enjoy the New Year in a Good Mood and in Good Health! Incorporate them into your daily diet and see if you notice a difference in your overall mental well-being. Because remember, POSITIVITY creates POSSIBILITY. Give yourself every opportunity to make all your wonderful resolutions for 2016 come true!

Later this month, we’ll continue our discussion of seasonal depression and the techniques that can help prevent it. But for now, thanks for joining me everyone and until next time,

TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!

Image courtesy of mrsiraphol at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR: FIVE SIMPLE TIPS TO RE-TRAIN YOUR BRAIN FOR 2016

ID-100304103

RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR: FIVE SIMPLE TIPS TO RE-TRAIN YOUR BRAIN FOR 2016

Welcome to #FACTUAL FRIDAY everyone – and welcome to a wonderful NEW YEAR brimming with PROMISE and POSSIBILITIES!

If you’re like me, you probably spent at least a little time during the past week making a list of things you want to change in 2016 – or improve – or eliminate – or add. Yes, the all familiar New Year’s Resolutions. Because, we all want our lives to move in the right direction — forward — toward more fulfillment, satisfaction, health and joy. This is the nature of life. And, this is what we want for ourselves and our loved ones.

But, it’s not always easy to stick with our resolutions. Writing them down – yes. That’s easy. But, making them a part of our lives and incorporating them into our daily activity – not always so easy.

This is because we are creatures of habit. And, old habits are hard to break. You see, when we do something over and over, it becomes a part of our internal wiring.  Our brain actually learns to think about and react to events in our lives in the same way. In other words, the way our brain works and thinks about things also becomes habit.

We’ve all heard the expression, “If you want things to be different, you have to do things differently.” So true. But, before we can do things differently, we have to think differently. And, before we can do that, it’s helpful to understand how the brain and our thought processes work. So, here we go.

When we have a particular thought the brain creates a neural pathway from point A to point D. When we have the same thought again, the brain sends its neural impulse down the same pathway. And, when we have the same thought again, the brain again sends its neural impulse down the same pathway. This pathway essentially becomes a rut. And, when we get in a rut, we all know how hard it is to get out. Our thoughts become like little mice running the same pathway in the same maze over and over again.

The good news is that we have the power to change the way our brain works – and the way we think. It’s called neuroplasticity — a term that refers to the brain’s potential to reorganize itself by creating new neural pathways when faced with new stimuli. This means we can rewire our brain. Or, retrain our brain. And, this means we can change a bad habit or learn to think of an old situation in a whole new light. We have the ability to get out of the rut – and think and act in new and productive ways.

For example, let’s say we’re on our way to work – or an important meeting – or our child’s soccer game. We’re driving and we come to a sudden standstill in traffic two miles from our destination. Our first reaction – by habit – is probably to veer down the old familiar negative path and think, “I don’t have time for this! I’m going to be late! I can’t believe this is happening to me again! I’m almost out of gas!” Now, what we need to realize is that every time we choose to think in this way, our brain reinforces that negative pathway. This particular pathway becomes a rut – a rut that becomes deeper and harder to stay out of each time we experience an event that triggers this same negative reaction.

In other words, this becomes our go-to reaction for every bump in the road – for both small and large disappointments, unexpected detours and every day obstacles.

But, what if the next time you find yourself stuck in traffic, you stop your initial reaction to throw your hands up in the air and rant and rave – and instead – think that maybe if traffic wasn’t backed up you might have been involved in a car accident. Or, maybe you would have been traveling too fast and would have been stopped by the police for speeding. Or, maybe your coffee would have spilled all over the paperwork you spent the entire week preparing. Or, maybe you would have arrived early to your destination where the building door was still locked and a skateboarder blasts by you splashing a big puddle of mud all over your new shoes.

Sounds ridiculous?? Maybe. But, each time you force yourself to think in a new way you are forcing your brain to create new pathways of thought. And before long, your go-to reaction in times of stress will be that of positive thought and action rather than negative thought and action.

And, the really good news is that we don’t have to wait for stressful or disappointing events to occur before we start retraining our brain. We can start today. By simply challenging our brain with new information it will begin to develop new ways of thinking. The more we do this, the more we exercise our brain. The more we exercise our brain, the more flexible it becomes. And, the more flexible our brain becomes, the easier it is for us to think and act in new ways. And this means, the more likely we will be to keep those New Year’s Resolutions!

So, why not try these FIVE SIMPLE TIPS to challenge your brain and get you started on your way:

  1. Do your morning tasks differently. If you normally shower first and enjoy coffee after, try having coffee first then showering. If you make phone calls before you get dressed, get dressed first and then make your calls.
  2. Take a different route. If you take the same route to work each day – or to the grocery store – or to school – take a different route. Turn left instead of right. Take the “scenic route” instead of the short-cut. Travel through a new neighborhood rather than the same old one.
  3. Change up your physical routine. If you walk in the morning, try walking in the afternoon instead. If you run errands in the afternoon, try running them in the morning. Change your pattern of working in the yard, or taking out the trash, or walking your dog.
  4. Begin your day with one positive affirmation. “I am strong.” “Today is going to be a great day.” “I am grateful for my family.” “I am capable.” By doing this, you signal your brain to automatically think in a more positive and productive way.
  5. Try learning one new thing each day. Want to know how to say, “Thank you” in Swedish? Find out! Want to learn one new exercise to help strengthen your back? Do it! Want to find out the name of that tree in your neighbor’s yard? Look it up! Learning one new thing a day will keep your brain challenged and flexible.

The beauty of neuroplasticity and retraining our brain is that small, simple steps can lead to big changes in the quality of our thoughts and the effectiveness of our actions. And, of course, this will help us tackle our resolutions for the New Year in a very practical and positive way.

Therefore, whether your resolution for 2016 is to be more positive, or lose weight, or learn a new language, or be kinder to your loved ones, or explore the benefits of Fung Shui, or be more grateful for what you have, or find a new job, or go back to school, or learn how to deep fry a turkey – whatever it is – these simple tips will get your brain moving in the right direction. In the direction of positive change. You (and your brain) will become empowered and enabled. And, this will allow you to realize your dreams and make your wishes for 2016 come true!

Now in closing, I would like to thank ALL of YOU for joining me here whenever you can. I am so grateful for your friendship and support. And, I sincerely hope that you have found something helpful or hopeful – or at least interesting – here on my website during the last twelve months. My wish for the New Year is that I can continue to write for you – posing questions, offering insights and presenting information that may improve, help or shed light on your life in some small way or another.

As always, I offer my heartfelt THANKS to you. And, I wish you a very Joyful, Peaceful & Healthy New Year filled with Abundance & Love!

Until next time,

TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!

Image Courtesy of franky242 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

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