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Grow Your Brain in 2013.

white figureine of a a brain with frog feet!

I am going to grow my brain this year.

[Applause]

Thank you.

See, I’m one of those people that really enjoys the transition to a new year. Not in a yeaaah-let’s-party-get-drunk-and-kiss-people-we-hardly-know! kind of way, but more within the spirit of self-reflection. I see the new year as a nice time to relax, reflect on what has passed in my life, and consider what may still come to be. And I actually look forward to sitting down and marking out a few ‘areas of focus’ that I’m interested in building-on throughout the coming months.

So, I don’t really do specific, hardcore resolutions. [Hey! I know – let’s give that trendy downtown gym $800 dollars and then NEVER go there! Haha! Not.] I’d rather just set out some general guidelines that appeal to me — a few broadly-conceived target areas that leave lots of room for development and growth.

Hence, I am happy to announce the 2013 grow-your-brain field of focus! The manifestation of which, I might add, was heavily influenced by a couple of books I read recently. So, without further ado, let me introduce you to my three-point brain plan for the coming year (and hopefully for all my life afterward):

1. Nurture a growth mindset. I recently read a book by Carol S. Dweck, PhD., called Mindset. It rocked my world. It showed me that I have a tendency (in some areas of my life) toward what Dr. Dweck calls a fixed mindset. This is rather a bad thing (says the ever-judging Kim of the fixed mindset), because maintaining a fixed mindset causes people to believe that human qualities are hard-wired, and unchangeable. Which causes them to judge themselves ruthlessly. Which causes an intense fear of failure, and a desire to close-off, to hide, to collapse, or just give up.

Nasty stuff, that. Not a great place from which to run your life.

The alternative to this mode of thinking is called the growth mindset, and does just the opposite of the fixed one. The happy folks that live with this mindset believe human qualities are malleable, and can be developed through effort. Challenge excites them. Mistakes keep them coming back for more. They thrive on learning. They don’t judge themselves – they just work at stretching their capacities. This is a GREAT place from which to run your life. Now, as it happens, we have the ability to change our mindsets.

I’m going to change mine.

2. Exercise more. This will also grow my brain. I learned this from a book called Brain Rules, by John Medina. Here’s the basic idea: our brains evolved in an environment of movement. As Mr. Medina puts it, our big bold brains “were forged in the furnace of physical activity.” (Nice alliteration, Mr. Medina.) That means Homo sapiens was truckin’ all over the savannah, feeding its evolving brain with oxygen, for up to 12 miles a day. Every day. Those beloved brains of ours? They thrive on exercise. Hm. I think it’s time to thrive.

So I’m gonna make sure my brain gets a piece of that action, too.

3. Embrace setbacks and mistakes. This is an aspect of the growth mindset that I’d like to highlight. A fear of failure has always made me hesitate and hold back. I get ideas — lots and lots of ideas — but I don’t follow through on them often enough. This is partially due to a lack of focus and discipline, but it’s also due in part to the fear of making a mistake, of looking like a fool, or regretting a particular action. But that’s the wrong way to look at it. I figure the more I fail, the more I learn, and the more I grow. So, why not go out of my way to make mistakes? Why not learn to LOVE those puppies, hold them close, and relish what they teach me? This means, of course, that I’m going to have to face some major fears head on, and potentially expose myself to humiliation and embarrassment, and those are some mighty fears to face. But you know what I fear even more than that?

I fear breaking my own heart.

I don’t want to reach the end of my life regretting the things I didn’t do — thinking about what might have been. That would hurt far too much.

So, this year (and ever after) I’m going to embrace mistakes.

Save my heart. Grow my brain.

That’s the plan in 2013.

Welcome to a new year.

~k

Photo by lapolab on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons License.

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This entry was posted on January 9, 2013 by in Long-winded Existential Angst and tagged , , .

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