Root Deep Living

I LOVE “likes”!

I was glaring at my screen eyes wide open scanning for the red notification that I have received a new “like”. I saw the beautiful red number that indicated that yet another human or computer somewhere out in the universe saw my work as worthy enough to attribute the click of the “like” button. See what I just did there? I prescribed significance and meaning to getting “likes” on my social network. Know what happened in my brain when I saw this red notification? My brain lit up like a Christmas tree in the rewards center. A shot of dopamine (the neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure), pulsated through my system causing my brain to smile BIG.

I just explained the anatomy of addiction!

At the very core of my functioning, I was rewarding myself by searching for “likes”. And just think, I haven’t even watched the popular Netflix documentary about this very thing. I am admitting my vulnerability to being addicted to the “like” button. How about you? Do you find yourself surfing searching for the newest response to your post? Are you hungry for the next comment on your selfie or blog post or video? We are people who are searching for the next HIT of dopamine whether it comes in tiny doses the size of an M&M or in huge doses such as personal praise or rewards. We are becoming mice in B.F. Skinner’s test labs where he created the theory of Behaviorism, this theory is rooted in the belief that we have NO FREE WILL and are only a product of rewards either positive or negative. Are we ok with being reduced to a series of rewards that influence our next actions? Are YOU ok with this?

What is my counselor’s take on all of this?

I believe that earlier and earlier we are introducing electronic devices to children where their reward center of the brain lights up much more frequently than it is designed to. With our young brains lighting up so frequently it begins to develop shallow root systems. The trees grow tall but the roots grow shallow. What does this mean? It means that as soon as something hard comes into the life of the young person they fall over because their brain can’t handle the stress.

What about you and me?

Our roots are getting more shallow as well. When the root system in our adult brains gets shallow, the smallest stress can topple us over like a live oak in wet weather with a gust of wind. Don’t believe me? Look no further than the year 2020 when Coronvirus hit our nation and world. One of the biggest results of Covid has been a massive toppling over of our trees. The absolute highest intellectual minds in science and medicine have been toppled over which has trickled down to the general public. Guess what our response was? BUY MORE TOILET PAPER!!!!!! Seems to me we have toppled our trees.

So what and now what?

We have a problem. More than ever we need to take the time to be aware of what we are doing to our brains and begin to make the choices (you have free will) to choose to deepen our roots.

Here are some root deepening exercises we can all begin to practice to deepen the roots of our brain.

  1. Put your device down and take a 15-minute walk. Notice the beauty around you, the rustling of the wind through the trees, the sound of the birds as they sing. Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin.
  2. Put your device down and choose to be very interested in someone else. Dale Carnegie is famous for teaching us How to Win Friends and Influence People. One of the key point’s Carnegie made is to be very interested in other people. Get them talking. It’s amazing how much more people will like you if you become very interested in them.
  3. Close your eyes and imagine God. The leading Neuropsychologists and scientists have found that when people are hooked up to brain imaging machines where we can see the activity of the brain in real-time, it shows that our brains light up like a Christmas tree when we simply think of God. I don’t know what your faith lies in, but may I invite you to imagine the God of the Bible?
  4. Smile often. Smiling releases happy chemicals through your body. Go ahead and try it! Try frowning, it takes more muscles to frown than to smile.
  5. Live with your palms up. It has been said it is impossible to be angry with someone if your palms are up. Try to be angry with your palms open facing upward. Now ball up your fists. See the difference?

In conclusion:

We have the opportunity to be deeply rooted as we lead the next generation towards their future. Unlike Skinner, I believe we have absolute choices, God doesn’t make us mice rather we are complex intricate humans made in the likeness of a creator God who loves us and designed us for JOY! If you will take these ideas and put them into practice you will produce fruit that will impact the next generations to come.

Let’s go deepen our roots!

F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out)

The more advanced we become the more necessary it is to keep it simple. Take social media. What an amazing advancement in communication and connecting. The problem is, we are now seeing an entire generation that are growing up with devices in their hands yet more unhappy than ever before. One of the new acronyms I just learned is called FOMO or fear of missing out. Defined, FOMO means, “The state of mental or emotional strain caused by the fear of missing out.” This is the feeling we get inside that everyone else is having a blast with their life while I’m home without a clue or a plan to enjoy it.

Hold the phone! Google this, I’m not making it up! We are growing more unhappy because of a fear of missing out on a life that is happening somewhere else except in my world. Screen activity fans the flames of this fear. Basically the more we live life behind a screen, smart phone, tablet, t.v. computer etc. game system, the more unhappy we become.

What is a reasonable strategy for battling F.O.M.O.? The solution is quite simple, balance. A 50/50 balance of screen time vs real-time is a good place to start.

  • Pay attention to what you are paying attention to.
  • How much time you are spending behind the screen?
  • Write down your daily time behind the screen.
  • If you believe you are spending too much time behind the screen, step away and carve out time away from it.
  • Do more things that make you forget to check your phone.

The screen is not the enemy, too much of the screen is.

Conspiracy Monster

“In the absence of information conspiracies abound.” -Brene’ Brown

There is a little monster inside of us called the conspiracy monster. This little creature lives between your ears and roars things that aren’t true. The effects of the conspiracy monster are far-reaching from the classroom to the boardroom and even the bedroom. The conspiracy monster feeds on bits of information with much room for interpretation. A wild conspiracy monster can ruin your life. 

The conspiracy monster feeds on social media. When we view a picture-perfect family it is easy to be overcome with a myriad of thoughts most of which are completely untrue. When we feed on these untrue thoughts they serve as food for conspiracies only fueling the monster that lives in each of us. The worse part is when we behave out of the conspiracy. We might act impulsively and spend money where we don’t need to because we feel the need to be more active like that perfect family, (chomp, chomp) the monster eats your checkbook. Or we begin to dislike our lives because they seem to be so boring (chomp, chomp) there goes your contentment.

How do we identify and defeat the conspiracy monster? First, you are halfway by believing the conspiracy monster exists. Second, you need to filter events that happen in your life through the truth filter. If you hear the monster chomping, press pause and ask one question, what is true about this event right now? The truth of an event frees you from the grip of the conspiracy monster. Better yet, the truth of an event frees you to behave out of that truth. When we behave out of truth we live with significance and contentment.

Application:

Have you been allowing the monster to eat you alive? What can you do to filter the conspiracies thrown your way?

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. View social media with the belief that what you are seeing isn’t THE TRUTH but a version of a person’s truth. Filter hard.
  2. When a person shares a victory in their life, pause, kill the monster, and genuinely celebrate with them.
  3. When information is scarce regarding a circumstance or life event, gather facts like a detective before permitting yourself to behave out of the limited intel.
  4. Fill your life with truth statements, factual truths that pertain to you. The Bible is a tremendous source of solid truth about who you are.
  5. Share these ideas with others.

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