Hissy Fit - April 2020 - Are You Open? Thinking Outside the Box
...because everyone needs one every once in awhile
April 2020 Issue
by Elizabeth Skenes Millen
Think out of the box is a phrase that has been pulverized into eye-rollable corporate jargon.
According to most meetings, and I hope I get your buy-in, at the end of the day, everyone needs to think out of the box. Unfortunately, many people voluntarily put their brains in the box, inadvertently shrinking their world. Basically, those not thinking out of the box on a regular basis have tampered with, not their ability, but their willingness, to even peek outside.
The “box” definitely has your buy-in, and thinking outside of it is hard and scary and opens one up to the unknown. So why would anyone want to even consider thinking outside the box? One reason: Life! Only one delivery comes in a box, and life should be filled with lots and lots of deliveries—even surprise deliveries!
Thinking outside the box requires being open to new thoughts, ideas, modalities, habits and ways. If you read the Publisher’s Note on page 10, you know I recently attended the Brain Health Summit hosted by Memory Matters (Hilton Head). The keynote speaker was Dr. Wendy Suzuki, a brilliant and entertaining neuroscientist and professor at NYU. She introduced the room of more than 400 to IntenSati, an exercise practice that combines traditional cardio movements with yelling out positive affirmations. She made us all stand up, and she lead us in a 5-minute demonstration. It was exhilarating, all 400 of us yelling out “I’m loving life now!” Her point was how good is was not only for the heart, but also for the brain!
I was so excited when I left the Summit. I wanted to exercise, shout out affirmations and share everything I learned. When I was telling a friend about IntenSati, she was all in until I said, “…and you yell out positive affirmations…”
She cut me off and emphatically said, “I’m not doing that.”
“Why,” I asked.
“I’m just not going to do that,” she reiterated.
I can only assume, since she shut me down and would hear no more, that yelling out affirmations is too far out of her comfort zone. I understand how it could be uncomfortable: It’s new, it’s different from any previous exercise, it may bring unwanted attention (as many of us want to fade into the woodwork), or it may make one feel self-conscious. Exactly, and this is a classic example of why we don’t want to think out of the box.
We are comfortable with the way things are in the box. We know how to deal with them. Going outside the confines of the box opens us up to be sitting ducks. Think about it. What’s the first thing that happens when you throw out a new idea at a meeting? Usually, people tell you why it won’t work, and that makes us feel dumb, less than, looked down upon. However, those who are willing to speak up with a new idea are expanding their brain power.
The human brain, which is the most fascinating, powerful thing on planet earth, needs you to think out of the box to be stimulated and healthy. You don’t have to go to extremes. Just be open to trying and thinking new things. Here’s two ways to get started:
Shift happens: Think of 10 tiny shifts you can make to begin to ease things that hinder you on a daily basis. One thing I can think of for me is to shower as soon as I get out of bed. I like to linger in my morning ritual of coffee, devotions, journaling. However, I often allow these things to push into my scheduled day and find myself rushing to shower and get ready to run out the door and into work mode. If I did one tiny shift and took 10 minutes to shower before I ever left my bedroom, that would be a total game changer. Tiny shifts can make big impacts and jar your brain to come alive. Think of 5 or 10 things you can adjust to awaken your life.
Be Mindful: Mindfulness is a big buzz word these days that seems hard to conquer. The goal in being mindful has nothing to do with conquering anything, it has to do with being fully present in what you’re already doing. By tuning into your tasks mindfully, you will begin to discover whether or not these tasks are enjoyable, efficient, or even necessary. Referring back to the Publisher’s Note again, mindfulness is what happens between the dots—it’s the line. Have you ever driven for a few blocks, or even a mile, and suddenly wondered when the last time you saw the road? That is a perfect example of mindlessness—going through the motions but still getting to the dot. Being mindful is simply awaking your senses and getting in touch with your thoughts, which in turn becomes your new, more insightful guide to inner experiences you’ve had.
We see things through new eyes when all the senses are igniting. For example, if you go to the beach for a walk and only focus on the walk, some days may be a drudgery to check the box on that task. However, if you get to the beach for your walk and consciously breathe in the fresh air, listen to your breath, smell the salt, hear the waves crashing, see the beauty of the water meeting the sky, look at the white fluffy animated clouds, take off your shoes and feel how the sandy ground exfoliates and cushions your feet, see children giggling and building sandcastles, take note of what beach goers are reading, even get a chuckle of how sunburnt some of the poor tourists are, yet the beach is so special they’re not willing to go inside. Now…that’s a fully engaged, mindful walk you will never dread. You’ll want to show up each day because it’s exciting!
Independent of any meeting, let’s challenge ourselves to think out of the box and ignites our brains. You will be rewarded with renewed passion…and you know what power passion can have. Oh, and if you see me and I’m shouting, just know I’m just getting in my cardio and affirming all the positivity that abounds. Now repeat after me: I think out of the box and I feel alive!
For more about IntenSati, go to YouTube and search Particia Moreno for IntenSati workout videos.