Merry Christmas to you all, your families, friends, our world and beyond…
Merry Christmas to you all, your families, friends, our world and beyond…
Why do odd images suddenly pop into your head for no reason?
You’re walking down the street, just like any other day, when suddenly a memory pops into your head from years ago. It’s about a person you haven’t thought of for years. Just for a moment you’re transported back to a time and place you thought was long forgotten. In a flash, though, the memory has vanished as quickly as it appeared. This experience has been dubbed a ‘mind-pop’ and sometimes it is prompted by nothing your conscious mind is aware of. There is, perhaps, an even weirder type of ‘mind-pop’. This is when all you get is a word or an image which seems to have no connection to anything at all. Like suddenly thinking of the word ‘orange’ or getting the image of a cheese grater. They seem weirder because they feel unconnected to any past experience, place or person—a thought without any autobiographical context.
Not everyone has these experiences, but many do. When psychologists have recorded these involuntary memories, they find that, on average, people have about one a day. They are most likely to occur during routine, habitual activities, like walking down the street, brushing your teeth or getting dressed. They are also more likely to come when your attention is roaming and diffused. Some of these mind-pops can even be traced back to their causes. Here is one psychologist describing some mental detective work "…while throwing a used bag in a dust bin the word “Acapulco” popped up and since she had no idea what it was and where she might have come across the word, she turned to a member of family for help. To her surprise, it was pointed out to her that Acapulco was mentioned on the TV news some 45 minutes ago. This ability to trace a mind-pop back to its source wasn’t an isolated case. When they surveyed people, Kvavilashvili and Mandler found that the words and images that seemed to pop up randomly didn’t actually come from nowhere.
Sometimes it was an associative mind-pop, like being reminded about Christmas and later having the words ‘Jingle Bells’ pop into your head. It could be a sound-a-like, for example having the image of a sandy beach appear after you see a banana (Bahamas sounds like bananas). The fact that many mind-pops could not be traced back to their source is probably the result of how much of our processing is carried out unconsciously. The fascinating thing was that many of these mind-pops occurred weeks or months after exposure to the original trigger. This suggests that these words, images and ideas can lie in wait for a considerable period. Some even think that experiencing mind-pops could be associated with creativity as these apparently random associations can help to solve creative problems.
Mind-pops are another hint that we are recording more information than we know. Fortunately, our minds mostly do a good job of suppressing random thoughts and images, as they can be extremely distracting. So next time you have a mind-pop, remember that, however weird, it has probably been triggered by something you’ve seen, heard or thought about recently, even if you can’t remember what. Of course, why we get these particular ones and not others is still a mystery.
I’m not going to take the approach some of the bloggers have of writing a letter of advice to my younger self, because I’d have ignored it the same as I ignored sound advice from parents, family and friends when I was growing up. I simply wasn’t ready for anybody to tell me anything of value much before I got into my 20s, I was too busy being a realist pessimist and telling anybody prepared to listen how hard life was. So for what it’s worth this is my advice to you, rather than a younger me. The sheer fact that you’re reading here means you are far more open to it than I would have been 10 years ago.
The whole gratitude thing has been done to death over the last few years and there’s an absolutely brilliant reason for that. It’s because gratitude is one of, if not the, most powerful and empowering states for you to be in. It’s impossible to be in a state of genuine gratitude and be feeling depressed. You cannot feel grateful and be anxious at the same time, and a sense of gratitude will kick the ass of a victim mindset until the cows come home. There is an abundance of scientific research that demonstrates the power of gratitude. Grateful people are healthier, happier and live longer than people who think their lot in life sucks. Read that again. Grateful people are healthier, happier and live longer than people who think their lot in life sucks. That’s pretty powerful stuff I think you’ll agree and if that isn’t a good enough reason for you to focus on what’s right in your life, then I suspect you’ll never have one.
Regrets serve no purpose, none whatsoever. Unless that is, you enjoying feeling miserable because that’s about the only thing they are guaranteed to accomplish. With the benefit of hindsight we all have things from the past that we would do differently if we had our time again. We’ve all looked back incredulously at some poor decision and thought, “What the hell was I thinking of?” The reality is every decision you make and action you undertake you do so with the best intentions at that particular moment in time. Unfortunately though, best intentions are not always enough and if you are short on information, in the wrong frame of mind, sick, angry or just blind drunk, you are less likely to make great decisions. However, as long as you learn from your errors you can use that information to avoid repeating your mistakes you can move through your life without the millstone of regret on your shoulders.
We all have crap to deal with in our life no matter who we are. Yes we can look at other people and think they have life figured out better than we do, but it’s often not the case, it just seems that way. Even in your darkest hour there are millions of people going through similar and often worse situations. I say that not to belittle your issue, but as a way of saying we’re all in this together and you’re not alone. Every thought you have and conversation you take place is a communication with yourself. It’s impossible for it not to be. Therefore, every negative thought you have helps build up a pattern of negative thoughts. Every time you tell yourself you’re not good enough, rich enough, intelligent enough, attractive enough you cement that belief, so don’t do it!
A couple of months ago, I said to one of my patients something along the lines of “Look, you can either do this or not do it, it’s up to you. In any event you’ll be dead in less than a hundred years so in the great scheme of things it doesn’t really matter.” This didn’t work quite as well as I had imagined as the lady promptly burst into tears. I never found out for sure whether I had just delivered the biggest spoiler ever, and she previously had no idea the icy hand of death is awaiting her, or if she just liked to live in denial and presume it’s possible to put everything off for as long as possible. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired rather than deflated by knowing you’ll be dead in 100 years because it gives you something to work to. Imagine the procrastination possibilities if we all lived for a thousand years. That eating healthy regime really could go on hold, and not until just after Christmas either, you could put it off for a century or two. Death gives us an opportunity to live a life of purpose and meaning. It isn’t the enemy it’s made out to be even though few of us would rush to cuddle the Grim Reaper. Many people wait until they start to approach middle-age before they evaluate their life. The gradual realization that they’re probably past the half way mark and they’re still in a job they don’t like, a house they can’t afford and with a partner that doesn’t understand them, can be a sobering experience. Today is the best day ever for you decide what is really, really, really important to you and then going and doing it.
For, every mistake we make in our lives has a cost. Awareness prevents or may reduce any resultant suffering. Feel your head and understand symbolically that in it is a power house comprising of several bulbs with attending switches. Each bulb when switched on is knowledge. The brains expand with knowledge as it does by meditation, in proven research. There is no limit to our learning.
Understand now certain eternal laws of nature. Recall when you were small. Did you not love those years when there was no home work, only toys, play and fun? Now there is lots of homework, exams and competition. If asked which time was better you would say “when we were small”. The fact is that a few years from now you will say this very school time was better than college. Later college was better than work. And so it goes on.
Why am I making you conscious of these responses? So that you remember that nothing is permanent. It’s all moving. It’s all going. All you have is the present time. Therefore, do all that you can now, to say later, “I gave it all my best and got the best.” Your school, your home, siblings, elders, your parents, teachers, school books and your support systems — whatever is before you, are all going to change over a period. So value them. One day parents will have gone, family spread out, teachers retired, friends forgotten, health not as good as it is today, home changed, and so on. Therefore, understand that when nothing is permanent, all that is in your hands is to give your best to what is before you rather than regret that you didn’t, later.
Another law of nature which is infallible is that you will reap as you sow in the form of habits. These will form your character, naturally. You sow integrity, spirit of hard work, respect, gratitude, giving and discipline; these shall all come back to you as you grow up to be young adults. You will not need transformational leadership courses then. You will use trainings to enhance your personal and professional skills further and not have to do root repairs. Therefore ensure being good gardeners of your own orchard. Feed your saplings of habits daily with right nutrition. All these will flower and yield good fruit. They determine your responses.
Finally grow up with a personal goal as well as higher purpose, which is the real meaning of life! Earn your wealth and comforts the ethical way and grow up to share alongside. Living only for yourself will not give you real happiness. This is what all research establishes. Why not make this habit a part of your life now to share with family and the needy whatever you can? It does not have to be big. It’s all about being sensitive and conscientious, the hall marks of good, noble person