Choose Your Highway
A sound bite is a tiny clip from a speech. These posts are designed to be quick ideas (“bites”) about how we busy people can practically integrate wellness into our daily lives. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you accomplish something overwhelming? Start with a manageable crumb.
The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting stay-at-home order has transformed the way we interact with each other, refashioned where and how we study, and blurred the lines between work and home. Routines and predictability seem like a fairytale from a long ago place and a faraway time. It’s challenging to feel safe when it seems like the foundations of our reality have exploded into smithereens, and now we’re plummeting through the dark without a parachute. The good news is that, in the midst of so much uncertainty, there actually is something that we can control.
Neuroscience provides evidence that “what you focus on grows”: the more we entertain a thought or a memory, the stronger and faster that neural pathway becomes in our brain. Picture the first time you try to forge a path through the woods: this is like the first time you have a certain thought. The more traffic on that footpath, the larger it becomes, and the easier it becomes to navigate. Our brain is efficient, and it takes the most familiar route. If the path is traveled often enough and frequently enough, it could become a superhighway with 6 or 12 or 24 lanes. On the other hand, if traffic is diverted, the superhighway will eventually fall into disrepair, and gradually even be reclaimed by nature. In the same way, the thoughts we repeatedly welcome will ultimately determine our outcome.
Here are some questions to consider as you choose what to focus on while navigating the uncertainty of a world in transition:
At the end of this pandemic (and there will be an end):
Where do you want to be?
Which paths do you want to grow into superhighways?
Which superhighways do you want to extinguish into forgotten trails?
What resources and support and reminders do you need to increase or divert your flow of traffic?
What do you hope to learn?
What do you hope to learn about yourself?
What do you hope to learn about your abilities?
What do you hope to learn about this situation?
Whom do you want to be?
When you look back on this time a decade from now, what do you want to remember about yourself?
What word do you want your friends and family to remember about you?
If you designed a t-shirt, what slogan would you write?
What is your superpower as you navigate uncertainty? Let me know by emailing “firstname.lastname@example.org”.