Reclaim Your Mental Real Estate
with the Science of Resilience
Reclaim Your Mental Real Estate with the Science of Resilience
Reclaim Your Mental Real Estate with the Science of Resilience
Have you ever thought about buying a new car and then see that car everywhere? Or have you ever woken up in a bad mood, and one negative thing after another seemed to happen all day? If so, you have experienced selective attention. Our brain directs attention to things that match what is already top of mind, and it basically means that you find what you look for.
Where do you choose to focus your attention? When you ruminate about things you can’t control or wish you had done differently, you are giving away your mental real estate. When you are worried about future events or other people’s opinions, you are giving away your mental real estate. Anytime you let someone or something live rent-free in your head, or dictate your mood or behavior, you are letting those people and situations take up your mental real estate.
Think about going on social media and seeing your friends’ carefree vacation photos when you are working. The next thing you know, you are telling yourself you are “stuck” at work and giving in to the proverbial FOMO. The second you do that, you relinquish control of your mood. And that can affect your entire day if you let it.
Identifying the distractions in your life and thinking about them in a new way can help you reclaim your mental real estate. After all, you wouldn’t just let someone move into your house without paying for it. So why are you giving away your mental space without being deliberate about who is taking it and what you are letting in?
When you ruminate about things you can’t control or wish you had done differently, you are giving away your mental real estate.
Now…I don’t want to come off as self-righteous. I confess I check my phone more often than I care to admit and get caught up scrolling through social media. Half the time, I don’t even realize I’m doing it. And that’s the problem – when we unconsciously allow anything to interrupt our mental processes and potentially shift our mood, we are giving away our mental real estate. This is especially the case when you don’t have the mental capacity to process it, put it in perspective, and choose how you want to interpret it.
One way to get deliberate about who you let in your “brain house” is mindfulness. You are training your brain to take back control and direct attention where you want it, rather than where it goes by default. Taking back control reduces fear, anxiety, and stress.
Own your mind and you will be able to reclaim your attention. Here is a checklist to determine if you need to reclaim mental real estate:
1. Do you check your phone the minute you get out of bed?
You just gave someone else permission to be in charge of your brain. Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, notes that the first and last 30 minutes of the day are the times when you are most vulnerable to having your attention hijacked. By relinquishing control first thing in the morning, you spend the rest of the day trying to recover. Try spending the first 30 minutes of your day meditating, reading something uplifting, listening to a podcast, or doing something that elevates your mood. For the last 30 minutes, focus on relaxation, ditch the screen, and set intentions for the next day.
2. Do you find yourself habitually checking social media?
Whether it’s standing in line at a grocery store or riding an elevator, our need to check status, likes, comments, and be “in the know” is seeping mental energy Social media can be great if it helps you connect with others and build relationships, but not when it starts impacting your mood or causes you to constantly compare yourself with others. Doing that is just waging mental war with yourself. The next time you find yourself heading for a social media fix, ask yourself if it is serving you.
3. Do you feel your attention being constantly drawn away from where you want to direct it?
The only thing you can really control is where you attune your attention. When you are stressed, you are attuned to that. You can numb it by going on Facebook for an hour, but what have you accomplished? Practice being intentional and consciously choosing where you want to focus your attention.
Remember, it is about making small choices, micro-decisions, throughout the course of your day to achieve the life you want. Being in the moment and being thoughtful and deliberate about how you think and behave retrains your brain to form new habits. It takes courage and practice, but it is also where resilience is built.
We live in a world where we are bombarded with information, saturated with stimulation, and overloaded with deadlines, tasks, and deliverables. Demanding schedules, competing priorities, and a never ending list of to-do’s have made stress and burnout common place. Stress is the leading cause of heart disease, depression, anxiety, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a whole host of other ailments, and it has literally become a public health epidemic.
Resilience Training & Productivity
The good news is that research has found a way to help combat the many challenges associated with stress, and companies that practice this are more productive, more profitable, and higher performing as a result. More and more organizations are turning to resilience training to help their employees manage stress, navigate change, and overcome obstacles and setbacks.
Resilience Is A Skill That Can Be Learned
Resilience is not a personality trait but rather a set of skills and habits that can be developed and honed, and there are skills, behaviors, and attitudes that can be learned. For example, research has consistently shown a link between job satisfaction and the degree to which managers express gratitude to employees. Gratitude affects your brain at a neurological level, producing serotonin and dopamine (the brain’s feel good neurotransmitters), and reduces cortisol (our stress & “fight or flight” response). Practicing mindfulness has been found to significantly impact and improve the part of the brain responsible for memory, attention, and emotional regulation.
One size does not fit all. Learn a ton of cool ways to build your courage resilience.
This is a resilience revolution, and it starts with you!
Anne Grady is a Speaker, Author, and #TruthBomb Dropper.
Anne shares practical strategies that can be applied both personally and professionally to improve relationships, navigate change, and triumph over adversity. And she’ll make you laugh while she does it. Anne is a two time TEDx speaker, and her work has been featured in numerous media outlets, including Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fast Company and Inc. magazines, CNN, ESPN, and FOX Business. She is the best selling author of 52 Strategies for Life, Love & Work and Strong Enough: Choosing Courage, Resilience and Triumph.