There are two things in life that do not have favorites.
You know that feeling you get when the red apple is on your desk in your third grade classroom because you are the student of the week?
Ever feel like that is the most wonderful thing in the world? Until you begin to notice that it took such a long time for that apple to get to your desk, yet it seemed to reach your friends desks more frequently… again and again?
Yup, my hand is raised on this one!
The simple gesture of encouraging students for being an outstanding learner is not a horrible thing to do. What it does do, though, is discourage those who may have worked hard at doing things ‘right’ with no recognition for their efforts, which in turn can lead to less effort the next time or an ‘I don’t care’ attitude.
Although I may have never been the most brilliant kid in school or got to enjoy that beautifully prized red apple on my desk more than that one quick fleeting week, I am thankful that there are two things that give equal recognition.
The first one is time.
If there is one thing that makes us all equal, that is time. Time has no respect of persons, yet it is through time spent that one can see a direct reflection of your quality of life.
Although you may experience a distortion of time when you are involved in dangerous events such as a car accident and may seem that everything goes into slow motion at that very moment with the event seeming to last longer than it actually does, this time lapse actually occurs in order to give your brain enough time to prepare for the appropriate actions. Yet, no matter the outcome, time still plays out.
Time doesn’t favor anyone because of where you grew up. Time doesn’t favor which religious group you are a part of. Time doesn’t favor what nationality you are or what color of skin you are graced with. Nor does time have a favorite doughnut it likes to be bribed with. Time is here to give you a chance. Chance is the second thing that shows no favoritism.
Chance comes to everyone. A chance to choose.
You have over 35,000 chances each day to choose what you will do with your time. Can you believe that we make about 226 choices on food alone each day? So what are you having for breakfast… and are you going to take time to eat with your family or have a quiet moment with just yourself and your selected food? Or will you choose with your time to rush off to your duties for the day?
Chances are given to you for you to choose whether or not you will respect your mother, stand up for what you believe in, and choose to follow that which is honest and pure. And once again, chance does not stop because of your socioeconomic status, your community ranking, or if you choose to sleep with one sock on. Chance is here for everyone to choose and grab hold of, no matter your baggage or previous life story.
How are you going to take it?
As a third grader, I can vividly remember thinking two things about that red apple and how it made me feel. The first thought was that I wanted to throw that apple in all its red glory out the window so that no one could enjoy it. For without a doubt it made me feel sad, hurt, disappointed, not good enough, shameful, and wanting to not try anymore in order to prevent the hurt of being let down when my attempt was not appreciated.
Yet, the second thought I remember telling myself was that even though I may not have had the joy of being commended as the student of the week more than once in the entire year, I was appreciated for something (to this day I don’t remember for what). But that was enough to encourage me that red apples don’t show your quality of life, it is what you choose to do with them and the choice you take with the chances that are given to you.
Your choices and decisions are made in the prefrontal cortex of your brain. And the best way to stimulate your prefrontal cortex to aid you in making better choices with the time and chance that is given to you, is to fill your time incorporating these five practices into your daily life.
- Breathing. Slow-paced breathing, in a controlled manner, at the right frequency can result in vagal nerve activation. When the vagus nerve is activated it stimulates your prefrontal cortex, which aids in your decision and judgement making, and helps you to resist temptations. The vagus nerve stimulation and the triggering of the prefrontal cortex brings about a more generous attitude and unselfish behavior.
- Being mindful. Being mindful is to replace any negative thought or action resulting from your thought with something that is beneficial and good. All empty spaces are going to be filled with something. Good or bad. Most likely your environment triggers your thoughts, therefore the first thing to do is change your environment so that your outcome can be changed.
- Exercise. Regular physical exercise increases the production of new brain cells and increases your levels of dopamine, which are released in your prefrontal cortex.
- Sleep. The prefrontal cortex is sensitive to fatigue that is induced by prolonged hours of being awake. So being sure to get the proper amount of sleep at set bedtimes will increase your frontal cortical activity.
- Selection of food. It has been shown that when one is obese, there is lower activation of the prefrontal cortex. So consuming foods that lower the prevalence of obesity would consist of minimally processed whole foods such as:
- Whole grains (whole wheat, steel cut oats, brown rice, quinoa)
- Vegetables (a colorful variety-not potatoes)
- Whole fruits (not fruit juices)
- Nuts, seeds, beans, and other healthful sources of protein (lentils, quinoa, and tempeh)
- Plant oils (olive and other vegetable oils)
Today may be the last day you have the time and chance to choose your quality of life. How are you going to live? Who are you going to put your trust in? Your car will eventually run out of gas or electricity with no reliable refill source. Your staple food item will be taken by others with the same need. Your home may be destroyed by a natural disaster or invaded by unwanted guests, but when you have a reliable source to trust, you will not be shaken by circumstance, sight, emotions or feelings.
Take the time to choose today who you will follow and put your confidence in.