02 – Help yourself move past the blues

Most people make sensible choices most of the time. But have you ever made a decision that left you wondering, “What was I thinking?!?”

We all aspire to live without mistakes, without regrets, but life is full of right and wrong turns, things that worked out fine and others not so much. After a wrong turn, some people pick themselves up, dust themselves off and go on. But some of us tend to linger over the troublesome decisions, imagining what we might have done better or at least differently.

One interesting thing about this exercise of self-reflection is its hopefulness; there’s something in us that wants to believe that what we wanted could still be achieved, if only… After all, isn’t that how life is supposed to work; you want things and you strive to get them? What could be wrong with that?

The book, What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite, recently added to the collection of the Sioux Lookout Public Library, will give you second thoughts about trusting that “desire makes right” formula. Author David DiSalvo shows us how decisions we make about what is good or bad, what will work out and what won’t, are often based on the weakest of assumptions. We may think we are in the driver’s seat but where we are going is often out of our hands, and beware those blind spots!

Drawing on research in the fields of neuropsychology and brain chemistry, DiSalvo shows how compulsive or obsessive we can become if we get certain kinds of rewards. A stimulated brain makes for a happy brain, but not one that is necessarily either well-adjusted or productive. Like the ball of rubber bands pictured on the cover of the book, our brains natural elasticity, the thing that makes us creative and able to adapt, can become brittle and break if it’s not flexed regularly and in the right ways.

It’s sobering to think we shouldn’t trust our impulses, intuition or desires, but it’s hardly a new or radical idea. Most folks in this neck of the woods know well enough that achieving a good life is a balancing act, it comes from hard work and not necessarily from chasing one’s heart’s desire, though for a lot of people that’s exactly what living up here means.

In the end, DiSalvo offers many practical suggestions for how to constructively plant your desires in fertile soil and make them blossom: make lists, use pictures, practice the things you want to be able to do, set realistic goals, and most importantly, act. Don’t just dream. Do. That’s how we learn, and through learning, get what we want.

You will find the book in the 150 section of the library. Specifically, the book’s call number is 152.42 DIS which, by the Dewey Decimal Classification System, is for books about “perception,” “movement” and “emotions.” Which seems about right.

What Makes Your Brain Happy promises to change how you see yourself and your motivations by giving you tools you can use to move past the emotional frustration that comes from poor impulse control, past the blues and toward the full spectrum of colours that mark a well-balanced and rewarding life.

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This article was first published in the Sioux Lookout Bulletin and is available online here: http://www.siouxbulletin.com/my-library-help-yourself-move-past-the-blues?id=1620

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