Yesterday I travelled back in time. Forty years of time to be precise. Yes, it is at least that long since I was a student and had sat in a lecture hall. I went to university in Wellington and travelled by train and cable car. But yesterday's excursion was to Auckland University and I went by bus then ambled up the tree lined street to the lecture hall.
On entering I was accosted by a most polite 16 year old student who asked me to participate in a research project. Her theory is that speedy readers have a more reduced vocabulary than slower readers. The computer based questionaire involved firstly a Stroop Test (check out the link here)
This is not as easy as you might think but I did well at that the student told me and got a "whooppee" score of 6 seconds. That statistic means nothing much to me but brought a smile of great glee to the face of said student who then passed me over to another official who tested me on how many words I could say in any given 30 second period starting with a given letter. Not as easy as you might think. I managed a respectable score but had a far higher degree of dissatisfaction with my level of vocabulary. Was fun though and a great introduction to Brain Day.
One by an eminent neurologist was on "Silver Linings". Barry Snow spoke engagingly of how different areas of the brain can take over functions of disabled parts. Not perfectly but often adequately and how rehabilitation can assist in the adjustment and acceptance of brain disability. Most interesting however was his detailing of research into Parkinson's patients who, as their illness progresses and they lose control of speech, inhibition and motor control, find themselves released in a creative way. He had photographs of artworks produced by some of his patients. It was astonishing to see that what had obviously been latent was only released by this hideous disease. At the question time when asked what was one single recommendation for the prevention of brain degeneration he enthusiastically, indeed animatedly, recommended thirty minutes per day of rigorous exercise. If that can forestall the onset of the big A or any other such debilitation I will persist in my less than enthusiastic daily attendance at the gym!
1. Calm - serenity, contentment
2. Excitement - goals, drive
3. Connection - relationships
Dr Fernando said our brains are geared such that positive emotions are fleeting and not easily fixed into the memory, yet negative emotions adhere and are readily filed in the permanent memory bank. Statistically the ratio of our positive emotional state to our negative emotional state should be 3:1 but in reality most of us would find it to be 1.8:1 He recommended a consciousness of "banking" positive memories.
Apparently gratitude is the turbo charger of happiness. Followed closely by kindness and compassion.
And so the lecture closed with another triplet of "keys"
1. Focus on practices that promote happiness
2. Manage your expectations
3. Keep a gratitude diary
Don't you think this notebook will make a great Gratitude Diary? Somehow I feel the William Morris design is appropriate.
And the first thing to go in my Gratitude Diary? We have rain! The first since the beginning of February and it brings with it the hope that this drought will not be permanent and rainbows may yet once more appear in our southern skies.