Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning
Shark Tank Season 1 Winner, Tiffany Krumins on “Life After Shark Tank”

Shark Tank Season 1 Winner, Tiffany Krumins on “Life After Shark Tank”

March 30, 2020

You can listen to this episode on all podcast channels, or watch the interview here on YouTube. Before I introduce our next guest, I wanted to send out a message to everyone listening today, as we are recording this, it’s Monday March 30th, 2020, and there is a lot of turmoil in the world. We just can’t ignore it and jump into our episode without acknowledging where things are with the impact of the Corona virus on our everyday life. Wherever you are, we hope you and your families are safe, have the food and supplies that you need, and are managing through these difficult times. More than ever, we need strategies for our mental health, and well-being. Together we are stronger, and just want to remind you to stay connected as we all figure out our new normal.

Now let’s jump into this next episode,  which just happens to be EPISODE 50 with Shark Tank Season 1 Success Story (that aired back in 2009)[i] Tiffany Krumins, who was awarded $50,000 to fund her invention Ava the Elephant, a medicine dispenser that was inspired by a sweet-natured boy with Down syndrome who struggled to take his medication. As his nanny, Tiffany tried her best to sooth his anxiety. Using her creativity to invent a plastic medicine dropper, and by imbedding a recordable sound chip from a greeting card, Ava the Elephant was born, and is now one of Shark Tank's most well-known and beloved successes.  Tiffany’s story immediately grabbed our hearts because as a former nanny here in Arizona, I related to Tiffany’s entrepreneurial path. We used this product with BOTH our girls in our home, improving our experience of giving the girls their medicine when they were sick, which is never an easy task, so thank you for seeing this invention through.

 

Tiffany's infectious spirit has attracted the attention of media heavy hitters, such as Dr. Oz, Fox Business, Entrepreneur, Forbes, and most recently the Today Show. Tiffany cruised from nanny to inventor to entrepreneur on a wave of creativity, business strategies, and ideas that tugged at her giving heart. A respected inventor, iHeartRadio host,[ii] motivational speaker, successful entrepreneur, and mother of three, Tiffany now leads the Mom Genius[iii] team of passionate entrepreneurs by her daily intention that business success and personal fulfillment are not mutually exclusive.

 

Tiffany, it’s awesome to speak with you after all of these years of following and supporting each other’s work. For those watching, some history for you, Tiffany filmed a video[iv] for our early character ed program with her success story to inspire young entrepreneurs) and she has been supporting and cheering on our programs for the school market, which is exciting now, Tiffany, that you have created your own course for inventors that can be used by anyone, including schools.

 

Welcome Tiffany and thanks so much for doing this on a day that most of us are working AND home schooling our children.

 

 

  1. Tiffany, it’s been a whirlwind since we first spoke over 10 years ago. Can you give a quick snapshot of what’s happened in your life since your appearance on Shark Tank in 2009? I know a lot has happened to you both personally and professionally

 

  1. Can you tell us about your online course[v] (who it is for, and what it covers)?

 

  1. How has your vision changed since you first launched Ava the Elephant and how have you navigated through this change?  How do you stay on track?

 

  1. I know over here, I’ve made many mistakes with product creation and marketing. What were some of your most memorable mistakes?

 

  1. Were there times you felt like giving up and if so, how did you get past that to where you are now?

 

  1. I did see an article that you wrote about “facing your fears of public speaking.” Is this still what you would say sticks out as your biggest learning experience? What have you learned most about yourself[vi] the past 11 years since your appearance on Shark Tank?

 

  1. How have you managed being a mompreneur, raising 3 children and handling everything that goes along with a business?

 

  1. What’s your current focus and vision for where you are going in the next few years?

 

Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day, especially during such unusual times in the world. We look forward to following and supporting your success and spreading the word of your online courses and anything new you might think up.  What’s the best way for people to learn more about you?

 

 

[i] Tiffany Krumins Season 1 “Shark Tank” https://www.sharktankblog.com/business/ava-the-elephant/

 

[ii] https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/product-genius-with-tiffany-krumins-shark-tank-winner/id1406649018

 

[iii] https://www.momgenius.com/tiffany-krumins

 

[iv] Advice from Tiffany Krumins for Achieveit360 Students https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=id38wvYbzzA&list=PLb5Z3cA_mnKiiOxLqeDi_Jd2eG15S-ALF&index=19&t=0s

 

[v] https://www.tiffanykrumins.com/products/new-online-course-purchase

 

[vi] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/face-your-fears-them-often-until-longer-tiffany-krumins/?articleId=6475550041732902912#comments-6475550041732902912&trk=public_profile_article_view

 

Leadership and Marketing Strategist Dr. Jeffrey Magee on “Managing Fear, Focus and Strategy During Challenging Times.”

Leadership and Marketing Strategist Dr. Jeffrey Magee on “Managing Fear, Focus and Strategy During Challenging Times.”

March 25, 2020

This is episode #49 with someone who is one of today’s leading Leadership and Marketing Strategists and is also a long-time good friend, mentor and colleague of ours here at Achieveit360. Dr. Jeff Magee works with C-Suite, Business Leaders, Military Generals and the top CEOs across America. We first met Dr. Jeff Magee back in 2009 when we partnered with his Professional Performance Magazine and created the Teen Performance Magazine. You can watch the interview on YouTube here. 

 

Jeff is the Author of more than 20 books, three college graduate management texts, four best sellers, and is the Publisher of PERFORMANCE/P360 Magazine,[i] former Co-Host of the national business entrepreneur program on Catalyst Business Radio,[ii] and a Human Capital Developer for more than twenty years. You can download a FREE version of the Teen Performance Magazine here.[iii]

 

Welcome Dr. Jeff, it’s incredible to see you and sorry it’s been so long. You literally just popped into my head this morning on my hike and emailed you the minute I returned to my desk. This has been the fastest reply I’ve ever had, but I expect that of you. You don’t waste a second of your time. Thank you so for spending some time with me today.

 

 

  1. Jeff, I was thinking--just a few hours ago and wondering what other high performers like you are doing to stay focused during these scary times. Can you share how maybe some of your experiences working with the Army National Guard and Military Generals have prepared you for this time, and what are you doing differently?
  2. I know that most of your training happens in live events or in person, so how have you pivoted your business the past few weeks?
  3. What about your mental mindset? I know in the past when I have been stuck with my business, and I’ve contacted you for ideas, I’ve come away with a list of 20 new ideas to help me to move forward. What are some ways that people can get past places they might be stuck? Perhaps thinking of people who are working from home and now have their children at home that they need to keep busy?
  4. What are you doing with your time to add new skills? How has your schedule been the past few weeks? How is it the same or different?
  5. What have your learned about yourself and your business the past few weeks? What are you taking away from this experience to improve what you do at JeffreyMagee.com?
  6. Any final thoughts, or something I might have missed that you think is important for us to think about as we prepare for the next few months?

 

 

Thank you so much for the quickest reply I have ever had! If anyone wants to learn more about you and your online training programs they can go to jeffreymagee.com[iv]  and find you on social media @drjeffmagee on Twitter. What’s the best way for people to reach you and learn more?

 

REFERENCES:

[i] https://www.professionalperformancemagazine.com/

 

[ii] http://www.catalystbusinessradio.com/index.php

 

[iii] https://www.magcloud.com/browse/magazine/77535

 

[iv] https://www.jeffreymagee.com/

 

Brain Network Theory: Using Neuroscience to Stay Productive During Times of Change and Chaos

Brain Network Theory: Using Neuroscience to Stay Productive During Times of Change and Chaos

March 23, 2020

This is episode #48. Welcome to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, my name is Andrea Samadi, I’m a former educator whose been fascinated with understanding the science behind high performance strategies in schools, sports and the workplace for the past 20 years.  I’ve always loved this quote, and it just seems relevant today.

“In a time of drastic change, (like our world today) it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned (those who think they know it all) usually find themselves beautifully equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” (Eric Hoffer, Philosopher)

Today’s episode will focus on some strategies to help you to remain productive at work, whether you are working from home, or home schooling your children, AND working, let’s take a look at some evidence-based strategies with the application of the most current, fascinating brain research to help you to stay focused, so when all of this chaos that’s happening in our world today comes to an end, (because it will) you will emerge as stronger, more efficient and knowledgeable, with perhaps a different outlook of some new and improved ways of living your life. I just learned some new ways of thinking from Jim Bunch, who is known as “The Ultimate Life Entrepreneur” –he spent years working side-by-side with Tony Robbins. Jim’s mission is to inspire happiness, health, and wealth worldwide. He is the founder of The Ultimate Game of Life app[i] that I have been using for the past 504 days. I’m counting only because my plan was to use the app for 30 days to recover from a surgery and get my workouts back on track—and 504 days later, I realized there was much more to the app than meets the eye. This week, Jim was talking about some new ways of thinking and reminded us that during these strange times, you’ll notice some things that you have been doing that give you energy and make you stronger.[ii] Think about what they are and amplify those activities. Do more of what gives you energy, and less of what is draining.  You’ll notice some things that are becoming obsolete in your life. Notice them and take note of what is replacing them. Are these new ways better than the old way? Be aware of your new way of living and see what you can learn from this time to improve life when it returns to its new normal. What will you keep doing more of, and what will you think about changing or deleting? What new strategies and knowledge can you gain? This can be a powerful time of renewal.

Brain Network Theory: The New Brain Science of Reducing Stress

Before we dive deep into this week’s episode, let’s take a closer look at the new brain science of overcoming stress and avoiding work burnout called Brain Network Theory—that we should all be aware of to increase positivity, reduce stress and anxiety and increase our work productivity and results.  Remember, just like Theory of Mind from EPISODE 46[iii], this is also a theory. Brain Network Theory is now being talked about all over the place, so if you follow the most current neuroscience research, I’m sure you will have heard about it. There are many books being written on this NEW Brain Network Theory (I’ve mentioned Dr. Srini Pillay and his book about the power of the unfocused mind in past episodes). I’ve been working closely with Mark Waldman (from EPISODE 30)[iv] this past week and know that applying Brain Network Theory to our life at this point in time can be powerful. With any theory, just keep an open mind, listen to the ideas, and see how they can fit into your life.

 

So what is Brain Network Theory? If you were to go to www.pubmed.gov  and search for the most recent studies on the brain, instead of looking at different parts of the brain, like we used to do, we now know and study different networks in the brain to gain understanding, and we can measure and see the activity in each of these brain networks. Some people use fMRI scans, others use SPECT image scans, but I am sure you have seen these images that show how different parts of our brain light up when we are doing different things. You will no longer see studies that talk only about the individual parts of the brain—like the thalamus or hippocampus, you will now see images that describe brain networks, nodes and connectivity. This is a fascinating discovery that comes to life with these images. Just imagine, at any particular time, you might be resting, thinking or daydreaming and a different network in your brain will light up.

We have hundreds of these networks, but most of them are non-conscious (we are not aware of them). We are only going to talk about 3 of these networks for this strategy of increasing productivity. I will include an image in the show notes (that is so far the ONLY visual created on Brain Network Theory) that can be used as a tool for those of us who, like me, prefer a visual of what we are learning. Think of this image as a map or a tool that you can use to organize the networks.  Let’s take a look at these 3 Networks so you can start to use and apply Brain Network Theory in your daily life.

Brain_Network_Visual.jpg

IMAGE: © 2019 Mark Robert Waldman and Monica Evason 

We have the Default Mode Network, (imagination processes like daydreaming, creative problem solving, and mind wandering. This area is significantly larger than the other networks possibly because it develops so early in life and plays such an important role in child and brain development). Marty Seligman, the founder of positive psychology calls this the Imagination Network (because who would ever remember Default Mode Network anyway) and involves those thought processes that can include worry, doubts and fears like “don’t try that, it didn’t work out last time” and so on. Swiss Psychologist Piaget called this “inner speech” that can be positive or negative, depending on what you are thinking. This network is important to tap into, as it also contains your ability for creative problem solving, so it doesn’t just contain our worries and fears, but our ability to move past them. We just need to be mindful of what we are thinking about, to prevent the negativity bias from taking over our mind (when we get stuck ruminating on negative thoughts instead of positive creative thoughts).  Be sure that we are thinking positive thoughts, so we don’t default into this negative cycle of thinking. This takes practice, but with time, does become a habit and so does the ability to tap into the creative mind-wandering zone to solve problems. If you have ever stepped away from your desk to take a break and got an instant flash of insight to add something else to your presentation, this is the Imagination Network at work. I’ve also talked about the Default Mode Network in other episodes, as Einstein used it when he created his Theory of Relativity that came to him first in a dream, through his imagination, and then he moved these ideas into the next Network. 

Next we have the Central Executive Network (which holds our conscious decision-making processes like thinking, planning, concentration, taking action in an organized way and focused attention). This area is in our prefrontal cortex and is also known as our Executive Functions—all of our task-oriented thoughts. If we are NOT performing a task, and do NOT have focused attention, this area turns off, and we can go into the Imagination Network into daydreaming, worrying or creating, depending on what we are allowing into our thoughts. When this network is turned on, when we are working and using our focused attention, and the Imagination Network is turned off. We can only be in one network at a time. That’s why it is so important to take breaks to prevent burnout, and to allow for creative thoughts to flow into your mind when working on difficult tasks. 

Finally, there’s the Salience Network that doesn’t fully develop until we are around 28-30 years old, (which holds our awareness, intuition and compassion processes that integrate and stabilize the other two networks helping us to develop social awareness, empathy and our values).  This network puts the importance of what we are thinking, weighs what is important, and helps to balance the other networks. 

To benefit from Brain Network Theory, we should all develop a deeper understanding of how to go back and forth between the Imagination or Default Mode Network and Central Executive Network of focused attention so that we are using our focused attention for a bit, and then taking a break to allow for creativity. By taking breaks from our focused work and using mindful awareness where we become aware of our thoughts and feelings in the present moment, and observe them without judgement, like Jon Kabat Zinn[v], American professor and founder of the Center of Mindfulness in Medicine suggests, we will be at our highest level of productivity.    

How to Apply Brain Network Theory at Work:

Imagine you are working on a presentation, and you have been at your desk for an hour, the most current brain research says that you must learn to give your brain a break at least for one minute each hour. I’m sure you’ve heard this before. We know our brain needs breaks. If you are able to set a timer on your phone to remind you to get up, stand, stretch, walk around, get a glass of water, go outside for a minute, when you return to your desk to work, you will feel refreshed and will be better prepared mentally to continue your focused attention on completing your work. Think about the map, and that you must jump from the thinking/focused central executive network, (in your prefrontal cortex) to the imagination default mode network (with rest) to achieve the balance you need in the salience network where stabilization takes place.  When you finish your presentation, you should feel energized and not drained.

Applying Brain Network Theory with your Children While Working from Home:

A quick glance at my social networks today and I have seen countless images of families who are on day 1 of working with their children from home while schools are closed due to the corona virus pandemic. I have seen posts from good friends saying things like, “I’m not sure what I am doing, I’m lost on how to make a lesson plan and looking for ways to make our days filled with wonder and excitement.”  If you can relate, I sure can, so be sure to listen to EPISODE 47 with Erik Francis on “Transitioning Teaching and Learning in the Classroom to the Home.”[vi] He offers some stress free strategies on working with our children at home, while sticking to educational pedagogy in the classroom. We are going to try some of Erik’s strategies a bit later today, and I will be sure to post how they go.

Just remember, when we are asking our children to give their focused attention, think about Brain Network Theory. Focus will cause brain fatigue, and too much of it depletes your brain of glucose and depletes you. Be sure to allow your children the time to shift back to their Imagination network so they can gain insights that are impossible during focused times.  Allow them time to get up, walk around, go outside and take short breaks every hour to keep them as productive as they can be.

Some final thoughts, as we are navigating new and unchartered territory in our lives, just remember that this time will pass, and that we can make use of the time we have been given during these difficult times to figure out what will we enhance and do more of? What will we find to be obsolete?  Don’t get caught up into thinking we have to do everything perfectly. Todd Woodcroft, the assistant coach to the Winnipeg Jets mentioned in episode #38[vii] that “when we are embracing the daily grind (which right now is our new normal) it’s not going to be a pretty game, or a pretty classroom…and it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a daily grind. But at the end of the rainbow, the success is worth all that mud, all that grease (and effort).” When things become difficult, just keep the bigger picture in mind. I’m looking forward to your thoughts of applying Brain Network Theory to your daily life, and hearing what is working that you will amplify moving forward and what is becoming obsolete?

 

RESOURCES:

Access the Top 10 Social and Emotional Learning Podcasts You Must Follow in 2020 here https://blog.feedspot.com/social_emotional_learning_podcasts/

REFERENCES:

[i] https://theultimategameoflife.com/

 

[ii] Jim Bunch Facebook Live March 19, 2020 “The Tetrad Model: How to Deal with Massive Change.” https://www.facebook.com/itsjimbunch/videos/623575255156367/?comment_id=623590708488155&notif_id=1584632259347084&notif_t=feedback_reaction_generic

 

[iii] “Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast” EPISODE 46As Close to Mind Reading as Brain Science Gets: Developing and Using Theory of Mind in Your Daily Life” with Andrea Samadi

  https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/as-close-to-mind-reading-as-brain-science-gets-developing/id1469683141?i=1000468491005

 

[iv] Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast Episode #30 Neuroscience Researcher Mark Robert Waldman on “12 Brain-Based Experiential Learning and Living Principles.” https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/neuroscience-researcher-mark-robert-waldman-on-12-brain/id1469683141?i=1000458597396

 

[v] Jon Kabat Zinn https://www.mindfulnesscds.com/pages/about-us

 

[vi] Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast Episode #47 ASCD Author Erik Francis on "Transitioning Teaching and Learning in the Classroom to the Home" https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ascd-author-erik-francis-on-transitioning-teaching/id1469683141?i=1000469152382

 

[vii] Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast Episode #38 Assistant Coach to the Winnipeg Jets, Todd Woodcroft on "the Daily Grind" in the NHL https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/assistant-coach-to-winnipeg-jets-todd-woodcroft-on/id1469683141?i=1000464224487

 

ASCD Author Erik Francis on “Transitioning Teaching and Learning in the Classroom to the Home.”

ASCD Author Erik Francis on “Transitioning Teaching and Learning in the Classroom to the Home.”

March 22, 2020

This is episode #47 with Erik Francis, our first returning guest to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast. Erik was just on with us for episode 41 with “How to Use Questions to Promote Cognitive Rigor, Thinking and Learning” with his book, Now That’s a Good Question and because of these strange times we are in right now, I thought it would be perfect timing to ask Erik back to share his thoughts on how to transition from teaching and learning in the classroom, to teaching and learning at home. You can watch the YouTube interview here. 

 

Welcome back Erik! Thank you for your willingness to do this, especially on a weekend.  Now Erik, we all could benefit from hearing your thoughts of exactly what you are doing to ensure that your girls are still learning while schools have been cancelled for longer than we could have anticipated.

 

Question 1: What are you doing with your girls (middle school/highschool age?) to ensure they are still learning, without stressing everyone out over there?

 

Question 2: I did see a great post from Learning A-Z[i] (the educational company that does the RAZ early readers). I will post a link to this article that I think is great because it covers some of the basics for learning at home. What does your day look like? How have you added in this new daily learning? And are you still keeping your usual daily routines?

 

Question 3: I saw you and Greg Wolcott post something on social media about websites for read a louds and activities. I pulled this resource[ii] up but wasn’t sure what it was. Can you explain how to use these resources?

 

Question 4: How can you tie DOK into what you are doing and make learning enjoyable instead of this “thing” we are doing now. I want to trick my kids into learning.

 

Question 5: What other thoughts do you have on making learning fun, knowing that my next lesson is on Brain Network Theory, where I will be going deep into the 3 networks of the brain, and why rest is so important each hour in order to learn. How are you making this whole experience fun for your girls? I can be a bit of a drill sergeant with mine, so could use some tips to lighten up a bit.

 

Thank you Erik for your thoughts on how to transition from teaching and learning in the classroom to teaching and learning at home. Do you have any other resources that you are working on that you want to direct people to?

 

Stay safe and wishing all the listeners the same. If anyone wants to reach out to Erik for anything, you can email him directly at erik@maverikeducation.com

 

REFERENCES and RESOURCES

[i] https://www.learninga-z.com/site/breakroom/school-at-home-tips

 

[ii]  https://docs.google.com/document/u/0/d/1OH-_GM-eYefOa7JDNmM6wdUb9fsa1H8k8O_XgPih4m0/mobilebasic

As Close to Mind Reading as Brain Science Gets “Developing and Using Theory of Mind in Your Daily Life”

As Close to Mind Reading as Brain Science Gets “Developing and Using Theory of Mind in Your Daily Life”

March 15, 2020

This is episode 46. This week we are on our last solo episode of diving deep into Dr. John Medina’s Brain Rules. I wonder: how are you managing your time during these unexpected life events that are happening in our world today? “You can build up your ‘cognitive reserve,’ or your brain’s innate ability to get a job done, through different types of learning and or through new experiences.” People with a stronger and healthier cognitive reserve—one that’s been strengthened with learned experience—have been shown to be more capable of coping with unexpected life events.” (30 Amazing Facts About Your Brain).[i] I highly encourage using any extra time that you might have in your schedule for learning instead of reading the news or wasting time. This can be a time for all of us to ramp up with our knowledge if we are able to manage the inevitable distraction around us.

Welcome to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, my name is Andrea Samadi, I’m a former educator whose been fascinated with understanding the science behind high performance strategies in schools, sports and the workplace for the past 20 years. Each week we bring you an expert who has risen to the top of their industry with specific strategies that you can implement immediately, whether you are a teacher or student in the classroom, or working in the corporate world, to take your results to the next level.

In episode 42[ii], Dr. John Medina gave us some new insights on applying 12 Brain Rules to our daily life. I could spend a year on these rules but have just taken a few of the concepts that stuck out to me as important, to dive deep into. Dr. Medina spoke a bit about Theory of Mind as being “as close to mind reading as brain science gets.”[iii] So why is Theory of Mind so important? Theory of Mind (ToM)[iv]  is crucial for everyday social interactions with others[v] as it is used to analyze, judge and infer other people’s behaviors. It is an important “social-cognitive skill that involves the ability to think about mental states, both your own and those of others.”[vi]

Psychologists have called this idea a theory because we really do not know exactly what is going on in someone else’s mind, we can only learn to make inferences based on life experience, intuition and practice. 

Why would this skill be important in the classroom? Imagine how much easier life would be if you could look at your students and be able to know if they were feeling anxious before a test, or even before a sporting event and be able to intervene with a quick strategy to calm their nerves.

What about in the workplace? Imagine if you were working in a restaurant, how much easier it would be to serve your customers if you could read facial cues that come along with needing something like an empty water glass, or a utensil or maybe even something like warming up a plate of food that came out and wasn’t hot. The ability to look and read what someone else is thinking makes life much easier in these situations and is a skill that can be learned with practice.

Before we take a deeper dive in ToM, I want to tell you when I first learned about this skill. When I was in high school, (In Toronto, Canada where I grew up) there was this awful span of time where there were crimes committed by someone the media called the Scarborough rapist (late 1980s-1990s). Anyone living in Canada at this time would remember when they finally caught this man, who committed these terrible crimes with his wife that ended up being the most horrific crimes in Canadian history, the media changed what they called them to the Ken and Barbie Killers based on their appearance. I remember asking my Mom at the time, “how would I ever know if someone is bad, if these two people could be so evil, yet they don’t look evil at a glance?”

My Mom looked at me and said, “you can’t see it in their eyes?” and sat me down at the kitchen table and started what were known as our “reading the mind in the eyes” lessons which I now know can be tested. You can test your social intelligence score and how well you can read the emotions of others by looking in their eyes with the Theory of Mind Test[vii] that was developed by Professor Simon Baron Cohen at the University of Cambridge (yes, this is the cousin of the well-known Sasha Baron Cohen—the English actor and comedian).

I don’t know what training my Mom had with Theory of Mind, but we started these lessons by taking random people’s photographs from the local newspapers, and she would teach me to isolate one eye with a piece of paper. Then she would ask me to tell her what feelings I would get from looking at that one eye. At first it was really difficult, and I wasn’t sure what feelings I was getting, and of course, who wants to just guess and get this all wrong. After a few weeks of reading regular people’s eyes, she asked me to isolate the eyes of that evil couple from a photo that appeared in the paper. At first glance, the photo looked like just anyone else on their wedding day but when I isolated their eyes, I saw what she meant. I could read more into these two people from this practice of looking into their eyes than I could just at a quick glance of their entire face.

This began my practice of learning ToM that was a skill that became very useful later in life. I just wish I had always listened to what I would feel from people’s eyes, because this skill can help you navigate life with ease, if you can learn to develop and then listen to what you feel. 

Tips for Reading the Mind Through the Eyes

  1. Where to begin? Start with photographs and isolate one eye, and just listen to what you feel. Start with photographs of world leaders, or people whose character you know already to begin.
  2. What are you looking for? Study real people when you are interacting with them and look at both of their eyes. Pay attention to what you feel. Emotions like happiness, fear or sadness show up in someone’s eyes, just as when someone is not telling you the truth. You should be able to recognize when your child is telling you they have a stomachache if they really don’t feel well, or if it’s something else that is bothering them by looking at their eyes.
  3. Verify what you think. Write down what you learn and if you know the person you are studying well enough, ask them what they think.
  4. Learn and improve. How can what you are learning help you to be a better friend, spouse, employee, parent, or coworker?

Dr. Medina talked about ToM in episode 42 with the question I asked him about Art Linkletter and Walt Disney. He defined ToM as “the ability to understand the intentions and motivations of someone else” and because Walt Disney didn’t have this ability, when he was describing his vision of Disneyland to his friend, years before it became a reality, he missed some important social cues with Art Linkletter that could have allowed for a completely different outcome if the two had partnered together with this venture.  

Dr. Medina did say that there is scientific evidence on how to improve ToM that’s been well documented in research. He says that you can improve your ToM score by reading narrative fiction, 10-15 minutes a day, by authors who have won awards (so that you are reading well thought out sentences). He suggests to create book clubs and study literature as a group to continue to work on this skill.

If you are curious about your ToM score, you can take the test yourself[viii] and then see if you can use these tips to improve your score, and with time and practice, improve your social interactions as you become more in tune with others. I scored 29/36 with this test and know there is always room for improvement with anything we are learning.  If you take the test, I would love to know how you score.

To close this episode, I just want to remind you to go back and listen to Dr. John Medina’s episode #42[ix] if you want to hear his thoughts on ToM. Also, episode 22[x] is a powerful lesson to review with Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Marc Brackett on his book “Permission to Feel” as a reminder for how to recognize our own emotions and the importance of self-regulation, especially during the difficult times we are facing in our world today.  If we can all do our part to work on ourselves, just a little bit each day, like Aristotle said, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” We can achieve more together.

 REFERENCES:

[i]72 Amazing Human Brain Facts by Deane Alban November 1, 2019  https://bebrainfit.com/human-brain-facts/

[ii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE 42 Dr. John Medina on “Implementing Brain Rules in Schools and Workplaces of the Future” https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/dr-john-medina-on-implementing-brain-rules-in-schools/id1469683141?i=1000466618504 

[iii] As Close to Mind Reading as Brain Science Gets YouTube Published July 11, 2017 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELOXxwyRN74

[iv] Theory of Mind: Mechanisms, Methods and New Directions Published August 13, 2008 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3737477/

[v] Why is Theory of Mind Important for Referential Communication? Published August 10, 2016 (Sidera, Perpina, Serrano, Rostan) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6132837/

[vi] How the Theory of Mind Helps Us to Understand Others by Kendra Cherry Oct. 1, 2019 https://www.verywellmind.com/theory-of-mind-4176826

[vii] Theory of Mind Test NOTE: My score was 29/36  http://socialintelligence.labinthewild.org/mite/

[viii] Theory of Mind Test NOTE: My score was 29/36  http://socialintelligence.labinthewild.org/mite/

[ix] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE 42 Dr. John Medina on “Implementing Brain Rules in Schools and Workplaces of the Future” https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/dr-john-medina-on-implementing-brain-rules-in-schools/id1469683141?i=1000466618504

[x] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE 22 Marc Brackett on his book “Permission to  Feel” https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/yale-center-for-emotional-intelligence-founder-marc/id1469683141?i=1000450933434

 

Manitoba (Canada) Educator, Dalip Shekhawat on “Life Lessons Learned from Summiting Mount Everest”

Manitoba (Canada) Educator, Dalip Shekhawat on “Life Lessons Learned from Summiting Mount Everest”

March 8, 2020

This is episode #45 with Dalip Shekhawat, an educator from Manitoba, Canada, who is no stranger to challenge. Last May, Dalip reached the summit of Mount Everest to raise funds for the St. Amand School (in Winnipeg, MB) and is now preparing for his next challenge, that is tied into raising funds for the Wounded Warriors of Canada where he will run a combined distance of more than 500 kilometres (311 miles) over different terrain, in different climates, and at different altitudes, to "simulate the physical adversities these warriors faced."  You can watch the interview on YouTube as well.

UPDATE: Watch the extended interview with more details on the trip up Mount Everest here. 

Welcome to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, my name is Andrea Samadi, I’m a former educator whose been fascinated with understanding the science behind high performance strategies in schools, sports and the workplace for the past 20 years. Each week we bring you an expert who has risen to the top of their field with specific strategies or ideas that you can implement immediately, whether you are a teacher or student in the classroom, or working in the corporate world, to take your results to the next level.

Welcome Dalip! I want to first of all thank my friend Sheryl Watt, from Winnipeg, for sending me your story. When I first read about your challenge to summit Mount Everest to raise funds for St. Amant center for people with developmental disabilities, I knew I needed to reach out to you. Then I find out you are in the middle of raising funds for another just as equally important challenge now for the Wounded Warriors[i].  Wow! Thanks so much for speaking with me bright and early on a Sunday morning.

Question 1: Dalip, I’m an avid hiker here in Arizona, but I can’t imagine hiking up Mount Everest! What was behind the drive to motivate you to actually summit Mount Everest and then run more than 500 km for your next challenge?

Question 2: How did you prepare for Everest last May? I read that you have climbed more than 15 other mountains. Which ones have you hiked and where were they? The last time I looked, I only saw 2 mountains in Manitoba. Also, how are you training for your distance run? 

Question 3: When I read that 2/6 of those you were hiking with didn’t make it back down, I wondered how on the earth you could prepare yourself for something like this? What mental strength did you need to develop to handle the things that you saw? Was there any point that it crossed your mind to turn around knowing you have a family back home? 

Question 4: What physical toll did the hike take on your body? And is it true that it takes 2 months to hike to the summit? Take me through the hike from start to finish.

Question 5: How did this experience change you? What did you learn about yourself?

 

Thank you Dalip for your quick reply to meet with me for this interview. I know there will be a lot of wisdom that comes from your experiences that others can learn from. For those who are interested in supporting your Wounded Warriors Challenge, I will put the link to the donation page in the show notes.

Question 6: Can you give us your final thoughts on why you think it’s so important to raise funds for disadvantaged groups like the Wounded Warriors or the St. Amant School?

Thank you again for your time today, Dalip. We look forward to seeing you raise the funds you need for the Wounded Warriors and see what other challenges you set up in the future. Have a wonderful rest of your day. 

REFERENCES and LINK TO SUPPORT DALIP'S WOUNDED WARRIORS of CANADA CHALLENGE

[i] To support Dalip with his Wounded Warriors of Canada Challenge, in any way that you can, please visit and share this link! https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/FundraisingPage.aspx?registrationID=4668411&langPref=en-CA#&panel1-3

 

Andrea Samadi’s “12 Mind-Boggling Discoveries About the Brain”

Andrea Samadi’s “12 Mind-Boggling Discoveries About the Brain”

March 7, 2020

This is episode #44. Welcome to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, my name is Andrea Samadi, I’m a former educator whose been fascinated with understanding the science behind high performance strategies in schools, sports and the workplace for the past 20 years. This episode will be focused on “12 Mind-Boggling Discoveries About the Brain” that are outlined in Chapter 3 of my most recent book, Level Up: A Brain-Based Strategy to Skyrocket Student Success and Achievement.[i]

12-Mind-Boggling-Brain-Facts-1024x663.jpg

Back in 2014 when I was urged to add the most current brain research into my programs, I consulted with one of the leading neuroscience researchers in the country, who I still work very closely with, Mark Robert Waldman. He shared with me some of these discoveries, and then I created the real-world application so that we can start to look at the world with a different lens and improve our own personal and professional awareness.  These are my own Brain Rules with two being the same as Dr. John Medina’s. Let’s take a closer look and see how these 12 mind-boggling discoveries about the brain can be applied to your daily life.

Mind-Boggling Discovery 1: Did you know that “Our eyes don’t see colors; they see light waves.” This fact reminds us of how colors are created inside our brain. The part of the brain that we actually “see” the world from is our frontal cortex (right above our eyes). What we see is like a movie that blends light waves and sound waves with our emotional experiences that forms a story that is far removed from the reality that actually exists.  Colors from what we are looking at are decoded in the brain.[ii] If you can look at the image in the show notes, you will see how our brain really sees color.

Screenshot_2020-03-07_12_44_45.png

  1. Light hits what we are seeing with our eyes.
  2. This reflected light goes into the pupil and to the back of the eye to the cone cells.
  3. These cone cells decode the light waves based on how excited they are, (based on how long their wavelenghts are) and the brain translates the color of what we are seeing.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN OUR DAILY LIFE?  There is a lot more to what we see than meets the eye. If we think of all that we can “see” with our eyes, we can gain some appreciation for the world, and our place in it. Next time you are in nature, look around and marvel at the sky, the mountains, or the ocean. There is so much to see and experience in the world and when we put our minds and brain to work, we can actually bring our visions that begin in our mind, into reality. This is the creative process. Take time away from your work when you want to create a new result in your life. With this creative process, everything that you create begins first off in your brain, and then when you take action to create it, so it is important to think and imagine what you want in clear detail, in your brain first, where everything we see with our eyes first takes shape. Our brain is involved in everything that we do. This is one of the reasons why writing down our goals is so important because writing stimulates our goals and behavior. It’s the first step of the creative process.

Mind-Boggling Discovery 2: Did you know that “Consciousness is created in the brain the minute we wake up?” Have your ever thought about what consciousness is? Stop the recording now and think about it. What is consciousness to you without looking up a definition. When I was first asked this question, I could just come up with the word “awareness.” Consciousness is something that after 2600 years of speculation, everyone agrees that it exists, but so far “no one knows what it is, or how it works.”¹ (Andrew Newburg M.D and Mark Robert Waldman “Words Can Change Your Brain). Various disciplines of science have tried to define what exactly our mind and our conscious awareness is, and Dr. Daniel Siegel tackles the definition with the idea that that  “the mind, brain and relationships are all connected” ² (Daniel Siegel M.D. Mindfulness and Neural Integration)  which is very interesting to think that we are all connected in some way.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN OUR DAILY LIFE? When you wake up and start thinking, pay attention to the thoughts, ideas, people and places you are thinking about. You might get a strong feeling to call someone, email them, or go somewhere. Listen to your instincts as science is clearly coming to an agreement that our minds, brains and relationships are all connected and to pay attention to this insight. For example, there were times I had a random thought of someone I wanted to reach out to for an interview on this podcast. I always write down these thoughts and think about how each person fits into the content. The key is to pay attention to the thoughts you are having, write them down and then you can analyze these thoughts in greater detail. This is just another tool for using your conscious awareness in the creative process.

Mind-Boggling Discovery 3: Did you know that “Subliminal words can affect our thoughts, feelings and actions?” New research shows that “words and phrases repeated at a volume we can barely perceive can create subtle changes in mood.”³ (J. Weinberger, S. Kelner and D. McLelland). Studies show that the brain gives more attention to negative words, even when we can barely hear them.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN OUR DAILY LIFE? Stay away from the news. We know that the same bad news is broadcast over and over again, but now research shows to even have the news playing in the background at a low volume, it can affect your mood. Turn it off!  This also explains why it is so important to hang out with positive people. You really are the sum of the 5 people you hang out with the most. If you don’t like this, you can make the necessary changes to improve your world by who you allow into it. Words really can change your brain, so be careful and selective of the words you are using (even thinking) if you want to elevate your results.

Mind-Boggling Discovery 4: Did you know that “The conscious mind can only hold 7-10 words in our working memory?”  If you want to remember a sentence, it must have less than ten words in it. We can only remember small chunks of information at one time.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN OUR DAILY LIFE? Write it down, if you want to remember it! Use your notepads on your phone or keep a small notebook handy to write down daily tasks you need to remember. Don’t become frustrated when you can’t remember something. Know the limit of your working memory (otherwise known as our short-term memory) and success is yours!

Mind-Boggling Discovery 5: Did you know that “Memories are not real?” Memories are inaccurate and each time they are recalled, they are changed. When you remember something, the brain re-wires the connections between the neurons–literally changing the structure of your brain as you recreate the memory, change it and re-memorize it. The memory is subject to change each time you remember it.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN OUR DAILY LIFE? Oh no, I thought I had an incredible memory! This does explain some of the articles I have read that suggest that memories are not reliable.[iii] This is even more incentive to keep a journal and write things down. Also, when looking at Dr. John Medina’s Brain Rules, he explains that since two people have different life experiences, we will perceive the same situation in a different way.

Mind-Boggling Discovery 6:  Did you know about the Negativity Bias that states “You must think positive thoughts to build optimism and resilience to stress?”
You must have more than three positive thoughts or feelings for every negative thought you have in order to build optimism and reduce stress.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN OUR DAILY LIFE?  Since you can only think one thought at a time, be sure that your positive thinking outweighs your negative thinking. This is easier said than done, I know! A strategy I have used for years is to say “switch” when a negative thought creeps into my mind. Then replace the bad thought immediately with something positive and uplifting. We need to find strategies to get rid of automatic negative thoughts that will impact our results. What we think really does matter and can impact those around us.

Mind-Boggling Discovery 7: Did you know that “Our beliefs shape our reality more than our sensations?”  Our memories form our behavior, but they also form the foundation of our belief system. A belief is a thought process and the more we repeat that thought process, the more real it becomes.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN OUR DAILY LIFE? Sometimes our beliefs can be limiting, so be open to challenging our beliefs with a different perspective or point of view. Think about some of the beliefs that you once held, that you don’t believe anymore. Here’s an example of a belief I have changed in the past few years in relation to diet and nutrition. 20 years ago, I would never have believed in the health benefits of eating high fat foods. When I first heard this a few years ago through biohacker Dave Asprey[iv] and his bulletproof coffee, it really stretched my mind. How could this be possible?  After being open to a new belief, I can clearly say now that adding fats to my diet (good quality fats that is—like grass fed butter) has improved my health and didn’t make me fat. Take your time when learning new things and be open to the fact that your beliefs might be outdated. If you were to ask me 20 years ago if I would ever put butter in my coffee or MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) oil in my shakes, I would have thought you were crazy. Think about some of the beliefs you’ve had over the years that have changed and be open to changing your beliefs in the future.

Mind-Boggling Discovery 8: I’m sure you have heard that “Too much stress disrupts the neural activity in the brain” since this is in line with Rule #8 from John Medina’s Brain Rules that “stressed brains don’t learn the same way.” We all know that stress affects both the mind and body in a negative way, so why not try some of the most recent and proven strategies to combat stress?

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN OUR DAILY LIFE?  The fastest way to interrupt stress is by yawning because it lowers the hyperactivity of the frontal lobe. Add in some slow stretching and you will be more relaxed in sixty seconds or less. Be sure to add activities to your day that strengthen neural activity like giving your brain the rest time it needs to consolidate information, daydream, take a walk outside in nature, and practice being grateful in your life.

Mind-Boggling Discovery 9: Did you know that “Every brain is wired differently?”  For example, words don’t have the same meaning for everyone. Words like love, happiness, or peace might mean something different to your friend than to you. This is Rule #3 with John Medina’s Brain Rules, and his book explains why “no two people’s brains store the same information the same way, in the same place.”[v]

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN OUR DAILY LIFE?  Don’t assume that the words you use will have the same meaning to others as they do for you. This is a recipe for miscommunication. Always keep an open mind and honor the fact that we all “think” differently.

Mind-Boggling Discovery 10: We don’t pay attention to boring things…or people.  John Medina chose this as Brain Rule #4[vi] and it is so important to understand this while attempting to learn something new. Medina explains that audiences “check out after 10 minutes” so it’s important to keep the interest of students during a class with engaging stories to help the brain to learn and remember.  (John Medina, Brain Rules). When presenting or teaching something to others, think of ways that you can be engaging and make your presentation memorable. What can you say that will stick in your audience’s brain and hold their attention? If you can tell a story that connects emotion to what you are saying, your audience will connect with you and trust you on a deeper level.

 Mind-Boggling Discovery 11: Did you know that “the brain thrives on happiness, joy, laughter and positive thoughts and feelings?” It feels great to laugh and it’s contagious! Even a fake smile can trigger circuits of happiness in the brain.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN OUR DAILY LIFE?  We know what this means! Laugh more! Smile more! Tell more jokes! Be happy.

Mind-Boggling  Discovery 12: Did you know that “the brain does not like conflict and incompleteness?” The brain works hard to keep you working a certain way. When changes are made, habits are broken and new actions are taken, the brain freaks out and sends messages to your consciousness saying “go back to the way you were” since it’s easier that way. This is why it is so difficult to change old habits.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? When you have ambiguity or doubtfulness in your life, the brain will struggle. If you lack certainty in your life, your brain will struggle. To keep your brain working optimally, you must have certainty with the actions you are taking. Adopt this mindset and you will see progress in leaps and bounds.

With an understanding of your brain in mind, we really can adopt new strategies that change and improve the results we are looking for in our personal and professional lives. I hope you have enjoyed these mind-boggling brain discoveries as much as I have and have taken away some ideas that you can integrate into your life.  If you check the show notes for this episodes, you will see a graphic of these 12 mind-boggling brain discoveries that you can print as a reminder.

REFERENCES:

[i] Level Up: A Brain-Based Strategy to Skyrocket Student Success and Achievement by Andrea Samadi (October 2015, Wheatmark) https://www.amazon.com/Level-Up-Brain-Based-Skyrocket-Achievement/dp/1627872647

 

[ii] A.R. Wade and A.V Benjamin “How Do We See Color?” https://kids.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/frym.2013.00010

 

[iii] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hidden-motives/201203/unreliable-memory

 

[iv] https://blog.daveasprey.com/category/podcasts/

 

[v] Dr. John Medina’s Brain Rule #3 “Every brain is wired differently.” https://vimeo.com/52294892

 

[vi] Dr. John Medina’s Brain Rule #4 “We don’t pay attention to boring things.”  https://vimeo.com/52294894

 

Deep Dive into Dr. John Medina’s Brain Rules

Deep Dive into Dr. John Medina’s Brain Rules

March 4, 2020

This is episode #43. Welcome to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, my name is Andrea Samadi, I’m a former educator whose been fascinated with understanding the science behind high performance strategies in schools, sports and the workplace for the past 20 years. The next three episodes will be solo lessons to dive deeper into Dr. John Medina’s episode #42 that I could probably spend the next year on.

For those who have not read his Brain Rules book, or would like a quick review, I’ll outline them briefly with thoughts on why they are so important to implement into YOUR daily life with some applicable strategies. Here are Dr. John Medina’s Brain Rules[i]: If you click on the link in the show notes, you will be taken to his website and can watch a video on each rule. I also highly recommend reading the book, because there are so many examples that will bring these rules to life.

RULE 1:  EXERCISE: Exercise boosts brain power.  

Did you know that “aerobic exercise, just twice a week, halves your risk of general dementia? It also cuts your risk of Alzheimer’s by 60 percent.” (Summary Rule 1, Brain Rules, Page 28). I also heard this from Dr. Daniel Amen in his “Thrive by 25”[ii] online course where he talks about a recent study that rigorous aerobic exercise over a 12-week period, was just as effective for those suffering from depression as taking an anti-depressant.  This class talked about the fact that aerobic exercise, like brisk walking, swimming, running or cycling seems to solve EVERY brain or health problem. The solutions were always to improve your diet and add aerobic exercise. This should be incentive enough for everyone to be sure they are moving at least 3 times a week for at least 20 minutes, or that’s what Dr. Medina would say will have an impact on your brain and improve cognition, problem solving and emotional regulation. I found it interesting that he mentions that strength training did not improve cognition in the studies, but I still think both strength training and aerobic exercise are important to do on a weekly basis, regardless of whether one is making you smarter or not. The latter will definitely make you stronger and is important to include as we age.

RULE 2:  SURVIVAL: The human brain evolved, too.

I’m sure by now you have heard that the brain’s main function is to keep us safe, something that’s been built in for our survival. If we think about evolution and the survival of the fittest, what happened with the human brain when it evolved and adapted over time was that the brain got smarter with evolution, not stronger. We can clearly see how the human brain and cognition is vastly different than other animals.  The human brain consists of 3 main parts (the hindbrain that developed first, that keeps us breathing, the midbrain that keeps us alert and where our emotions are stored and the last part of the brain to develop, the forebrain that holds the most power with our thinking/reasoning, emotional regulation, and cognitive functions. Our ability to think and reason is what separates us from the animal kingdom and a feature of our brain that we shouldn’t waste or take lightly. Since we have this unique ability, I think it’s our responsibility to pay attention to this important part of our brain and continue to develop and improve our thinking and reasoning skills.

RULE 3:  WIRING: Every brain is wired differently.

The experiences that you have in your life, “what you do and learn in life physically changes what your brain looks like—it literally rewires it.” (Summary Rule 3, Brain Rules).  This explains why we are all different since “no two people’s brains store the same information in the same place.” (Summary 3, Brain Rules, Page 70). This rule is important to understand since each person we interact with throughout our life will be different with their life experience. We have to learn to read and understand people better, and this can be done with Theory of Mind Skills[iii] that we will investigate at a deeper level in a future episode. We cannot ignore the fact that “every student’s brain, every employee’s brain, every customer’s brain is wired differently. Eric Kandel, an Austrian-American medical doctor who specialized in Psychiatry, who was also a neuroscientist won the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 2000 for his discovery that a single neuron in a sea slug can grow new axons and dendrites and that “when people learn something, the wiring in their brain changes.” (Chapter 3 Wiring, Page 57). This explains why my brain will be completely different from your brain. We all have different life experiences that will build and shape our brains. The key is to learn how to interact with and honor our individual differences.

RULE 4:  ATTENTION: We don't pay attention to boring things.

I’m sure you have heard that “audiences check out after 10 minutes” (Summary 4, Brain Rules, Page 94) or that the brain can only focus on one thing at a time, making multitasking a bad idea. The funny thing is that although you may have heard of the fact that the “average person’s attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish, there’s no evidence that human attention is shrinking or that goldfishes have particularly short attention spans either.”[iv] We do know that when audiences are checking out after 10 minutes, we can grab their attention back by “telling narratives or creating events rich in emotion.” Emotions help memories form and stick so if you want to make your next presentation or lesson memorable, the best way is to somehow connect with your audience or class with a story that they connect to on an emotional level. This activates the mirror neurons in your audience, and they will listen, connect with you and trust you on a deeper level.

RULE 5: MEMORY (SHORT-TERM): Repeat to remember.

This rule explains why we must repeat something in order to remember it, or at least to pull it out of our short term or working memory. There are two types of memory: declarative (for facts) and non-declarative (for things we find difficult to explain, like how we ride a bicycle, or something we do, but can’t declare or explain it).  Let’s take a closer look at declarative memory.

Declarative memory follows 3 stages of processing:

  1. Encoding: When we take in information, it’s “like a blender left running with the lid off. The information is literally sliced into…pieces as it enters the brain and splattered all over the insides of our mind).[v] We “remember things much better the more elaborately we encode (or convert) what we encounter, especially if we can personalize it.”[vi] For example, if I want to remember a phone number, something we don’t need to do that often these days, try to associate pictures or images with each number to be sure you encode the numbers into your mind. I have heard this method called ridiculous association. The crazier the image you put with each number, the easier it is for your brain to remember it. You would think that making this elaborate story in our heads would be more work for our memory system, but it isn’t. “More complexity means greater learning.”[vii]

 

  1. Storing: “The neurons in the cortex (the outer bark of the brain) are deeply involved in permanent memory storage.”[viii] Memories are not stored in one place, like we would imagine, they are stored all over the surface of the cortex.

 

  1. Retrieval: Of information can be improved if you are able to replicate the conditions to the initial encoding. You remember best if you can put yourself in that same environment for in which you first put it into your brain. We also remember information best when it’s “elaborate, meaningful and contextual”[ix] so providing real-world examples to anything you want to remember is important.

 

RULE 6: MEMORY (LONG-TERM): Remember to repeat.

We know that most memories disappear within a few minutes, and we often forget what we have learned in class after 30 days, so how can we guarantee information be retained in our long-term memory? The best strategies we have heard in other episodes with Dr. John Dunlosky[x] and his idea of spaced repetition. We learn best and remember when we repeat what we want to learn in intervals or by using spaced repetition.

RULE 7:  SLEEP: Sleep well, think well.

I’m sure you have heard that “loss of sleep hurts attention, executive function, working memory, mood, quantitative skills, logical reasoning, and even motor dexterity.” (Summary 7, Brain Rules, Page 168). Staying up late and scrimping on sleep is no longer the “in” thing to do when it comes to productivity and results. There are even hundreds of sleep apps that you can use to see how well you are sleeping, that log REM sleep, deep sleep and light sleep and can give you a score that shows you how mentally sharp you will feel the next day based on your score. Dr. Medina agrees that people “vary in now much sleep they need” but circadian rhythm expert, Dr. Satchin Panda[xi] explains that “8 hours of sleep is not everyone’s number, but aim to have 7-8 hours in bed” which means you can wake up and read or meditate and you will still be on track for a productive day.

RULE 8:  STRESS: Stressed brains don't learn the same way.

We know there are 3 levels of stress response.

POSITIVE: Brief increase in heart rate, mild elevations in stress hormone levels (what happens when we need to speak in front of a crowd, play a sport, take a test, or that nervous energy we feel before a job interview).

TOLERABLE: Serious, temporary stress responses, buffered by supportive relationships. The key is to have support systems in place for this type of stress.

TOXIC: Prolonged activation of stress response systems in the absence of protective relationships. This is the one we are most concerned about as educators as this type of stress causes the most damage. (For us as well as our students).

“Under chronic stress, adrenaline creates scars in your blood vessels that can cause a heart attack or stroke, and cortisol damages the cells of the hippocampus, crippling your ability to learn and remember.” (Summary 8, Brain Rules, Page 195).

So, we really need to be sure we have stress reduction strategies in place to help us deal with positive and tolerable stress, and a plan in place if we have toxic stress in our lives. If we don’t take control of our stress, it will definitely take control of us.

RULE 9: SENSORY INTEGRATION: Stimulate more of the senses.

Did you know that “we absorb information about an event through our senses, translate it into electrical signals (some from sight, others from sound) disperse these signals to separate parts of the brain, then reconstruct what happened perceiving the event as a whole?” (Summary 9, Brain Rules, Page 219). Our brain also relies on past experience when deciphering an event, and since everyone’s brain is different, two people will have a different perception of the same event.

 

Smells also have an “unusual power to bring back memories, because smell signals bypass the thalamus and head straight to their destinations” (Summary 9, Brain Rules, Page 2019) and smell directly stimulates the amygdala that in turn stimulates emotions. We do learn best if we can stimulate several senses at once, since our senses work best paired together. If I want to improve my focus, I usually keep peppermint essential oil nearby so I can focus on writing something new, like this lesson.  We have seen this phenomenon in department stores that pair scents with the shopping experience to boost sales, or even the fact that some stores, like Starbucks, won’t allow their employees to wear perfume because it would distract customers from the smell of coffee. Either way, the more we can have a multi-sensory experience, whether in school or the workplace, the more we can improve our results.

RULE 10:  VISION: Vision trumps all other senses.

“Vision is by far our most dominant sense, taking up half of our brain’s resources” (Summary 10, Brain Rules, Page 240) and “what we see is only what our brain tells us to see.” Information hits the retina in the eye, and depending on the wavelength of light, will depend on the color that our brain’s visual center sees. Each eye takes in “a slice of the visual world which is processed in the opposite brain hemisphere before integration into a coherent image.”[xii] If you want to strengthen your neural networks for your vision, neurologist Richard Restak suggests to “closely observe all facets of objects like a bonsai tree”[xiii] since there is so much for the eye to see.

 

RULE 11:  GENDER: Male and female brains are different.

Did you know that men’s and women’s brains are “different structurally and biochemically—men have bigger amygdala and produce serotonin faster and women and men respond differently to stress.” (Summary 11, Brain Rules, Page 260).  Women remember emotional details easier not because they are more emotional, but because “they perceive their emotional landscape with more data points (or detail) and see it in greater resolution.”[xiv]

 

RULE 12:  EXPLORATION: We are powerful and natural explorers.

“Babies are the model of how we learn—not by passive reaction, but by active testing through observation, hypothesis, experiment and conclusion.” (Summary 12, Brain Rules, Page 280). Google actually allows their employees time for this exploration—it’s called “20 percent time” where they can just let their minds wander and think and this is where products like “Gmail and Google News”[xv] came from.  Mark Robert Waldman[xvi], one of the leading neuroscience researchers in the country calls this time “mind-wandering” and explains it’s crucial for the creative process. When you are able to let your mind wander, you will have flashes of insight that you must write down, and then investigate or explore the idea when you are in a more focused state.

To integrate these Brain Rules into your daily life, I suggest picking one to work on and focus on, at a time. Think of the goals that you are currently working on and pick one Rule that you think will help you to see things a new and different way. I highly recommend reading the book, watching the videos that go with each chapter and then write down a couple of strategies you will implement right away for each rule.

THINK ABOUT THIS:

Think about the rules you are already using. Are there any that you have integrated into your daily routine already?

For Brain Rule #1, I can clearly see how exercise boosts brain power. I make sure I integrate aerobic activity into my day, especially when I need to write or create something new. Without this rule, I would have a hard time focusing or even sitting still, let alone write anything. The more brain power I need, the more exercise I get. 

Rule #7, the sleep rule is something I am always working on. Using a sleep app has helped to log my sleep and see how I’m improving on a day to day basis. I liked hearing from the sleep expert that 8 hours of sleep isn’t something that we must all get, but to aim for 7-8 hours in bed, so we can wake up and meditate and that can be included in our rest time.

 

 REFERENCES:

[i] http://www.brainrules.net/the-rules 

[ii] https://brainmd.com/brain-thrive-by-25

[iii] How the Theory of Mind Helps Us to Understand Others https://www.verywellmind.com/theory-of-mind-4176826

[iv] 72 Amazing Brain Facts #32 by Deane Alban https://bebrainfit.com/human-brain-facts/

[v] Page 104, Brain Rules

[vi] Page 111 Brain Rules

[vii] Page 111 Brain Rules

[viii] Page 112 Brain Rules

[ix] Page 114 Brain Rules

[x] EPISODE 37 Dr. John Dunlosky https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/dr-john-dunlosky-on-improving-student-success-some/id1469683141?i=1000463221516

[xi] https://blog.daveasprey.com/satchin-panda-560/

[xii] National Geographic “Your Brain: 100 Things You Never Knew.” (2018)

[xiii] National Geographic “Your Brain: 100 Things You Never Knew.” (2018)

[xiv] Page 258 Brain Rules

[xv] Page 274 Brain Rules

[xvi] EPISODE 30 Mark Robert Waldman on “12 Brain-Based Experiential Living and Learning Principles.” https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/neuroscience-researcher-mark-robert-waldman-on-12-brain/id1469683141?i=1000458597396

 

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