Sunday, May 24, 2009

The voice-to-mindset connection

I've been thinking a lot lately about the connection between what we say, think and do.

Remember the old children's story about the little engine that could? "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can..." This is a concept that I am finding more and more to be true and applicable to adult life.

Our minds are fascinating organs. I find that my mind responds very strongly to auditory cues, the things I hear. When I am surrounded by negative sounds (too much loud noise, people yelling and screaming, a lot of angry swearing, harsh squealing, whining and complaining) I tend to quickly fall into a bad mood, no matter what my overall state of well-being is like. Conversely, when I am surrounded by positive sounds (the voices of people I love, music I appreciate, pleasant conversation, people laughing) they tend to bring my mood up, even if I am otherwise feeling down.

Another interesting concept I've been learning is a voice-to-mindset connection. I find that when I complain, vent or whine about negative things, it only seems to make me feel worse. It seems to me that by hearing myself vocalize the negativity in my mind, I only validate those negative feelings and teach my brain that those feelings are OK. My brain responds to my voice.

I'm also finding that by vocalizing positive things (even if I'm not necessarily feeling them) helps my brain respond in a positive manner to the situation.

My brain processes my voice saying, "I can do this. This is OK. This is going to be all right. I can make the most out of this. This may be a problem, but I am strong and resourceful and I can make it work. I am going to rise above the tide. I am capable of doing what needs to be done." And the more positivity my brain hears, the more my actual mindset becomes positive. And when my actual mindset is positive, my actions in each circumstance and my reaction to each situation become more positive as well.

Have you ever wondered how it is so easy for some people to live a lie? I think it's because they have convinced themselves (through constant voice-to-mindset conditioning) that a lie is the truth. It becomes their reality. The brain really is a fascinating organ.

The kind of voice-to-mindset conditioning that I am trying to practice in my life is of a more positive nature. It's the kind of conditioning that teaches my mind to look for the positive in every situation. It's a kind of self-vocalized pep talk.

The more positively you approach a situation, the more resourceful your mind is when trying to come up with a solution. If you go into something thinking (or even worse, saying) "I can't" then your mind has already given up, and you most likely won't be able to come up with a solution. When you free up your mind by giving it the positive green-light, you can do so much more. You remove the "I can't" boundaries you've set up previously in your mind, and you give yourself the freedom to do what needs to be done to turn a potentially negative situation into something positive. Attitude is everything.

Some people call me an idealist. They call me a hopeless optimist. A dreamer with my head in the clouds and little grasp of reality. I beg to differ.

I've seen plenty of negative stuff in my brief time on this planet. I know it exists. I've lived through some of it, and I've stood by some people close to me as they've lived through some of it. I know there is evil, I know there is bad, I know there is negative. I also know that giving in to evil and bad and negative is not an option for me. To me, pessimism is letting the negative win, letting the negative control you.

Training myself to vocalize positivity is merely taking advantage of my brain's natural functions and using them to better my life and the lives of those around me.

Besides, nobody really wants to listen to me complain and whine anyway. :)

Friday, May 1, 2009

I'm a country girl

Growing up in Texas, it was pretty much inevitable. In California, I seem to be viewed as a crazy person because of it. But I don't care. I freely admit it -- I like country music.

I'm not necessarily talking about old-school, twangy country and western cowboy music. I appreciate a lot of that style, but I'm more referring to the modern, CMT popular country music. And there are a lot of things I love about it.

It's simple. Each song is about a simple concept... love, anger, friendship, heartbreak, death, life, whatever it may be... it's simple. These songs don't use much poetic language or big words. They rely on conversational phrasing and the ability to use very specific examples to make the emotions almost tangible. They also have significant relevance for people like me, who appreciate the beauty in the common things, the little things in life.

It's real. These songs are about real life... the real things that real people have to deal with on a regular basis... they speak to the common issues that we face, and many of them offer optimism in the face of difficulty. They offer a view of love, life and family that very few, if any, other genres of music even touch.

It's fun. I've made playlists of 'fun country' songs that could play for hours and keep me dancing and singing along the whole time. So much of country music is just fun to listen to. It's about having a good time and living life with a smile on your face.

It's the playlist to life. At least for me, I can pretty much name a country song (or a whole playlist of them) to match any mood I'm in, at any time. The genre is so much more diverse than the stereotypical "tear in my beer" or "my wife left me for the guy with the bigger pickup truck" idea that so many people have of country music.

Give it a shot. It may not be what you're used to, but it may speak to your heart in a way that no other music can.

Here is a much-abbreviated (though it may not look like it) list of some of the country songs that have been on the playlist of my life (now and in the past.) Each of these songs fits with a story from my life... a time, a place, an emotion... What songs are on your life playlist?


We shall be free by Garth Brooks
Something more by Sugarland
Something worth leaving behind by Lee Ann Womack
It's a great day to be alive by Travis Tritt
I love this bar by Toby Keith
I wish I were the rain by SheDaisy
You've got a way by Shania Twain
Born to fly by Sara Evans
Perfect by Sara Evans
I'll be by Reba McIntire
I'm movin' on by Rascal Flatts
My wish by Rascal Flatts
I love you by Martina McBride
This one's for the girls by Martina McBride
I'm already there by Lonestar
What about now by Lonestar
I hope you dance by Lee Ann Womack
You made me find myself by LeAnne Rimes
One way ticket by LeAnne Rimes
The woman with you by Kenny Chesney
Summertime by Kenny Chesney
Somebody like you by Keith Urban
Raining on Sunday by Keith Urban
Home to you by John Michael Montgomery
Like we never loved at all by Faith Hill & Tim McGraw
Let me let go by Faith Hill
I should be sleeping by Emerson Drive
Wide open spaces by Dixie Chicks
I would have loved you anyway by Trisha Yearwood
She's everything by Brad Paisley

Share your playlists with me! I'd love to know the music that touches you at your core.