October 28, 2013

Tips for Boosting Memory

This is a good little video with some learning tips to improve memory retention. It's the same thing I learned from a speaker at the LDSholistic Living conference I hosted for last summer. So since I saw it twice, I thought I'd actually post the helpful hints. This one is from www.kwicklearning.com.

Here's the acronym he says to remember when trying to learn:

F - Focus/Forget (be in the moment, focused on what you are learning--or the person you are talking to, if you hope to remember their name. Forget everything else going on around it....all those needed thoughts will still be there when you're done, but you net to let go of other thoughts to focus on the one needful one at hand.)
A - Active (keep your learning active. Don't just stare blankly and absorb, but look intently, keep your mind engaged with postivity and a desire to get something valuable out of the experience)
S - State (sit or stand in the state you would normally do if you were fully focused and excited about what you are learning. You definitely would be in a lethargic state if what you were learning was super exciting)
T - Take Notes (capture facts and words, then create/apply. Make have two columns or have symbols)

I personally use boxes with various symbols in them for the create part that I indicate in the left margin. I like using check marks for a goal I decide to make, ? for questioned posed or that I have now, I draw a little open book for scripture verse that goes along with it, quote marks for a quote, etc.

It doesn't matter what ways you use to take note, as long as the system works for you. So make sure you have a system that helps you categorize and place what you are hearing and applying. If you're not a systems person, maybe this can help you be more of one.

He also did an exercise to memorize 10 keys to overcome information overload: boosting brain power to learn quicker.

1.  Diet
2.  Killing ANTS (Automatic negative thoughts)
3.  Exercise
3.  Brain Nutrients
5.  Positive Peers (friends)
6.  Clean environments
7.  Sleep
8.  Brain protection
9.  New learning
10.Stress management

Memory deals with location. So he tells us how to memorize these 10 points listed above by giving them visual location and a connection of walking to each of them.

So imagine going for a walk in your house and find ten different places/objects in your house you walk to in a certain order (ex: start at bed in bedroom and then go to hallway, and then downstairs, etc.). Close your eyes and visualize going from one spot to the next spot. Then give each location an object or action associated with the ten points you are memorizing (ex: for diet, you could imagine a plant on your bedroom (which was the first location). Then do the walk again with the points associated. Then do the exercise again backwards.With each piece of information in a familiar surrounding you should be able to recall each piece of info, and in any order.

This is how I memorize things, but not normally so intense of an exercise. But I will start doing this exercise more for poems I want to memorize and such. The speaker I heard at the conference said his little boy memorized all his 100 lines of a play in one day using this method. Pretty cool, huh?

He summarizes our ability to learn quicker and have greater clarity in our mind as being better for our health and better for making it through trials and vice versa because we can focus on the essentials we are thinking about at that moment and set trials aside for more important needs.

Other points to consider:
1. Knowledge is potential Power: Use what you learn
2. Use location method to place info - Use the 10 points above
3. Questions are the Answer. Question the information you come across: Do you need it? Is it truth, fact, theory, gossip?

October 25, 2013

Gratitude quotes

What are you grateful for today?
There is always something to be grateful for if you stop and look.
"Be still and know that I am God." (Psalms 46:10, D&C 101:16)

"We tend to forget the happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather recognizing and appreciating what we do have." - Fredrick Keonig

"In daily life, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy." - David Steiner-Rast

"Let us be grateful to people that make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." - Marcel Proust

"We underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring. All of which have the potential to turn a heart around." Leo Buscaglia

"A simple grateful thought turned heavenwards is the perfect prayer." Doris Lessing

"If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed. Because most people can, but won't."

"Begin each day with a grateful heart."

Gratitude: a day in the life...

I was talking with Charise tonight about something we both seem to have been thinking a lot about recently: love or acceptance.

As I think about the books I've been reading lately, which subjects include the structure of water, doctrine of yoga, natural healing, homeschooling, an autobiography, etc., I find two common themes in them all: gratitude and love. I think these two words must be the greatest of all. In fact, we've just recently implemented our Sunday night family prayer as a gratitude prayer and we just say things we are grateful for. This is Ethan's favorite prayer time of the whole week...especially when we say it popcorn style. Heh. 

So let me share my thoughts that led to this decision and about why gratitude is so important....

I am reminded of two important scriptures:
1. This is the greatest commandment, to love The Lord thy God with all thine heart, might, mind and strength. And the second is like Unto to it; to love others as thyself.

First off...if we love God with our ALL, then we acknowledge His character/divine attributes (omniscient, omnipresent, all merciful and loving, unchanging, just, etc.) and trust those attributes wholly. This means we are humble. We bend our will to his to show that trust. We gratefully acknowledge him in our life and seek to act on his words/truth. If we love him, we love his words and we act on them with purely honest motives.

So...let me share with you a beautiful word I have introduced to Ethan. On the mornings that we do yoga (which is basically Ethan mimicking objects and animals and thinking it is great fun) we always say this special word: namaste.

Namaste. It means, "my spirit greets your spirit." Why is this so beautiful? Well, I love that this one word summarizes an eternal perspective on our individual makeup. We are spirit beings having a mortal experience. We aren't just little peons trying to take baby steps into becoming an adult. Our spirits are eternal and we are trying to uncover that divine within us that is already there. So when we can acknowledge others spirits with our spirit we are in essence saying "you're amazing. It's an honor to be with you." 

Isn't that real gratitude? A celebration of each individual and their gifts? And that last part is an  important part: acknowledging both the giver and the gift. I think our society has limited gratitude to mere words "thank you," but it is so much more than that.

BTW, I know i have been guilty of not being super grateful, and honestly, i am just coming to an awareness of the power of a heart filled with profound gratitude. I hope to change and develop this essential attribute more, so i ask for patience as i try. But I am finding that real gratitude comes most easily when we keep this eternal perspective in our minds and don't limit our perspective (judge others) with physical, emotional or intellectual earthly limitations on eternal spiritual beings. 

So, let me share a few other words I feel are related to gratitude:
to acknowledge, show appreciation for, give attention to, thank, accept an offering, to reciprocate, etc. (can you think of others?)

Now, with those other words in mind, let me share an example of how gratitude might express itself during a typical day....

Action/moment: Wake up. 
Gratitude: a simple prayer-thought...It's a beautiful day and I slept we'll.
Giver: God, the creator of heaven and earth.

Action/moment: Breakfast
Gratitude: Formal prayer or blessing on the food.
Giver: God, the supplier of all our needs. The sustainer.

Action/moment: children--playing in the family room or trying to talk to you.
Gratitude: making time to take them one by one and giving them your full attention--stare them in the eyes and hold their hands. Tell them how special they are and acknowledge a divine attribute within them. Give a little hug.
Giver: the child gives you who they are on a daily basis. This may seem a passive giving of a gift, but nonetheless it is a reality that they give effort in saying hi to you or showing you something they are proud of, and acknolwedging that effort is showing gratitude for it, for who they are. That is important to remember and cultivate those good eternal attributes. We just have to weed out the earthly influences and temperaments that try to cover up their eternal identity they are trying to unearth. And as we focus on their positive attributes, the negatives lose sway.

Action/moment: going for a walk
Gratitude: wanting to capture nature' beauty by drawing it or writing a poem
Giver: God. Again, the creator of all things.

Action/moment: friend calls on the phone
Gratitude: answering with a heart happy to hear,  ready to listen. Acknowledge the person before talking about tasks. Think about their spirit and deeper needs.

Action/moment: Husband: home from work
Gratitude: hug and genuine "tell me about your day" before rattling off about my day. Sit with undivided attention and try to see his day from his point of view. Acknowledge his frustrations with words or body language. 

Action/moment: studying scriptures
Gratitude: taking. Moment to write down thoughts that stand out and to reflect and or pray for deeper understanding/relevance
Giver: God, the giver of truth and light. The revealer of our potential.

These are just a few examples in a day, but they all take effort. Gratitude involves giving of self. It is an offering, a sacrifice. And your offerings will always be filled in greater measure than what you gave, by one who sustains us as we serve others. He is the source of living water--which quenches our thirst and fills all our needs.

....and now, after all that, here's the second scripture...

2. ...Praise Him through grace.
How do you praise god through grace, which is something that only he can offer? I'll tell you how: qualify for grace. As we make effort to sincerely express love and gratitude with pure motives (expecting nothing in return and free from judgments)  he can't help but bless us in return with good things and pour down his spirit and grace upon us. He fills our life with light, truth, joy as we joyfully live in his light and truth.

And then there this other scripture: 'this better to give than to receive. Could this be because as we give we receive even more?  Our effort to show gratitude fills us with love and therefore we are more grateful and loving. Wow. What a joyful cycle we shouldn't mind getting caught in. Don't you think?

And it all starts with having gratitude. So how are you going to show your gratitude in each day of your life? In each of your roles? What are you willing to offer Him in return for pure Joy and love?

If our pure motive is to love God above all else and put him first in all things (above worldly priorities, earthly worries, physical concerns, social pressures, etc) then everything we do will be defined by that love. We won't teach, command, talk to others in terms of force, guilt, fear, pity; but rather we will listen, counsel, accept in open and honest offerings of love and gratitude.

May our hearts be full of thanks, our hands willing to help, our mouths ready to uplift, our ears ever attentive, our eyes seeking earnestly and our minds quietly still and ever focused, as we pray earnestly for charity--the pure love of Christ--to fill our hearts so that we can have the discernment, faith and discipline to give our attention to and acceptance of all things and people--great and small.

Let us have a gratitude attitude toward all givers of good gifts. Rejoicing in all things and knowing that everything good comes from the Ultimate Giver of Good gifts.

October 14, 2013

Goodreads: A Day in the Life of a Minimalist

A Day in the Life of a Minimalist

My friend got this kindle book free (it's currently $1 on their website) and told me it was a good read. I read it within a few days. It's a compilation of short essays on various ways to minimize and get rid of the superfluous in our lives. This ranges from your wardrobe to your kitchen, to your book or toy shelves to your shopping and finances, even relationships and media. He had some graeat down-to-earth ideas. I found it refreshing and have since cleared out 5 boxes of things for D.I. that I realized I'm just not using or needing.

I think of minimalism as modern day Amish to some extent. Amish don't bring any extraneous tools/things into their lives that they can relatively do well without. However, they will add tools that add significantly to their ability to live and provide (ex: a simple plow that will help them do a great amount of work that would otherwise take forever). So in essence, what I got from reading these essays is a deeper appreciation for simplifying what we have and have intention behind what we do and meaning behind what we choose to bring into our lives.

The author tells of various experiments he's tried in going without certain items: cell phone, laptop (which he said is impossible for him, but at least now he understands why he has it and can set ground rules for it's needed use), shopping for things other than basic food needs, etc. I think it's a great idea to go through things you have in various areas and get rid of things you don't need or use. Try to buy things that accomplish a variety of purposes instead of a one-time only use. And try experimenting what things you might be able to do with. (I know Cooleys are without a microwave and have fared just fine. We too are now going that route.) There's always the car...try to only drive it once or twice a week and lump as much as you can together in one outing. Or your cell phone: try only using it during certain periods and turning off facebook and email notifications that interrupt your daily life and impose their urgency on you.

He also poses questions throughout that make you think. What if you could live with only your ten favorite books or 10 favorite photos. and why do we have them all. (It's also mentioned to digitize many things and get rid of clutter which is very helpful).

There's a lot more in the books that is fun to think about. I definitely think it worth the $1! So "splurge" and have some fun reading. Try what you like and ignore what you don't. Why not?

*On a personal side note: I think being a minimalst spiritually is also a healthy, good way to live. If we can get rid the what's unnecessary and worrisome or burdensome in our lives and just keep what is happy and edifying without the heavy weight, then our lives will be more joy-filled and light. Isn't this what Christ's atonement is for--to empower us to let go of things weighing us down and to lift us to our eternal and divine potential.