In my last article, I explained why having a healthy brain is key to a happy life. Then comes the inevitable question: what do I have to do to have a healthy brain?
Simply by asking this question we run into our first problem: resistance. Steven Pressfield, in his classic book, The War of Art, tells us that whenever we want to change, the gremlins of resistance raise their ugly heads. The first word that the gremlin screams is, “NO!” Then that little bugger of a voice in our head gives us all the reasons for that “no.”
This is all some bogus fad, it’s never going to work, and even if it did work I’ll never be able to do it, might be some of the things you hear.
This is the common way the brain reacts to new information where you might have to change your ideas or what you do. If you have some degree of flexibility, though, it is only the first of a three-part process. Part one is resistance, as we said. Part two is acceptance and part three is embracing.
For example, I say to my kids, “Let’s go for a hike in the woods!” Their first reaction is, NO! (Resistance) Then they grudgingly say, “all right.” (Acceptance) Then half way into the hike they say,”This is the greatest thing EVER!” (Embracing)
Why do we resist? The main reason is fear. Personally, I think that this kind of fear/resistance is evolutionarily adaptive. The anxious Cro-Magnons who refused to leave the cave survived, while the ones who left and ate the mushroom died. (The problem is, we don’t live in caves anymore, and the supermarket only sells brain-healthy mushrooms.)
Since we’re talking about the brain, I should mention that resistance can also come from having an overactive cingulate gyrus. What the hell is that? The cingulate gyrus is a part of the brain, and when there’s too much going on in there, we have a very hard time switching gears. If you find yourself saying no to new ideas eight out of ten times, you just might have this problem.
We’ll save talking about ways to deal with an overactive cingulate gyrus for a later post, but for now . . .
How do we deal with the resistance gremlin when we are trying to make the necessary changes to have the healthiest brain possible? We start with the 1% solution. Much of our fear comes from the belief that we will fail. To counter that, we take the smallest, easiest steps possible, that you will actually do, that won’t totally freak you out.
So what’s that tiny first step? DRINK A GLASS OF WATER FIRST THING EVERY DAY.
Why is drinking a glass of water first thing every day good for the brain?
The brain is 85% water. The functioning of your brain depends on having enough of it. Water gives the brain the electrical energy it needs to do it’s thing. Water is needed for the brain to be able to make hormones and neurotransmitters, the chemicals that make our brains work right.
The longest period of time we go without water is when we sleep. Not only don’t we drink, but during those six to eight hours we use up water. So, when we wake up, we’re somewhat dehydrated. When we are dehydrated, it’s harder to pay attention, remember stuff, and figure out how long it will take to get to the office. That’s why the first thing we want to do to get our brain going in the morning is to have that big glass of H2O.
So try this tomorrow. Fill up a glass with 12 to 16 ounces of delicious water and drink it.
You can drink any water, but if you can afford it, the best kind is spring water out of glass bottles. My favorite is called Mountain Valley Spring Water, and you can do your part to make America great again by getting some because it comes from the Ouichita Mountains in Arkansas. (No, this article is not an ad for them, but I should mention that it was Frank Sinatra’s and Elvis’s favorite.)
Can you make that one small change of drinking a tall glass of water when you wake up? (Maybe you already do it. I hope so. If you do, great! You passed the first step.)
I think you can. It’s worth it.
(If you are really ambitious, you can keep drinking water through the day. We’re supposed to drink one half our body weight in ounces each day.)
When your brain has all the water it needs, you will be able to think faster, be more focused, and experience greater clarity and creativity.
It’s an easy way to start your healthy brain program – and your day – right.