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A friend of mine is a therapist. She has been studying the field of positive psychology. It is the branch of psychology that believes that through changing what we think about we have the ability to not only change our mood but also our life. If you are reading this and my definition of the entire field of positive psychology isn’t quite sufficient, I apologize.

How our brains work is fascinating. My friend sent me an article about how our brains process information. It explained that while the brain can process 400 Billion bits of information a second. We are ONLY aware of 2,000 of those bits.

The article and the statistic blew my mind (pun intended).

Our brains are processing 400 billion bits of information a second. That’s astounding. Wait. What. We are aware of less than .0005% of what our brains are processing. Wow we must be missing a lot.

The bits our brains are processing first come in from the sensory information that we are picking up in the world around us. What we smell. What we taste. What we are seeing. What we hear. What we feel.

We really are only processing a TINY portion of all that input we are getting in any moment. After I read the article, I wondered…

How much are we actually missing (or making up) in any moment and is there anything we can do about it?

Many think no. Our brains process as much as they process. There haven’t been any significant scientific advances in expanding our awareness.

But I know there are ways to expand our awareness.

Shift what you are focused on and it can literally change what your brain is perceiving. Also shift the kind of information you are consuming. I let you think about that second one. For this email, I want to offer a way to shift what you are focused on.

When you are stressed especially those times in life when it feels like there is too much to do and not enough time to do it, what are you focused on? How much there is to do. Whether you like those things you need to do. Everything (or person) that adds to the list of “to do”. The experience of stress sustained eventually can take a toll on your mental, emotional and physical state. Right you know that. You and I have both burned the candle at both ends before. We just ended up being exhausted and upset. What do you think our brain was picking up then? Probably not the things that bring us joy and peace.

The first step in shifting what we focus on is to get present. We have to practice being aware of what we are aware of in any moment. It might seem simple but it is an expansive practice. After years of practicing being aware of what I am aware of my life has shifted pretty dramatically. At first, I noticed that I had more ability to shift my mood. Didn’t like my mood I would get present and focus on gratitude. As I practiced more, my intuition became louder and my ability to translate the messages became easier. Cause I was present, I caught things that I was missing. Now I am aware of how what I focus my attention on has changed what I am able to manifest and create.

So here is one of the simplest practices I have learned for getting present. Give a try and let me know what you think. Before you start just answer a single question.

1. How do you feel? Meditation.

It isn’t like other meditations. It is okay if you get interrupted. The interruption will become part of what you notice. You do this with your eyes open. I have done it on a plane during terrible turbulence when people were audibly gasping. I was able to stay calm. I have used it when I couldn’t figure out what to write for a post. Getting present helps me tap in. Okay.

5 Things You See
Look around you and say out loud or write out 5 things you see. Focus on the visuals only. Stay out of the story or explanation.

Example: I see a lamp with a white shade. Vs. I see the Lamp with the white shade that I bought at Pottery Barn.

4 Things You Feel
Focus on the physical sensations. Stay out of the mental side of the feeling and focus on the actual sensations in your body.

Example: My mouth is dry and my stomach feels tight. Vs. I feel hungry

3 Things You Hear
2 Things You Smell
1 Thing You Taste

Now check in with yourself again.

1. How do you feel?
2. What does your body need right now?
In my experience, mindfulness as a practice is helpful. I have used different techniques to shift the way I think. What do you think?