Pearls of Time

Holiday time often pairs with excess—shopping, presents, food, and/or drinking. A recent revealing read, performance coach Diane Grimard Wilson’s Brain Dance book, explains that most days people just try to make their brain feel good–whether through alcohol, drugs, or any other type of addicting behavior. Brain scans on people with an alcohol addiction show major deficits of alpha waves in specific parts of their brains. Alpha waves are linked with feelings of relaxation and peacefulness. Drinking alcohol increases alpha waves initially, but at a later time the brain switches to faster beta wave frequencies that can lead to anxiety and perhaps more drinking. How tuned in are people to their brain waves at ANY TIME?

Diane admits that she learned most about her brain waves after she was catapulted into brain trauma from a car barreling into her car as she watched in disbelief. She was driving home from an exercise workout and had stopped at an intersection. The accident delivered an unwelcome package—a moderate concussion and post-concussion syndrome. Many symptoms sounded like a hangover that refused to leave. Numbing confusion with fragmentation and immobility is not a peaceful time.  

As the holiday season rolls along, I am aware that many individuals are not experiencing much peace on earth in their current life. At a recent conference, I heard presentations about incarcerated folks who have not been included on much positivity or peace any time. Due to injustices in life and compromised decision-making, they are “serving time” with limited possibilities. It reminds me of the concept of “satisficing,” a word coined by psychologist, economist, and Nobel prize winner in economics, Herbert Simon. Stemming from his years of combining psychology and economics, Simon explained “satisficing” (a combination of “satisfy” plus “suffice”) as the behavior of decision-makers in situations where an optimal solution is not immediately available: a “good enough” solution is accepted. However, what is “satisficing” to one person does not meet up with another’s expectations.

Fortunately for Diane, she opened the gift of a second chance in life with the assistance of neurofeedback, Eye Movement and Desensitizing Reprocessing (EMDR) psychotherapy, and the support of a very loving spouse. Her story is one of “satisficing” in ways that model how to make good use of your time in a crisis. Diane became a board-certified neurofeedback clinician! She studied the very training protocols that helped her cope with her brain trauma. No one wishes for bad things to happen to them but when they do, there are possibilities in responding. Diane’s perseverance in finding how to make her brain rewire, as well as helping to heal the brains of her clients, is truly inspiring.

How you choose to spend time matters. Consider your own ways of improving your precious brain to have more peace in your life.

Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz:

40. What do you do on a regular basis to enjoy peaceful times in your life?

41. How might you share the gift of peace this holiday season?                                         

By Janis Johnston

Janis Clark Johnston, Ed.D., has a doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston University. She has worked with children, families, and groups (ages 3-83) with presenting issues of anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, and relationship concerns. She initially worked as a school psychologist in public schools and was awarded School Psychology Practitioner of the Year for Region 1 in Illinois for her innovative work. She was a supervising psychologist at a mental health center, an employee-assistance therapist and a trainer for agencies prior to having a family therapy private practice. Recipient of the 2011 Founder’s Award for her dedication to the parenting education of Parenthesis Family Center (now called New Moms), and the 2002 Community Spirit Award from Sarah’s Inn, a domestic violence shelter and education center, Johnston is an active participant in numerous volunteer activities supporting children and families in her community. A frequent presenter at national psychology and educational conferences, Johnston has published journal articles, book chapters, and two books -- It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development (2013, hardback; 2019, paperback) and Midlife Maze: A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery after Loss (2017, hardback; 2019, paperback). In addition to augmenting and supporting personal growth in families, Johnston is a Master Gardener and loves nurturing growth in the plants in her yard.

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