"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
~ Leonardo da Vinci
I was reading my Sunday paper last weekend and saw a cartoon depicting two birds sitting on a wire. They were watching the third bird that was about to fall down and was struggling to hold on to the wire. The caption read "You're overthinking this, Phil."
Do you sometimes complicate things excessively? I am guilty of it, I'll admit. Here's a related belief that comes up in coaching: we distrust simple solutions. If something is too easy, it can't be the answer. Are you familiar with that kind of thinking? Yet, simple practices can be very effective in producing remarkable results.
Take an example of recent neuroscience discoveries in the area of brain health. A few weeks ago, I was at a workshop conducted by Mark Robert Waldman, co-author of "How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist." The topic was "Imagination, Reality, and Maintaining a Healthy Brain." When it comes to maintaining a healthy brain, the strategies are simple and effective when done consistently. The authors list eight ways to exercise your brain to enhance your physical, mental and spiritual health. The easiest two may surprise you.
Do you know, for example, that a simple act of yawning improves alertness and concentration, optimizes brain metabolism, lowers stress, and increases memory recall among other things? Now, that's what I call brain efficiency. So, yawn on purpose. In fact, do it right now. Take a deep breath and get yourself into the yawning mood. If you have people around, that's even better because yawning is contagious. It can even improve group cohesiveness because it helps people synchronize their behavior with others.
If you are tired of yawning, smile. Smiling stimulates brain circuits that strengthen empathy and a positive outlook on life. Even if you don't feel like smiling, try it anyway. You'll give a signal to your subconscious that you are happy, and it can improve your mood.
Yawn, smile, and simplify! That's today's lesson.