Yesterday I forced myself out of the house as the sun unexpectedly peeked through the afternoon clouds. My lungs were not up to the trek; but I thought I ought to practice what I encourage others to do—take a walk in the sunlight.
In Episode 004 of Healing the Wounds of War we considered the evidence that bright light (daylight in particular) can help our brains function better by stimulating the release of serotonin (an essential neurotransmitter). So there I was strolling along at my normal snail pace. I won’t say that I was happy. Breathing was a bit difficult and my feet (diabetes related) were not wanting to cooperate.
However, shortly into the walk I made a decision to practice some of the things that I know from science and experience that can help our brain chemistry. On this day will any of this make a difference?
I set my eyes on the stunning beauty all around me. The rich blue sky dotted with shades of white and gray clouds. The sunlight filtered through the 120+ feet tall trees and inspired me to take a deep breath. The aroma of Christmas trees further drew my attention to the beauty of my surroundings. Thoughts of gratitude started to occupy my mind. The fresh cool air and the warm sunshine refreshed me in unexpected ways.
Yet my physical reality seemed largely unchanged. I still had trouble breathing. My feet still hurt—although I did not notice it as much for a moment or two. In short most of my body remained the same.
What had changed was my attitude and perspective—my brain. Not in some radical way. Rather in a subtle way that allowed me to not just find enjoyment at that moment, but for many moments after the walk. My mind was a bit sharper and focused. My attitude was a bit more hope filled and productivity came with a bit more ease.
Sure, this is anecdotal; but it is also in line with what scientist have observed. The proper amount of daylight may not by itself radically change your life. Sometimes all we need is that little bit to bump us to the next level; and that just might radically change our life.
What small things help you take your performance to the next level?