by Janet Baird, an Art of Coaching Conference presenter and guest blogger
My fascination with the brain started about 10 years ago. My then 3.5 year old son, JT, started preschool and was quickly identified and tested for sensory and auditory processing disorder. In my gut I knew something was different about him, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was. I will never forget sitting at the table across from his teacher, “You might want to start preparing yourself. JT will probably not be placed in a traditional kindergarten classroom next year.” And in that moment, my grieving process started. I began to cry as I thought about a life in the IEP world and the struggles that he would face.
But this wasn’t how I had planned it. This wasn’t what I had dreamed for my child.
Probably as an act of avoidance, I kept finding my way to my yoga mat. It was my escape. It was the place I could go to just focus on my breath and lose myself in my practice. But something crazy happened. With each inhale, my resilience grew and I gained the strength needed to be his advocate.
We began a variety of intensive therapies: speech therapy, occupational therapy, therapeutic listening therapy, vision therapy and therapeutic brushing, and it was then that I learned about neuroplasticity and our ability to rewire our brains. Through all these different therapies, new neurons were firing together, new neural pathways were forming and JT began thriving. We basically turned our spare bedroom into a therapy room complete with a swing hanging from the ceiling, buckets of rice and beans to play in to help with his sensory development, and stacks of cards that would help him with categorizing things into groups to help with his auditory processing. In between sensory brushing therapy and joint compressions, we would focus on the importance of noticing, being in the moment and mindful of our breath. And more importantly through it all, we learned to laugh and have fun.
By the end of 2nd grade he no longer qualified for Special Education services and now he is a thriving teenager who is a great athlete (yep proud mom here!) and does okay in school. (Our school system is not set up for him to truly thrive in school, but that’s a topic for another day. As educators we need to focus our efforts more on learner variability, but I digress). Through the years, we have had countless conversations about how his brain processes. He has established habits that contribute to his success and is empowered to create the life he wants to live.
So what does this have to do with bringing more happiness into your life?
Our brains have the power to change. My family is living proof of this.
Through finding our purpose, building community, intentional activities and lots of laughter, JT and I built up our resilience and brought more happiness into our lives. As more positive neurons were firing together, more positive neurons were wiring together.
Sonja Lyubomirsky’s research on happiness explains that 50% of our happiness is genetic, 10% is our circumstances and 40% comes from our intentional activities. Up to 40% of our happiness we can control. Up to 40%…this number is so empowering to me. Each and every day we can make decisions that will boost our resilience and increase our happiness. So I invite you to join me for this workshop and together we will breathe deeply, set intentions, and explore how practicing gratitude and compassion will bring more happiness into our lives.
The views and opinions expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion or position of Bright Morning or any of its employees.