So, what’s on your mind?
Special to The Union
You have a spectacular body and a brilliant mind – whether you think so or not.
Each one of your ancestors, shaped by nature over millions years, has passed on their best traits, making the next generation just a tiny bit stronger, faster and smarter.
Today, I want to talk about your brain, the book “Younger Next Year,” by Chris Crowley and Dr. Henry Lodge, and their rule No. 3: “Care, connect and commit.”
Technically you have three brains, but I want you to think of them as two.
Your conscious thinking/emotional brain is the one that gave rise to the Renaissance, automobile, personal computer, taxes and microwave popcorn.
Then you have the primitive brain.
“This (primitive) brain is deaf, dumb and blind. Literally. Aside from smell, it has no contact with the outside world,” Crowley and Hodge write. “Inside your skull, it’s dark, wet, a little bit salty and 98.6 degrees.”
Your physical brain only knows what you tell it; not by words, but by how you physically live your life.
Your primitive brain coordinates all of your unconscious activity, sorting trillions of signal each day within your body that run all of your physical processes keeping your body in supreme harmony. This brain doesn’t speak English, but it watches every thing you do like a hawk, reacting only to the chemicals and electric signals it receives.
With absolute certainty, your primitive brain still believes that you live in nature. And your health is your primitive brain’s adaptation of your body to the world it thinks you live in. How you choose to you live your life, or as your primitive brain interprets it – a signal to grow or a signal to decay – determines the quality of your health.
This is not to say that your “thinking brain” isn’t part of the picture.
Rule No. 3, “Care, connect and commit” is also integral to the quality of your health. Your thinking brain or limbic brain sits atop your primitive brain, and it’s the software that drives your conscious thoughts and emotions. It, too, evolved over millions of years in nature. It provides the emotional connection to other people and the ability to work collaboratively, which enabled mammals to rise above reptiles.
We are not designed for isolation. You don’t find people living alone in the Amazon, but in tribes. In nature, isolation means death. We need emotional engagement with one another; we complete each other.
The limbic brain reads the world around it and creates emotions from it. The limbic brain is also cross-wired into the primitive brain and the two talk continually. Emotional interaction with people generates an unconscious cascade of chemicals and physiological responses which also controls the body’s basic chemistry.
Stress, loneliness, idle worry and, especially, isolation are the ultimate limbic dangers. Without purpose and belonging, heart attacks and cancer rates increase. Single men generally die before married men. (Ha – I know it’s a surprising fact, but I checked it.)
Crowley and Lodge point out, “Having close friends predicts survival rates; the more connected, the higher the survival rate.”
You can reclaim the benefits of limbic connections and the better health that accompanies it at any age. And it doesn’t matter with what or whom you chose to connect. Charity, church, friends, poker group, significant other, grandchildren – it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s meaningful and interesting to you. All that really matters is that you make the effort to care, connect, and commit.
Mike Carville is a NASM/RKC certified personal trainer and co-owner of South Yuba Club in Nevada City (www.southyubaclub.com) and Monster Gym in Grass Valley (www.monstergyms.com). He has worked in the fitness and sports industry for 15 years and specializes in programming for new exercisers, weight loss/toning and athletic training. Mike is available for questions and speaking engagements via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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