Notes to Myself

Posted by on Apr 4, 2012 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 2 comments

Notes to Myself

“Positive Psychology” didn’t exist when I was a Psych major in the 1970’s. Back then psychology was all about diagnoses and dysfunction. Now researchers are exploring happiness and thriving. I recently finished my eighth or ninth book on happiness. And though each author approaches the subject from a slightly different angle, all share the latest brain science on feeling good.

My latest read, What Happy People Know, by Dan Baker, PhD, emphasizes how fear-based we humans are … how we are hard-wired for fear for the very survival of the species. It’s our default setting. Our reactive reptilian brain is the fight, flight or freeze center, and is quick to sense danger, real or imagined. The amygdala in the mammalian brain is our storehouse of fearful and hurtful memories that feed into these automatic, alarmist interpretations. These days our fear is not so much about saber toothed tigers, but mostly about 1) if we’re good enough or 2) if we have enough. Relate?

According to Baker, our only hope of transcending the fear response is activating its antidote: love and appreciation. This requires challenging our involuntary, habitual fearful thoughts and actively re-wiring our mental circuitry by engaging the pre-frontal cortex, where intellect and spirit (and love) reside. “In the dance of love and fear, love must lead if we are to be happy.”

“… During active appreciation, the threatening messages from your amygdala and the anxious instincts of your brainstem are cut off, suddenly and surely, from access to your brain’s neocortex, where they can fester, replicate themselves, and turn your stream of thoughts into a cold river of dread. It’s a fact of neurology that the brain cannot be in a state of appreciation and a state of fear at the same time. The two states may alternate, but are mutually exclusive.”

“Appreciation is the highest, purest form of love. It is the type of love that can blossom even when it is not returned. It is the outward-bound, self-renewing form of love that has no dependence upon romantic attachment or family ties. People who truly appreciate feel the same about the object of their appreciation whether it is present or absent. They appreciate it even if it is, by objective standards, not worthy of their appreciation. Appreciation asks for nothing, and gives everything.”

We all know the sensations. “… Time can stand still, or rush like a waterfall. Your senses can be heightened or obliterated. Creativity flows, heart rate slows, brain waves soften into rolling ripples, and an exquisite calm descends over your entire being. During active appreciation, your brain, heart, and endocrine system work in synchrony and heal in harmony.” Ahhhh.

So what does any of this have to do with graphic design? Well, lately I’ve been choosing not to believe everything I think, especially fear-based thoughts … and I need plenty of reminders to catch myself and shift into the better feeling (and better functioning) place of love and appreciation. So I created some ‘notes to myself” to help re-train my brain. If any of the posters below speak to you, you can download 8.5 x 11″ print-quality versions for your personal (non-commercial) use by clicking on them. They are what this post has to do with graphic design.

Thanks to Hugh Prather for this concept and title. His classic little book, Notes to Myself (1970), is an old friend … sharing thoughtful reflections on self-discovery and insightful reminders for life’s journey.








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2 responses to “Notes to Myself”

  1. Michelle says:

    Love these Linda, thank you for sharing. Needed this reminder today for sure!

  2. Hmmm. there’s a story there. Anyway, glad they speak to you too. It was a fun pilot project … maybe more to come. I’ve got plenty of quotes and design ideas incubating.

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