Monday, February 23, 2009

Fear Not! (Because it isn't helping....)

(Scene of a favorite serenity spot in San Clemente, California. I see why Nixon loved it here...)
How many times in the last few months have you heard some newscaster or pundit ask a financial expert, “In light of the economical breakdown, should we be afraid?”

And I want desperately to break in and say, “In light of the economical meltdown, the LAST thing we need to be is afraid. We need to be wise, peaceful, diligent and courageous. But the last thing we need muddying our emotional waters is fear.”

Our nation as a whole seems to have GAD ( Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and it isn’t helping the situation at hand. Here’s a quote from coach, Martha Beck, that I love.

Here’s one of the very few generalizations I believe unconditionally: There is not one useful thing we do that we don’t do better when we’re relaxed.”

The area of the brain where we can see“pure anxiety” is in the basal ganglia, which Dr. Henslin nicked named The Basement of Giant Fears. It’s the place in our brain where Chicken Little runs rampant, forever proclaiming, "The sky is falling!"

“Fears comes in all sizes: some come and go; some park themselves in your brain for a month or a year, and some for decades, " writes Dr. Henslin in This is Your Brain on Joy, "Some are based on reality and are normal responses to real threats; some are completely imagined; some are a little bit of both. ....When it comes to facing the giants in our brain’s basement, the best therapies all involve some kind of interruption to break up the looping thoughts that feed the monsters in our head.
"For example, if you are watching a scary movie, with the typical doomsday music playing and the shadow of the killer moving ever closer to the victim, your entire body goes on hyperalert. But if the scene is interrupted in any way, by someone opening the door and letting light in the theater, or munching popcorn and giggling, or someone’s cell phone playing the Chicken Dance song, your fears begin to subside, and fast. I use many techniques of pattern-interruption to help my clients who are fearful, adjusting my methods to their degree of trauma.”

Dr. Henslin goes on to a variety of ways to "interrupt fear patterns." In today's blog, I want to share three Anti-Fear Scriptures to help you combat the GAD growing in our country right now. In fact, if you are anxious, I suggest writing them on index cards and putting them on your fridge or car dash, perhaps even putting them to memory.

1. Combat FEAR with LOVE.
"God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. …There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love." (1 John 4: 16-28 The Message)

2. A great verse to sleep on, and I love the poetic quality of the King James version here:
“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8 KJV)

3. A classic go-to verse when you are worried. Praying with gratitude has been shown to stop anxious thoughts in their tracks:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you
need, and thank him for all he has done
.” (Philippians 4:6 NLT)

How will you know when you are free from fear? Here’s what you’ll feel like when peace has subdued anxiety....

Symptoms of Inner Peace

Tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fear based on past experience.
An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
Loss of interest in judging other people.
Loss of interest in judging self.
Loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
Loss of interest in conflict.
Loss of ability to worry (a very serious symptom).
Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
Contented feelings of connectedness with others and with nature.
Frequent attacks of smiling through the eyes and heart.
Increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
Increased susceptibility to love extended from others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.

It’s amazing how many times that Jesus (or angels) enters a scene of panic by saying , “Fear not!” or “Peace be with you…” Let these higher voices of calm clarify, center and protect you in troubled times. Because there is “not one useful thing we do that we cannot do better when we are relaxed.” Including dealing with tightening budgets, dwindling savings and job loss. If ever there were a time for cool, serene minds to prevail this is it.

Peace be with you this week, my friends!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Master Level Lovers

(Becky's Parents, George & Ruthie Arnold.
Master Level Lovers after 50 years of wedded bliss!)
I'm a bit belated on blogging this week, waylaid by a virus, and not of the computer variety. So glad to be feeling better and blogging again!

Dr. Henslin and I are now working on the sequel to This is Your Brain on Joy. It is slated to be called This is Your Brain in Love. We will talk about "the blessed few" -- Master Level Lovers. Husbands and wives who are part of the small percentage, perhaps just 8% of couples who remain passionately in love (and not just "intact") until they draw their last breath. Here is a little preview from the book-in-progress, a story of Earl's that I found especially touching. Enjoy! And hug your Valentine close!

I was a sophomore in college when I began working as an orderly in a nursing home. I was the only male in Mankato, Minnesota, working in a nursing home. I can’t even remember how I got a job there, but in hindsight I look back on it as a wonderful privilege. Even then, as a young man, I thought it was an incredible experience to work with the elderly and attend to their needs at an age when they could no longer do so many things for themselves.

In the home was one couple I’ll never forget. Henry and Martha. I think they were the only married couple in the nursing home at that time. He was 98 and she was 96. They had been married for over 60 years. And this was both of their second marriages! Can you imagine that?

Henry would wait (from what I learned from the other nurses and the other staff) for the day I would be working. I worked the 3:00 to 11:00 shift, and as the clock inched closer 11:00 o’clock, Henry would buzz the nurses’ station and I would go down to his room.

Henry always wanted the same thing: for me to help him from his bed over to his wife’s bed. I think he was embarrassed to let one of the female nurses or aides help him into his wife’s bed. But since I was a guy, it felt okay for him to ask for my assistance.

Now Martha was mostly blind, but when I’d help him over to her bed, I’d see this wonderful smile come over her face. She could no longer see him, so she was responding to the sound of her husband coming near and crawling into bed beside her. She beamed when she felt his arms enfold her.

They were a part of the “blessed few” – Master Level Lovers.

I thought that scene was the sweetest, most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. After all these years, I still think that.

What are the secrets of Master Level Lovers? I hate to leave you hanging, but ..... that book will be out about this time next year!

Okay, two hints: A natural mingling of loving sexuality with healthy spirituality; and two people who bring their best brains to the table of marriage. For more details, you'll have to wait for the book! It should be out by next Valentine's Day, 2010.

But you can get a head start on a "more perfect union" by taking 100 % responsiblity to bring your best, most joyful brain to any relationship. And how to do that? It's all been written in This is Your Brain on Joy. (Did we mention what a great Valentine Gift the book makes? It's even got a bouquet of flowers on the front. :)

Have a love-on-the-brain kind of week!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

This is Our Brain on Gratitude

"Halellujah!!" (Becky's grandson Georgie either doin' the wave or praisin' God...)
Yesterday was a day full of joyful gratitude, and in fact, both Dr. Henslin and I found ourselves in tears over some of the days happy events. Here's a few things that made flowers o' joy bloom in our heads!

1. Dr. Daniel Amen graciously sent out a newsletter to hundreds of thousands of his followers, promoting Dr. Henslin's book. This sent our Amazon ranking from 250,000 to 250 yesterday! We were, for at least one hour, #11 on the Christian bookseller list. Thank you to our dear friend and mentor, Dr. Amen, for this generous help.

2. Dr. Henslin has been booked for a full 30 minutes on the CBN show, Living the Life, and today, we received happy news that he'll be on the full hour with Janet Parshall's radio show. (We'll let you know the air dates soon.)

3. We have received some WONDERFUL reviews on Amazon this week. But the following review, from Cheri Hill... just overwhelmed us. Thank you so much Cheri. We do not know you, but you made our day:

from This is Your Brain on Joy
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
OverJoyed!, February 3, 2009
Cherie Hill - See all my reviewsTwo things come to mind after reading this book, "It REALLY IS ALL in our head and we ALL need our heads examined!" Humor aside, it will be a thrill to see this book on the New York Times Bestseller list because that's exactly where it belongs. I have gotten truly tired of books published for profit-this book is written with purpose; its purpose is to help all of us understand ourselves better- how we think, why we feel, and how to live a more joyful life, in spite of our brain's sometimes less than perfect wiring. One of the great joys in reading a wonderful book is sensing the author's heart and soul pour out into the pages and then reach out and capture yours; Dr. Henslin does just that. Not only is he a Christian and a devoted follower of Christ, but he is not afraid to share his faith even through the study of science. Dr. Henslin has finally provided the bridge between Christianity and Psychology (and Science).

I must say, Dr. Henslin had me at: "I always grin when science finally catches up to scriptural truths."

Truthfully, I've gotten tired of reading nonfiction in the Christian genre that is nothing but a canned message of compiled sermons or teachings, meant to keep you filled with joy on nothing but hope and a prayer. What about when your body is depleted of what it needs to function properly? A scripture and a prayer will mean little to nothing if the part of your brain that controls your anger or fears is not functioning properly. This book provides you the opportunity to begin living a joyful life from the inside out.

Dr. Henslin brilliantly writes with humor and presents scientific evidence that will change your life, if you follow the path he lays out throughout the book. Dr. Henslin's choice of Scripture to coincide with his practice of psychotherapy is nothing less than fantastic. You will not only find this book an AMAZING resource in itself, but it is filled with an abundance of resources that will enable you to change your life with little effort on your part; Dr. Henslin has done the ground work for you. Okay, so you don't want to have a "brain scan" or you simply can't afford it....fine, Dr. Henslin provides the "Dr. Amen Brain System Checklist" that will allow you to venture into your brain without the scan. After taking the test, you will get a better idea of what areas of your brain are functioning properly and which ones need help. Not only that, but the book is divided into those five parts so that you can go right to where you, personally, need to go to get started. Dr. Henslin gives specifics as to how to supplement your body for optimal brain functioning and fantastic techniques by which to help you find balance in your life....and most of all, true joy.

Honestly, this is one of the most fantastic books I've ever read in regard to Psychology. Having majored in Psychology, I have longed for that moment when there would be a bridge between my faith and the study of the mind; now that Dr. Henslin has provided that bridge, I am "overjoyed" and you will be too, when you finally understand yourself (how and why you think, feel, and act the way you do) after reading this fantastic and brilliant book!

4. Then, Dr.Henslin got this lovely email from a woman who has found great success in helping her autistic child through some of the break-throughs in nutritional and brain therapies. Earl says, "I have seen remarkable improvement in children with a variety of mood/ brain issues using high quality fish oil. (There's at least one story about this in the book.) Way to go, Karen! Proactive parents who do not give up on their kids always make me want to stand up and cheer."

Karen Beauvais wrote at 1:48pm on February 2nd, 2009
" Dr. Amen has been a gift to the Autism community that has long suffered spiritual stigmas.Poor parenting, demons, refrigerator mothering etc. My son has had miraculous brain healing from stewarding well over his body (gluten casein diet,supplements like PC/PS, Omegas, and heavy metal removal.) Found through earnestly praying and asking God for answers, after the neurologist declared there was no hope. Today instead of a severely autistic son who often ran off, burned himself unaware and several times nearly drowned, we have a beautiful verbal kid in a normal classroom.Your work will be very important to the Christian community. I can not wait to get the book.God Bless and may many find the secret to joy and health."

For more of the latest information on helping autism in a variety of ways, Karen recommends this website

5. I got this email from Earl yesterday, and I think it says why I count it such a privilege to be co-laborers together, along with so many others, to help get this information to as many hurting people as we can. Earl's tender heart is huge. He's the real deal.

Dear friends and family,

Thank you for your prayers, support, and encouragement through the years...for some reason the emails that have come in today bring tears to my eyes....Maybe it is also the Michael Smith cd in the background where he is singing " Majesty"....

God is so kind and gracious to give a sinner like myself an opportunity to share about brain and heart communicate hope, and life through Christ in a way that is different and will reach people that might not be usually have a chance to give hope for the hurting Christian...that there is no shame in seeking help...that there are causes that can be identified with a spect scan that make it real...that our spiritual health might be helped through the right change in diet, supplements, therapy, prayer....all the tools that God gives us..

These times are tough and scary economically for all of us...I would appreciate your prayersthat God uses it in a profound way...

You can help by....1. Praying for me...2. Those you receiving this that have good media experience and know not hesitate to send me suggestions...Thank you so much for your and support. Wanted you to share in the joy of this moment....Love,Earl

So, today's blog is just us being grateful to God, to you, for the privilege of meaningful work, loving family and friends. What's on your Gratitude List?