Tim Cusack's Blog
Tag Archives: joy

Is Your Heart Capable of This?

The Capable Heart

If you think phrases like “a broken heart,” “I felt it in my heart,” or “my heart jumped,” are just clichés… There may be more to it than you think.

Did you know as a fetus your heart develops before your brain? Did you know that more information is sent from your heart to your brain than vice versa? And, did you know that your heart is believed to hold memory much like your hippocampus which stores memory in the brain?

Many people who have received heart transplants have reported having various degrees of changes that paralleled the personalities of their donors.   Heart recipients have experienced everything from new cravings for food, changes in music preferences, talents, and habits; to vivid memories that have echoed the last seconds of the donor’s life. This experience is called Cellular Memory Theory or Cell Memory Phenomenon. The scientific world does not agree on the fact of its existence. However, Claire Sylvia, author of “A Change of Heart,” would say that for her, it’s true. After receiving a heart from an 18 year-old male who died in a motorcycle accident, she reported having a craving for beer and chicken nuggets in recovery after surgery. Yes, they found chicken nuggets in the coat pocket of the donor at the accident, and she didn’t like beer before.   This story and many more can be found from heart recipients.

Some of these stories go far beyond food cravings. A 17 year-old, black male was killed in a drive-by shooting while walking with his violin. His music teacher said, “I think he would have played Carnegie Hall someday.” The recipient of his heart was a 47 year-old, blue-collar, white male. The recipient said after the transplant, “I can tell you one thing. I used to hate classical music, but now I love it. I play it all the time.” Even his wife commented that “He’s driving me nuts with this classical music. He sits for hours and listens.”

Another startling case involved a 19 year-old woman killed in an automobile accident. She was a committed vegetarian who owned and operated her own health food restaurant. As she lay dying in the hospital, she was able to write notes to her mother of how she could ‘feel the impact of the car hitting her, like it was going through her body.’ The recipient of her heart, a 29 year-old woman reported,” I know this will sound crazy, but two things happened to me. First, almost every night I feel the accident my donor had. I can feel the impact in my chest. Secondly, I hate meat now. I can’t stand it. Actually, when I even smell it, my heart starts to race. Before, I was the biggest money maker for McDonald’s!”

Heart surgeon, Dr. Jeff Punch, M.D. says, “There are other explanations for these mind-body changes.” He suggests they can be the side effects of transplant medications, pure coincidence or the profound experience of the transplant itself. He believes that anything more is just fantasy.

What do you think? Is this beyond our current scientific capability to understand?  Is it how God made us – in his likeness – far more complicated than we can comprehend? Or, is it simply what Dr. Punch says, “Just fantasy.”

If your life ended right now and someone received your heart, what traits, likes, dislikes, behaviors, and passions would you want passed on?

For me, I want to believe cellular memory to be true. It adds to the mystery of life (as if we need more…). I enjoy believing in these types of theories, miracles, and the unlimited power of the human spirit. It has heart!

P.S.  Be an organ donor!

DEATH, THE GREAT MOTIVATOR

 

Life is Short

“Some people die at age 25 & aren’t buried until 75.”  Benjamin Franklin

Are you shocked? You shouldn’t be…..for two reasons: 1.) I write about ideas like this; 2.) You ARE going to die.

Why don’t we use death more as a motivator? It’s the ultimate energizer. It’s the one thing that is for sure. You can’t rely on any other aspect of life that is a 100% guarantee beside death.

Don’t deny it. Use it to your advantage. If you believe in God, you’re good, and you ask for your sins to be forgiven, then you have heaven waiting after you die. But, once again – NO GUARANTEES you’ll get in!! Let’s say you do get the green light, and God is standing next to you watching a replay of your life. Do you think you’ll see a few missed opportunities? Could you have had more laughs, enjoyed family and friends more, played with your kids, your dog or cat, a little more? Could you have gotten a little crazier at times (not in sinful ways), just wilder. Could you have helped more people, especially those you didn’t know? God loves that!

Let’s say you don’t believe in God, and there’s no afterlife – nothing. You believe life is a one-shot deal. One and done. Painful, like March Madness. You atheists should really be living it up. I don’t mean in a nasty, mean way like robbing a bank, stealing a car, or running people over, because your one and done will be spent in prison. I mean going ballistic with adventure!

Buddhists, you get to come back.

All of us can use death as a motivator to be more spontaneous, more fabulous, more out there. To remind each other of how precious life is, we can change our parting words such as: “See you later,” or “Take care,” or “Nice seeing you.” Why don’t we enhance and motivate by reminding each other that life is short. Our parting words could be, “Remember you could be dead soon,” or “Death is forever,” or maybe “I hope you have a peaceful death.” “Thanks, good seeing you too, and thanks for the reminder.”

In the book, Tuesdays with Morrie, Morrie says, “Our Culture doesn’t encourage us to think about such things (death) until you’re about to die. We’re wrapped up in egotistical things: career, money, cars, trillions of little high-jacks. When do you take time to stand back and really look at your life? Ask – Is this all? Is this all I want? Is something missing? Who knows, maybe you will begin to live your life – the one you want. Maybe you’ll become happier, healthier, more…what?” Motivated.

P.S. No fish were injured or mistreated in this post.

SIMPLY CARING

boys in prision

Call it a random act of kindness or helping others or making a difference – it’s all CARING.

In December 2012 at a Tim Horton’s drive-through, a customer paid the tab for the car behind in line. That act of caring started a chain reaction that lasted three hours; 226 cars paid for the car behind them. Each customer was so moved by being cared for that they, in turn, cared for someone else.

A mother who lost her 8 year-old daughter to a rare cancer in 2009, created Milan’s Miracle Fund, a nonprofit that supports research on pediatric cancer. This mother didn’t have to create a foundation. Her daughter is gone. She cares about children she doesn’t know who have cancer, as well as their families and all the people affected by their cancer.

Research shows that being witness to an act of caring is a powerful stimulant for our own health and well-being. Recently I watched an elderly woman sit for hours next to her dying friend, holding her hand, feeding her and caring for her. It’s a comforting thought to have someone willing to care for you at the end of life. We will all be there at some point.

Caring may save your life….really?

Is this ‘caring’ stuff that powerful? I interviewed young men, ages 17 to 21, who were serving two years to life in prison for having killed, robbed, led gangs, and sold drugs. During these interviews I asked, “Why did you do this?” The most common answer was “I didn’t care.” I then asked, “When did you stop caring?” The answer, “When I was no longer cared for.” (At $70.7 billion annual cost of incarceration in the U.S. – not caring adds up.)

Yes, caring could save your life. So, the next time you lend a hand, help someone out, or give your time and money, why are you doing it? Because you CARE.

THE MYSTERY OF SYNCHRONICITY

Synchronicity

Crane Holds Moon

I suppose synchronicity has been around as long as people have, but it wasn’t until the 1950’s when Carl Jung, the famous psychologist, shed light on this curious phenomenon. And of course the 80’s band, The Police, tuned into it’s vibe naming their famous album after the word.

A common definition of synchronicity is: The simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related, but have no discernible causal connection.

A common example of this could be when we’re thinking about a person and within seconds they call us. More uncommon would be this story a friend recently related to me. While visiting New York City, he was sitting in a coffee shop and calls a friend to arrange a meeting. At the very moment of his call to her, she says to him, “I’m right outside looking at you through the window.” Out of hundreds of coffee shops and a population of eight million people, they are in the same place at the very same moment. Synchronicity?

Carl Jung said, “The more aware we are of our surroundings, the more likely it (synchronicity) will occur. It also tends to happen more around times of birth, death, falling in or out of love, turning points, personal crises, or just being more open.

So, what’s the point? Maybe a moment of synchronicity is just that, a moment that seems amazing, wild or weird. Maybe it’s the quantum theory of the universe trying to connect with you. Or, bigger yet, it’s God putting a sign out for you to read; one that you’ve been asking for.  The next time you experience one of these occurrences, stop and wonder to yourself what this flash of synchronicity could mean for you.

Whatever way you want to interpret them, at least enjoy the mystery of the moments of synchronicity that come your way.

The Sunday Painters: Self Criticism or Contentment?

Two painters walk into a park on Sunday to paint.

          Sunday Painter

The first painter begins painting, but also enjoys the sunshine, takes pleasure in the leaves on the trees and the freshness of the park air, as well as the colors of the plants and flowers surrounding him.

The second painter starts to paint, but worries about what others will think of his painting. He imagines that others probably regard him as no good at painting, and ‘Maybe that is true,’ he thinks, ‘I’m not a good painter. I shouldn’t be painting. I should stop painting.’

Many people share characteristics of the two Sunday painters. Some enjoy the moment, and others are constantly judging how well they are doing, asking is this good enough? A few will live life in the moment, paying attention to what they are doing, just enjoying the activity of painting for the activity of painting. They’re not painting to impress people or because they will be accepted if they’re a good painter.

The true joy of painting comes from the activity of painting – NOT the result. The result you may never like, but the activity you usually do. I heard this story told by Paul Gilbert, author of The Compassionate Mind.

 

Driving Down the Road of Life

Driving Down The Road of Life

If you were to pretend that your life is like a car, who’s driving it? Some people may have negative responses, say, “No one is – it’s in the ditch.” or “It’s sitting in the garage and won’t start.” Conversely, some may respond enthusiastically with “I’m flying down the highway at 85 mph with the top down, and the music cranked. I’m having a blast!”

How can the response to this question be so polarized? Well, because we are such emotional beings. To help you with your ’emotional’ driving skills, here are three quick tips from Dr. Rick Hansen, Ph.D., author of “Just One thing” and “The Buddha’s Brain.” Dr. Hanson has a three-step process for enhancing joy, pleasure and appreciation in life – kind of like how it feels to fly down the road at 85 mph with the top down.

Step 1 – Notice or create a positive experience. Perhaps you’re at the grocery store. You’re walking down the aisle, and you see someone pull a box of cereal off the shelf. Instead of one box, three tumble onto the floor. In that moment of potential embarrassment another person helps pick-up the boxes. [Notice the care, the concern, the helpfulness. Or you can be that person who comes to help.]
Step 2 – Stay with the experience. Be with it, let it last for a few seconds – the longer the better.
Step 3 – Absorb the positive experience, paying attention to what is good, to the beauty of the moment. Absorb the compassion of someone helping another person. It’s simple but not easy.

Dr. Hanson calls this Vitamin C for your brain. Don’t waste it.

The next time you’re driving down the road of life (assuming you’ve made it out of the garage), keep your eyes on the road but take the time to absorb positive experiences that come your way.