A Fond Memory of a Decision Made

26 Mar

Aloha is...a fond memory of a walk on the beach on a beautiful day and a decision to have many more days like this.

This photo of me was taken in 2011 in Coronado, back when I firmly decided to move to San Diego within the year. I moved here nine months later!  

Photos can elicit lots of emotion and a flood of memories.  Sometimes you can even hear or smell whatever else was going on around you at the time the photo was taken.  If you're at the beach, you might remember hearing the seagulls, the smell of sunscreen lotion or even remember how hot it was.  If it's a photo of a family celebration, you might remember what people wore or hear the music playing in the background or the people around you - the laughter and the conversations.  If you're at a park in spring, you might smell the flowers that surrounded you or the feeling of grass under your bare feet. If it's a picture taken during the holidays, you might remember the smell of pine, cinnamon or warm cookies in the oven and you might hear Christmas songs in your head. 

Looking at photos can make you happy, sad or any other emotion. You choose your emotions and how you want to respond to a snapshot of your past based on the memory you have.

Photos serve as powerful reminders of the best or worst moments of our lives and the choices we've made - good or bad.  They can remind us of the times we were happy, healthy, brave, adventurous and young or the very opposite.  I like to keep photos of the people who matter most to me or the times I celebrated an achievement or something I did for the first time.  I might even document a challenge I faced or a time when I got out of my comfort zone with a photo.  I did such a thing last summer when I first got into swimming for my back issues - despite how I felt about getting into a swimsuit after gaining several pounds. It marked a moment of courage and trying something new - in attitude and action.

Photos can serve as reminders of the things we used to love to do and they can serve as benchmarks in our lives. They can also help to teach us lessons about our past experiences. They can demonstrate how even the best-laid plans or intentions can go wrong.  But after some time has passed, looking back at the memory of it through a photo might now help us appreciate the journey.

But did you know that photos can also impact decision-making? Consider this: 

"Researchers at Michigan State University believe, “The part of the brain responsible for seeing is more powerful than previously believed.”  In a study that looked at which parts of the brain were active during a series of visual stimulation, they found that the visual cortex can make decisions just like the brain’s “higher-level” areas.  Before the study, it was thought that the association cortex, known for higher-level functions, was primarily responsible for making choices. The visual cortex, on the other hand, was responsible for the lower-level, less complex task of processing visual information. It would explain to the brain what you were seeing.

But their study found that the visual cortex controls more than interpreting images. The visual cortex actual has decision-making power.

Another study found that photos of food are so powerful they were able to make kids believe a salad was a better food option than tacos and sloppy joes.  The study conducted by researchers at Iowa State University found that “salad consumption among kids increased as much as 90 percent when a digital display showed a rotating image of the salad.”'**

So, if you need help making a decision, consider looking at photos that relate to the decision at hand.  Maybe they will give you the courage you need to follow through on your decision or to practice healthier habits. This is why vision boards are so powerful! 

A vision board is a collection of images of the things you want to have or achieve in your life. It is another way to visualize the outcomes you want to create. To make a vision board, cut out pictures or real photos of people, places or things as well as words or phrases that reflect what you want to have or happen in your life. Then, look at this board every day. Subconsciously, your actions will help make these things come to life! 

Maybe you want to lose weight, so you put up photos of a time you were more fit or an image of another fit person. You might put words that encourage you to work out and eat healthy foods. You also might include the class schedule of instructor-led workouts at your local gym or a picture of the dress you want to buy and be able to fit into for an upcoming event.

When I lived in Connecticut, my vision board had images of me in California, things I wanted to do in California and all kinds of words or phrases about being strong, brave and happy. And, here I am!

If it can work for me, I know it can work for you.  This photo is proof!

When I look at this photo of myself, I feel proud.  I'm proud of the life-changing decision I made to move to San Diego.  I'm proud of myself for having the courage to take that big step and the commitment to follow through with it.  I'm also proud of myself for seeing how far I've come in my life since then. I followed my passions, found the love of my life, found my life purpose and fulfilled a few dreams. As a result, I feel confident that I'll make a few more dreams come true, too. 

This photo is proof that I can be brave and that I can make my dreams come true.  So, that only encourages me to keep going to make more dreams come true!  It's just a matter of time, right?

Take photos.  Document your life.  Be proud of your accomplishments. Be happy for those special moments in your life.  Then, review them often for a confidence boost, happiness boost or a boost to keep going.  

Say, cheese, Pineapple!

Live, Love and Lead with Aloha.

**Source: "Two Studies Show How Visuals Impact Decision Making" (blogs.spectrio.com)

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