Something I always find interesting when I learn something new, hear about a particular concept or idea, or start a different activity, is the feeling that it seems to pop up everywhere, across a variety of settings. The Pacific Standard described it well: “your friend told you about that obscure blue-grass-electro-punk band yesterday morning. That afternoon, you ran across one of their albums at a garage sale. Wait a minute -that’s them in that Doritos commercial, too! Coincidence… or conspiracy? More likely, you’re experiencing ‘frequency illusion,’ somewhat better known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.” And although research has shown that this occurs due to the psychological processes of selective attention and confirmation bias, I still find it fascinating and sometimes take it as a signal to pay attention. I don’t really care too much about music, so I’m ok with recognizing the frequency illusion when it comes to that obscure blue-grass-electro-punk band and leaving it behind, but some pervasive topics are worthy of diving into a bit deeper. And one message that has been inundating me over the past few days or week is that of visualization.
To be perfectly honest, at first blush, the idea of visualization seems a bit woo-woo to me. I am a firm believer in setting goals and making resolutions which direct actions. And for better and sometimes worse, I am a die hard adherent of the classical Protestant work ethic. In contemplating achieving success, Aristotle described the process as “first, have a definite, clear, practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends: wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.” So far I’m onboard. I usually spend considerable time and energy in contemplating what it is I want to achieve and mapping out the incremental means to the end. These activities have dominated much of my free time over the past month or two as I set my 2018 intention – “Prepare” and created my list of resolutions, goals, and projects for the year. Interestingly, although this is not something I have ever done before (and in fact may have nearly scoffed at in the past), I felt overwhelming compelled last week to build a vision board which could bring my aims to life and the forefront of my consciousness daily.
As is the case with many projects (mostly all of mine anyway), the idea to build a vision board required some boomerang errands – I don’t ever have magazines around the house to clip from and my computer printer recently went up in smoke (literally, I foolishly plugged the US plug into an adapter without connecting to the transformer and a black puff and matching stench emitted from the machine as soon as I connected it). So I spend some time over the weekend collecting all the necessary components, painting the frame of a new corkboard, and finding visual representations of my #2018goals. Midway through this project, I had a discussion with my friend Julette about a book she is reading called The Miracle Morning which discusses the power of morning routines (something I JUST wrote about last week!) and how to create a good one. I haven’t read the book, but she shared an acronym for the key components recommended by the author which includes (drumroll please) VISUALIZATION, as a technique for creating a mental image of a future event. And that’s not all Baader-Meinhof! Yesterday my journal prompt was as follows:
“Researchers found that the following exercise created an immediate boost in happiness: Imagine yourself in the future. Everything has gone as well as it possibly could. You’ve worked hard and succeeded in accomplishing all your life goals. You’re living the life of your dreams. You’re now identifying the best possible way things might turn out in your life. Take a few minutes to write about what you saw and how you felt. Do you think this might help guide your decisions now?”
Frequency illusion or not, I have decided to test out the power of visualization. According to Frank Niles of the Huffington Post, by visualizing the end outcome, we begin to see our ideal future state and can be motivated to pursue that goal. A lot of research among athletes and public speakers in particular has demonstrated that this is a well developed method of performance improvement which bolsters motivation, coordination, concentration and relaxation, while reducing fear and anxiety. Niles argues that visualization “keeps you tethered to a goal and increases your changes of achieving it” and there are two different variations which are most potent when used together. The first is outcome visualization which involves envisioning yourself achieving a goal and creating a detailed mental image which engages all of your senses. This is most powerful when translated into something more visual and tangible (like a vision board!). And the other is process visualization which includes envisioning each of the actions and component steps required to achieve a desired goal. Of course, there is no substitute for the hard work that is required to make any dream a reality, but my initial efforts in this area do seem to be motivating and useful in providing a roadmap towards the future. And really FUN!
Having a display and considering how I want to feel in the end state does actually seem to bring my goals to life. The funny thing is that I wouldn’t really consider myself to be a “visual person,” usually preferring words, detailed processes, lists or narratives. However, one other notable exception to this preference is when it comes to my plate. Food that looks pretty and colorful seems like it just tastes better and as many advocates for “eating the rainbow” would insist, it probably is better for me. This Salmon Nicoise Salad is totally Whole30, Paleo, and as visually appealing as it is delicious. Enjoying on repeat for my lunches is definitely part of my vision for this week.
- Dijon Mustard 1 TBSP
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil .5 cup (120 ml)
- Shallot, Minced 1 each
- Garlic Cloves, Minced 2 each
- Lemon Juice 2 TBSP
- Sea Salt .25 TSP
- Black Pepper .25 TSP
- Skin on Salmon 1 lb. (450 g)
- Coconut Oil 1 TBSP
- Lemon Pepper Seasoning 1 TBSP
- Romaine/Cos Lettuce, Chopped 5 cups (300 g)
- Purple Sweet Potato 2 each
- Green Beans 2 cup (300 g)
- Kalamata Olives, Chopped .5 cup (100 g)
- Capers 4 TBSP
- Soft or Hardboiled Eggs 4 each
- Toss all the ingredients into a blender and pulse a few times until the oil emulsify. Alternatively, you can throw it all in a jar with a lid and shake very well.
- Start by chopping the potatoes into small 1 inch cubes and add to a stockpot along with water just to cover and a pinch of salt. Allow to come to a boil, cooking until the potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and place in a bowl along with cool water and/or ice.
- Since the stockpot and refill with water. Add a pinch of salt and place on the burner again at medium high heat to bring to a boil.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C and line a baking sheet with foil.
- Brush half of the coconut oil on the foil and then place the salmon on top, skin side down.
- Drizzle the remaining coconut oil on top and season with the lemon pepper seasoning.
- Cook in the oven for about 12 minutes or until cook to desired doneness.
- Meanwhile add the green beans to the boiling water in the pot and cover, cooking just long enough to blanch, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.
- Then chop the lettuce and start to assemble the plates.
- Fill the plate with lettuce, then add the remaining ingredients around the plate - cooled potatoes, green beans, kalamata olives, halved eggs, and top with cooked salmon and capers. Drizzle the vinaigrette dressing over the top and enjoy!