Dr. Ellen Weber: How Our Minds Shape, Color and Play Meaning into Our Lives

EllenBrain5Since I can remember I’ve been fascinated by the question, “What’s the meaning of life?” In graduate school I wrote a 75 page research paper to plummet its elusive depths. Lately though, I see life’s bare boned meaning linked more to deliberate mental filters we choose to walk through on any given day. How so?

Have you noticed how meaning shapes, colors and plays our lives differently — whenever we shift or adjust mental filters to take another look from a new angle? Ask what if questions, for example — and you dance into discovery that could be as small as a winning golf swing, or as grand as Thomas Edison’s lightbulb invention in 1880. Embrace meaning through faith’s filter and you’ll likely play yourself into a magical place where deep calls out and deep responds back with sheer mystery that only grace can orchestrate. And it does!

My two toddler grandchildren teach me to color adventures until we imagine fun springing up delightfully through their curiosity geyser. Sheer enchantment follows. A slight shift of filters opens easy access into awesome new shades, sounds and sensibilities that show Einstein’s fireworks behind his words, Imagination’s more important than knowledge. My toddlers’ filter for fun fuels my mind with a sense of wonder, offers an easy space in their hearts for my Nana love, and tosses back affection in ways that make me want to be wiser, kinder and braver — just for them.

Not that magic carpets fly you up above an ordinary day, nor does wonder show itself in vibrant hues when storm clouds block the sun. In tougher times, all we know for sure is that we possess now. Yet whenever I embrace the mindfulness of now through finer filters, I tend to reboot possibilities for change. The power of now first came to me as a teen, to replace old frames of fear that too often did me in. It wasn’t always easy to let go of past hurts or find hope for a finer future.

In spite of being out on my own at 14, following my mom’s death, life nudged me deeper into now — with little else to lean on. That first night I merely focused on a place to sleep, a way to eat and an innovative plan to stay in school. Only after a lifetime studying human brainpower, and embracing grace did I discover how life’s outer edges offer far more fun filters than those default — fear-frames that landed me in broken promises or thrust me into personal missteps.

Yes, it took me an entire lifetime, along with leadership work in many countries — to discover the gist of mental reinvention. Simply stated — it’s basically one small step in a new direction. Start small, and try a few new tactics that switch up your day for a mind-bending reboot. Exchange a jealous moment for support to the person envied. Drop a strong opinion in favor of trying on the other side. Laugh! Spot and enjoy any advances in your day, while letting go of disappointments that tank your talents. Dream! See a situation through another person’s view. Get down on the floor and play with a small child.

Would you agree that flipping mental filters takes less effort and adds more gems than most people think? Yes, even on a day when concern tries its best to clog contentment’s filter.


~Ellen Weber PhD is an author, lecturer and columnist; a world citizen who takes her MITA brain based leadership into many countries. She holds a PhD from the University of British Columbia, and helps university faculty and business leaders to convert new brain facts into practical leadership benefits. Ellen received the Greater Rochester Quality Council’s 2004 Award for Excellence. Dr. Weber resides in Rochester NY, where she directs MITA International Brain Center. Her web site at  shows mental reinvention in business leadership, secondary schools and higher education settings.

Copyright © 2015 Excellence Reporter

5 replies »

  1. What an interesting question, Robyn, and you make a great point here. Mind-bending choices can feel a bit like juggling alligators with greased gloves – especially when we feel let down or defeated. On a natural level intuitive intelligence helps us develop new neuron pathways for choices that pack inner strength for a greater good. On a divine level, grace hands us both comfort and confidence to step beyond safe terrains and risk good choices – even when difficulties fight back.

    Dr. Norman Doidge’s book, The Brain that Changes Itself suggests how healthy choices made in calm situations impact the brain’s ability to rewire for better choices under pressure. Watch people who welcome differences, or fail to judge others, for instance, and you see people who learned to look at situations through different people’s views.

    In a culture obsessed with measuring outcomes and boosting profitability, we often neglect choices that advance original ideas in a climate of transparency. We miss life’s freedom to surpass everyday pressures or connect to game-changing opportunities that foster humanity and enhance life itself.

    At the hub of intrapersonal intelligence, the opposite is true. We reach for tools to flip filters from our own opinion or hopes in order to see through another’s view in ways that win benefits for all concerned. Not easy, yet worth a shot as I see it.

    A long answer to a thoughtful and compelling question!

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.