• Dr. Sharon Livingston

How “Shiny Objects” Help During Covid-19


During Covid-19 it’s easy to become anxious, depressed and demoralized.

What keeps us hopeful and inspired?

Think about this.

Why do we feel so good sitting by a lake and seeing pinpoints of light glisten and dance on the water? Or, why do we love gazing at the stars as they twinkle on a clear moonlit night? they are both at once exciting and calming.

Shiny things attract our attention.

We are drawn to objects that exhibit a glossy, polished, gleaming or otherwise shiny appearance. It’s the same with new ideas and concepts. We are excited by things that glisten visually, sensorially and thought-wise. They catch our eye. They ignite all our senses and make our hearts beat faster in anticipation. They drive us to take action.

Especially now, during Covid-18, things and ideas that are glossy and attractive are very valuable. They are exciting. They energize us, They keep us busy and upbeat, whether or not we finish them.

And this attraction to shiny things appears to be innate.

Researchers at the University of Houston found that children who were presented with glossy objects licked them. Infants seven to 12 months old put their mouths to glossy plates much more than to dull ones. Children had also been seen lapping shiny toys on the ground, the way an animal might drink from a puddle. Further studies indicated that glossy appears to be translated to water.

Our ability to survive as a species is rooted in being able to identify and drink water. Primitive humans had to be on the alert for water sources to stay viable.

Physically and metaphorically, shiny is life giving. Shiny creates excitement and quenches our thirst for adventure and novelty.

It has been found that creativity, the ability to create new connections in the brain, is increased by the influence of novelty — both during the process of exploring a novel environment or stimuli and for 15–30 minutes afterwards. Researchers suggest leveraging that time to build on new ideas. In addition, novelty has been shown to improve memory.

And perhaps even more importantly, the desire to have novel experiences is a predictor of longevity. People who actively seek out new experiences throughout life live happier, healthier lives.

So doesn’t it make perfect sense that during these extreme times of restrictions that we need novelty and Shiny Objects?! How to harness your need for novelty and keep motivated.

o Be open to and seek out activities you think you’d enjoy

o Try it on for size — Imagine doing the thing you found attractive, how does it fit, does it stay interesting, what objections might it raise as a new hobby or practice

o Embrace the challenges that the new idea brings with it

o When you choose it, program your brain by visualizing or watching a demonstrating of it being done well. Put yourself in the picture and enjoy the rewards of achieving your goal.

o If the shine is dimming, remind yourself of what made it exciting and see if you can reignite your interest. And, if not, let it go.

o Share your enthusiasm and success with people who care about you and will celebrate you.

How are you harnessing your personal need for novelty?

Or what may be holding you back? I’d love to hear about it.

Send me an email. DrSharonLivingston@gmail.com or leave me a phone message. 603 505 5000. I promise to get back to you.

To living a positive life despite or because of the challenges.

Doc Sharon