ASHA Connect 2019 draws to a close tomorrow, but many of the record-breaking number of attendees will go home knowing how to trigger their brains’ amygdalas to slow the passage of time during intensely enjoyable moments. Many will also understand how tapping into emotional intelligence can benefit them and their students, patients, or clients.
Keynote speaker—and former Olympic silver medalist speed skater—John Coyle launched the conference with tips on improving the quality and experiential length of life. His wonder as a speed skater at how 3/100s of a second can make such a difference in people’s lives turned into a decade-long investigation into how our brains record memories and perceive time. He shared how we should focus on kairos—the Greek word meaning the human experience of time—instead of the chronos, which is clock time.
Coyle’s advice, basically, is to trigger your amygdala in intense situations—in a good way—to force the hippocampus to scan and record what’s happening more quickly. This results in remembering every detail of certain memories and making these moments seem to last longer. In your memory of these experiences, which Coyle says is the true meaning of time, you will lengthen your kairos.
His challenges us to try and create 10 of these intense, time-slowing moments a year. Each of these moments, he theorizes, is worth a year of ordinary moments. Using Coyle’s math, then, you turn one year of your life into 10 years’ worth of living!
You need three things to slow these moments—contraction, inversion, and expansion—the laws of experiential time. The law of contraction says, absent action, time will speed up. Coyle gives an example of taking the same vacation consisting of sitting by the pool as a way to contract time and not make it memorable. This also explains how the law of inversion works: the active experience of an event is inversely proportional to how well you remember it.
The most important of these three laws, according to Coyle, is expansion. This happens when you trigger the amygdala with intensity—such as trying something new and possibly something uncomfortable—thus creating a long memory out of mere moments. He suggests teaching a class instead of taking a class or walking through an unfamiliar place without a specific time restraint or destination. The resulting experiences will be detailed in your mind. Creating enough of these lasting experiences makes your years seem to pass more slowly and extends the experience of your life.
Building on this presentation about improving the quality of your life, one of the first sessions featured Kari Knutson, a former school counselor and professional speaker who talked about how to understand and use emotional intelligence (EQ) in your professional life.
Romanda Horton-ikard, a school-based SLP from Oak Park, Illinois, liked that some of the topics being covered were atypical for professional events:
“We don’t usually hear about these kinds of topics, but they are really important in regard to work-life balance.”
This was the first time at ASHA Connect for Chanita Stewart Day, also from Oak Park, and she appreciated how lively Knutson’s session was and much opportunity she had to interact with other attendees.She hopes to take home more ideas on social communication skills for adolescents.
Knutson talked about how people can use the features of emotional intelligence—self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and relationship skills—to better serve students, clients or patients. EQ can also help us be more authentic in our professional as well as personal lives, she said. Her presentation gave insights on how to better know yourself, notice others, make thoughtful choices, acknowledge your emotions, know what motivates you, and understand that you’re in a relationship with everyone—even people you don’t know or don’t like.
Two of Knutson’s key takeaways included cautioning attendees to, “be careful how you talk to yourself, because you are listening.” And to also, “just do you, because that’s the best you can do!”