Mammals are wired to look for novelty in the environment, a behavior called "seeking." Your brain is wired to seek and it gets a dopamine hit each time it does. Dopamine is the same neurotransmitter stimulated by drugs like cocaine and speed. It makes you feel focused, energized, and good at first, but after a while you just feel stressed, sketchy, and burnt out.
The complement to the seeking system is the reward system. Finding the object of seeking, such as food, sex, or shopping sprees, creates opiates - the drugs that calm you down, make you blissful, and unwilling to seek. The opiates counterbalance the seeking, and keep it from getting caught in an endless cycle. The trouble is that evolution did not favor animals that sat around all fat and happy - they were probably the first to become dinner for those others who kept seeking. This means that the system is rigged: there is much more desire to seek than to be rewarded. We would rather look than actually find. Read More
There are many misunderstandings about meditation. Some people think it means sitting with your legs crossed and trying not to think. But that's impossible! Your brain's job is to think -- it's not going to stop. Meditation is more about just sitting there without doing anything on purpose. It is essentially getting out of the way, and allowing the brain eventually to revert to its natural state - a kind of alert, relaxed openness. Not thinking about anything in particular, but not striving to remove thinking either.
Meditation is, in a sense, unnatural. Cavemen didn't sit around meditating. They didn't need to, because everything was much slower, spacious, and gentle. It was low impact on the brain. But with the rise of modern society (India at 500 BC), people couldn't find enough down time to return their minds to a natural state. There was too much novelty, too many new ideas, too much cool stuff to do, talk about, and see. So we can think of meditation as an unnatural way to return to a natural state. Read More
What you have in your bag as you make your way down the twisting road of life are your inner strengths. They include positive mood, common sense, self-compassion, integrity, inner peace, determination, self-esteem, and a warm heart. One third of our strengths we're born with and two thirds are developed. You get them by growing them. Great news! That means we can develop the happiness and other inner strengths that foster fulfillment, love and inner peace. But how?? Read on ... Read More
Imagine that your mind is like a garden. You can simply be with it, looking at its weeds and flowers without judging or changing anything. Second, you can pull weeds by decreasing what's negative in your mind. Third, you can grow flowers by increasing the positive in your mind. In essence, you can manage your mind in three primary ways: let be, let go, let in. Read More
The brain is the organ that learns and it takes its shape from what the mind rests upon.
What you choose to pay attention to - what you rest your mind on - is the primary shaper of your brain. And, on the whole, you have a lot of influence over where your mind rests.
What are you choosing to pay attention to? Read More
Here's the catch: In order to transfer positive experiences from short-term memory into long-term storage, you have to install them in the brain. Otherwise beneficial experiences, such as feeling cared about, are momentarily pleasant but have no lasting value. Meanwhile, because of negativity bias, your brain is rapidly & effectively turning unpleasant, negative experiences - feeling stressed, inadequate, hurt - into neural structure. Read More
Your brain is continually looking for bad news. As soon as it finds some, it fixates on it with tunnel vision, fast-tracks it into memory storage, and then reactivates it at the least hint of anything even vaguely similar. But good news gets a kind of neutral shrug: "Eh, whatever."
In effect, the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones. Read More