* Why our Brains Aren’t Tuned into the Good

watching tv on cell phone

I listened to an interview with Danial Goleman the other day. He is a neuro psychologist and is known for identifying the elements of Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Awareness of our emotions, mastery of our emotions, awareness of other’s emotions and empathy, our ability to build relationships.

He was talking about the different parts of our brains and what their purpose is. The conversation turned to why its so hard for us to set aside our cellphones or turn off the news.

Our limbic (animal) brain is always on alert for threats. When we sense a threat, it goes into action and stimulates our prefrontal cortex (analytical) brain – “what can we do about this?” .

Fear is very stimulating to our brains. Neurons love being fired up.

So it makes sense that when the media focus on danger and threats, it engages us more and more. The immediacy of cellphones stimulates this too. There is so much demanding our alert attention and we let it, because we are wired to react.

But what about love, peace and gratitude? Β Its a state of being that most of us long for, but it’s affect is calming and soothing. In an animal that is hard wired to react to danger and figure things out, it does seem somewhat boring.

Human beings are not wired for serenity, but we can re-wire our brain through mindful awareness and meditation. It only takes a moment to pause, breathe and find our middle ground.

Its easy to understand that it takes awareness, some effort and committed practice if we want to nourish and expand the calming part of our brains.Β Only then can we go beyond our thinking mind and into a place where we can fully feel the good: Love. Gratitude. Peace.

Of course, we must also expect resistant thinking and diversions along the way. Remember, there’s nothing wrong when we get distracted, its simply natural.

Namaste

36 responses to “* Why our Brains Aren’t Tuned into the Good

  1. Interesting fact: “Human beings are not wired for serenity”… I sometimes feel that we are maybe a little bit too active, if compared with other mammals … at the same time, I was amazed to learn that there is a limbic (animal) part of our brain, which is on alert for threats.
    I guess our brain is far more complex that I could have ever thought… And I am strictly speaking about the areas of the brain… very informative, post dear Val… An enjoyable reading… sending love and best wishes. Aquileana πŸ˜‰

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  2. This ties in nicely with a talk scheduled at the local meditation center tomorrow:

    Our thoughts and attitudes create all of our experiences. If we want to take control of our life and find the happiness we long for, we must learn how to control our mind. Using meditation and Buddhist wisdom we can reduce negative thinking and learn to think in ways that result in inner peace and joy. Through training our mind we develop the inner space to respond to life’s challenges in more constructive ways; improving our relationships and making our life truly meaningful.

    I don’t watch the news . . .
    I’m not glued to my phone . . .
    But negative news seeps in anyway . . .
    In sound bites and snippets . . .

    It is up to us to return our focus and attention to abiding joy.

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    • With awareness comes choice and the opportunity to shift our focus and attention to the present moment. I find interacting with others pulls me in… and out of the moments where peace resides. Thanks Nancy πŸ’›

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  3. Daniel Goleman always presents interesting and engaging content surrounding neurological reactions to situations. I work with young people who are on the fringe of antisocial behaviour so. I find it interesting how our brains can be manipulated as a result of our current social construct. Anything that instils fear will naturally grabs people’s attention but, nice and uplifting material doesn’t generate the same reactions. I don’t watch TV anymore and I have to admit I feel better for it.

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  4. Interesting that we are not wired for serenity yet it is fact that human beings *are* wired for connection. Given that fact I would proffer that it is conscious choice as to whether we lurch to our technological devices or that we reach for things and relationships that calm and soothe. I know which I am drawn to. πŸ™‚

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  5. We choose what we focus on but it’s a daily practice in this day and age with all our distractions. Much easier to do in nature and in stillness! Interesting information to consider Val. πŸ’š

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  6. The amygdala (could be spelt incorrectly) that Goleman refers to is where the fear resides, situated on either side of the brain. This is also where our fight or flight response comes from and interestingly, it is this that becomes over sensitive and is the cause of post traumatic stress having experienced a traumatic event therefore, any sound or something that simulates those circumstances, no matter how small, sends the amygdala in to action causing negative reactions for that person. I suppose the media kind of works in the same way. Over indulgence, if you want to call it that, of continuous negative feedback can alter the way we perceive our surroundings, ultimately feeling lost or disorientated as Eric states our human makeup is, ‘wired for connection’.

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  7. This is so interesting, Val. Thanks for sharing. Human beings should be furnished with a serenity lobe in the brain, but lacking that, it’s good to know mindfulness and meditation do the trick. I’m not turning on the news tonight!

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  8. I want to fight the ‘natural’ inclination then, Val, because serenity is what we all need. And I know that when I practice yoga and breathe into my meditation, I’m as serene as all get out. πŸ™‚

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    • In my experience fighting it only builds resistance. Accepting that this is okay and then letting go of attachment to it is where serenity lies. Thank you Pam for being here πŸ’›

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  9. Finding the balance I have found is the key for me Val.. Being sensitive I can easily get affected by emotions.
    Learning how to detach is something that I still work upon. That is not meaning not to care. Just to understand that certain Stories are not your own, so you do not put your energies into them or allow them to drain yours. Especially within those close encounters we have with people who will if you are not careful latch on and suck at your energy, leaving one feeling drained.

    Its interesting that we are programmed that way, and I can only speak from my own experience, learning to meditate and detach, and focus upon the now helps stop the worry of what has been and what is to come.. It also clears my mind for the day x

    A wonderful post to reflect upon this morning, as here in the UK once again the media is focusing all its attention upon another tragic shooting closer to home.

    Sending you Love and Peace..
    Sue ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • The news is also filled with the horrific death of Jo Cox. Such a waste of precious life. I doubt we will ever be able to heal or contain those gone mad in our societies.
      I am like you Sue and need to step away from it. Right now I am in my garden enveloped by the fragrance of honeysuckle and listening to baby birds demanding to be fed.
      This is my time for meditation too. I love to open my senses and absorb all the goodness around me when I am outside.
      Have a weekend filled with gratitude and love. There is so much money red of this around that we are told in the media πŸ’•

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      • Yes such senseless killings which leave her young children and husband so broken hearted..

        Sometimes dear Val the only place of solace is within our meditation practice. and for me too that is found within nature and my garden too. xx ❀

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  10. That makes sense to me! No wonder we find it hard to find peace and serenity….it doesn’t come as naturally to us as fear and anxiety. But, as you say, that doesn’t mean its unachievable. We just need to be more intentional about seeking it, perhaps.

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  11. Is there any evidence to support that more mature or evolved brains would seek so called boring serenity? My great grandparents lived a peaceful, routine life following the Great Depression. I pick peace over excitement any day. πŸ™‚ Great food for thought here!

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