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? 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. 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.