Pillars 7 through 9 of the Foundations of Well-Being program teach you how to regulate your nervous system by – bringing balance, effectiveness, and direction to your thoughts, emotions, bodily states, desires, actions, and relationships.
Pillar #7 – Calm
The brain’s negativity bias makes us tend to overreact to the negative and minimize the positive. One aspect of this bias is a vulnerability to “paper tiger paranoia” – the overestimating of threats and the underestimating of opportunities and resources.
As our ancestors evolved, it made sense to jump away from a hundred imagined threats to protect themselves from one real one. But in the modern world, threats are usually less deadly and unforgiving. You’ll learn how to see the world more clearly, including its real threats, and when it’s true – as it usually is – cultivate the powerful experience that you are really “alright right now.”
Pillar #8 – Motivation
In some ways the key to a good life is learning to want the things that are good for you – that you don’t yet truly want. This Pillar focuses on identifying important desires and actions, and then associating these with actual or anticipated rewards, so your brain will increasingly incline in the right direction.
The mind/brain is always looking for something new to want. You’ll become more aware of this and more able to nudge your things in a good direction. This way, you can experience the pleasant without “going red” into chasing it.
Then you become increasingly centered in the healthy self-discipline that comes from the inside out, rather than being pushed and prodded “top-down” by the bossy voices in your head.
Pillar #9 – Intimacy
We evolved to be the most social species on the planet. Our social lives are largely built around balancing two great themes: autonomy and intimacy.
Humans have natural desires to both “draw closer towards” and “separate from” those around us. We want to develop a strong sense of individuality (autonomy) while also feeling connected to those we care about (intimacy).
By strengthening your awareness of disturbances in the connection system, including hurt, resentment, envy, jealousy, quarreling, inadequacy, loneliness, and shame, you can avoid “going red” when the oatmeal starts to fly. We’ll explore how to be more comfortable with being both “me” and “we,” how to strengthen the three neural substrates of empathy, and how to swim in the deeper waters of intimacy without drowning.
If you are finding this series of articles interesting, or want to hardwire more happiness, resilience, self-worth, love, and peace into your brain and your life, I hope you’ll consider joining me for the Foundations of Well-Being!
Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist, a Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and a New York Times best-selling author. His books include Hardwiring Happiness, Buddha’s Brain, Just One Thing, and Mother Nurture. Founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, he’s been an invited speaker at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide. His free Just One Thing newsletter has over 100,000 subscribers.
This post was originally published at Eusophi.com.
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