The strangest thing about Brain Based Health is that the deeper I dig into it, the more it seems that almost everything I took as true is . . . completely false.
Take misery, for example. People go out of their way on social media and in normal civilized life to avoid misery. I remember being on the Berkeley campus, walking through Sather Gate, and feeling at Brain State 5. My Mood Circuit was depression with a little self-pity thrown in, so I probably looked like a sad sack.
It was the season of tear gas on campus, so there was probably some of that in the air, and a scruffy guy, probably a student, hollered at me. Frankly, I can't remember what he said, but clearly, he was making fun of me for my miserable mood.
What would that Berkeley guy say now?
Fast forward 30 or so years, and, if he had been a student of neuroscience, he would have rightly said to me: "Hey misery chick, great work there. All those ridiculous expectations that your parents, society, and that guy who dumped you put into your unconscious mind? Right now, because you did such a great job of surrendering momentarily to feeling horrible, they are 'hot' and 'online.' Great work!"
Stress is a Moment of Opportunity to transform. Nothing works the way stress does. Think of your greatest breakthroughs in life. They always came at the tail end of a misery moment when some ray of loving kindness or some bolt of insight came your way! The trick is not to gird ourselves against pain but to learn how to use the brain's resiliency pathways so that when Brain State 5 comes our way, we gulp and get unstuck from stress. We process our emotions with as much ease as downloading a new app.
A moment of stress can be great for us
Staying stuck at 5 is really bad for you, but touching base with misery, then spiraling up to joy – now that's good for you. What's the reward? A glow. Some joy. A bit more loving kindness and security that you are comfortable in your own skin and really know who you are.
The next time you have a misery moment, look for your brain's natural pathway from stress to joy and enjoy the ride. It's the medicine we've all been searching for.