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Stop Being Disappointed With Your Life

Disappointment is a direct reflection of expectations. Expectations subtly sneak in, hanging around in the background. They are a result of you making subconscious decisions to expect an outcome of some sort. Becoming aware of these expectations early on is the key to avoiding these kinds of setbacks that can plague your mood all day long.

For example: after planning a weekend getaway with friends, or a great Memorial Day party you come down with the flu, which prevents you from going. You might consider that a legitimate disappointment, thinking to yourself, “Hey, you have every right to be upset here. I mean, was it too much to ask for a lousy weekend away?” Of course it wasn’t; however, you will enlarge the disappointment if you choose to see it as something being taken from you or you being robbed of fun. That will throw you into a victim mentality, feeling sorry for yourself, with grand stories behind why you got sick, why life is unfair, and why these things always happen to you. These sad stories reside in your memory and come rushing in like witnesses to a crime to prove that life is treating you unfairly. With the emotions as fresh as the day the events took place, you will feel as though every bad thing that ever happened to you is happening all over again!  Which makes you feel even worse. In my book I explain how to circumvent these moments and stop disappointments from feeling like a tragedy. I will also teach you a trick to stop your brain from viewing your whole life from the angle of disappointment and missed opportunities. But in the mean time this weekend prep yourself with a real attitude of gratitude remembering that this weekend is not about a summer kick off but rather a time to show and feel gratitude for all of the men and women who have died for you and I so we can have any life we want to pursue. And if you need some tangible fuel for that gratitude just think about all the young men and women who are alive this weekend to celebrate this holiday with broken bodies that will never be the same…. let them be an example for you of how to put set backs in perspective so you don’t feel like a victim.

Be safe this weekend….

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Turning Those We Love Into Our Enemies

Caucasian couple arguing on sofa

As you are coming to understand our amygdala is the root of our over reactions toward setbacks, comments, and even a weird look from a stranger. Even having a simple disagreement with someone can switch the amygdala to the fight-or-flight position. You enter into a discussion in which you expect the person to agree with you. Then when the person doesn’t, cortisol releases, causing an immediate shutting down of reasonable thinking and processing. Cortisol interrupts the prefrontal cortex as it tells your brain, “Your life is in danger; this is no time to be thinking!” So you raise your voice, yell, and take on aggressive body posture. Your whole body is reacting as if the other person is a threat to your life. This is why arguments rarely prove fruitful and is why discussing topics such as religion and politics is so dangerous. Never forget that no one wants to hear what you think unless you agree with them. So save your breath and your energy.

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Why We Seek Out The Negative

Just as we are all different from one other, so are our cravings. The same situation can make two people react very differently. For example, playing the slots at a casino will give some people a hit of dopamine in anticipation of a win. For others it triggers cortisol/anxiety because they anticipate a loss.

Two siblings are dreading a big report soon due at school. At the mere thought of starting it, both feel anxious. But one will avoid it and procrastinate, putting off the anxiety. The other child, although anxious, knows that completing the project will alleviate her anxiety, and the thought of that triggers dopamine, so that child starts the project right away. If you are a parent it can help seeing much of your children’s behavior from this standpoint as it will aid you greatly in understanding them not to mention helping them to understand themselves.

For the past ten thousand years, the threat of danger had more impact on our survival than good experiences; therefore, our amygdala was primed to label most experiences as dangerous and has continued to do so right up until present day. We were built to last, not for lasting happiness, which is why we learn faster from pain than from pleasure. Each time something happens that we don’t like, cortisol magnifies the feeling, embedding it into our memory as a threat of some kind.

For example, your boss gives you a stellar review, but at the very end, he says, “The only thing I would like to see improved is_______.” Yet after your meeting, all your brain focuses on is the one thing he wants you to improve.

We all tend to do this, regardless of the feedback or the source of it. The brain digs out the negative comment; sometimes it may even dig through a positive one and think, “Hmm, but what was he really trying to say?” We tell ourselves that we do this because we just want to improve but that is contrived crap! The real reason we do it is that the brain interprets any slightly negative feedback from another person as us being at risk for being “kicked out of the tribe.”

FOR ANYONE WHO HAS BOUGHT MY BOOK Why We Are Wired to Worry and How Neuroscience Will Help You Fix It THIS WEEK OR DOES SO BETWEEN NOW AND SUNDAY AT MIDNIGHT I WILL SEND YOU A CODE TO GIVE YOU THE AUDIOBOOK VERSION AS WELL FOR FREE. JUST PRIVATE MESSAGE ME A PICTURE OF YOUR RECEIPT ADN I WILL SEND YOU THE CODE. MAYBE THERE IS SOMEONE WHO YOU KNOW REALLY NEEDS TO HEAR IT! Limited to the first 15 responders

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Put Yourself in a Good Mood!

All it takes to move your mood toward a positive one is simply reprograming it to focus on good the way it looks for problems. Acknowledging that something is good or counting your blessings is very different from taking ten to twenty seconds to dwell on it so you can feel it on an emotional level. A study published in 2010 reported that when experiencing positive events, focusing attention on the present moment and engaging in positive rumination promotes a sense of well-being. Conversely, being distracted while having a good experience lowers the sense of well-being. How many times have you taken a few seconds to replay a compliment over in your mind until you actually felt happy about it? Probably never. Have you ever taken ten seconds to replay a hug from your loved one and really feel touched by the love? Of course not. We tell ourselves that, those things are not important enough or live changing enough to give them our focus. But you have it backwards. Big things only make us feel better because WE ALLOW ourselves to FEEL them not just think about them. This is where everything changes! Feeling the good around you will permeate the emotional area in your brain where words cannot reach. You can’t talk your way into a good mood; you must feel your way. You will learn to deliberately seek and hold onto the positive things around you, allowing these observations to become amazing feelings that sink into your whole being.

Take twenty seconds right now to envision a person or pet showering you with love; Yes that means you. Put the book down. Really feel the love filling you. Did you feel the emotional lift? Now imagine carrying that feeling around most of the day. Can you picture how different you would feel if you did this regularly?

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DO YOU KNOW WHY YOU REALLY GET ANGRY?

anger-management-e1350559463885Wonder why you get angry so easy? The average person has between 32 and 48 thoughts per minute, according to the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at the University of Southern California and the National Science Foundation. That can add up to a total of 70,000 thoughts per day! However, what is scary is that several studies have also shown that 80 percent of those thoughts are negative, and 90 percent of those are similar to the ones you had the day before! 90%!  Now we all have genuine situations to deal with but at those times when your brain pushes the panic button and has you yelling over something small, I can assure you there is something else going on in your mind creating the firestorm, and probably something unrelated. At the early stage of getting upset, you generally have an inaccurate perception of what is angering you. Underlying thoughts and memories from the past often attach themselves to the things happening in the present, causing you to overreact. You may be ruminating on something upsetting that took place yesterday when you suddenly spill something and let out a stream of expletives. All the while, you are completely unaware of what really triggered your outburst.

In my new book I teach you how to separate an upsetting event from your ongoing undercurrent of worrisome thoughts. Only then will you be able to figure out what you are really feeling, and therefore how to feel better. Because that’s your brain, a never-ending stream of what ifs and worry about how life did or will go wrong. Welcome to the Worry-Go-RoundThe average person has between 32 and 48 thoughts per minute, according to the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at the University of Southern California and the National Science Foundation. That can add up to a total of 70,000 thoughts per day! Several studies have also shown that 80 percent of those thoughts are negative, and 90 percent of which are similar to the ones you had the day before!

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Why People Don’t Believe The Facts

There are beliefs buried deep in our subconscious that we don’t even know exist, yet they steer our actions. Our evolutionary instincts have left us blind to this behavior. For example the degree to which we align with and commit ourselves to a group or cause is the degree to which we see only what they are seeing. I don’t really think we need to be told this however, we always think it the “others” who see only what they want. Like it or not it is us too. We don’t mean to, it’s not like we see the opposing facts and decide to ignore them, rather our brain only let’s us see what is “best” for us. This is why the Middle East will never have peace and republicans and democrats will never understand how the opposing party can “see it “ that way. Evolution has taught us that staying with “our group” is the best way to stay safe. Repeated studies have shown that we humans see only what we want to see, and hear only what we want to hear. This is why lawyers pick a jury according to what beliefs they hold, because they know they can sway them. The facts don’t matter. A really good point to remember next time you are in argument. No one is immune to this. Hold your opinions lightly. As far as evolution is concerned, being objective and making our own decisions often is not in our best interest, so the brain always steers us toward going along with “our” crowd. Only an extremely self-aware person who has no ego will have a shot to evaluate something from a purely objective stance, regardless of what others think.

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The Science Behind Worry & Stress

For thousands of years, our amygdala functioned very well at keeping us alive in the wild by sending waves of these stress hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, and epinephrine through our bodies as soon as we saw a lion in  the  bushes  or  a dangerous snake. It did that so we would do one thing… run like hell. Not worry, evaluate, or analyze it.

Back then, people’s lives were in constant jeopardy, either from physical harm or from becoming a social outcast. Ten thousand years ago, if a woman’s mate seemed unhappy with her, the woman’s alarm bells would scream because if the man left, her family would have no food or protection and her offspring would die. The same happened when people were shunned by the other members of their tribe, causing them to become outcasts. That was a death sentence within hours. So it was not only the lion in the bushes but also the treatment they received from their inner social circle that meant life or death.

Now here you are today with a brain that is still interpreting any problem as a life-threatening situation! Your superior annoyed with you, a fight with your spouse, car trouble making you late for a meeting, or your in-laws coming for a two-week stay—all of these are often interpreted as life threatening as far as this little amygdala is concerned. It focuses on what will kill you—not on what keeps you happy—and therefore, so do you.

Excerpt from “Why We Are Wired to Worry and How Neuroscience Will Help You Fix It Stop Stressing, Reduce Anxiety, Feel Happy Finally!”

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What Does Science Say Makes People Happy

Myth Two: Money Will Make me Happy : Many of us believe money would solve most of our problems. We all have the dream of hitting the lottery and having our money problems disappear, assuming that will make us happier. However, a very well known study was done to find out how true that was for people. What they found was that those who won the lottery described themselves as being “less happy or as happy” six months later than they were before they won. They then researched people who were left paralyzed after an accident. Many of those people were actually as happy if not happier than they had been the day before their accident. How could that possibly be? Because our situations do not determine our happiness.

Your amygdala will look for problems regardless of how much money you have. Lottery winners are still obsessed over every problem, real or feared. However, the paraplegic, on the other hand, has now found appreciation/gratitude in the small successes of even mundane tasks that you and I take for granted, from putting on shoes to holding a fork or feeding himself. Remember, people get a serotonin hit every time they feel they have accomplished any kind of task, and in this case the paraplegics are very grateful for what they can do. Of course they would prefer to be able to walk, but that does not affect their mood to the extent that one might expect.

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