(3.1) The Border Collie in Your Head

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  • What’s ‘normal’ for a brain?
  • Negativity bias and feedback loops
  • Fundamental attribution error
  • Labels aren’t useful for people, either
  • Gratitude
  • Habits revisited (how is the habit change going? Do they match your values & purpose?)

In this section, I’ll share some of the tidbits of neuroscience and social psychology that I find most useful in maintaining a sense of wellbeing and compassion.

It’s hard to be human, but we are up for the challenge!

[Did you know that there’s research that indicates using the word “challenge” combats limiting beliefs and increases one’s ability to perform?]

Our brains have a natural bias toward negativity. We have all kinds of other shortcuts that are far more useful for fighting tigers than traffic and negotiating fulfilling relationships. The good news is that self awareness can catch those strong tendencies before we get stuck.

Every time we build up healthy mental habits as alternatives to the standard way of responding we win! Every time we notice we are on autopilot and return to healthier ways of responding, we win. In the Book of Joy, the Dalai Lama calls this practice building “mental immunity.”

Here’s a video on a simple breathing technique that will relax the border collies in your head. Long exhales calm your heart, breathing, and digestion by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system (the rest and digest part of the autonomic nervous system), and release our own natural opium, kind of the opposite of adrenaline.

Focusing on breathing for a little bit is an extremely helpful thing to include in your sleep routine, or as a response any time you notice that your body is in fight or flight mode. Just tell yourself “this is just my body responding to a challenge” and do some breathing for a minute: