Changing brain states

Over the weekend, I finished reading Laurel Mellin's new book: Wired for Joy - A Revolutionary Method for Creating Happiness Within. I was delighted to discover such an effective use of cognitive neuroscience to solve chronic psychological problems. Her research found a taxonomy of brain states which matches up perfectly with all my taxonomies and relational grammars. Here's a brief overview of her model for varied brain states and how it matches up with mine.

Brain State 5: Stressed Out! - Psychotic
When our brain stem/reptile brain has taken control of our conduct, we are functioning instinctually. Our survival is at stake and our minds are scrambling to avoid falling into a pit of total despair, anxiety and overwhelm. We have no qualms about doing harm to others as they don't seem real to us. We're getting treated like we're not real to them. We're simply nobodies in particular among other nobodies. We seem cold blooded to others and appear to be dehumanizing them. Experts might diagnose us as "psychotic" since we're desperate, unaware of our condition and filled with urges to handle our situation without thinking.

Brain State 4: Definitely Stressed - Narcissistic
When our limbic system has taken control of our conduct, we are functioning emotionally and irrationally. Our safety is at stake and our minds are overwhelmed by anxiety, worries and stress. We cling to others like puppy dogs, take people as our hostages, and treat them like our possessions. We're anxiously trying to appear as a somebody, even though it feels fake because we continue to feel like nobody of significance. We overcompensate for how worthless we feel by showing off, stealing the spotlight and insisting on being the center of attention. Experts might diagnose us as "narcissistic" since we're manipulative, perfectionistic and exhibitionistic.

Brain State 3: A Little Stressed- Neurotic
When the cortisone level in the blood stream moderates, we can think about our situation endlessly. We indulge in over-thinking, analysis paralysis and unfeeling rationality. We make ourselves miserable with "all head & no heart" financial commitments or social obligations. We then overcompensate for such costly sacrifices with pleasures from the material world. We over-consume, over-accumulate and over-spend to our wounded heart's content. Experts might diagnose us as "neurotic" for chasing after symbolic pleasures which offer no real satisfaction or value.

Brain State 2: Feeling Good - Humbled
When feeling and thinking are in balance, our feelings become reliable guides. We've transitioned from emotions to feelings. We realize what we need to feel congruent and then get a feeling about how to proceed and an inspiration for what to do next. We cultivate a sense of others' interests and feelings without merging with them or losing track of our own. It's no longer only about us. We feel good about serving others, caring for their needs and making a difference in others' lives. We've switched from those materialistic, hedonic pleasures to the eudonic pleasures that money cannot buy. Experts might diagnose us as "humbled" since we've abandoned our ego trips, power trips and attempts to exalt ourselves.

Brain State 1: Feeling Great! - Awakened
When the present moment seems perfect as is, we're filled with joy, inner peace and love. Our peptide production has totally switched over to pleasure chemicals from stressors. We're thinking "Yes! Bring it on, Thanks! and More please!" instead of "no, yuk, thanks for nothing and stop it". Time stands still while the moment absorbs all of our attention. We lose our selves and find how life is mysteriously fascinating.

With these five brain states defined, it becomes possible to change our minds significantly. Each state calls for a different tool to break up the routine and introduce added complexity. In other words, there's more to explore in my next post about "Wired for Joy".

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