How to Change Your Brain for Life Long Happiness
What do we want in life?
More money, better relationships, love, better health, to find and live a life that is meaningful, to know our true purpose, to have our time here make a real difference in making the world better?
If you ask ten people this question, you would, of course, probably get ten different answers, but what do they all have in common?
All the things that people might list in answering this question, at least according to the person listing them, seam like they might lead to the experience of what I’m calling “enoughness”.
Enoughness is the feeling that we are enough and that we have enough.
This is what we all want: to feel that we are enough and that we have enough.
We also want to avoid feeling the opposite.
If you think about it, almost every action we take is, in our own minds, an attempt for us to experience more “enoughness” or for us to avoid experiencing “not enoughness.”
So what makes the difference in how much enoughness we experience in life? Is it our life circumstances (our level of privilege, level of income, connections, our genetic heritage, talent, etc) or is it something else?
Where does enoughness come from?
Recent scientific research is showing that the experience of not enoughness is due to one habitual pattern of thinking that we develop in early childhood.
It’s also suggesting that when we relax this habit and choose to not run the pattern, we automatically and naturally experience more enoughness.
As a result of learning language and other things, our brains create two separated neural networks called the Intrinsic and Extrinsic neural networks. These two neural networks literally divide our experience between what our brain has decided is “us” (usually our body, our life’s story and our imagined future) and what our brain has decided is everything else (usually everything that is not our body, our life story and our imagined future).
This separated experience creates a life where we often times feel like either we are not enough, or that we don’t have enough of something, or both.
So what can we do to experience more enoughness?
Recent research on the happiest people alive is strongly suggesting that the reasons these people are happy is because they have begun to un-seperate these two neural networks. These people have begun to integrate the Intrinsic and Extrinsic neural networks inside their brains and this creates a more integrated experience between what they think is them and what they think is everything else. They literally begin to feel at one with everything.
Many of the people being studied have practiced meditation for decades in order to facilitate this integration process. Because we now have the ability to see inside their brains to witness what happens when they are at their happiest, many people are starting to consider how others might be able to speed up this process to experience similar levels of happiness in their lives.
Here is one idea on how we can begin doing this now:
Think of you having two control knobs that control your experience. One knob controls your experience of everything that is not you, and the other controls your experience of yourself.
Now picture the knob that controls your experience of everything that is not you as one that turns down your expectations of situations.
You can use this knob to turn down expecting to get the feeling of enoughness from any situation.
Anytime you find yourself worrying, angry or regretful about any situation, you can simply turn down this knob and let go of expecting to get the feeling of enoughness from that situation. Try this out with something in your life right now. You might find simply turning down your expectation can instantly help you feel lighter or freer.
Now picture the knob that controls your experience of yourself as one that turns up your willingness to notice and bring out the feeling of enoughness through yourself.
Anytime you are feeling not enoughness, you can turn up this knob to become more willing to notice and bring out the feeling of enoughness through yourself into whatever the situation is.
You might find that if you simply stop focusing on your mental story for a second or two and focus on how it feels to be alive in your body in that moment, it gets easier to feel the enoughness that is already there in your experience whenever you want to. Try this out right now and see how it works for you.
You can make experimenting with these two experience knobs into a game you play everyday. The more you use these two knobs, the better at it you get and, in my experience, the more happiness you can experience more quickly.
In using these two knobs, you are helping the Intrinsic and Extrinsic neural networks in your brain become more integrated. You are changing your brain to experience more and more happiness.
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