The underlying factor in more health conditions than we realize is stress. That doesn’t mean let’s treat the stress symptoms only. The coping strategies people have, like using anger as avoidance, depression, eating donuts, when they feel squeezed by stressful situations are hardly healthy. They do not work. A more constructive and effective approach to re-wire the brain for more resiliency is with brain training tools. Brain training can also rewire us for joy.
What’s going on under all that stress?
There are many schools of thought on the cause of stress. Poor breathing habits, for example, do cause and exacerbate stress in the body. An unsuitable diet can cause physiological stress. Then there are systemic breakdowns, from living in a dangerous residential neighbourhood to cycles of poverty.
Joy is the optimal state of physiology
Laurel Mellin, Wired for Joy
The thing with joy is that while in this brain state (Brain State 1), there is this ability to carry people through circumstances and obstacles that may seem insurmountable to other people.
What if we can all rewire ourselves for joy? Can we then transform our own lives and also society?
Laurel Mellin, the author of Wired for Joy and the founder of Emotional Brain Training, calls wiring for joy the “capacity to change your destiny.” The question is how do we do that? Who’s in?
I’ll just assume you want this because if you are stressed, really stressed, you probably will not think wiring for joy and changing your destiny is even remotely possible. You are experiencing what is termed state-based memory. Memories are stored in like drawers, organized by brain state. So when you are highly stressed and in Brain State 4 or 5, you are not going to access the memories of Brain State 1 (joy) very easily, at least not without some good tools. (Read about the Brain States here)
Emotions is our GPS to let us know where we are, and what our needs are to survive and thrive.
The more we are in Brain State 1, the more emotionally connected to ourselves we will be.
Being emotionally connected to ourselves is healthy. We are the source of happiness, security, joy…not other people or anything external.
How do we feel? Do we feel tired? Do we need to rest? Do we feel there is someone lurking around the corner? Do we need to re-route? Or perhaps you do not know how joy feels like. Do you believe you can experience joy?
Knowing how we feel leads us to discover what we need.
To get re-wired we first need to know which Brain State we usually dwell in, and then decide which rewards you desire most getting re-wired the EBT way.
|secure and peaceful from within|
|feeling whole + self-accepting|
|optimal health and vitality|
|honouring purpose and important ideals|
|being close but separate from others|
|feeling connected to the grace and mystery of life|
Wired at 1
|abundance of all six rewards|
The changes that come from breaking circuits can be astonishing. You can find forgiveness for neglect or abuse, peace about a divorce or job loss.
This whole process of re-wiring is just that, a process and a journey. Go at your own comfortable pace, see stressful situations as opportunities to rewire, and declare every day, as Laurel suggests, “I am creating JOY in my life” ten times out loud.
“I am creating JOY in my life!”
Say this to yourself, say it to your dog, say it to your neighbour, say it when you are walking to the bus stop, in the shower, choosing avocado, talking to your divorce lawyers… I think you get the point – say it, embody it, remind your brain!
Take those mini vacation from stress, disrupt your day with joy. Announce to the world, “I am creating JOY in my life” and observe what Brain State you are in and switch it back, and back, and back, to a more favourable brain state, which over time will be the “normal” aka safe for the brain. (The brain likes same. Same = safe) Getting into the groove, literally.
“The use of the tools actually erases a memory, and replaces it with one that is more accurate and constructive.” The brain is capable of changing its structure and producing new neurons! With practice – don’t forget humour, we can weaken our stress circuits and strengthen our wire circuits. To boost neurogenesis, “live a life full of natural pleasures that increase rewards and decrease stress.”
The natural flow of feelings moves from anger, to sadness, to fear, to guilt. If you allow these feelings to arise and feel them in the body, without thinking about them, this is the progression.
In the article The 5 Brain States we shared the EBT tool for Brain State 5, Damage Control Tool. For both the tools for Brain State 3, Emotional Housecleaning Tool, and Brain State 4, Cycle Tool, you are targeting the prefrontal cortex and the emotional brain and expressing how you feel.
Many people are already doing half of the Emotional Housecleaning Tool, the part about expressing negative emotions. In this state, you are only a little stressed. You can express many more emotions than in Brain State 2 where the brain is more balanced and seek to determine the most urgent need by looking at only a few emotions. That is one way to know whether you are in Brain State 2 or 3.
Try it out
Express these four negative emotions – anger, sadness, fear, and guilt – followed by these four positive emotions – gratitude, happiness, security, pride. I feel angry that… I feel sad that…I feel afraid that….I feel guilty that…I feel grateful that…I feel happy that…I feel secure that…I feel proud that…
One way you know you are in Brain State 4 and not Brain State 3 is that all the negative emotions you feel are about the same situation. If you find that, proceed with the “Cycle Tool”, rather than with the positive emotions. Being in Brain State 4 is great because here, it is much easier to nab that stress circuit and break it! (from Wired for Joy)
After you state your negative and positive emotions, #pause and observe that wave of pleasure coursing through your body! Joy!
The three steps of the Emotional Housecleaning Tool are to release negative emotions, increase our awareness of our positive emotions, and of course to strengthen the Joy Circuit.
“I am creating JOY in my life.” Ready?