Breaking the habit of trying to be right all the time

White-Tail-Deer-fight_900Here are some extracts of Judith E. Glaser’s blog Your Brain Is Hooked on Being Right,which was also featured at USA TODAY

http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/02/break_your_addiction_to_being.html

In situations of high stress, fear or distrust, the hormone and neurotransmitter cortisol floods the brain. Executive functions that help us with advanced thought processes like strategy, trust building, and compassion shut down. And the amygdala, our instinctive brain, takes over. The body makes a chemical choice about how best to protect itself — in this case from the shame and loss of power associated with being wrong — and as a result is unable to regulate its emotions or handle the gaps between expectations and reality.

That’s partly due to another neurochemical process. When you argue and win, your brain floods with different hormones: adrenaline and dopamine, which makes you feel good, dominant, even invincible. It’s a the feeling any of us would want to replicate. So the next time we’re in a tense situation, we fight again. We get addicted to being right.

Luckily, there’s another hormone that can feel just as good as adrenaline: oxytocin. It’s activated by human connection and it opens up the networks in our executive brain, or prefrontal cortex, further increasing our ability to trust and open ourselves to sharing.

Our Brain is hooked on being right most of the time, trying constantly to defend what we believe we are or what we have: our possessions,our title, our career, our image,etc.

But if we are in auto pilot mode all of the time, how can we change that and break the habit of being right? First we need to be aware of that, we need to realize every time we are in a discussion, or just talking with someone, and we start to feel the emotion of anger in our bodies, that is the time to realize we are feeling it, because we have just hooked in defending our point of view.

After we realized that, then we need to ask ourselves this:

What if?

What if the other person is right?, What if I am not right? What would it happen if I would agree with the other person? What if I could listen with empathy?

By doing this, your break the pattern of defending yourself, and activate the Oxytocin in your body, opening your state of mind and your awareness, and experiencing bliss instead of anxiety. By doing that you are giving the first step in creating a new habit, and with every time you do it, the habit reaffirms, until you break the old habit, because an old habit that is not used, dissolves in our brain, giving space to the new habit, which instead of anxiety, gives us happiness.

Hole in the Fence

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“There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”

As the story tells, when we get angry, we say or do things that may hurt others, and that wound could stay forever. The principle is simple, but it may not be that easy to get rid of anger, not easy, but possible.

We are used to get angry on a daily basis, and that is because we have been doing that for many years, so by now our brain has long term connection on the emotion of anger, it even has specific chemicals which are sent to our cells every time we get angry.

Every time we got angry in the past, a connection was reinforced in our brain, then after so many times we have reinforced the emotion, the neurons in our brain have formed a long term relationship.

Basically we do not have control of our anger, it comes out of our brain naturally. But we can change that. Just as the brain has the ability to create long term relations, it also has the capacity to forget those connections. When neuron connections are not used on a daily basis, they loose their long term relationship, therefore we can rewire our brain with new connections.

The question would be, If we have no control over our anger, how can we stop getting angry and rewire our brain?

Here is the trick; every time you are aware of an emotion, the connection looses power. Every time we KNOW we reacted because we were programmed to do so, the connection get weaker.

In addition if we know the real reason because we are getting angry, our conscious mind will start to make new connections, because now we know the reason, and that will give us control of the situation in future events.

If we believe there are many things outside which can make us angry,we will find it so hard to work with the emotion, but if we understand that in essence anger is one of the simplest emotions we have, and most of the times we experience it, is only for one reason inside us and not outside, then we will be able to rewire our brains.

The reason most of the times we get mad is because we want to be right.

So next time you get angry, be aware of it, and look underneath the emotion to find out the reason you got angry, that may lead you to make a new program in your brain, and help you be in control of your emotions, without having to reprehend them. You will have a more peaceful life.

Blessing

Live as You are Dying

Death is something that bothers our minds so many times during our lives, but death could be a great teacher too.

Through many cultures there has been a tremendous connection with death and wisdom. In some of them there is the belief that you should experience your own death, or in other words to embrace your own death in order to live this life fully, and only by embracing your death you would be able to open your wisdom and live a fearless life.

Althouugh there are certain techniques for doing so, they are not simple nor easy to accomplish. Not that I recomend trying them, but we can learn from their teachings and try to apply that to our lives.

One thing you could do is start by something simple but proffound at the same time:

“Live this moment as if it would be the last one you have”

When a young men who later became a saint was studying to become a priest, he was playing pool with the other students and one of the teachers. The teacher asked them this question:

“What would you do if you would now you were going to die in a couple of hours?”

The faces of the students changed from joy to fear when they thought about the question. There were different answers from the students:

-I will go to my family and say goodbye to them.
– I will go to the priest to have a confession of my sins.
-I will go to write down my testament.
-I will go and forgive my parents, and my friends.
-I will go and ask for forgiveness to my enemies.

But the expression of this young man remained calm even after the answers from his fellows. When the teacher noticed that he asked him

“What would you do?”

He answered

“I will keep doing what I am doing now, I will continue playing”

Not that he didn’t have anyting to leave to others or someone to say goodbye, but he was living the only moment he had; the present moment, and he lived in the present moment all the time, he was good with God, with others and with himself. He didn’t have any pending issues with anybody.

His teaching is so profound that it isn’t easy to put it in words, neither it is to put it in practice, but I really wish for you that if one day somebody would ask you; What would you do if you would now you were going to die in a couple of hours? I hope you are able to answer.

“I will keep doing what I am doing now”

God Bless You

I am also sharing this time an excerpt from my upcoming book “Interview with God”

“When people dies, at the moment they leave their bodies and enter in to my Love, I always ask each one if they would like to go back to earth and not to die at that moment. With the exception of few ones that want to go back and finish their missions, everybody decides to stay with Me instead of going back, because they are finally experiencing the real spirit they are. They are experiencing the Love they are made of, and they can’t let it go, they embrace that Love and feel it as it is, as it really is, with all the magnificence that you could never imagine while you are on earth, but that your soul could feel for moments while you are alive on earth.”

Learning to be Happy

Learning happiness in Harvard:

Happiness is the desire of any person,

But often do not know how to achieve it. Therefore, Harvard University designed a course helping to achieve that state, a class that has become one of the most popular of that prestigious seat of learning.

The class is dictated by Tal Ben-Shahar.

Tal Ben-Shahar is an author and lecturer at Harvard University. He currently teaches the largest course at Harvard on “Positive Psychology” and the third largest on “The Psychology of Leadership”–with a total of over 1,400 students.

The course is based on field surveys and studies on the characteristics and components to living happily.

Therein Ben-Shahar, also known as the guru of happiness, provides 13 tips to help achieve it. They are quite simple and easy tips to follow.

And here they are.

1. 30 minutes of exercise
All experts agree that physical activity is as good as an antidepressant to improve mood. Thirty minutes exercise are the best antidote to sadness and stress.

2. Breakfast is the key
Some people skip breakfast because they do not have time or do not want fat. Studies show that breakfast helps to have energy, thinking and successfully perform the activities.

3. Thank the good
Write down 10 things you have in your life that give you happiness. When we make a gratitude list, we force ourselves to focus on good things.

4. Be assertive
Ask for what you really want and say what you think. It has been shown to be assertive helps improve self-esteem.

5. Spend on experiences
Spend your money on experiences, not things. 75 percent of people feel happier when they invest their money on travel, courses and classes. In contrast, only 34 percent say they feel happier when they buy things, except if needed.

6. Do not delay
‘Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today’. Studies show that there is more anxiety and tension the more delayed.

7. Be polite and smile
Always greet and be kind to others. Just smile changes the mood. In addition, most people will value to be treated better.

8. Watch your posture
Walk straight with your shoulders back slightly and looked up at the front helps to maintain a good mood.

9. Music is essential
It is proven that listening to music awakens desire to sing and dance, which makes life merry.

10. Think about what you eat
What you eat has a major impact on your mood. For this reason, it is advisable to eat something light every three or four hours order to maintain stable glucose levels. Do not skip meals and avoid excess sugar and white flour. Eat everything and vary the
foods.

11. Accept failure
Accept failure as part of life, go ahead and learn from it.

12. Take care of your appearance
41 percent of people say they feel happier when they think they look good.

13. Surround yourself with your memories
Paste pleasant memories, phrases and pictures of their loved ones everywhere, in your fridge, on your computer, on your desktop … Surround yourself with things that remind you of good times.

Big think

God Bless You

Do I live in a friendly or a hostile Universe?

This is the second part of Einstein’s philosophical thoughts.

Einstein who is best remembered as a scientist, found wisdom in his search for true, He said this:

“The most important decision you’ll ever make is
whether you live in a friendly universe or a hostile universe”

This literally can change the way you perceive the world, the way you perceive reality, because if you choose to live in a hostile world, then you will find a hostile world everywhere you go.

You may think these are just feeling good words, which may sound nice, and eventually may work for some issues, but they can’t change the word as it is.

Well these words are more powerful than you may think, let’s have simple example of how we perceive the “world outside”.

Try to remember when you were going to buy a car, let’s say you decide to by an specific car from a brand, almost everyday when you are on the streets, you may start noticing the same model of car you want to buy, you start noticing there are different types of the same model you want to buy, and you start encountering more and more cars of that brand than ever before.

The cars did not show up magically that day, they already were there before, but you didn’t notice them, because you didn’t think about them, but in the moment you start to think about it, they seem to show up more and more.

There is no difference with what Einstein said, (after all he is considered the brightest mind of the last century) when you choose to live in a hostile word, you start to find bad news, the people you talk to seem to tell you bad news most of the times, you find the worst drivers on your way, and bad news become a part of your life. It doesn’t mean there are not good people or good news, but you chose to live in a hostile Universe, therefore you perceive a hostile Universe everywhere you go.

The opposite is true as well, when you choose to live in a friendly Universe, you start to see opportunities everywhere you start to see more and more good news, or maybe you stop watching the news, you find good people all the time, good things start to happen. It doesn’t mean that there are no more bad news, it is just that you decide not to focus on them and start focusing in good things instead.

Trungnpa Chogyam in his book The Sacred Path of the Warrior has a very important observation:”we can actually cure ourselves of depression if we recognize that the world we have is good”

If you decide to live in a friendly world and wake every morning saying to yourself

I live in a friendly world.

Then at some point, you may find yourself in a different word, because you discovered reality is nothing else than what we perceive trough our thoughts, through the memories we have accumulated from the past, and that it is different to everyone, because everyone has chosen, even without knowing to live in a friendly or a hostile world

It is your choice

God Bless you

The Dark Side

Inside all of us there seems to be a dark side, the one that tells us to do the things we will regret later.

There is nothing to be afraid of, as Deepak Chopra mentions in his book ” The Shadow”

” if we work closely with our own shadow instead of running away from it, we will find a peace hard to get anywhere else.”

Do you remember those movies where there isn angel in one side an a devil in the other side? The angel is telling to do the right thing, even if it will make us uncomfortable, and on the other side there is the devil, telling us to do what is not right. In the movies, most of the times the devil wins and the character ends up doing something that is wrong, even if it regrets that decision later.

We have those two sides in ourselves, one is the ego and the other one is our true Spirit, they both live inside of us, but only one is real (the Spirit) and the other one is not (the ego). And deep inside if us, we know that, we can identify what is true and what is not, and even if we listen to the other side, we know it is not right.

But we can’t fight the ego, because it is not real, and we can only fight what is real, instead of that, we can be aware of it, and choose not to listen to it. But that is not possible all the times, if it would be, then we would all be saints, and there wouldn’t be a need to be here on earth. During our lives we will certainly listen to the ego many times, but it is not a lost fight, if we are able to learn from our mistakes, then the ego starts loose its strength, and eventually we would listen to it less times than the ones we listen to the Spirit.

But there is something important we need to consider, we must not get angry to ourselves, for our mistakes, for the times we listened to the ego, If we do that, then we are listening to the ego twice.

We must learn from our mistakes, the we are reactivating the learning process that we had when we came to this world, the we would learn as much as we learned when we were toddlers, that everything was new and we learned so much because we made so many mistakes, but we learned from them always.

So next time you listen to your dark side, use it as a tool to learn from it and become a better person than you were before.

God Bless You

Your Happiness Doesn’t Depend on the Place Where You Are

Imagine you are in a luxurious hotel on the beach, there is a gorgeous view from you room, you are seated in a hammock with a cold drink and in the perfect warm weather, then you receive a phone call, it is your assistant telling you you have lost everything you have in your business. You would not feel good, even though the place is a perfect place, the news make you feel miserable.
On the other hand imagine you are just walking on the street where you usually walk everyday, then you find an old friend from school that you have not seen for years, it makes you feel good, even though the landscape is the same you see everyday.
So happiness is not a matter of where you are, it doesn’t come from the outside, it comes from the inside, yes a beautiful place surely helps for you to feel good, but it doesn’t guarantee that you would be happy in that place, and if a landscape makes you feel happy it is because you are connected from the inside with the landscape, therefore you feel happiness and bliss.
I remember one day I was driving back home and then I looked at the sky and saw one of the most beautiful sunsets i’ve ever seen, the clouds were so bright, lightened by the sun, with different colors each one, there were also light beams that crossed the clouds making it look like a Renaissance painting. I felt instantly happiness and bliss, because something that beautiful touched my soul. Then I thought everyone was enjoying that sunset as I was doing, but when I looked at the others drivers I realized that everyone was on their own business, trying to answer the phone, talking, but most of them seemed to be in autopilot, not focused on their driving, the road or the sunset, they were focused on their own thoughts, they were focused on the current of thoughts we all have inside of us, then I realized that I was the only one that was aware of the master piece of God painting a gorgeous sunset, just for me.
Next time you find yourself in a beautiful place, be aware of it and enjoy it.
And next time you realized you are have unpleasant feelings, be aware of them and remember that it all comes from the inside and you have the choice to change that, regardless of the place where you are.

God Bless You