The parasympathetic nervous system is the brakes in our bodies. It’s almost impossible to stress when the body puts on the brakes when we are deeply relaxed. Luckily, it’s possible to train our body and relaxation systems to become more active.
Right now I’m listening to ‘hardwiring happiness’ by Rich Hanson.
Hardwiring Happiness lays out a simple method that uses the hidden power of everyday experiences to build new neural structures full of happiness, love, confidence, and peace. Dr. Hanson’s four steps build strengths into your brain— balancing its ancient negativity bias—making contentment and a powerful sense of resilience the new normal. In mere minutes each day, we can transform our brains into refuges and power centers of calm and happiness.
The take-home message from the book, is utilizing the positive experiences you encounter every day. When I listen, I feel irritation every now and then as his positivity triggers thoughts like “It`s not THAT easy”. But then I relax, and realize this is just one of the many fleeting thoughts and feelings that I need to notice, but not go into. When I take a deep breath to deactivate my sympathetic nervous system that always scans for what is wrong, the negative thoughts evaporates like dew in the sun.
The author have a wast knowledge-base this the draws from in the book. He gives a lot of examples from his own life, to show how it’s possible to hardwiring our brains to happiness. When we manage to turn on the ‘rest and digest’ system, we are more open to positive experiences. We can’t be relaxed and in a very negative mood at the same time. He continues, however, with saying that it isn’t enough to try to relax, we have to work actively with noticing and creating positive experiences.
From his book:
” As you read this, in the five cups of tofu-like tissue inside your head, nested amid a trillion support cells, 80 to 100 billion neurons are signaling one another in a network with about half a quadrillion connections, called synapses. All this incredibly fast, complex, and dynamic neural activity is continually changing your brain. Active synapses become more sensitive, new synapses start growing within minutes, busy regions get more blood since they need more oxygen and glucose to do their work, and genes inside neurons turn on or off. Meanwhile, less active connections wither away in a process sometimes called neural Darwinism: the survival of the busiest.”
So, update your brain AND your mind. And listen to the audiobook, off course.