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Emotions and Your Brain

Each of you has a unique way of perceiving the world and reacting to things that happen to you. This is your emotional style and it impacts your life and shapes your personal happiness. However, all this can be changed if you follow some guidelines discussed in the book, “The Emotional Life of your Brain.” by Richard Davidson from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The idea is to make yourself more resilient as you get older, so you can lead a meaningful, productive, happier life. According to Davidson, you can improve your emotional well-being by improving certain skills. The more you practice these skills, the better you feel and the more effective you become.

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What do you need to do to be more flexible and to create the best emotional style for your brain? Here are some things to consider:

Resiliency: To become more resilient, you have to be able to bounce back quickly from adversity. Is that who you are? If not, what do you need to do emotionally to change your mindset so you can overcome the many challenges you face?

Outlook: How long are you able to sustain positive emotions when you are faced with a challenge? In other words, do you freak out immediately, or are you able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that things will improve?

Social intuition: Can you pick up social signals from the people around you and adjust your behavior accordingly? These are the obvious and not-so-obvious messages that are relayed through body language (facial expressions, tone of voice, hand mannerisms, etc.) that people express and that you need to understand when communicating.

Self-awareness: Are you able to identify your feelings when you are in the midst of a crisis? By acknowledging that you are angry, hurt, uncomfortable, frustrated, disappointed, etc. you can move forward and find a suitable solution to your problem.

Sensitivity to context: How good are you at regulating your emotional responses and taking into account the context to which you find yourself? Can you identify what produces a strong reaction in you and then work on eliminating those triggers?

Attention: How sharp and clear are you of your surroundings and the people in your life? Do you notice things or are you oblivious? You need to practice focusing on what you see and make a mental note to retain that information for the future.

Whether you are always upbeat or overshadowed by a dark cloud, you can reshape and transform your life. All it takes is some awareness and a desire to change what is not working for you.

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