Monday, September 21, 2015

Overcoming negative emotions is essential for success

File:US Navy 110527-N-OA833-014 Newly commissioned Navy and Marine Corps officers toss their hats during the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2011 graduation.jpg

Emotions are the most important perhaps the only motivating force of the most complex animals, birds, and mammals. To understand how emotions regulate our lives, we need to examine the workings of the brain. A stimulus forms complex neuronal activation patterns in the cortex, which then can be replayed repeatedly. The appropriate temporal order of the constantly changing cortical projection triggers corresponding motoric activation, experience, and memories. This way past experience informs present behavior and produces a far superior response. But beyond the sensory and motoric function, brain oscillations form emotions, the energy balances of the brain. Greater brain frequencies are energy expensive and form negative emotions, which, over time handicap personal and professional success and even cause health problems. Negative emotions are energy states, thus they form according to physical laws.

High brain oscillations are essential for analytic thinking, detailed, focused work, preparation or reaction to immediate danger. However, physical discomfort and aggravation also enhance brain frequencies. These detailed mental projections form a self-centered, insecure view, which prevents an overarching picture and decrease confidence. Distorted, fractured mental pictures limit perceived opportunities. The automatic regulation of the brain energy balances means that emotions control our thoughts and actions. Our emotions may govern our actions today, but our present actions determine our emotions tomorrow. For this reason, there are tried and tested methods that over the long term can change faulty mental operation patterns.

The most ancient technique to achieve lasting mental change is through meditation. Meditation and prayer come from ancient traditions but generate mental stability just as well in the modern setting. It can be practiced alone, but for beginners, it is probably more powerful when performed in a group setting. A more contemporary method is setting goals, which lessens the importance and power of negative circumstances. Even in rats, goal-oriented activity improves short-term memory. In human subjects, motivation increases mental stability and reduces conflict, thereby enhancing performance. However, negative emotions often lead to worry and anxiety, which prevents goal-directed activity. Mental transformation is possible due to the positive social environment. The emotional drive to comfort the sufferer is present in two-year-old children and mammals (through grooming behavior). Such an emotional bond is relaxing, leading to health and mental benefits for both the giver and receiver of compassion. In fact, it is found that while toxic social connections can kill, positive emotional relationships promote mental and physical health. Neuroimaging data supports these ideas.

Over the long term even practicing just one of the tried methods of mental transformation (positive social connections, goals, meditation, or prayer) can improve mental stability, patience, and inner confidence. Positive emotions are associated with lower brain oscillations, which lack details and allow the confidence of an overarching vision. In the mind, unnecessary details are eliminated and the mental focus widens, allowing natural, creative solutions to emerge. These contrasting dynamics emerge through the powerful effects of emotions via an automatic mental operation. Calm minds cannot be easily disturbed. Just as energy flows from warmer to colder matter, emotionally more stable (less irritable) people succeed in spite of challenges. Emotional stability also means the ability to engage, relate to others and situations, and to find inherent solutions. These flexible people adapt to opportunities with ease, even on the trading floor (as recent research shows, traders with a positive attitude make more money).

Surround yourself with a positive environment, positive people, and positive ideas that lifts you.

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