Would my needs be met by raging at the supervisor who gave me a bad review?

Anxiety is a cortisol pathway built from life experience. Fortunately, you can build a new pathway to trigger happy chemicals instead of cortisol. But you have to feed your brain new experiences to do that. This may seem like an impossible paradox. How can you feed your brain new experiences while you’re running on old pathways?

The short answer is to focus on what you want rather than what you don’t want.

You can’t rewire your brain all at once, but you can control your focus for one moment. And you can do it again in the next moment. By carefully planning your focus, repetition will build the new pathway. Your electricity flows more easily each time. This chapter helps you design your new focus, and the following chapters help you find your power to repeat it.

You can design an experience that feels good now and doesn’t have bad consequences in the long run. You can design a reliable way to shift into happy chemicals. Wire it in now and it will come more easily in moments of distress. 

Maybe you think, “If it were that easy to feel good I would be doing it already.” Maybe all your feel-good strategies have bad long-run consequences. But you will learn a new taming tool that leads your inner mammal to natural good feelings.

This taming tool has three steps:

1. Spend one minute asking your inner mammal what it wants.

2. Spend twenty minutes doing an activity you like that completely absorbs you.

3. Spend one minute planning your next step, and take that step by the end of the day.

Practice this taming tool every day and your electricity will flow in a new direction. You will literally forget to be anxious.

Excerpt from the book Tame Your Anxiety: Rewiring Your Brain for Happiness by Loretta Graziano Breuning PhD. Used by permission of the publisher Rowman & Littlefield. All rights reserved. 

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  • Loretta Breuning is Founder of the Inner Mammal Institute and author of Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain your brain to boost your serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphin levels; and The Science of Positivity: Stop Negative Thought Patterns by Changing Your Brain Chemistry. She is Professor Emerita of Management at California State University, East Bay. The Inner Mammal Institute offers resources that help you rewire your mammalian brain chemistry, including books, videos, podcasts, blogs and graphics. Dr. Breuning’s work has been translated into Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, French, Turkish, German, and appeared on Forbes, NPR, Wall St Journal, Psychology Today, TimeFox, NBC, Dr Oz, Cosmopolitan, Real Simple, Men’s Health, and many podcasts.