Every day you experience emotions that either lift you up or bring you down. Depending on what triggers these emotions, your brain’s left side or right side comes into play. Negative emotions like irritability and anxiousness are controlled by the right side, while positive emotions like optimism and enthusiasm are controlled by the left side.
More often you dwell on the negative emotions that usually spin things way out of proportion. You need to be mindful enough to develop a skillful response rather than give in to anger, worry, or frustration.
Don’t be fooled by that left brain of yours. On one hand it has all the “feel good” emotions that you feed off like a junkie, but on the other it’s a powerful trickster. You see, Mr. Left Brain interprets your reality for you. He’s very opinionated and has a penchant for good fiction.
The Boneheaded Interpreter
Besides providing “feel good” emotions, Mr. Left Brain’s job is to interpret your experiences and give meaning to them. As the right brain is feeding raw information: “She didn’t return my phone call”, Mr. Left Brain is often interpreting a boneheaded version of that reality: “She’s angry with me. I am such a fool”. You can end up sad, anxious, or both.
Pay attention to your brain as you go through your day. Right brain: “I had no sales today”. Left brain: “They hate my product”. It goes on and on.
Letting Mr. Left Brain go unchecked can cause issues with your mental health. It weakens your mindfulness and leaves you victim to constant emotional upsets. Becoming more aware of your thoughts is way to check on how realistic Mr. Left Brain’s interpretations are. Remember, your thoughts are the stories told by your brain about your life. They are not your life.
Some Chicken Soup for Mr. Left Brain
You’ll surely go crazy if you keep putting up with the nonstop commentary, false narratives, and second guesses of Mr. Left Brain, so here’s what to do. Teach Mr. Left Brain how to create better stories.
Before going to bed each night, write down three things that occurred each day for which you are thankful and write a sentence about why each happened. Research shows that gratitude is part of living a happy life. By using this technique, you will spend more time thinking about things that make you happy. This will give Mr. Left Brain better material to work with.
Next, you’re going to change the narrative about your life. We are the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and what we do. Start changing your story by telling yourself the good person you are and the good contributions you make. Write down a new job description for yourself that focuses on something meaningful. This will help Mr. Left Brain tell more positive stories.
Mindfulness: the Key to a Happier Brain
The practice of mindfulness is not some bizarre brain ritual. It trains our brains to focus on the moment and refuse distraction. It has an effect on the emotional set point of the right and left brain.
Studies have shown that those whose set points are toward the right brain are likely to suffer from depression or anxiety while those whose set points are toward the left brain are likely to recover quickly from stress.
It helps to have Mr. Left Brain’s support. Face it, you cannot get rid of Mr. Left Brain since he’s part of you, but keep him under control; it’s the next best thing and he becomes a better storyteller in the process. Bonus!