In the Western world we learn to use our analytical mind as our main way of navigating the world. Due Quach calls this brain network Brain 2.0 in her book Calm Clarity. It's the brain network we use to problem-solve, to try and fix what isn't working, to judge, to narrow our focus & stay on task. It's our analytical brain network. We need it.
But if we want to live wildly beautiful lives--lives that fulfill us deeply, inspire us, and feel alive--Brain 2.0 will never get us there. It can't. That's because the only way this brain network can help us create change in our lives is by focusing on what's wrong. So, when we use Brain 2.0 to try and create change in our lives we often do it by:
- comparing ourselves to what we should be like or ought to be doing
- trying to fix problems we see in ourselves, our lives & the world
- pushing ourselves to do the things we're supposed to to be better people
Think of any New Year's resolution you've made before. Maybe your goal was something like losing weight or getting stronger. But what motivated this goal? Maybe you weren't satisfied with how your body looked or felt. Or maybe you felt like you should be working out more consistently. Or maybe you know that if you work out you'll be able to shut up the brain chatter or get rid of emotions you don't really enjoy feeling.
Do you notice anything about how Brain 2.0 tries to motivate? It fights. It compares. It starts with a problem and comes up with a concrete solution that if we only could achieve it, we'd feel better. Which is exactly why we cannot use Brain 2.0 as our motivator for change.
Richard Boyatzis calls this brain network the NEA. Which stands for negative emotional attractor. And in his book Helping People Change, he shows why problems & hyper focus on what's wrong do not inspire change (or keep us loving life in the process of creating it).
For that we need Brain 3.0 or the positive emotional attractor (PEA). This is the creative brain network. The one that's open to possibilities and surprising connections. This is the part of the brain that dreams and imagines and loves. And this is the part of the brain we need to learn to cultivate and work from if we want to create wildly beautiful lives in this very moment and into the future.
So, anytime you're trying to get yourself to do something in your life--from meditating in the morning or going for a walk on a cold day or making space to do an art project--try asking yourself these simple questions to practice cultivating Brain 3.0:
- When I'm not trying to change anything about who I am, how I feel, or my life, what do I REALLY LOVE about doing this activity? Not because anyone expects anything of me. Not because I did the thing I was supposed to. Not because I did the right thing. But because it makes my heart sing and feel alive. Because it delights me. Which creates more space within me so I can be with harder emotions & experiences.
- How can I notice what's feeling good, alive, and what I love as I'm doing this activity (e.g. the fresh air on my face; the warmth of the sun on my skin) & really allow myself to feel it and take in those feelings/experiences? Connecting to what we love and allowing ourselves to feel it more deeply creates resilience--it helps us hold space for the harder emotions & parts of our experience instead of trying to get rid of them.