Month: April 2021

3 Guided Meditations to Deepen Into Loving-Kindness

Loving-kindness meditation can help us to awaken to how connected we all are. You don’t have to like everybody, or agree with everything they do—but you can open up to the possibility of caring for them.

A 17-Minute Meditation to Direct Compassion Toward Ourselves

We’re typically our own harshest critics. We tend to hide our flaws and mistakes, projecting a perfect outward image. In this practice, we can bring compassion to our imperfections and mistakes. This shift helps us approach the very difficulties that we’ve been desperately trying to avoid, so that they can become the sources of our awakening, of our wisdom, of equanimity.

A 6-Minute Loving-Kindness Meditation for Your Loved Ones

Relationships are complicated. Conflicts can arise in ways that make it difficult to express love to those we care about the most, or perhaps to those we care about who are no longer with us. In this practice, we focus on sending love to the people we hold dear in a way that is nonjudgmental, non-discriminatory, and honest. In this way, we tap into the love we already have around us and practice sending our dear ones love.

A 40-Minute Meditation For Deep Healing of Ourselves and Others

Loving-kindness can allow us to soften our approach to difficult events and emotions. Working with this intention allows us to observe pain and other difficult emotions without completely succumbing to them. Compassion humanizes our emotions and makes them more approachable. In this guided practice, we observe difficult emotions in a way that embodies loving-kindness and compassion. This approach lets us be strengthened by our flaws and mistakes, not feel defeated by them.

Through loving-kindness and practicing awareness, you can connect more deeply with both yourself and others. Explore our new guide to lean into kindness and cultivate compassion every day.
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  • Mindful Staff
  • January 11, 2021

Jon Kabat-Zinn leads us in a heartscape meditation for deep healing of ourselves and others.
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  • Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • March 18, 2021

Mindful’s managing editor Stephanie Domet on how to align with your values, love yourself more, and have a truly intentional wardrobe, just by taking fashion into your own hands.
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  • Stephanie Domet
  • April 20, 2021

4 Must Knows to Making Soul-Aligned Choices for Your Life, Work and Relationships


You can do and be anything. And you to have to make choices.

Our choices day to day and in big life decisions create our reality.

But how do you make sure that the choices you are making daily and in big life design, career path, financial, relationship are actually ‘in alignment’ for you?

In alignment with your heart and soul, not just your ego? And why does this matter?

How can a mis-aligned choice make it impossible to create sustainable success?

What I’ve learned in the decade plus I’ve been researching the root causes of burnout, overwhelm, self-sacrifice and the rise in depression and disease within women, one thing I found was this:

“No matter how educated or smart, most women did not receive the wisdom, training or education we needed to make soul-aligned, supportive choices, that keep us rooted in our personal truth, innate wisdom and internal self-worth”.

So we end up creating realities in how we work, design our relationships and lives that are not truly in alignment with what feels aligned and in harmony – which has so many implications and so much wisdom that you’ll just have to tune in.

Including you cannot create sustainable success in your business, your money, or your life if you are not living in alignment with your heart and soul.

I started this series on soul-aligned sustainable success to:

Open up a conversation, illuminate wisdom and give you some things to consider as you look at the way you design your life, relationships, career, mission, work, or business if you are an entrepreneur.

In this episode of Feminine Power Time #151

4 Must-Knows to Making Soul Aligned Choices (#1 of 3 in Soul-Aligned Sustainable Success Series)

In #1 of our three part series on Feminine Power Time: Soul-Aligned Sustainable Success, we will dive in to four nuggets of wisdom, elevated perspectives for you to consider about “Soul-Aligned Choices” that lead to sustainable success.

We cannot have success and won’t feel truly successful professionally or personally if we don’t expand our understanding of success to include our heart and soul.

Here’s some of what we will dive into:

  1. What are soul-aligned choices –and what does this have to do with your daily life, career, chosen work and relationships?
  2. How do you know when your choices and realities are in alignment for you, and when the are not?
  3. How to tell when something that was once in alignment is no longer in alignment –so you can make different choices, without creating distress and or getting a Universal 2×4 wake up.
  4. What practices and support structures you want to have in place so you have the clarity and wisdom to make soul aligned choices –that lead to sustainable – vs. distress making – change and shifts

Tune in.

Share this with one friend you think it will support and inspire.

With Great Heart

Christine

*****

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Christine Arylo, MBA, is a transformational leadership advisor, social impact entrepreneur, four time best-selling author, and speaker working with women to make shift happen – in the lives they lead, the work they do and the world they live in. Arylo combines her 20 years of corporate and entrepreneurial experience with 20+ years of wisdom study in feminine power, yogic science and human consciousness to guide others to lead their lives, businesses and relationships in a different way – professionally successful + internally empowered + and personally sustainable and satisfying. Over 35,000 people on 6 continents have participated in her professional and personal transformational programs and workshops. She is the host of the popular Feminine Power Time podcast.  Her teachings have been featured at TedX, on CBS. NBC and FOX, and on Thrive, Huffington Post, and more. She currently lives on an island near Seattle. Her new book is called Overwhelmed and Over It, Embrace Your Power to Stay Centered and Sustained in a Chaotic World. Learn more about Christine at www.ChristineArylo.com and her Feminine Power Time Podcast at www.FemininePowerPodcast.com

Image courtesy of Vlada Karpovich.

13 Little Red Flags That Show You’re in an Unequal Friendship


We all know the signs of bad romantic relationships — controlling behavior, jealousy, insecurity. Breaking up with a toxic boyfriend or girlfriend is pretty standard. But for some reason, crappy friends often get to fly under the radar with awful behavior that we tolerate for no real reason.

Friendships make our lives just as complete as romantic partners, and so you should be just as careful about finding good, supportive friends as much as you would a good spouse or partner.

These 13 warning signs are often ignored when it comes to friendships, but they’re often symptoms of a deeply uneven relationship.

1. They’re ultra-competitive.

When I was younger, one of my neighbors was always trying to prove that whatever she had was somehow better than what I had. Her mailbox was taller, her snacks were tastier, her lipgloss was glossier.

Competitive friends can help you push yourself, but if all they want to do is compare and come out on top, you’re not a friend to them — you’re a way to bolster their insecurity.

2. They’re easily offended.

Have you ever felt like you were constantly on the verge of saying something that your friend would take too harshly? If you’re always walking on eggshells around your friend, it might be a sign to get out.

“Being passive-aggressive is a form of power,” says therapist Marissa Nelson. “It’s a form of maintaining power in relationships because they don’t know how to be vulnerable.” In other words, they choose to be offended to stay on top in the relationship.

3. Everything is about them.

“And that was the worst breakup of my life,” I concluded to my then-friend Sara, tearfully.

“If you think that was bad, you should hear how Dylan broke up with me last summer,” she immediately responded, and launched into her own anecdote.

Friends who are unable to celebrate and support you without somehow turning it around so it’s about them don’t want a friend. They want a backdrop for their lives. And you can do better.

4. They encourage your worst traits.

Nobody is 100% good all the time, and I certainly won’t pretend to be either. On occasion, I can gossip, or be judgmental and lazy.

Good friends call you out on your bullshit. Bad friends will goad you on for their entertainment, encouraging your worst traits just so you put on a show.

5. They only call you when they need you.

If a man only called me when he wanted sex, I’d label him a booty caller and move on with my life without him. But when friends only call you when they need you, they often get a pass. Being a good friend can sometimes feel like you have to support your people no matter what.

However, when “no matter what” turns into “always when they need me, and never when I need them,” that’s not a friendship. That’s a sign that you’re serving as a free emotional counselor.

6. Your secrets spread.

When you share a confidence with someone, it’s a deep act of trust. You’re putting valuable information in someone else’s hands. If your friend is consistently violating that trust, you’re not a friend to them — you’re a source of social information for them to leverage.

I’m not proud, but I used to do this. In my college circle of friends, desperate to be liked, I was a real gossip-peddler. People came to me when they wanted to know what was going on. Eventually, people stopped talking to me about their problems and issues because they knew I couldn’t be trusted — I was a bad friend.

7. They try to manipulate you.

It’s a real shame that the most charming and charismatic people are often the most manipulative, but it’s true. With these bad friends, you find yourself doubting your internal compass or judgment. That’s on purpose.

“You may begin to feel dependent on him or her for their opinion, doubting your own,” Nancy Irwin, PsyD, of Seasons Rehab Center tells Greatist magazine. Effectively, these friends will go to any length to put you deeper under their spell.

8. They don’t respect your boundaries.

Especially if you’re a young adult, boundaries feel like a bit of a joke. You can easily get the impression that truly cool and edgy people are up for anything — if you’re not, you’re a loser.

But boundaries matter at any age. A good friend will understand when you don’t want to drink, smoke, or go out. A friend who cares more about themselves than you will always tread on those lines you’ve drawn.

9. They never say sorry.

We all mess up! It’s what humans do. If your friend refuses to apologize, or never takes responsibility for their actions, or throws you under the bus, look past the innocent facade and see what they’re actually doing: caring more about how they look to others than how you feel.

In a romantic partner, it’s easier to identify this. But with a friend, you might feel like you can’t call them out, or like it really is always your fault. Make no mistake: bad friends will find a way to make it your fault, not theirs, especially if it isn’t true.

10. They make fun of you in front of others.

Good friends can dish out a lot of good-natured jokes. If you’re sensitive like I am, this can often feel tough. But that’s part of what good friends do. Bad friends, meanwhile, won’t only make fun of you — they’ll mock you in front of others.

When your so-called friends are always stepping on you on their way to other people, the relationship is unbalanced. They’re using you as a ladder.

11. You’re always apologizing to them.

Bad friends can often be very good at manipulating you and the situation so that nothing is ever their fault — and so, by process of elimination, it must be yours.

This means you’re frequently in the position of apologizing to them for any perceived slight or offense. They don’t want you as a friend — they only care about having a scapegoat.

12. You never know the real them.

Good relationships are genuine, deep, and balanced. In all my solid relationships, I’ve shared vulnerabilities, confessions, and even my darkest fears, both for friends and romantic partners.

If you’ve shared the real you — all the ugly and scary parts of it — but your friend still wants you to think they’re perfect, that relationship is not real. It’s based on a facade.

13. They’re always late.

This is a small one, but it’s the most telling for me. A good friend is one who values you and your time. A bad friend won’t respect that you are waiting for them, or could have been doing other things.

We’re all late sometimes. But if someone constantly disrespects your time, they care more about themselves than you — it’s a sign the relationship isn’t on equal footing.

Part of the reason bad friendships are much harder to spot than toxic or bad love relationships is because they’re more naturally uneven. With a partner, it makes sense to ensure that both of you are on even footing. With friendships, there can often be a more complex pecking order, friends you’re closer with, or people you’d like to get to know even more. There are common ebbs and flows in how you interact with each other.

But these thirteen little red flags can be giveaways that the person you think is a friend doesn’t feel the same way about you at all. If your relationship with someone is so unbalanced that they tick every box on this list, it may be time to consider how to find better friends who care about you just as much as you do them.


Zulie Rane is a reader and a writer who believes in the power to change the world through the written word. You can find her writing on ZulieRane.com, posting selfies and art on Instagram at @zulierane and tweeting bad puns on Twitter at @zulierane.

Image courtesy of Liza Summer.

Migration

Migration is a part of everyone’s history. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas about places we call home — and how these experiences continue to reshape our culture, countries, and species. Guests include bioarchaeologist Carolyn Freiwald, journalist Isabel Wilkerson, comedian Maeve Higgins, and ecologist Sonia Altizer.

Why Don’t You Put Some Makeup On?


I posted a video about the Life Reentry class on facebook the other day and a woman commented under it, why don’t you put some makeup on Christina?

At first, I responded casually.

I did have some makeup on, but it’s been a long day of zoom calls and work.

And then I started thinking about it.

Hmmm. Did I not look good? 

Am I getting old?

Maybe I should put on heavier makeup next time so it stays on longer. 

I should be more professional.

What was I thinking? 

The inner narration paused for a while.

Then I looked in the mirror and saw all of my new wrinkles.

Neck lines and all. The inner narration picked up right where it left off.

Well, you are approaching 50 what did you think was going to happen? 

You weren’t going to look good forever. 

The days of your good looks are gone. 

And just like that.

A random stranger had all this power.

I know you too have probably experienced similar comments about the choices you make with your physical body.

Aging is such a big loss for women.

The world is harsh towards wrinkles, naked faces, imperfect skins.

Why don’t men have to wear makeup?

What about some eye shadow?

High heels anyone?

To the woman who was curious about my no makeup face I know you only asked because someone else asked you the same question.

Probably early on in your life, and you may not even remember it. I get it.

I have lived in that same world you have

And now together we will walk out of it. 

Not because there is anything wrong with wearing makeup, but not wearing it should not take away from our value. The intelligence that lives behind the eyeshadow.

The humor that lurks under the lipstick.

The modern woman has many faces.

And all of them belong to her.

If you are a man reading this letter I know you already loved a woman just the way she chose to be.

If you are a woman reading this letter don’t let anyone dictate your looks.

And if you are non binary thank you for paving the way towards a non judgmental world.

Where self expression is exactly what it sounds like.

With eye shadows,

Christina

P.S. We are about to close the doors to the Life Reentry Registration class. May you find your way there if it feels right for where you are in your life. REENTER HERE: https://lifereentry.com/life-reentry-class/.


Christina Rasmussen is the creator and founder of The Life Reentry Institute, Second Firsts, and Star Letters, and the host of the Dear Life Podcast. Christina is on a crusade to help millions of people rebuild, reclaim, and relaunch their lives using the power of their own minds. Christina’s work has been featured on ABC News, NPR, The White House Blog, and MariaShriver.com. She is the bestselling author of Second Firsts: Live, Laugh, and Love Again, which has also been translated in Chinese and German and just released her second book Where Did You Go on expanding the mind in ways that allows co-creation with the forces of the universe. She is also writing her first work of fiction: a science fiction story about a woman on a quest to start over and begin a new life. You can find more information on her website and follow her on FB or Twitter.

Image courtesy of EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA.

Your Brain Predicts (Almost) Everything You Do

From the moment you’re born to the moment you draw your last breath, your brain is stuck in a dark, silent box called your skull. Day in and day out, it continually receives sense data from the outside world via your eyes, ears, nose, and other sensory organs. This data does not arrive in the form of the meaningful sights, smells, sounds, and other sensations that most of us experience. It’s just a barrage of light waves, chemicals, and changes in air pressure with no inherent significance.

Faced with these ambiguous scraps of sense data, your brain must somehow figure out what to do next. Your brain’s most important job is to control your body so you stay alive and well. Your brain must somehow make meaning from the onslaught of sense data it’s receiving so you don’t fall down a staircase or become lunch for some wild beast.

How does your brain decipher the sense data so it knows how to proceed? If it used only the ambiguous information that is immediately present, then you’d be swimming in a sea of uncertainty, flailing around until you figured out the best response. Luckily, your brain has an additional source of information at its disposal: memory.

Your brain asks itself in every moment, figuratively speaking, The last time I encountered a similar situation, when my body was in a similar state, what did I do next?

Your brain can draw on your lifetime of past experiences—things that have happened to you personally and things that you’ve learned about from friends, teachers, books, videos, and other sources. In the blink of an eye, your brain reconstructs bits and pieces of past experience as your neurons pass electrochemical information back and forth in an ever-shifting, complex network. Your brain assembles these bits into memories to infer the meaning of the sense data and guess what to do about it. Your past experiences include not only what happened in the world around you but also what happened inside your body. Was your heart beating quickly? Were you breathing heavily? Your brain asks itself in every moment, figuratively speaking, The
last time I encountered a similar situation, when my body was in a similar state, what did I do next?
The answer need not be a perfect match for your situation, just something close enough
to give your brain an appropriate plan of action that helps you survive and even thrive.

This explains how the brain plans your body’s next action. How does your brain also conjure high-fidelity experiences out of scraps of raw data from the outside world? How does it create feelings of terror from a thundering heart? Once again, your brain recreates the past from memory by asking itself, The last time I encountered a similar situation, when my body
was in a similar state and was preparing an action similar to this one, what did I see next? What did I feel next?
The answer becomes your experience. In other words, your brain combines information from outside and inside your head to produce everything you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel.

How Your Brain Predicts What You See

Here’s a quick demonstration that your memory is a critical ingredient in what you see. Take a look at the three line drawings:

Excerpted from “The Ultimate Droodles Compendium” by Roger Price.

What do you see in the drawings?

Inside your skull, without your awareness, billions of your neurons are trying to give those lines and blobs meaning. Your brain is searching through a lifetime of past experiences, issuing thousands of guesses at once, weighing probabilities, trying to answer the question, What are these wavelengths of light most like? And it’s all happening faster than you can snap your fingers.

So what do you see? A bunch of black lines and a couple of blobs? Let’s see what happens when we give your brain some more information. The first image is a spider doing a handstand, the second is a submarine going over a waterfall, and the third is a ski jump and spectators as seen by the ski jumper.

When you look back at the line drawings, you should now see familiar objects instead of lines and blobs. Your brain is assembling memories from bits and pieces of past experiences to go beyond the visual data in front of you and make meaning. In the process, your brain is literally changing the firing of its own neurons. Objects that you might never have seen before now leap from the page.

The lines and blobs haven’t changed—you have.

Artwork, particularly abstract art, is made possible because the human brain constructs what it experiences. When you view a Cubist painting by Picasso and see recognizable human figures, that happens only because you have memories of human figures that help your brain make sense of the abstract elements. The painter Marcel Duchamp once said that an artist does only 50% of the work in creating art. The remaining 50% is in the viewer’s brain (Some artists and philosophers call the second half “the beholder’s share.”).

Your brain actively constructs your experiences. Every morning, you wake up and experience a world around you full of sensations. You might feel the bedsheets against your skin. Maybe you hear sounds that woke you, like an alarm buzzing or birds chirping or your spouse snoring. Perhaps you smell coffee brewing. These sensations seem to sail right into your head as if your eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and skin were transparent windows on the world. But you don’t sense with your sensory organs. You sense with your brain.

What you see is some combination of what’s out there in the world and what’s constructed by your brain. What you hear is also some combination of what’s out there and what’s in your brain, and likewise for your other senses.

A Carefully Controlled Hallucination

In much the same way, your brain also constructs what you feel inside your body. Your aches and jitters and other inner sensations are some combination of what’s going on in your brain and what’s actually happening within your lungs and heart and gut and muscles and so on. Your brain also adds information from your past experiences to guess what those sensations mean. For instance, when people haven’t slept enough and are fatigued or low energy, they may feel hungry (because they’ve been hungry before when their energy was low) and may think that a quick snack will boost their energy. In fact, they’re just tired from lack of sleep.
This constructed experience of hunger may be one reason why people gain unwanted weight.

You’ve almost certainly had an experience where the information inside your head triumphs over the data from the outside world. Have you ever seen a friend’s face in a crowd, but when you looked again, you realized it was a different person? Have you ever felt your cell phone vibrate in your pocket when it didn’t? Have you ever had a song playing in your head
that you couldn’t get rid of? Neuroscientists like to say that your day-to-day experience is a carefully controlled hallucination, constrained by the world and your body but ultimately
constructed by your brain. It’s not the kind of hallucination that sends you to the hospital. It’s an everyday kind of hallucination that creates all your experiences and guides all your actions. It’s the normal way that your brain gives meaning to your sense data, and you’re almost always unaware that it’s happening.

I realize that this description defies common sense, but wait: There’s more. This whole constructive process happens predictively. Scientists are now fairly certain that your brain actually begins to sense the moment-to-moment changes in the
world around you before those light waves, chemicals, and other sense data hit your brain. The same is true for moment-to-moment changes in your body—your brain begins to sense
them before the relevant data arrives from your organs, hormones, and various bodily systems. You don’t experience your senses this way, but it’s how your brain navigates the world and controls your body.

But don’t take my word for it. Instead, think of the last time you were thirsty and drank a glass of water. Within seconds after draining the last drops, you probably felt less thirsty. This event might seem ordinary, but water actually takes about 20 minutes to reach your bloodstream. Water can’t possibly quench your thirst in a few seconds. So what relieved your thirst? Prediction. As your brain plans and executes the actions that allow you to drink and swallow, it simultaneously anticipates the sensory consequences of gulping water, causing you to feel less thirsty long before the water has any direct effect on your blood.

Your Brain is a Prediction Organ

Predictions transform flashes of light into the objects you see. They turn changes in air pressure into recognizable sounds, and traces of chemicals into smells and tastes. Predictions let you read the squiggles on this page and understand them as letters and words and ideas. They’re also the reason why it feels unsatisfying when a sentence is missing its final.

In a very real sense, predictions are just your brain having a conversation with itself. A bunch of neurons make their best guess about what will happen in the immediate future, based on whatever combination of past and present that your brain is currently conjuring. Those neurons then announce that guess to neurons in other brain areas, changing their firing. Meanwhile, sense data from the world and your body injects itself into the conversation, confirming (or not) the prediction that you’ll experience as your reality.

In actuality, your brain’s predictive process is not quite so linear. Usually your brain has several ways to deal with a given situation, and it creates a flurry of predictions and estimates probabilities for each one. Is that rustling sound in the forest due to the wind, an animal, an enemy fighter, or a shepherd? Is that long, brown shape a branch, a staff, or a rifle? Ultimately, in each moment, some prediction is the winner. Often, it’s the prediction that best matches the incoming sense data, but not always. Either way, the winning prediction becomes your action and your sensory experience.

So, your brain issues predictions and checks them against the sense data coming from the world and your body. What happens next still astounds me, even as a neuroscientist.
If your brain has predicted well, then your neurons are already firing in a pattern that matches the incoming sense data. That means this sense data itself has no further use beyond confirming your brain’s predictions. What you see, hear, smell, and taste in the world and feel in your body in that moment are completely constructed in your head. By prediction, your brain has efficiently prepared you to act. When your predicting brain is right, it creates your reality. When it’s wrong, it still creates your reality, and hopefully it learns from its mistakes: Your brain incorporates the prediction errors and updates its predictions, so it can predict better next time around.

Which Comes First? Prediction or Action?

Now here’s the final nail in the coffin of common sense: All this predicting happens backward from the way we experience it. You and I seem to sense first and act second. But in your brain, sensing actually comes second. Your brain is wired to prepare for action first.

Yes, your brain is wired to initiate your actions before you’re aware of them. That is kind of a big deal. After all, in everyday life, you do many things by choice, right? At least it seems that way. For example, you chose to read these words. But the brain is a predicting organ. It launches your next set of actions based on your past experience and current situation, and it does so outside of your awareness. In other words, your actions are under the control of your memory and your environment. Does this mean you have no free will? Who’s responsible for your actions?

Philosophers and other scholars have debated the existence of free will pretty much since the invention of philosophy. It’s not likely that we will settle that debate here. Nevertheless, we can highlight a piece of the puzzle that is often ignored.

Think about the last time you acted on autopilot. Maybe you bit your nails. Maybe your brain-to-mouth connection was too well oiled and you muttered something regrettable to a friend. Maybe you looked away from an engaging movie and discovered that you’d downed an entire jumbo bag of red Twizzlers. In these moments, your brain employed its predictive powers to launch your actions, and you had no feeling of agency. Could you have exercised more control and changed your behavior in the moment? Maybe, but it would have been difficult. Were you responsible for these actions? More than you might think.

The predictions that initiate your actions don’t appear out of nowhere. If you hadn’t chomped on your nails as a kid, you probably wouldn’t bite them now. If you’d never learned the regrettable words you tossed at your friend, you couldn’t say them now. If you’d never developed a taste for licorice…you get the idea. Your brain predicts and prepares your actions using your past experiences. If you could magically reach back in time and change your past, your brain would predict differently today, and you might act differently and experience the world differently as a result.

It’s impossible to change your past, but right now, with some effort, you can change how your brain will predict in the future. You can invest a little time and energy to learn new ideas. You can curate new experiences. You can try new activities. Everything you learn today seeds your brain to predict differently tomorrow.

Rewire Your Brain, Change Your Experience

As the owner of a predicting brain, you have more control over your actions and experiences than you might think and more responsibility than you might want. But if you embrace this responsibility, think about the possibilities. What might your life be like? What kind of person
might you become?

Here’s a thought experiment: All of us have had a nervous feeling before a test, but for some people, this anxiety is crippling. Based on their past experiences of taking tests, their brains predict and launch a hammering heartbeat and sweaty hands, and they’re unable to complete the test. If this happens enough, they fail courses or even drop out of school. But here’s the thing: A hammering heartbeat is not necessarily anxiety. Research shows that students can learn to experience their physical sensations not as anxiety but as energized determination, and when they do, they perform better on tests. That determination seeds their brains to predict differently in the future so they can get their butterflies flying in formation. If they practice this skill enough, they can pass a test, perhaps pass their courses, and even graduate, which has a huge impact on their future earning potential.

As the owner of a predicting brain, you have more control over your actions and experiences than you might think and more responsibility than you might want.

It’s also possible to change predictions to cultivate empathy for other people and act differently in the future. An organization called Seeds of Peace tries to change predictions by bringing together young people from cultures that are in serious conflict, like Palestinians and Israelis, and Indians and Pakistanis. The teens participate in activities like soccer, canoeing, and leadership training, and they can talk about the animosity between their cultures in a supportive environment. By creating new experiences, these teens are changing their future predictions in the hopes of building bridges between the cultures and, ultimately, creating a more peaceful world.

You can try something similar on a smaller scale. Today, many of us feel like we live in a highly polarized world, where people with opposing opinions cannot even be civil to each other. If you want things to be different, I offer you a challenge. Pick a controversial political issue that you feel strongly about. In the United States, that might be abortion, guns, religion, the police, climate change, reparations for slavery, or perhaps a local issue that’s important to you. Spend five minutes per day deliberately considering the issue from the perspective of those you disagree with, not to have an argument with them in your head, but to understand how someone who’s just as smart as you can believe the opposite of what you do.

I’m not asking you to change your mind. I’m also not saying this challenge is easy. It might feel pretty unpleasant or even pointless. But when you try, really try, to embody someone else’s point of view, you can change your future predictions about the people who hold those different views. If you can honestly say, “I absolutely disagree with those people, but I can understand why they believe what they do,” you’re one step closer to a less polarized world. This is not magical liberal academic rubbish. It’s a strategy that comes from basic science about your predicting brain.

While you might not be able to change your behavior in the heat of the moment, there’s a good chance you can change your predictions before the heat of the moment. With practice, you can make some automatic behaviors more likely than others and have more control over your future actions and experiences than you might think.

Michelle Maldonado offers a practice for tuning in to the wisdom of the body.
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  • Michelle Maldonado
  • April 20, 2021

Dacher Keltner, director of the Berkeley Social Interaction Lab, explains how gossip can be a social practice that works for the greater good.
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  • Dacher Keltner
  • April 20, 2021

We may be headed for reverse culture shock when we re-enter society. But just as our brains worked to adjust to our current state of life, they must go through the same process to adjust to post-COVID reality.
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  • Laura Fitch
  • April 15, 2021

We tend to hold on to beliefs, stories, and biases against others that end up hurting us, too. Here’s how we can loosen our grip.
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  • Elaine Smookler
  • April 7, 2021