Overcoming the Amygdala Part 43

We’re looking at the findings of neuroscientist Richard Davidson, who performed several experiments and studies and revealed six emotional styles which refer to a person’s consistent responses to life:

  • Resilience

  • Social Intuition

  • Self-Awareness

  • Outlook

  • Sensitivity to Context

  • Attention

Here are the last three:

Outlook refers to how long you can sustain a projection of positive emotion. If you can maintain a high level of energy even during anxious times, you are in the positive end of Outlook. This means that you probably have a high level of activity in those parts of the brain which process the sense of reward. Moving to the positive side of Outlook involves planning. This includes resisting temptation. For example, if you need to finish something but distractions are enticing you away with promises of immediate rewards, combat that temptation.


Identify a greater reward. Whatever it is that is tempting you has a certain level of reward, for sure, otherwise it wouldn’t grab your attention — so work out a reward which grabs much more of your attention. Finishing your work, perhaps, leads to greater things — make sure that, after finishing your task, you really reward yourself. Train your brain to believe that your imagined future will eventually arrive, and reward yourself noticeably and genuinely for staying on the path to it.

This ties in with thinking ahead and knowing where you want to go and how you want to apply your values in Life, as covered earlier. If you can work out a plan that covers a year, five years, ten years, and so on, and then make tangible progress towards each target on that plan, you will find that temptation loses its power. Some years ago, I worked out a Forty-Year Plan — and looking at it now, I can see that to a surprising extent, it’s come true year by year, with some things being achieved ahead of target. Having the plan helped me stay focused and clear of distractions and temptations (for the most part).

Temptation, by its nature, offers short-term pleasure or the promise of pleasure at the cost of longer-term satisfaction. Rob it of its power over you by developing exciting and positive agendas which pull you forward and overwhelm the amygdala along the way.

Sensitivity to Context refers to how you regulate the way you handle Life based on the situations in which you find yourself. High sensitivity to context means that you change the way you act based on where you are. Consequently, you run the risk of losing track of your genuine self because you’re alw