Author Elaine Fox shares why some people flourish, seemingly resilient to all that life throws at them, while others are vulnerable and at risk of serious problems like anxiety and depression:
“My approach to unraveling this mystery has been to probe the minds of both the vulnerable and the resilient with the traditional tools of cognitive psychology.
Flashing positive and negative images on a computer screen so fast that they duck beneath the radar of consciousness gives us a momentary glimpse of what captivates the unconscious mind. And what have we learned?
Techniques like this tell us that the mind of the pessimist is drawn imperceptibly toward the negative while the upbeat and positive is a magnet for the optimist.
Crucially, these differences — whether we turn toward the bright side of life or the dark — can be traced to specific patterns of activity within the brain itself. Bundles of nerve fibers connecting our “thinking” brain with ancient regions that control our primeval “feeling” brain make up two sides of our emotional mind.
The “rainy” brain part highlights the negative, while our “sunny” brain draws us toward the positive. Of course, both elements are essential to a healthy and successful life, and it’s the checks and balances between these two systems that ultimately make you you and me me. In short, it’s our emotional mind that gives meaning to our lives by tuning us in to what really matters.
At the very root of what captivates our emotional mind are two polar opposite constructs: fear and pleasure.”