A TED Talk A Day, Day 14: A talk about turning our passing experiences into useful structures like happiness and resilience, using neuroscience.

  1. We all have needs to be cared for, to feel cared about. We are a social species. If we don’t get the supplies we need, we can survive, but we feel a hollowness inside us.
  2. While in school, he realised that as he experienced things, if he let initial negative feelings pass until better feelings to arose, this increased the amount of good experiences he had in his life.
  3. As neuroscientists say: “neurons that fire together, wired together” and “passing mental states, become lasting neural traits”.
  4. Stress changes the structure of the brain such that we become progressively more sensitive to stress.
  5. “The mind can change the brain to change the mind.”
  6. The inner strengths (like confidence, kindess, etc) that help us cope with life are built from positive experiences of those strengths. To be more confidence we need to practice being more confident. To be kinder, practice kindness.
  7. But we have to overcome the brains negativity bias. We are good at learning from bad experiences, but bad at learning from good experiences. This is because our ancestors had to learn how to survive. The question is: how can we overcome this?
  8. Long-term relationships need a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions to work.
  9. We need to learn how to take in the good.
  10. Experiences  have to last long for them to transfer from working memory to long-term storage, including emotional memory. It may be a small step, but bit by bit this can change us.
  11. Use this acronym — HEAL:
    1. Have a good experience: our brains record things through experience, like recording music by playing it.
    2. Enrich it: Let it last, give yourself over to it, help it grow in our body, let it activate.
    3. Absorb it: this will prime and sensitise our memory systems.
    4. Link positive and negative material (optional): be careful not to get hijacked by the negative, but we can train our brains to help soothe the negative. We can help it to heal old pain.
  12. Have it, enjoy it. This is not about covering over the good. It is about taking in the good so it is easier for us to handle the bad.
  13. The next minute is an opportunity for us, and the most important minute of our lives. We can’t do anything about the last minute, and the following few minutes is out of our influence.
  14. “Think not lightly of good, saying, ‘It will not come to me.’ Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.”– Buddhist saying.

Suggested action step: I will work in each moment to take in the best experience possible, and let the larger picture work itself out.