Happiness, joy, motivation, inspiration, resilience, grit, determination and all those other really sweet positive emotions are available to us anytime.
The one thing that keeps us from experiencing these emotions is an overactive amygdala or what I call a crybaby amygdala. It’s like trying to watch a good movie when all of a sudden your baby wakes up and starts crying. That’s exactly what happens with your brain.
The amygdala is an almond shape little nugget in the limbic system of our brain comprised of neurons. This is where the fear we experience in our lives begin and start to grow, and is considered the fear center of our brain. You can read more in detail about the amygdala on National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).
The negative emotions of anxiety, depression, anger, sadness, etc. stem from an overactive amygdala. It’s whole purpose in the brain is just to make a quick alert in the time of danger and release a small amount of the hormone, called cortisol, to keep us on our feet.
When the amygdala is constantly working in alert mode, it continues to release cortisol, and physically becomes larger and overactive, turning it into a crybaby amygdala. And too much cortisol released overtime can cause other health issues.
There is so much information out there claiming to make a quick fix to these negative emotions, like “just think positive”. You can make a quick fix like thinking positive for a few minutes, but it doesn’t get to the foundation of the problem, it only scratches the surface. The foundation is where you need to start to change and rebuild your habitual emotions because it’s in the subconscious. That’s where the true positive thinking derives from. Basically, it’s like the cream filling of an oreo.
If you have an overactive amygdala, it will take some time to shrink it in the same way it takes time to build muscle and lose body fat. In fact, the grey matter of your brain is just like muscle in the body, you want to build more of them and make them stronger. The amygdala is just like body fat, you want to make them very minimal but not remove them completely. If you remove them completely you can’t survive. You need the amygdala to alert you of danger and you need body fat to protect organs.
All of this, like all beautiful and important things in life, take effort and time.
If you want to shrink your overactive amygdala, you have to meditate consistently. This is what calms down the crybaby amygdala overtime. There are multiple studies and brain scans that prove the amygdala shrinks when meditating consistently.
From my own personal experience, the times I meditated consistently allowed me to think clearly and not get caught up in my own negative pattern of thoughts. Every single time I became busy and stopped meditating, it caused my amygdala to go back to being a crybaby.
I’ll gladly admit that I don’t get stoked on meditating like I would riding motorcycles and other risk taking hobbies but I do it because I feel it is imperative towards overall well being. I do not want to continue experiencing unnecessary anxiety and depression. I dealt with those emotions long enough and now that I’ve dedicated 1-3 hours a day meditating, it has tremendously helped my mood and mental clarity. The anxiety and depression hasn’t completely gone away, but it has subsided quite a bit and I’m able to catch those emotions every time they start rearing their ugly head. I don’t expect them to completely go away anytime soon, because I have accepted that the truly valuable things in life take effort and time.
If you are dealing with consistent anxiety and depression like I have, I really recommend that you learn more about the functions of the amygdala in detail. It really is a game changer when you can understand what’s really the cause of your habitual negative emotions and also to think how cool it is that a brain is learning about the brain.