Reprogram Your Brain and Body Through Neuroplasticity
Chapter Bullet Points for Program Peace
What follows are the bullet points from each chapter of the Program Peace book. I wanted to post them all together here so they can be found easily as a collection. You can access the entire book, chapter by chapter, for free at http://www.programpeace.com.
Chapter 1: Bullet Points
Submission and aggression are highly detrimental and we want to replace them with assertiveness and playfulness.
All mammals use submissive displays to show subordination to more dominant animals. They do this to reduce social conflict over food, sex, and other resources.
Humans use submissive displays, too, often just to be friendly.
We commonly use suboptimal body language because we are afraid that, otherwise, we might come across as too aggressive.
It is difficult to stop using submissive displays because they become habitual, and the people around us come to expect them.
Your composure, posture, and breathing style are all products of your social environment.
Ongoing submissive displays lead to muscle tension that is apparent to others. The chronic muscular strain caused by the display becomes a badge of self-perceived low status.
As you perform the Program Peace exercises, I think you will be surprised by how much and how often you use suboptimal body language due to modesty.
We all suffer from this to different degrees, and it causes suboptimal functioning of various muscles and organs. It also causes chronic pain, which contributes to depression and anxiety.
Our attempts to stop acting submissive and make our behavior more dominant are fear-inducing and cause us to breathe shallowly.
Shallow, distressed breathing is a submissive display.
Using diaphragmatic breathing while practicing dominant displays and postures can make them very comfortable and make nonverbal assertiveness a new default.
Replacing submissive behaviors with assertive ones will improve how you feel, the way others perceive you, and how you get along with them.
Dominant animals are the most assertive, and submissive animals are the most aggressive. This should inspire us to be assertive without being aggressive. It requires that we learn to retain our composure and learn not to allow provocation or threat to affect the face, voice, spine, or breath.
This chapter is the first step in helping you reconceptualize yourself as dominant, pure of heart, slow to anger, and not easily offended.
Your body is a “survival machine” designed to support a competitive molecular replicator: namely, your DNA.
Our biology prioritizes the DNA, and for that reason, our bodies are designed to sacrifice our physical and emotional well-being for the sake of survival and reproduction.
As one example of this, we are built to adapt to stressful environments by upregulating our stress-response activity, resulting in anxiety and pain.
Even in the modern world, everyone’s stress system has been over-activated to some extent. This anxiety or “hyperarousal” results in chronic muscular, respiratory, and cardiovascular fatigue.
Anxiety and chronic stress negatively affect every organ in the body. These organ systems are roughly congruent with the ancient Hindu system of chakras—familiar body parts that need to be rehabilitated with love and care.
We use anxiety as a submissive display to prove to others that we are neither “too calm” nor “too good” for them.
The overuse of submissive signals leads to the accumulation of trauma within our tissues and organs, especially the breathing muscles. The result is often chronic defeat, otherwise known as depression.
Being nonsubmissive is not about being tougher than anyone else; it is about not wasting energy on competitive nonsense that leads nowhere.
Dominant mammals are usually the most composed, and the least traumatized and hyperaroused. They don’t feel any need to use anxiety as a form of social lubrication.
Deep, diaphragmatic breathing is the foundation of dominant behavior because it builds unconscious self-confidence.
You can escape the cycle of social anxiety by breathing deeper and longer breaths in social situations—fearing no one but treating everyone well.
Through developmental plasticity (new gene expression), you want your body to make persistent, beneficial adaptations that are responses to an optimal environment. To do this, you must give the body the right cues to trick it into assuming that your environment is safe and full of resources. This is accomplished by breathing with the diaphragm.
The brain’s fear and grief circuits are tied to distressed breathing. They inhibit the diaphragm, causing breathing to become rapid and shallow.
The more traumatized a mammal is, the less its diaphragm moves with each breath. The animal instead recruits other muscles to power breathing and the diaphragm atrophies.
Disuse due to stress reduces the diaphragm’s range of motion and causes it to become stiff.
Most people breathe in a narrow diaphragmatic range. This range narrows further as stress increases. You want to expand your diaphragm’s range of motion by breathing more deeply.
To engage the diaphragm fully, follow these four rules: (1) breathe deeply, (2) breathe at long intervals, (3) breathe smoothly, and (4) breathe assertively.
Breathing slowly, deeply, and smoothly forces the diaphragm to contract evenly, increasing diaphragmatic strength, coordination, and range of motion.
It is common for people with anxiety to have inhalations that merely last one second and exhalations that last only two seconds.
To rehabilitate our breath, we should practice breathing at least three seconds in and five seconds out (3×5). To make this your default breathing rate, it helps to practice breathing at even longer intervals. Performing paced breathing at 5×7 and working toward 10×12 will accomplish this.
Weakness in the diaphragm is apparent in the form of tiny gasps or unevenness in the breath, called apneic disturbances, which are associated with the startle response.
You can iron out apneic disturbances by breathing smoothly at a slow and even rate.
Breathing assertively involves making sure that social concerns do not interfere with the first three rules. You want to breathe deeply, smoothly, and at long intervals while you are socializing.
Using a breath metronome daily is essential to developing a strong diaphragmatic breathing habit because it will allow you to train yourself to follow the four rules while you focus on other tasks and activities.
Monitor your breathing carefully during conversations; don’t let it become shallow.
Your breath should be a tiny but continuous sip of air that never pauses and always proceeds at a steady rate.
Squinting, eyebrow raising, looking down, and gaze aversion are forms of trauma that fracture our composure but can easily be rehabilitated.
Widening your eyes, relaxing your brow, looking up, and practicing a fixed gaze have many benefits and will literally change your perspective on life.
Squinting is defensive and intended to protect the eyeballs. On a fundamental level it is a sign of defensiveness or submission. Deliberately widening the eyes can end excessive squinting and is especially easy to do when breathing long, deep breaths.
Raised eyebrows are analogous to the action of moving the ears backward in other mammals. This action is performed by an animal being chased so that it can hear its attacker behind it. It is submissive and so should not be strained for long periods.
Eyebrows lowered is analogous to ears forward, which is the posture for an animal chasing another. This should not be strained, either. However, becoming comfortable lowering your eyebrows into a full frown will increase your nonverbal dominance. The same goes for glaring and the side-eye.
Looking down is submissive and doing it habitually weakens the muscles that allow us to look up. Looking upward above the horizon more often strengthens your ocular muscles and conditions your nervous system to stop casting your gaze toward the floor.
Social trauma has caused us to become afraid of fixing our gaze on anything, especially another’s eyes.
Making prolonged eye contact with yourself in a mirror or simply gazing calmly at points in space will train your unconscious visual control systems to be comfortable maintaining a fixed gaze.
After making eye contact, look at or near the eye line rather than below it.
Looking at characters on the TV straight in their eyes will strengthen your ability to look real people in the eyes.
Speaking to someone on the telephone while making sustained, wide-eyed eye contact with yourself in a mirror will strengthen your face-to-face rapport with others.
Spending time in complete darkness while engaging in paced breathing will help you make your visual system’s default activity less chaotic and frightening. Using sound-reducing earmuffs can do the same for your default auditory activity.
Watching TV upside down can reinforce looking up and eye-widening.
Tense muscles with excessive tone burden us. Their tension develops from extended periods of uninterrupted use. This prolonged use is known as repetitive strain or persistent muscle tension.
Much of the muscle tension that we experience comes from unnecessary bracing. Bracing is largely involuntary but is avoidable because we can become aware of it.
Rest and microbreaks give strained muscles the downtime they need to regenerate.
Deprived of breaks, overused muscles become ultra-fatigued. But, given the proper microbreaks, the same muscles could have been healthy and toned.
Long-term strain changes our muscles physically, leading to adaptive muscles shortening, scar tissue, and the formation of trigger points.
Adaptive muscle shortening is a form of partial contraction in which a muscle can neither rest nor contract completely. The fact that the muscle is shorter can distort posture and proper skeletal alignment.
We have partially contracted muscles in the face, vocal tract, spine, abdomen, genitals and other areas.
Muscles that have been in partial contraction for years go dormant. Dormant muscles limit movement, promote frailty, and lower metabolism. They are atrophied, weak, inflamed, surrounded by fat deposits, susceptible to injury, and, worst of all, painful.
Most people have unknowingly allowed muscles in the crux of their necks and lower backs to become completely dormant to the point where they are immobilized and can hardly be contracted at all. If they happen to contract fully, as during a fall or when lifting something heavy, it would be painful and would result in injury.
We brace our breathing muscles, including the diaphragm, when we are nervous. This can push them into partial contraction. To unbrace the diaphragm, allow your exhalations to become passive. This involves doing no work during the exhalation and letting the breathing muscles go limp. The exhalation provides a brief opportunity for all the breathing muscles to relax and receive a microbreak.
Pain signals sent to our brain from tense muscles overwhelm our emotional lives. They cause the “pain-body” to flare up, heightening aggression, ego, and competition for status.
Muscular tension is a fundamental medical and biological problem. Due to its relation to stress, it is responsible for a wide range of downstream pathologies and health issues.
Several studies have shown that relaxing the muscles of the body reduces anxiety.
Distressed breathing results in muscle tension and increased bracing. Chronic distressed breathing results in copious dormant muscle.
Diaphragmatic breathing reduces excessive muscular tone, allowing muscles the microbreaks they need to regenerate. This makes it so that the repetitive strains of everyday life strengthen our muscles rather than weaken them.
Your body has learned to be tense, but you can teach it to let go of the tension.
Unbracing, which can be accomplished by allowing muscles to go limp, is an acquired skill that can rehabilitate your entire body when combined with diaphragmatic breathing.
Corpse pose involves lying on the back and focusing on full-body relaxation.
Progressive relaxation involves systematically scanning over the entire body, tensing muscles, then completely releasing them.
The most dominant primates are the least affected by bracing and brace the least during confrontation and opposition. So, unbrace.
Massage can repair tense, painful muscles all over the body. It works by forcing partially contracted muscles into a resting state, which allows them to regenerate, heal, and receive fresh blood and nutrients.
Pressing firmly into tender, achy muscle provides ischemic compression, which forces the blood out of the tissue and then, when released, increases blood flow.
Muscles that are sore when compressed are the most in need of massage.
All the muscle soreness in your body can and should be removed by massage.
Performed regularly, compression will restore proper length and tone to the muscle, increasing its range of motion, strength, and regenerative capacity as well as reducing tension and pain.
There are key areas of the body that, when massaged, can recover providing tremendous benefits.
Muscle compression is most effective when used with diaphragmatic breathing.
Percussion is another massage modality that involves gently but rapidly striking a muscle. Vibration is a third modality that uses a vibrating, electric massage tool.
Massage also improves posture, athleticism, muscular endurance, coordination, flexibility, and mobility.
Learning to massage yourself is awkward at first. Achieving the ability to do it effectively may take months but is a skill worth investing time in. Getting professional massages can help the learning process.
Grooming in primates is vital to stress reduction, social cohesion, and well-being. You can achieve the same positive outcomes by making time to affectionately massage, rub, and caress those closest to you.
The fear and grief centers of our brains have been recruited as part of the default network. This makes negative thinking exceedingly difficult to stop.
Disengage from fear and grief by repeatedly envisioning yourself as nonjudgmental, nonresistant, and nonattached.
Learn to reframe stressors, live in the present moment, and recognize thoughts for what they are: just thoughts.
The worst-case scenarios that we worry about so much rarely come to pass.
Recognize that many of your concerns are just defensive pessimism disguised as practicality.
Negative thinking is a trance. Snap yourself out of it.
Acute stress may give you a slight, temporary, advantage in some immediate situations, but chronic stress is a disadvantage in all situations.
Keep in mind that the calmer you are, the better prepared you are to respond to adversity.
Recognize that you do not need anxiety to be alert, cogent, and socially functional.
Negative thoughts broadcast unhealthy biological signals to the entire body. The more airtime you give to negative thinking, the unhealthier you will become.
Stressed thinking causes important brain areas, like the hippocampus and PFC, to physically degenerate, whereas the absence of stress causes them to flourish.
Don’t let the downsides of stress as described here cause you to fear stress or anxiety. You might even find that your anxiety calms if you allow yourself to feel free to be as anxious as you want.
Prolonged paced diaphragmatic breathing strips negative thoughts and memories of their ability to abduct your train of thought.
There is no good reason to be reprocessing insecurities from months or years ago. If you have already made an effort to compensate for them, let them go.
Try being “dead calm,” first by yourself and then with others.
Minimize replaying or imagining negative social scenarios, especially confrontational or violent ones.
Be very calm when you model social interactions in your head.
Be very calm in social situations. Retain complete composure. Make being calm a priority in your life, eclipsing the fear of appearing rude or unsophisticated.
Expect that the most relaxed version of you has what it takes to resolve any scenario.
The dominant monkey is not stressed because it believes in its ability to deal with whatever new hardship comes along. It trusts that it doesn’t have to overthink things to react adeptly to any circumstance.
Chapter Eight: Bullet Points
We brace the muscles in our face throughout the day, resulting in continual wincing, grimacing, and frowning.
Facial bracing causes the muscles to become stuck in partial contraction and develop trigger points and adaptive muscle shortening.
The repetitive strain of facial muscle is disempowering because it anchors you to negative thoughts and emotions.
The activation of latent trigger points in the face destroys our composure and contributes to social fatigue and introversion.
Practicing a resting face, corpse face, or expressionlessness will stop the accumulation of strain and make your face agile and “light on its feet.”
To make expressionlessness effortless and ensure that it does not offend people, it must be combined with diaphragmatic breathing, widening of the eyes, fixed gaze practices, and positive intentions.
Expressionlessness will reduce strain and keep latent trigger points from becoming active. However, removing the trigger points requires massage and hard contraction of the muscles involved.
Exercising the facial muscles by contracting them beyond their normal range until they reach fatigue, and combining this with diaphragmatic breathing, will strengthen and revive them.
In monkeys, baring the teeth is a threat and subordination display, so the smile is intrinsically tied to the stress system.
Our smiles have become tainted by repetitive strain, and the smiling muscles are stuck in partial contraction, full of trigger points, and painful. Our tight, braced smiles aren’t happy—they’re just submissive and tense.
Contracting the smiling muscles completely while breathing diaphragmatically (and then compressing the muscles afterward) will reverse the bracing.
Isolating and fully contracting the zygomatic, risorius, and buccinator muscles will improve your smile.
Careful practice will enable you to remove the squint, eyebrow raise, and sneer from your smile, freeing it to be a purely positive expression.
Practicing a smile while making eye contact with yourself in front of a mirror will help you smile while making eye contact with others.
Practicing smiling while reading out loud will help you smile while speaking to others.
As often as possible, practice wearing either the biggest or the tiniest smile that you can.
Chapter Eleven: Bullet Points
Distress causes over-breathing, also known as hyperventilation, which is strongly associated with anxiety and has many negative symptoms and repercussions.
Taking exaggeratedly slow breaths will put you on an “air diet,” reducing distressed breathing and hyperventilation.
You want your diaphragm to approximate a large piston moving in slow motion.
Because nasal breathing forces you to breathe more slowly, it will strengthen the diaphragm and greatly reduce distressed breathing. Taping the mouth helps with this.
Breathing in for as long as you can will force the diaphragm to contract completely, expanding its range, pushing it to fatigue, and allowing it to rest afterward.
Stretching the diaphragm and contracting it isometrically will make it stronger and increase its range of motion.
Breath holding, mewing, and pant-hooting may help rehabilitate your breathing habits.
Providing compression to the nasopharynx, soft palate, and tongue will remove trauma in these areas.
Chapter Twelve: Bullet Points
Stressed and submissive mammals vocalize in an artificially high range. This is also true of humans.
Over time, persistent high pitch strains the voice box, leads to the degradation of the voice, and creates a stubborn lump in the throat.
Speak deeper, louder, and more assertively. Start using your outside voice indoors and your distance voice in close quarters.
Never whine. Stop yourself whenever you notice that you are speaking in a voice that it higher than natural.
Tense throat muscles can be rehabilitated in several ways, including exercising the muscles involved by holding a chin lock, therapeutic coughing, massaging the throat muscles externally, muting your internal monologue, developing a relaxed default vocal posture, and engaging in diaphragmatic vocalization.
Diaphragmatic vocalization will pull your vocal muscles out of dormancy. To do this, you take a deep inhalation and then vocalize until you have no air left. You can hum, sing, speak, growl, cough, or yell. Repeating this over and over with the voice deep and relaxed will rehabilitate your vocal tract. Afterward, it is essential to let these exercised areas rest completely.
The optimal resting vocal posture includes limp vocal cords, a relaxed glottis, and breathing as if you are fogging up a glass.
The anti-rigidity technique is performed by searching for dormant muscles whose joints crack or ache, then rehabbing them. To reach these dormant muscles, the body must be placed into unfamiliar positions.
Rehab is achieved by finding a postural configuration that cracks and then holding it for five to 30 seconds at a time. It feels like a stretch but is a contraction that you want to hold until the muscles involved reach fatigue.
It is well known in exercise science that firmly contracting a muscle before relaxing it brings it to a deeper level of relaxation.
Usually, contracting dormant tender muscles makes us breathe shallowly as if we were being submerged in cold water. The key to anti-rigidity is to pair the contraction of dormant muscle with diaphragmatic breathing.
Anti-rigidity reduces the internal impedance within the contractile tissue, resetting the muscle to its biomechanically optimal orientation. If you want peak performance, you need anti-rigidity.
Anti-rigidity releases foundational postural muscles from strain. Some of these muscles may have been lying dormant for decades. This results in the reintegration of dormant muscle with active muscle restoring strength, endurance, flexibility, stability, and ideal posture.
Anti-rigidity will get your muscles firing again, tone and balance your body, reduce fatigue and soreness, and counteract the poor loading profiles of the modern lifestyle.
For a muscle to be healthy, it needs times during the day when it is pulled to full resting length and other times when it is contracted to its smallest dimension. Use anti-rigidity daily to achieve this.
Experiment and play with the muscles you have neglected for so long, and with time, you will experience an “incredible lightness of being.”
Muscles are like springs that are bent out of shape. A muscle that has low tone and is not firing properly is like a spring whose coil has become stretched out. Such muscles require anti-laxity.
A muscle stuck in partial contraction is like a spring that is not at its resting length (relaxed) or its shortest length (contracted) but stuck somewhere in the middle. Such muscles require anti-rigidity.
Underused muscles need anti-laxity, and overused muscles need anti-rigidity.
Dormant muscle tears easily leading to injury.
Perform anti-rigidity while you perform yoga or while you lift light weights so that you can get leverage into dormant muscle.
Cardio and weightlifting increase circulation, and thereby make subsequent anti-rigidity more productive.
Employing anti-rigidity with exercise releases muscles from deep strain, reduces fatigue, and restores strength and endurance.
When exercising, don’t put all your intensity into an invariant form. Alter your form, using as many configurations as possible. This creates multidimensional strength.
Progress from body weight and very low weight toward heavier weights.
Rest once the first muscle group reaches fatigue.
Focus on debracing and dissipating tension after a set or workout.
It is highly beneficial to perform anti-rigidity and massage on any muscles that are sore the day after a workout.
Always exercise using the tenets of optimal posture.
Chapter Sixteen: Bullet Points
In most people, the neck is severely underused and holds massive amounts of strain.
Anterior head syndrome, also called the “dowager’s hump” and “nerd neck,” is caused by jutting the chin out, bending the top of the neck backward, and pushing the bottom of the neck forward. This is called neck protraction and is a highly submissive posture.
Counteract this by performing neck retraction, which involves pulling the bottom of the neck backward and pushing the top forward while tucking the chin inward toward the chest and throat. This should include a chin lock.
You can assume many postures that will help you locate dormant muscle in the neck and shoulders so that it can be rehabilitated with anti-rigidity training. These include neck retraction, protraction, and extension, pressing the shoulders down, shrugging, hugging yourself, shoulder external rotation, opening the chest, clasping the hands behind the back, holding them out to the side, and many others.
The more you practice bringing dormant neck and shoulder muscles to fatigue, the sooner they will be strong enough to hold an athletic and stable position naturally.
If you use anti-rigidity to rehab the stiff, rigid muscles in your neck, you will become less tightly wound and you will find the act of exercise to be easier and more rewarding.
Chapter Seventeen: Bullet Points
Portions of the lower back are rarely used, so they remain in a tense state of partial contraction. This leaves them susceptible to injury and causes lower back pain.
To optimize lumbar mobility, use anti-rigidity exercises in the lumbar region by bending, extending, and flexing it in every direction.
Doing sit-ups, yoga poses, Pilates, toe touches, trunk twists, hip-hinging, hip-swiveling, deadlifts, squats, and lunges will all help.
These exercises should be performed with only your bodyweight, at very low intensity, with many repetitions.
Bend over and touch your toes several times per day. When doing so, bend from the hip, not the waist.
You can employ traction to decompress the spine by using an inversion table, “stretchlying,” or decompressive massage.
You can unlock the lumbar spinal muscles, glutes, hips, and the entire sacroiliac joint by massaging the area with baseballs, compressing it with your knuckles, or percussing it with tools.
Put your lower back and hips into as many unfamiliar configurations as possible. Rehab these configurations from all angles using deep breathing, anti-laxity and anti-rigidity.
Maintain the five tenets of optimal posture while walking.
Strut and swagger while you walk to build confidence.
Walk with exaggerated, solider-like posture for two minutes until the muscles involved reach a healthy fatigue. Then allow the muscles at least a minute to rest completely before repeating.
Perform upper-body anti-rigidity while you walk, by moving your arms, shoulders, and back through different, unfamiliar configurations.
Walking regularly with your hands in the air and the neck retracted will help put your cervical and thoracic spine into optimal configuration.
When you walk for prolonged periods take breaks to allow your muscles to regenerate.
When you break from walking, refresh your muscles by squatting, lunging, and touching your toes. This will bring fresh blood to spinal sections that have become stale.
Practice glidewalking where the glute, calf, and toes of the back leg are fully deployed with every step.
Walk with both feet pointing straight ahead.
Capture the remaining momentum from each stride so that it can be applied to the next.
Chapter Nineteen: Bullet Points
Primates are violently sexually competitive, causing all but the most dominant individuals to become sexually submissive.
Most people have a submissive urogenital posture secondary to suboptimal responses to sexual bullying.
Sexual submission involves pelvic floor bracing, which is related to sexual dysfunction, and the regression of psychosexual development.
Pairing diaphragmatic breathing with exercising both the urinary retention and expulsion muscles can rehabilitate your pelvic floor.
Spend time focusing on the physical sensations emanating from your genitals, and touch them in affectionate and reassuring ways to reduce bracing.
When alone, spend time naked. When in public, pretend that you are both naked and comfortable.
Whether you are nude or clothed, flex your buttocks, push your hips forward, roll the top of your pelvis backward, and otherwise use your body language to show that you are proud to have your genitals on display.
Don’t obsess over perceived physical or performance inadequacies.
Get people and media that are toxic to your sexuality out of your life.
We don’t crave healthy foods because we have not had the experience of getting full on them by themselves. Give yourself that experience by eating full meals that consist of only fruits and vegetables.
Use a blender to turn fruit and vegetables into smoothies. It is a speedy, healthy, inexpensive, and low-calorie way to get full.
We overeat unhealthy food to transiently increase our dopamine and endorphins as an attempt to self-medicate against panic and stress.
We have spent our lives pairing hunger with thoracic breathing. This is why hunger causes distress, which, in turn, causes us to overeat. By fasting for a meal and pairing the fasting experience with paced breathing, you can detraumatize your nervous system’s relationship with hunger.
Stop eating when you feel 80% satiated.
Only start eating when you feel at least 80% hungry.
People with copious dormant muscle must diet to a stress-inducing extent to maintain a healthy weight. Reviving dormant muscle using anti-rigidity will increase your metabolism.
Most people have an extensive reservoir of dormant abdominal muscle. Your stomach will become much leaner if you rehabilitate this muscle with massage and anti-laxity and anti-rigidity exercises.
Chapter Twenty-One: Bullet Points
Don’t fear stress. Apprehension of stress makes it more physiologically detrimental.
We can respond to stressors in a healthy way by considering them challenges (challenge response) or in an unhealthy way by considering them threats (threat response).
Whether your unconscious mind responds to stressors with the threat response or the challenge response may be determined by the quality of your breathing.
Virtually all drug use leads to withdrawal symptoms that weaken you as a person.
People who mix socializing with drugs unknowingly brace various muscles and organs for sustained periods.
Video games, loud music, and violent, suspenseful entertainment lead to low-level panic that can become chronic.
You are on “no chill” mode. And you need to come off it.
Consider taking one day a week, perhaps Sundays, to unwind and remove yourself from all worries, work, rushes, and social conflicts. A whole day of rest serves as a “macrobreak.” Committing 1/7 of your life to restorative relaxation can make a huge difference over time.
Regular exercise releases endorphins and enhances our mood, keeping our minds from running our bodies into the ground.
Anxiety is your body’s way of begging you for exercise.
Interoception is the ability to perceive the sensations going on within your body. Developing interoception will allow you to learn how to unbrace your internal organs.
Preexisting tension in your abdomen combined with stress causes that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.
Compressing your abdomen with a basketball will relieve this tension and make you immune to gut-wrenching episodes.
Your heart chronically beats too fast, causing cumulative damage to it.
If you listen to your heart with a stethoscope, you should be able to sense that it is beating too fast and out of proportion with environmental demands.
Listening to your heart with a stethoscope while paced breathing provides a form of relief that you cannot get anywhere else.
As you do this, imagine breathing into and out of your heart.
Paced diaphragmatic breathing causes your heart to slow, your vagal tone and HRV to increase, and your blood pressure to decrease.
Tell yourself that you are the kind of person whose heart beats slowly.
Your thought process is playing a game of table tennis with your diaphragm. Your heart is the ping pong ball. Each time the ball strikes a paddle, you have a heartbeat. Right now, they are playing at a furious pace and none of the players are enjoying themselves. You want to slow them down. You want them to be lobbing the ball to each other, keeping an easy volley going, and having a fun, non-competitive game.
Chapter Twenty-Three: Bullet Points
Dominant or alpha primates have higher serotonin levels in the blood and brain than the other members of their group. If they are deposed, their serotonin plunges, and the new alpha’s serotonin will soar.
Being an alpha with high serotonin that can never be deposed is a state of mind you can create with time.
Increased serotonin makes you feel less stressed in response to threats and less concerned with other people’s expectations regarding your subordination displays.
We act in ways to increase our serotonin, but this often brings us into conflict with others and can lead to self-destructive behavior.
Any wins garnered through aggression or hostility are temporary and unsustainable.
Increase your confidence not through pitting yourself against or comparing yourself to others but through appreciating the abundance you already have.
You don’t have to be a high-energy extrovert to be assertive and high in status.
You have reached ego dissolution once your breathing is no longer controlled by pride or prestige.
The same boost you used to get from pulling others down, you can double it by being successful at building rapport or making a new friend.
Your nervous system supports a mode of operation in which all movements are fluid and unwavering, as in tai chi.
Social submission interferes with fluid movement. Your gesticulations at a party should be as smooth and effortless as your motions in tai chi.
Camaraderie, gratefulness, and a mindset that is not attached to status and not dependent on the regard of others will help us transcend serotonin blows.
It shouldn’t feel socially awkward to have dominant body language.
Get your confidence boosts by competing with yourself and aiming to beat your personal bests.
Master the belief that no matter what, you will be just fine.
Chapter Twenty-Four: Bullet Points
Hostility is associated with heart disease, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and inflammation.
There is no need to be right or make anyone else wrong.
Don’t embed barbs in your comments.
Never let anything anyone says cause you to beat yourself up from the inside.
Use skillful assertion to bring out the best in people.
Do as much as you can to see others as tribe members, collaborators, and players on the same team rather than rivals.
You should never feel forced to choose between being a nice guy no one respects and being a jerk who gets everything he wants.
When dealing with a difficult person, you want to sidestep their negativity and take the shortcut to the outcome that you want while remaining fair and equitable.
Resist the emotional urge to take offense and pursue vengeance.
Respond to provocation with calm non-contention.
Handle conflict charismatically.
Never respond as if you are reacting to bullying. Never be a victim.
Trying to be better than other people and outdo them is exhausting and ends up taxing your health.
Cultivate self-awareness for your tendency to take out frustrations and transfer blame.
Don’t let anyone grab you by the breath.
Acknowledge that your actions and opinions are fallible.
Feel comfortable apologizing and offering clarification for your behaviors.
Avoid implicitly condoning acts of incivility that you witness.
Lower your constant guard against perceived diminishment and loss of ego.
Reframe the offenses of others as shortcomings in priorities, judgment, social maturity, and word choice.
Demonstrate more interest in finding a solution than in defending a position.
Retain your peace regardless of the other person’s disposition.
Listen to and make an effort to understand others’ perspectives without interrupting.
Instead of contradicting the contribution of another, think about how you can build on top of it.
Be a psychopath with a heart of gold.
Be absolutely unflappable. Pretend you are a god if need be. That calm exterior starts as a bluff but becomes a way of life.
Assume the best or neutral motives in others. Maintain an objective stance when conflict arises.
Instead of taking in the worst from everyone and reacting against it, selectively take the best and channel it into everything you do.
Chapter Twenty-Five: Bullet Points
Treat everyone as if they are the least awkward person you have ever met.
There are so many ways to be endearing. There’s no need to forfeit your composure or health to do so.
Creating a “pure of heart” mindset will make many of your troubles disappear.
When mammals are playful, they are truly wonderful creatures.
You can directly reduce stress by stimulating the play and nurturance areas of your brain. To do this, you must be playful with and nurture others.
The “feel good” neurochemicals like endorphins, serotonin, oxytocin, and vasopressin derive from kind behavior. Nature endorses morality.
Remember that real virtue does not complement itself and is not even aware of itself as a virtue.
Laughing exercises will give you a bold laugh and fortify your innards.
Every laugh should almost sound antagonistic, as if you were laughing at someone, but only because it is assertive and unaffected by submissive tendencies.
A night full of fake laughing and smiling will increase the tension you feel the next morning. And yet, one minute of genuine, unadulterated laughing can relieve all that strain.
Self-stimulating happiness is key to perpetuating your upward developmental spiral.
Self-amusement is very healthy and a trait of dominant people.
Feel free to be silly.
Act like every day is your birthday and every night is Saturday night.
When you are mistreated, think of it as an opportunity for personal growth. Consciously deciding to under-react to negativity is regarded by many to be the most powerful way to achieve spiritual growth.
Jared has been researching and publishing work related to brain science for over 17 years. He has a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in brain and cognitive science from the University of Southern California. He also has a Master’s in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University, as well as a minor in neuroscience, a minor in business, and a Bachelors in psychology from USC. He is certified as a personal trainer, health coach, fitness nutrition specialist, and functional training specialist. He specializes in writing theoretical research articles and puts special emphasis on an interdisciplinary approach to integrative biology and cognitive neuroscience. You can find out more about his research at http://www.jared-research.com
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