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The Brain's "Hope Circuit"

Cory Muscara



Cory Muscara



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The Brain's "Hope Circuit"

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Hey, welcome back to

your Daily Mindfulness.

In today's session, we're going to talk

about something called the hope circuit.

Have you ever heard the

phrase learned helplessness?

This was coined by the psychologist, Dr.

Martin Seligman and Dr.

Steve Mayer.

And it's the idea that if an animal or

person is exposed to difficult experiences

over and over, but they don't feel like

their actions can stop the experience

from arising, they'll start to shut down.

They'll get depressed and they

won't feel more motivated.

The idea is that they've learned that

there's nothing they can do, so why try.

Learned helplessness.

And maybe you've experienced

this in your own life at times.

Going through repeatedly difficult

experiences and not feeling like there's

anything you can do to, to help yourself.

It can be demoralizing, and it can

lead to a sense of helplessness.

However, there's new research that

has just come out by Steve Mayer

that shows learned helplessness

is not actually learned.

Instead that state of feeling helpless,

helplessness is our default response

to a threatening situation, which

is, to curl up in a ball, protect

ourselves, get quiet and do nothing.

It's a protective mechanism

that we have as humans and as

animals, our default response in

the brain to threatening events.

But what Dr.

Mayer's research now shows is that there's

actually a circuitry in the brain that

overrides this helplessness response.

Stimulating a part of the brain called the

dorsal raphe nucleus, research suggests

this circuitry is associated with hope

and is now being termed the hope circuit.

So when we fall into that state

of helplessness, which a lot of

us are familiar with, especially

around difficult events.

It's not because we've learned

to be helplessness, helpless.

It's because we're not activating

our hope circuit that overrides

the helplessness response.

One simple way to work with this

in your life is to simply ask, what

part of the situation can I control?

What do I hope that I can change?

Where do I feel like maybe this moment

can get better or seeing a positive

future that feels very hard to access?

Once you feel like you can influence

the ,experience you activate

that circuitry in the brain.

And it overrides that

helplessness response.

Hope is powerful.

And at what, it's what makes

us unique as human beings.

We'll talk some more about

this in the meditation.

And as always thank you for your practice.

I'll talk to you shortly and take care.

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