TRADE UP TO THE BIG BOX- Using Neuroplasticity to Wire Happiness

Posted by Juan Quien | February 02, 2018 | Blog

It is said that true happiness comes when you want what you have. I find that to be true.  So my secret to happiness is to trade up to the big box and turn my don’t wants into what I really want. What does that mean ?

Life is full of wants and don’t wants. The wants are easy, we are automatically happy when we get what we want. The trouble comes when we get what I call the ‘don’t wants” of life. Don’t wants come in all sizes, they can be as small as  "I don’t want to be late or stuck in traffic, I don’t want to talk to my mother-in–law or I don't want to wait in line at the grocery” OR they can be big as I don’t want a divorce or for my mother to die.  No matter the size of the don’t wants, there is a part of the brain, the brainstem that automatically turns every don’t want into a threat causing our bodies to release stress chemistry and creating in us reactive patterns of behavior that we often don’t see, but that disrupts us and destroys happiness.

We may be aware when the don’t wants are big, but the little ones, they are insidious and they function like a balloon with a small hole, draining happiness away in not noticeable ways, leaving us at the end of the day feeling everything from annoyed, ticked, exhausted, bothered and frustrated. So knowing this, what do I do to have peace and joy, which for me means happy? I make sure I move ALL of my don’t wants, big and little from the level of the brainstem where I am unconsciously stressed and reacting to the cortex where I can be conscious and get what I want. 

How do I do that?

A) I identify EVERY don’t want and I call them just that- this stops my brain stem from turning don’t wants into a threat thereby releasing stress chemistry and creating reaction.

B) I move the don’t want up to the cortex and make a very conscious effort to trade these don’t wants up to the big box – by focusing on what I really want instead of what I don’t want.

Here are a few examples on how I trade up:

  • When my child gets a bad grade in school , I think…“I don’t want that bad grade” and that can cause my brain stem to produce stress and cause me to move into reaction…yelling and fighting about the grade OR even reacting by controlling my child and becoming a helicopter about school work. Trading up to the big box means, I turn this into what I want.  Instead of just wanting an A, which is something I can’t control, I trade up for wanting my child to learn resilience and how to handle failure. With this trade-up I can offer my child guidance so that he can be the human being he wants to be and I can be the parent I want to be.
  • When an error is made at work, instead of thinking that I don’t want my staff to make a mistake that can cause me to lose a client, I trade up to the big box. I see that I want to be the kind of mentor and guide that wants us all to learn from our mistakes, always serve and be better. I understand that mistakes are the birthplace of creativity. Instead of creating an environment that mistakes are not acceptable, I WANT to create an environment that encourages growth, development and learning.

So my key to happiness is to:

  • SEE my don’t wants
  • See what my brain stem is doing- its neurology, this IS what the brain stem does..that’s it’s job!
  • Move the don’t want to the cortex by becoming conscious of it
  • Focus on getting what I WANT from the situation rather than what I Don’t want

I pay attention and I see that I want what I have. I don’t wish anything away. I just use neurology to help me go from the unconscious stress producing part of my brain to the conscious part of my brain. I trade up from the little box of the Don’t Want to the big box of the WANT. When I do this, I easily turn what I already have into something that I want and that brings me automatic happiness.