The Amygdala (ah-mig-da-la) is a son of a bitch. But it’s your friend… your almond-shaped friend. It’s only looking out for you just like a protective mother. But like her, the amygdala can take protecting to another level.
Referred to as the lizard brain, the amygdala is responsible your flight or fight responses, but mainly flight. Its main function is to control your emotions and motivations. The amygdala keeps a tally on your fear, anger and negativity for the most part. It’s literarily the voice inside your head telling you to “don’t do it,” “think about it,” or “what will (so-and-so) say/think about this?”.
One trick the amygdala performs is the art of combining your memories with your certain response to those events (i.e. how you felt when the bully punched you in the stomach on your way to Drama class or when Suzie Shakespeare said no when you asked her to prom).
It compartmentalizes every emotion and stores them in the appropriate areas of your brain for later use (i.e. “Hey Michael, you remember when “that” happen, WE WON’T BE FOOLED AGAIN!!!).
The amygdala is also why we can figure out what we were doing/smelling/eating/listening to when we heard two planes crashed into the World Trade Center, when O.J. was acquitted or when you crashed into that fire hydrant.
The downside is that too much of the amygdala thinking can lead to some bad habits such as obsessing over trivial matters, becoming too critical and just making excuses for yourself.
Whether it’s exercising or trying to figure out a project at home or work, there is always some seed of doubt waiting to grow (“I can’t do this,” “This is way too hard,” “What did I get myself into?”). The amygdala, out of concern and safety, whispers these lines consistently. With every setback, it grows louder and louder until your brain goes back to reference any minor or major failure to make you feel it’s okay to quit or delay things for a while.
That, my friend, is procrastination and it keeps you from succeeding. But there’s good news. It works the other way. A string of little successes can reinforce all of the mental triggers for future references when challenged in a similar situation (i.e. you don’t put your hand over the fire because you’ll get burned or the healthy feeling you’ll have when you decide not to pick up that cigarette).
I guess I’m simplifying, but that’s the short and skinny of our maternal friend, Amygdala. You can find a more technical analysis here.
Plus, here’s a nifty video about the lizard brain and ways to conquer it.
What are some of the ways that you conquer your lizard brain? Comment below!
WEEK 3 PICKS
Last Week: 7-9
“Back to Life, Back to Reality…”
PICKS ARE IN BOLD.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 18
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT ATLANTA FALCONS — 8:25 p.m.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 21
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS AT BUFFALO BILLS — 1:00 p.m.
TENNESSEE TITANS AT CINCINNATI BENGALS — 1:00 p.m.
BALTIMORE RAVENS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS — 1:00 p.m.
GREEN BAY PACKERS AT DETROIT LIONS– 1:00 p.m.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS — 1:00 p.m.
OAKLAND RAIDERS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS — 1:00 p.m.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS — 1:00 p.m.
HOUSTON TEXANS AT N.Y. GIANTS — 1:00 p.m.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES — 1:00 p.m.
DALLAS COWBOYS AT ST. LOUIS RAMS — 1:00 p.m.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS AT ARIZONA CARDINALS — 4:05 p.m.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT MIAMI DOLPHINS — 4:25 p.m.
DENVER BRONCOS AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS — 4:25 p.m.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT CAROLINA PANTHERS — 8:30 p.m.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 22
CHICAGO BEARS AT N.Y. JETS — 8:30 p.m.
“You should smile more.”
This is what I hear often. I particularly don’t like my smile. I have two enormous, over-bitten front choppers that are uncomfortably separated. When I do smile, one might suspect a linebacker is coming to fill my A-gap for a tackle. Also, it doesn’t help I’m 6’3ish” 200-plus lbs. with eyes that pierce steel.
Although I’m a jovial person, my facial features tell otherwise. I’m mistaken for cruel or at least menacing at first glance. Hygiene-wise, I’m on top of my game with my teeth. My problem is conveying happiness to the initial stranger. There are several ways I’m trying to communicate my inner happiness for the whole world to see.
Practice, practice, practice
My smile is one of the original qualities I possess. If I’m going to perfect this train wreck, I got to practice in front of a mirror until I can’t get it wrong. At least I know what I’m working with, so I’m going with a lot of looks here.
The one on the right is known as the standard “Duchenne smile“. It’s the gold standard of smiles. When we do it right and with feeling, the only stressed parts of our face should be the cheeks and corners of our eyes. Although they’re easy to fake, it’s generally a tell of genuine enjoyment. Like this chick below. See how happy she looks…
The second shot known as “teeging” where my mouth is slightly open while my tongue is pressed against my teeth. I call it my “Yes, more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, please” look.
My third and “THERE’S MORE BP&J?!? I LOVE YOU!” pose is an example of the LOL smile where—at it’s maximum—my happy vein would pop out in the middle of my big forehead. In test driving these positions, one thing I’ve learned is to recognize how my face feels when I’m truly smiling and memorize it. Doing this, I figured out that I often smile with my eyes but the rest of my face doesn’t follow suit. In order to get the full effect, I often try to go for an “eyes-only” approach. It works well when you want to express pleasure without actually screaming “WOO-HOO!”.
I’m not saying cheese!
The exact origin of how this started is debatable, but understandable. When you say cheese, your cheeks expand and your pearly whites show, but the end result looks forced. I’ve found uttering words that end with an “uh” sound such as “yoga” and “mocha” work well.
But old habits die hard. So here’s a trick. When the person taking the pictures yells, “Say Cheese,” reply in a condescending manner “Nooo”. The slow motion of your diction will retract you cheeks back into the smile you’ve always wanted. Don’t believe me? Try it.
Find your happy place
While taking these three photos, I was thinking of how amazing it was when man first combined peanut butter and jam which made me all tickled inside, thus causing me elation. Thinking happy thoughts does lead to more smiling, but this could also be the case of the egg leading the chicken. Studies have shown that the mere act of smiling makes us happier humans which takes us to our happy place (and happy vein). But watch out… a frown can have the same effect.
Speaking of which, you know that adage “it takes more muscles to frown than to smile”? Well, someone may have been lying to you. On average, we use the same amount of muscles to do both. The difference is in our zygomatic major muscle. That’s the one we flex when we smile. Chances are, we humans are more smilers than frowners. With any muscle, the more we work it, the stronger it becomes. Thus frowning may appear to be a tad bit harder due to inactivity.
Learning to smile is so simple but becoming cognizant of how it’s perceived is just one of the many life-hackish improvements I’m undergoing. After all, it promotes trust and a better understanding of my fellow humans. It’s just one of those small things that can lead to big opportunities.
And that’ll put a smile on my face.
We start fresh. New Season: New Beginning
WEEK 1 – My predictions are in BOLD
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 4
GREEN BAY PACKERS AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS — 8:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 7
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT ATLANTA FALCONS — 1:00 p.m.
CINCINNATI BENGALS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS — 1:00 p.m.
BUFFALO BILLS AT CHICAGO BEARS — 1:00 p.m.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS AT HOUSTON TEXANS — 1:00 p.m.
TENNESSEE TITANS AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS — 1:00 p.m.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AT MIAMI DOLPHINS — 1:00 p.m.
OAKLAND RAIDERS AT N.Y. JETS — 1:00 p.m.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES — 1:00 p.m.
CLEVELAND BROWNS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS — 1:00 p.m.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS AT ST. LOUIS RAMS — 1:00 p.m.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS AT DALLAS COWBOYS — 4:25 p.m.
CAROLINA PANTHERS AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS — 4:25 p.m.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS AT DENVER BRONCOS — 8:30 p.m.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 8
N.Y. GIANTS AT DETROIT LIONS — 7:10 p.m.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS AT ARIZONA CARDINALS — 10:20 p.m.