The good things in life come from the inside, not from the outside
— Peter Kelder, The Eye Of Revelation
Our brain is wired to believe that some material wealth or some level of comfort, or some social status, or some personal achievement, will create happiness, serenity, solace, internal peace.
But as you changed jobs, acquired various things, attained new heights, accomplished more goals, you started to realize that it does not take long for these things to be old and the need for more, new everything, resurfaces relentlessly.
This is Brain 3 doing its job.
Although this part of the brain provided us with the life we know today, it is useless in the quest for happiness.
Happiness is a state of mind. A state of deep calm, welcoming all things, unafraid of consequences.
This state of mind is the realm of Brain 2
The Brain Division
The brain is divided into three distinct yet interlocked parts
- Brain 1 is in charge of managing bodily functions.
This part of the brain keeps our heart beating, regulates our body temperature, etc.
- Brain 2 is the center of emotion, creativity, intuition, connection, and decision.
- Brain 3 is the center of thinking, reasoning, logic, and consciousness.
Brain 3 is the source of worry and agitation
Brain 3 is constantly churning thoughts. These compose the endless stream of thinking that keeps you up at night and distracted during the day.
Brain 3 is constantly comparing things and assessing their value. It has been built to never stop inquiring about better solutions. By definition, Brain 3 cannot be satisfied (it is always looking for a better solution!)
Fear of missing out, worry, anxiety, are all variations of that perpetually unsatisfied quest.
Brain 2 is the brain of Happiness
Brain 2 is the siege of passive observation, nothing bothers it because it does not compare or judge. Brain 2 only perceives things the way they are at the moment.
Joy, happiness, elation and other euphoric feelings are generated by Brain 2. Only when this part of the brain is active can these emotions be felt.
The Happiness Formula
Happiness has a very simple formula: quiet Brain 3 activity and let Brain 2 just be.
As soon as this is happening, elation will ensue.
- Using alcohol or drugs will numb Brain 3 and let Brain 2 do its euphoric magic.
- Extreme sports and amusement park ride will engage Brain 1 for its adrenaline rush and superior capacity to pay attention to minute details. Brain 3 is set aside and Brain 2 feels good.
Unfortunately, these solutions tend to be costly and dangerous. They are also not always available.
On the other hand, meditation, relaxation and associated practices are free, safe and always at your disposal
Meditation is the practice of focusing on something that is happening at the present time, such as your own breathing, the noise around you, the itch inside you, or a specific set of thoughts.
Meditation makes use of Brain 3’s willpower. Brain 3 is the only part of our brain that can be controlled into thinking something.
By focusing on something that is happening at the present time, Brain 3 cannot think of something else. Brain 3 cannot do two things at once. – It cannot text and drive for instance – it only jumps from one task to another very quickly. Hence the illusion of multitasking. As soon as one task solicits more attention -like texting- the other is abandoned.
By forcing Brain 3 to focus its attention on something, we can streamline its thoughts and decrease the number of its processes. A bit like closing apps and windows on a computer. Only when the clutter of thoughts clears out can Brain 2 be receptive to current reality.
Then it comes. That good feeling of being light and liberated. Nothing can bother you anymore. You are in the Now.
Meditation becomes easier with regular practice. This good feeling can be solicited more often and last longer.
A meditation session can be as short a 3 minutes. It does not require any special equipment. The beginners will seek a special place, that is quiet and inviting to the practice. But the regular practitioners quickly apply their skill at any time and place. They see the invitation everywhere in everything.
With the practice comes the detachment from certain Brain 3’s prized possessions. Brain 2 does not need much but what is there at the moment.
This is the Way
A political victory, a rise in rents, the recovery of your sick, or return of your absent friend, or some other quite external event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson