“If we just wanted positive emotions, our species would have died out a long time ago.” – Martin Seligman
I was reading Jill Bolte Taylor’s book “My Stroke Of Insight”. A great read from a brain scientist who experiences a stroke. Recommend it highly!
In it she said that when something triggers a strong emotion it takes 90 seconds to go through our system. I was fascinated and started reading. Turned out it was something of an oversimplification, but it wasn’t totally off.
The chemicals released have a half-life between 1 minute 12 seconds to 2 minutes 30 seconds. It was weird that I couldn’t find anything more detailed or recent than 1983, but there you go. Science!
This doesn’t mean that the body’s flushed it out or we’re totally in control. It shows us that we can influence what happens next. We can either choose to steer away from it or towards it.
Let’s say someone or something pisses you off. Reaction! The chemicals run through the system, we have little to no control off what happens inside our bodies. We don’t need to lash out and give in to these emotions but we have to accept that they’re there right now. Ride it out.
Alright, it’s been 2 minutes. The feelings might be there but they aren’t as intense. Was it really that bad? Do we still want to say something hurtful? We can start to think clearly. Where do we want to go from here? Maybe explaining that we got mad and that we need to talk about what happened and why it happened.
Logic and emotion working together, baby!
What we need to do after that is to take care of our body. Exercise, meditation or just smelling herbs or flowers can help the body reduce the levels of harmful chemicals in the system.
While it might not be entirely true that we can completely change our state in 90 seconds, it beats the hell out of feeling like crap for the following 24 hours for the stupid shit we said in the heat of the moment!