We’ve all had those kinds of days where everything seems to go wrong. You’re running late, and hit every single stoplight from home to work. Kids are uncooperative. You forget your phone (and wallet). You spill coffee down the front your shirt. And so it goes. Nothing overly shocking, it happens to everyone now and again, but science is finding that how we respond to these kinds of challenging circumstances says a lot about how our brains are wired — and how resilient (and happy) we are when faced with negative events.
The amygdala (or “fear” center of the brain) generally gets a bad rap, known to be responsible for depression, anxiety and aggression — those very emotions that can be triggered when we’re having a tough day. It’s the oldest part of the brain and considered the most primitive, continually on the lookout for potential dangers. The small, almond-shaped brain region is associated with negative stimuli, and it’s largely accepted that those who have elevated activity in this area are prone to heightened levels of negative emotions. However, new research has discovered that the amygdala also responds to positive stimuli — and is strongly associated with compassion, human connection and happiness.
According to Greater Good, “the happiest people don’t ignore threats. They just might be better at seeing the good.”