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Excerpt from the NeuroLeadership Institute's "Stay Cool Under Pressure"

Think your emotions run you?  This transcribed excerpt from "Staying Cool Under Pressure" with David Rock and Matthew Lieberman from the NeuroLeadership Institute talk about how simply by naming an emotion allows our brains to control them a bit.  Interesting...

My little interlude in this talk is called D3 theory: disruption, disambiguation and detachment, or “why labeling makes you feel better”.  That’s probably the simple way to remember it.

So, does anyone know what these are?

{Inaudible responses from audience.}

I heard a couple of people say it.  The worry dolls.  OK.  Guatemalan worry dolls.  The legend of the Highland Indian villages of Guatemala is that if you have a problem and share it with a worry doll… They give them to their young children -- they say before going to bed tell one worry to each doll, and then place them beneath your pillow.  Whilst you sleep, the dolls will take your worries away.  OK.  So this is just one more example of the sort of common and received wisdom that we all know that putting your feelings into words can have some really nice salutary effects for us.  There is actually a very old idea both in Western and Eastern cultures. In Western culture -- you can go back more than three centuries to the philosopher Benedict de Spinoza who said that an emotion which is a passion ceases to be a passion as soon as we form a clear and distinct idea thereof. And then the founder of my field of psychology, William James, two centuries later -- this is one of the quotes that probably got me most into all the work that I do and his principles of psychology. He said that the present conscious state when I say “I feel angry” is not the direct state of anger; it is the state of saying “I feel angry”.  The act of naming them, these emotional states, has momentarily detracted from their force. And then if we go half way around the world to the East, in the context of Buddhist texts, it has been written that the skillful use of labeling introduces a healthy degree of inner detachment, since the act of apostrophizing or speaking to one’s moods and emotions diminishes one’s identification with them.   So, this is the region of the brain that I tend to focus about 60% of my waking hours on. 

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The NeuroLeadership Collection


Excerpt from "Mindful Leadership" with Ellen Langer

The NeuroLeadership Institute is doing such important work around how we can use our brains better to create a more mindful society and workplace.  Check out this transcribed excerpt from "Mindful Leadership" with Ellen Langer.  Langer talks about how easily we engage in mindlessness rather than mindfulness.

We get lulled into thinking we know.  But perhaps the most important bottom line to all that I’m going to say is that we don’t know.  And we need to be excited about not knowing because that gives us reason to pay attention and tune in.  There is an easier one.  How much is “1 + 1?”.  I’ve got some of you scared already, right?  OK.  Well, it turns out that 1 + 1 = 2 if you are using the base 10 number system.   If you are using the base 2 number system, 1 + 1 = 10.  And if you’re adding one wad of chewing gum to one wad of chewing gum, 1 + 1 = 1. 

Now, what happens is, we learn information in some absolute way, oblivious to the way it may be different depending on different contexts.  What happens is that it never occurs to us to question all of these things we think we know.  So when we are uncertain, instead, we stay open to the subtleties.  We stay in the present.  So, if you ask people over 50, “You are driving along on ice, the car starts to skid -- what do you do?”  And what they’ll tell you is, “You turn into the skid and you gently press the brakes.”  Well, this made sense before we had antilock brakes.   Now what you’re supposed to do, is firmly press on the brakes.   Mindlessness is not stupidity.  It made sense at one time, people keep behaving in the same way, circumstances change, and accidents then occur.

I went into a store and I made a purchase.  The cashier asked for the credit card.  I gave it to her.  She saw that it was not signed so she asked me to sign it.  I signed it.  She then ran it through the credit card machine, gave me the credit card slip, asked me to sign it.  I signed it.  And she then compared the two signatures…


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The NeuroLeadership Summit Collection


Excerpt from "Perfect Just as You Are" with Pema Chodron

Excerpt from "Science and the Inner Experience" with Edgar Mitchell

ImageScience&theInnerExperience In honor of Neil Armstrong's life, we are delighted to share with you this transcribed excerpt from fellow astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell’s talk on “Science and the Inner Experience” 


Move out now further into space.  See the shape of the earth as a sphere.  Let’s move on out until we see the earth about as we would see it -- the size of a ball, a baseball held at arms length.  Look at that magnificent little planet blue and white, peaceful.   The turmoil that goes on underneath that layer of atmosphere and those clouds is not evident to us here.  We recognize it as a haven of life, our home, our planet. As far as we know for sure, the only haven of life in our galaxy, but as we suspect, probably not the only one.  But a beautiful little planet in the immensity of space and set in the background, billions and billions of points of light. Far more so -- ten times more than we can possibly see from the surface of the earth. Representing stars, galaxies, galactic clusters, billions and billions of such points of light, and our tiny little planet about the size of a ball held at arms length.  A beautiful peaceful haven for life. And in the immensity of the universe all of a sudden you feel connected. 


We are all apart of the same thing.  There is a connection.  There is intelligence.  There is a feeling of oneness, an extension of self.  And it’s a joyous and wonderful experience.  As I experienced it at this point coming back from the moon and looking at the earth, suddenly I recognized that our scientific description of reality of this universe was far from complete. Our model was not yet filled out, and on the other hand our religious descriptions of ourselves, of creation, of the universe --  all of them were somewhat flawed and incomplete as well. In other words, our knowledge of who and what we are.  How we got here.  Where we came from and where we are going is very inadequate at this point in history, and yet there is a feeling of intelligence, of peace, of abundance, of process, that gives one comfort and joy in observing this magnificent universe of which we are a part.  Contemplate that for a moment. See this little planet from that perspective, and see if you experience it as I did.


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Edgar Mitchell Bio and Links