Where does the mind go when it is not occupied by the worries, frustration, and anxiety? Does it go to a happy place, or are people naturally angry? According to Rick Hanson, PhD, the mind constantly fluctuates between a reactive and responsive state. When in the responsive state, the body is able to relax and reenergize. It is a time of repair that leaves the mind feeling happy, loving, and healthy. Fortunately, the responsive state is the default state that the mind will enter in the absence of stress. It is a comfort to know that our truest nature is one of contentment where we are able to engage with the world with feelings of positivity and safety.
On the other hand, when disturbed or perplexed, the mind enters the less desirable reactive state. The reactive state activates the fight or flight systems of the body in response to stress caused by things such as overwork or exhaustion. Entry into the reactive state focuses the mind on fear, anger, disappointment, and a myriad of other unpleasant emotions. The mind goes into the reactive state in order to cope with the stress caused by external factors in daily life. Although the reactive state is necessary to overcome certain challenges, it is not healthy to be in this state all the time.
If under constant stress, the body will be unable to repair itself. This will result in both negative physical and emotional repercussions. The body will be worn out and exhausted, while the mind will focus on emotions of sadness and anger after being under constant pressure and anxiety. Too much time spent in the reactive state will result in a shorter lifespan and a less enjoyable view of life.
How can you prevent this from happening? Lucky for us, the mode we choose to occupy our mind is a choice. We have the ability to transition our mind into our default, responsive state of tranquility and healing. To relax the mind, focus on the senses, live in the moment, and breathe. Get a sense of being in your body and make a conscious effort to be in every moment.
Hanson puts it best when he reveals that in times of external change. The internal sense of home (our responsive state) is our anchor.
For more on this subject I encourage you to read his post.