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The Adversity Advantage with Doug Bopst

Jan 18, 2021

Neuroscientist Shares Common Myths About Your Emotions and How Your Brain Actually Works!!!


There's a whole science about how the human brain works and what really controls our feelings and emotional responses to situations and most of what we have been told about how this works in the past is wrong.


My guest on this fantastic episode, Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, Ph.D., is here to dismantle common myths about emotions and the brain. She stands among the top 1% most cited scientists globally for her revolutionary research in psychology and neuroscience. Dr. Barrett is a University Distinguished Professor at Northeastern University and she is also Chief Science Officer for the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at Harvard University.


She was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in neuroscience in 2019, has published over 240 peer reviewed articles and has a TED talk on emotions that has been viewed over 6 million times.


She is the best-selling author of "How Emotions are Made" and her latest book "7 1/2 Lessons about the Brain" is just as powerful.


Some of the topics we cover today include:


  • The old notion of the dynamics of emotions versus the new
  • The real function of the human brain.
  • How past experiences and behaviors affect the ability of our brains to guess responses to our external forces.
  • Dr. Barrett thoughts on 'Stress'
  • The power of words from a neurological point of view.
  • Dr. Barrett explains Depression
  • Adaptable patterns for a more optimistic approach to the future.
  • Similarities between our "body budget" and "bank account"



  • There's no good evidence that emotions can be read or interpreted through facial expressions or body language.
  • We have the kind of brain that doesn't have a good sense of what is happening in our bodies. Our brain has to guess. All it receives are the sensations coming from our bodies, but it doesn't know what's causing them. So when you have an ache in your chest, your brain tries to figure out what caused that ache.
  •  Our body makes the same guesses. Those guesses are usually knit together to create our experience. That's really how our brain is making emotions.
  • You don't have circuits for anger, sadness, and fear embedded in some ancient part of your brain. That's just a myth.
  • Your brains don't evolve to be any more rational than they are. Its function is to regulate your body's systems, and that's pretty much all it'll be doing all your life. 
  • Practice gratitude, compassion, and train your brain to be flexible so that you can view life from multiple perspectives.
  • We are a social species, which means we influence each others' nervous systems in really profound ways. We regulate each other's nervous systems in many ways that other animals do too. But we have an additional way, and that's with words.
  • Depression is like a bankrupt body budget. It means you have stopped learning, and you stick with what's in your head. You're fatigued and pay no more attention to what's out in the world.
  • Two easy ways to shift your predictions for a more optimistic approach towards life: Change the state of your body. (Get up and move around) and practice gratitude. It works!

Connect with Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, Ph.D.








Books: How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain


Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain :


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