Did you know that for all the projection you get from liberals about conservatives being angry, unhappy, bitter people, conservatives are actually happier than liberals? Don’t take it from me; take it from Arthur Brooks in the very liberal New York Times:
Scholars on both the left and right have studied this question extensively, and have reached a consensus that it is conservatives who possess the happiness edge. Many data sets show this. For example, the Pew Research Center in 2006 reported that conservative Republicans were 68 percent more likely than liberal Democrats to say they were “very happy” about their lives. This pattern has persisted for decades. The question isn’t whether this is true, but why.
The key is amygdala-development and experiencing hardship. If the girl in the article, who freaks out because she might be culturally appropriating when she does Yoga, suddenly had Stage 4 Cancer and survived it, she would have experienced a hardship. Her amygdala would have burned in pathways remembering the trauma, and when she contemplated Yoga, her amygdala would relevance weigh culturally appropriating against the memory of her cancer battle, and she would not be as stressed and unhappy.
Stress may change the brain another way too. When I feel stress now, I embrace the sensation, and I immediately focus on how much stronger I will be when the stress passes. This creates a focus shift in my perceptions, shifting my focus on the future, and how to make it as better as I possibly can, and how to strengthen myself by embracing the stress right now. This defocuses me on the stress in the moment, and makes it more tolerable, since I may even want to embrace even more stress willingly, to try and improve that future I am focused on.
That willing embrace of stress is important, because much of the rabbit’s amygdala hijack I think comes from the desire to rebel against the stress that instant, and being forced to unwillingly endure it. That probably doubles the level of amygdala agitation, and drives that structure straight toward overload.