Your Brain On Love

Many people take illegal drugs to alter their mind.

I don’t want to mess with my mind in any dangerous way, so I don’t drink or drug.

Here are the ways I like to alter my mind.

* Modafinil. It’s the boss’s best friend.

* Coffee. I rarely drink coffee, but when I do, it is a powerful stimulant (particularly when taken in conjunction with l-theanine, which seems to lengthen its high). If I take my occasional caffeine before 8 am, it has no negative affect on my sleep.

* My brain on love. Erotic love makes you crazy, but loving the people you see every day makes you happy. My brain on love operates from a desire to connect with loveable people and to avoid people who are unloveable. This post, as well as the one on masculinity, were inspired by conversations on Shabbos with men I love.

* My brain on gratitude is usually aligned with my best interests. I see reality more clearly. It’s hard for me to get too full of myself when I am grateful.

* My brain on Alexander Technique. I finished my Alexander Technique teacher training in December of 2011. Since then, I’ve felt like I’m floating through life. I almost never have any muscular pain, including back pain. Every part of my body works as it should.

* My brain on strain-counterstrain therapy aka positional release. By practicing these procedures every day, I let go of muscular spasm and strain.

* My brain on awareness. Annie Murphy Paul wrote in her 2021 book, The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain:

[P]eople who are more aware of their bodily sensations are better able to make use of their non-conscious knowledge. Mindfulness meditation is one way of enhancing such awareness. The practice has been found to increase sensitivity to internal signals, and even to alter the size and activity of that key brain structure, the insula.

* My brain on exercise. I do pushups, pullups and weights every other day. I walk no less than five miles a day six days a week. I feel great. When I feel great, my brain works great. And I think different thoughts when I’m moving compared to when I’m sitting.

Paul wrote:

Moderate-intensity exercise, practiced for a moderate length of time, improves our ability to think both during and immediately after the activity. The positive changes documented by scientists include an increase in the capacity to focus attention and resist distraction; greater verbal fluency and cognitive flexibility; enhanced problem-solving and decision-making abilities; and increased working memory, as well as more durable long-term memory for what is learned. The proposed mechanisms by which these changes occur include heightened arousal (as Kahneman speculated), increased blood flow to the brain, and the release of a number of neurochemicals, which increase the efficiency of information transmission in the brain and which promote the growth of neurons, or brain cells. The beneficial mental effects of moderately intense activity have been shown to last for as long as two hours after exercise ends.

* My brain on gesture. Paul wrote:

Research demonstrates that gesture can enhance our memory by reinforcing the spoken word with visual and motor cues. It can free up our mental resources by “offloading” information onto our hands. And it can help us understand and express abstract ideas—especially those, such as spatial or relational concepts, that are inadequately expressed by words alone. Moving our hands helps our heads to think more intelligently, and yet gesture is often scorned as hapless “hand waving,” or disparaged as showy or gauche.

* My brain outside. Paul wrote:

Over hundreds of thousands of years of dwelling outside, the human organism became precisely calibrated to the characteristics of its verdant environment, so that even today, our senses and our cognition are able to easily and efficiently process the particular features present in natural settings. Our minds are tuned to the frequencies of the organic world. No such evolutionary adjustment has prepared us for the much more recent emergence of the world in which we now spend almost all our time: the built environment, with its sharp lines and unforgiving textures and relentless motion. We’ve set up camp amid the high-rises and highways of our modern milieu, but our minds are not at ease in this habitat. The mismatch between the stimuli we evolved to process and the sights and sounds that regularly confront our senses has the effect of depleting our limited mental resources. We are left frazzled, fatigued, and prone to distraction, simply as a function of the hours we spend in a setting for which we are biologically ill-equipped.

* My brain on healthy excitement. I have various intellectual and social projects and they drive me through the day.

* My brain on 12-step. By following the principles laid out in the Big Book, I feel increasingly at ease with myself and with others. I’m no longer at war with myself.

* My brain on beef organs. I’m a life-long vegetarian and as a result, I’ve had terrible health. In July 2021, I started taking six beef organ capsules every morning from Ancestral Supplements and I feel great.

* My brain on respect. When I treat myself with respect, and I distance myself from people who do not treat me respectfully, I tend to treat others with respect, and my life goes smoothly.

* My brain on decent sleep. When I get a good night’s sleep, I feel great. When I’m not sleeping well, my impulse control and bandwidth go way down.

* My brain in nice clothes. I feel great in great clothes.

* My brain around people. I think different thoughts when I’m around people compared to when I’m alone. Even when I’m alone, most of my thinking is stimulated by the most important relationships in my life. Paul wrote:

A major factor in the grad students’ transformation, he concluded, was their experience of intense social engagement around a body of knowledge—the hours they spent advising, debating with, and recounting anecdotes to one another.

* My brain out of the house. According to the WSJ:

“People feel more extroverted, more agreeable, more conscientious, when they are in other places, compared to when they are at home, while “people feel more disorganized and chaotic when they are at home.”

When people spent time in social environments, they also felt more compassionate, open-minded and kind compared to when they were at home.

* My brain on generosity. When I serve others, but not enable others, my brain feels more aligned with reality. When I’m happy, I naturally want to help others.

* My brain on music. I can choose my mood by my music selection. This is my Youtube playlist.

* My brain on touch. My brain works better when I am regularly touching and being touched by people I like.

* My brain on beauty. When I’m surrounded by beauty, I tend to feel happy.

* My brain on hope. I can’t imagine what it would be like to walk around feeling we are doomed.

* My brain at rest. When I don’t feel like I need to prove anything to anyone, or to grab their attention, my brain calms down.

* My brain on laughter. When I laugh, I rise above my petty self.

* My brain on harmony. When the different parts of my life aren’t at war with each other, it is easier for me to enjoy life, and when I’m happy, I like the way my mind works. When I hate myself, my brain becomes a dangerous neighborhood I don’t want to visit alone.

* My brain on status. My brain works better when I have more status than when I have less status.

* My brain on victory. My brain works better when I am winning rather than losing. I try to construct my day so I’m building up wins from my early morning cold shower to my reading, writing, prayer, meditation, exercise and 12-step work followed by a delicious breakfast while reading my favorite newspapers.

* My brain on time. My brain works better when I am on time as opposed to when I’m running late.

* My brain on tracking. My brain works better when I’m tracking my life including my time, my earning and my spending. Paul wrote:

Research has revealed that the act of creating a concept map, on its own, generates a number of cognitive benefits. It forces us to reflect on what we know, and to organize it into a coherent structure. As we construct the concept map, the process may reveal gaps in our understanding of which we were previously unaware.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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