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If You Want To Think Right, Get Into The Right Mood

Written by: Nad Philips, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Would your thinking be different if your brain is flooded with different hormonal cocktails? Let’s see a Bloody Mary will be heavy on testosterone (agentic), a Kamikaze will be loaded with Cortisol (coping with stress), and Paloma will be dozed with oxytocin (bonding) while White Lady will feature Serotonin (mood regulation).

Worried young man with his hand on head, using laptop computer at home.

Barbara Fredrickson developed her theory of “broaden and build” where positive emotions will trigger the brain to function under the executive functions of the pre-frontal cortex and become more agentic; after she discovered that negative emotions shut down the brain and make it more scrutinizing and focused. Depending on the task at hand the brain’s functions will be optimized when you are in the right mood.

I developed the concept of “the human behavior triangle” to understand the interdependent relationship between a) behavior as in acting or reacting (choosing and deciding), b) cognition (thinking/understanding), and c) emotions (feeling/sensing). In any given situation our behavior is the outcome of our thinking and feeling; our actions are aligned with our comprehension of the situation and our feelings about it.

In any given situation, the brain will get emotional data split seconds before cognitive data (from memory and experience); thus, it seems that emotions will color the thinking. If we are under automatic pilot this will trigger a default reaction (cognitive bias) that could be appropriate or not. However, we need emotional agility if we want to consciously choose our actions to get the desired response.

This term was coined by the wonderful Suzan David my coach in emotional intelligence.

She builds this concept based on the work of Viktor Frankl who explained that our freedom lies in the space between stimulus and action.

Let’s go back to the human behavior triangle now that we understand that to change behavior (act and not react) we need to reframe the situation (act on cognition) by releasing the emotion and going back to our mood set base or conditioning our brain into the appropriate emotion that will favor the kind of thinking relevant to the situation at hand.

This reframing work will get us into what Dan Kahneman the initiator of behavioral economics calls type 2 thinking (critical analysis).

In terms of a mood’s set base, we all have a set level that we get back to after triggering events, whether positively or negatively. Since I am an optimist my set base is slightly tilted on the positive side. This means that my default mode is rather open and accepting. Others could be leaning towards prudence and protection and thus will be more scrutinizing.

The way we talk and treat each other will also change brain chemistry and elicit either prosocial or antisocial behavior. Words create worlds. You can use words that promote inclusion, belonging, respect, love, and consideration and you will help the other person build self-confidence and consolidate net worth and self-image encouraging cooperation or you can do the opposite.

Know your mood and from now on get in the right mood to elicit the right thinking that will lead to outcomes in line with your goals and values.

Follow me on LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Nad Philips, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Nad is an adult learning and development, global consultant. He specializes in helping teams design prosocial relationships and become future fit. Prior to coaching Nad served as European VP and MD France for a Fortune 500 company. He was an honorary professor with ESSEC Business school. Nad also launched several startups in Europe. He is an Amazon best-selling author and lives in Paris, France.



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