The 90-Second Window

Do you want your brain at full power generating the creative and practical intelligence that not only succeeds but excels?

Do you want the emotional intelligence that makes you passionate about work, joyful about life, and cool, calm and collected in a crisis?

Do you want to dramatically increase your odds for a long and healthy life?

Who doesn’t? All of these outcomes are yours when you learn to master the 90-second window.

The 90-second window is all about the brain. There’s no denying that a big part of human experience is brain circuitry. We are thinking circuitry igniting emotional circuitry that triggers physiological circuitry. Most of what we view as stress is a bada bing, bada boom, bada BANG progression, escalating within this 90 second span of time.

  • We think a thought such as I can’t do this.
  • The thought turns into an emotional response, such as anger or fear.
  • The emotional charge ignites a physiological reaction that sends the body into an uproar.

If we aren’t skillful at neutralizing the process, the 90 seconds turns into an endless looping process that beats us down. Our reactions amplify and more stress hormones flood the brain, debilitating higher brain function. After a while, the process of endless looping becomes automatic, meaning the brain is now wired for it. This, by definition, is chronic stress and chronic stress can become life threatening.

Not good. So here’s the good news and it couldn’t be better. You can gain full control over the 90-second window. When stress or anxiety begins to run the 90-second pattern, simply observe what is happening, emotionally and physically, without being pulled in deeper. Follow the bread crumbs back to the fearful, negative or stressful thinking that triggered the reaction in the first place. This is where choice comes in. Once you identify the negative thought, you choose not to believe it. You stand in the expanding mental space this choice will generate and watch your reaction disappear like smoke. If stress or anxiety raises their ugly head a moment later, simply repeat the process of finding the thought that re-stimulated the circuitry and discharge the thought.

It also helps to change the context for viewing stress or anxiety. Instead of saying: I am angry or I’m overwhelmed , you can say “Wow, the fear circuitry in my brain just switched on.” Then give your brain the 90 seconds or so to run its course while you practice being fully aware of all that is happening. The more you practice, the less time it will take for your system to reset. Eventually things won’t progress much farther than buda-bing, meaning your thoughts. You’ll be master of busting anxiety and stress at the point of inception, transcending a negative thought instead of getting hooked by it. That’s the power of peace, which is the key to emotional, creative and practical intelligence.

One last word, and this is critical: To master the 90-second window, you will need to practice being quiet on the inside and to practice it often. The research shows significant benefit in doing this at least every two hours. Step away from your desk and find a secure place where you can give your mind and brain a moment’s rest. Imagine that the quiet you seek is already there, waiting for you to arrive. All you need to do is show up and relax into it by following your breath and letting go of your mind.  Taking this time with frequency builds the awareness that opens to the mental spaciousness that makes you larger than a stressful thought, a stressed-out person or bad news. It gradually reshapes and remodels your brain because, in the absence of toxic stress hormones, higher order brain circuitry expands and integrates with other networks, making your brilliant.