We all have triggers, behaviorally speaking. They can be people, places, or activities, that when encountered, impact our behavior in a negative or positive way. The amygdala (almond structures in the brain regulating our affect) stores emotional memories that can calm or escalate our behavior accordingly, depending on past associations.

I spent this week in the Galveston area with family and life-long friends. This 28ish year tradition includes beach fun, crabbing, game playing, cooking (one dinner at the Stingaree), a day on the Boardwalk, and puzzle making. Of course all my past beach trips and positive stored memories collectively have quite the calming influence on my behavior.

So, my suggestion is to listen to your amygdala. Although we can’t perpetually surround ourselves with only positive emotional states, we can find ways to purposefully go to our “happy place” when able. What people, places, and activities bring out the best behaviors in you? I, for one, know my annual beach vacation combines all three of these positive triggers. And in anticipation of inevitably difficult future days, I plan to store the visual memory of my unfinished beach puzzle as a reminder.

Beach Puzzle