THE 90-SECOND RULE
Every emotion has a shelf life. After a while, emotions are designed to fizzle out, which allows you to set the emotion aside and think rationally about what's going on. But this emotional shelf life isn't as long as you might think!
I’ll tell you how long that shelf life is, but before I do, what do you think it is? Think about it.
How long do you tend to stay angry, sad or worried?
It probably depends on the emotion; and it's funny how negative emotions tend to stick with you longer than positive emotions, but they both have the same shelf life.
You actually feel emotions because they trigger chemical reactions that cause physiological changes in your body. That's why your face turns red, you break out in a cold sweat, or feel a pit in the bottom of your stomach. But that chemical reaction is designed to fizzle out so you don't have to live with the red face, cold sweat, or pit in your stomach.
So what is the shelf life? It's “90-seconds”. That's it! And that's research out of Harvard done by a brain scientist by the name of Jill Taylor. It takes about 90-seconds for the chemical reaction to run its course. Then it's out of your system.
So why do we stay in a bad mood? Or why do negative emotions last longer than 90-seconds? It's because we keep replaying the situation over-and-over in our minds. And every time we do, it triggers a new chemical reaction. And we can repeat this emotional loop until we're emotionally exhausted.
So here's what you do -
For those first 90-seconds, there’s not much you can do about the chemical reaction that you’re feeling. So, you want to avoid making any snap judgments, hasty decisions or knee-jerk reactions.
After a minute or two, you have a choice to make. You can keep recycling the same emotional thoughts, or you can choose better thoughts.
Better thoughts aren’t necessarily “positive” or overly optimistic; they’re “realistic”, “practical” and “rational”. In other words, they’re “non-emotional”. They’re, “neutral”.
The best way to calm down is to replace a negative, emotional thought with a more “neutral thought”, and after those first 90-seconds, the “choice” is yours!