09/24/2012 11:18 am ET Updated Nov 24, 2012

Your Brain on Anger vs. Compassion

Neuroscientists and brain researchers have done quite a lot of study with the brain and its effects on our behavior and our lives. When it comes to the brain and our emotions, the key for the general public is to know their brain's function enough to help them know themselves and how they feel, think, and respond to situations. Understanding is the first step toward any change.

There are many areas of the brain that have been associated with emotions. These areas influence the experience of emotions and the emotional response. The three most important brain areas in relation to emotions are the cerebral cortex, amygdala, and hypothalamus. When it comes to emotions, both the emotional experience and how one responds to an emotional experience work hand in hand to form a healthy and mature connection to one's emotions.

The brain has two hemispheres. The left hemisphere in the cerebral cortex is responsible for happiness and positive emotions. If this area is underdeveloped or damaged in any way, the person can experience severe depression, anxiety, aggression, and paranoia. The right hemisphere mediates sadness, fear, and other negative emotions. Any dysfunction in this area can create feelings of numbness or indifference, apathy or undue cheerfulness and inappropriate and untimely joking. The two hemispheres have to work together so the person can have a healthy connection to his emotions and then an emotional response that is in harmony with the events surrounding the person. In other words, no over- or under-reaction.

Another area of the brain is the amygdala, which attaches memory to emotion and determines how important an event is based on the individual's emotional response. An overly-functioning amygdala attaches too much importance over past memories, creating intense negative emotional reactions for a longer period of time. The amygdala is also the seed of basic emotions like aggression and fear.

To finalize this blog, it is important to re-program your brain to be balanced. It is my experience that many people can do this and have the power to change their own brain's functioning and how they feel and how they respond to their feelings, and therefore change their lives. Through meditation, healthy eating, a healthy lifestyle, exercise, connecting with nature, quality time with supportive/positive/kind/and level-headed people, increasing one's awareness, processing and releasing repressed past memories, letting go of excuses to hate, understanding that hate and anger damage us more than the ones we have hate toward, and cognitive and behavioral modification, you can rewire your brain to work for you, not against you. To learn more about ways to change your brain you can use these sources:

1) Joe Dispenza -- "The Three Brains That Allow Us to Go from Thinking to Doing to Being,"

2) The Neuroscience of Change: A Compassion-Based Program for Personal Transformation

3) Healing the angry brain: How Understanding the Way Your Brain Works Can Help You Control Anger and Aggression, by Dr. Potter-Efron

4) Learn how meditation can change your brain activity and find a meditation technique that works for you. My personal recommendation is Kelly Howell. You can find her on YouTube.

There are many more. Explore and see what resonates with you.

Roya R. Rad, MA, PsyD

For more by Roya R. Rad, MA, PsyD, click here.

For more on emotional intelligence, click here.