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Oww Brain vs Wow Brain

We love the concept of Oww / Wow brain that we first learned from Todd Herman – a performance coach for elite athletes.

He basically presents two very different ways that we can choose to experience our life and our work – one through the lens of Oww brain (see: struggle), the other through the lens of Wow brain (see: booyah!).

We all know the feeling of Oww brain. It's not fun, and it compromises our productivity and happiness. We're especially prone to Oww brain when we've had a rough night of sleep, we're super stressed out about something, or our window of tolerance is small for any reason. If you've been in Oww brain lately, it's okay. You're in good company.

At the same time....neuroscience teaches us that we can train our brain to experience more Wow.

A key part of building our emotional resilience is recognizing when we're in Oww brain and responding skillfully so it doesn't wreak havoc on our day or our work. For example, if I (Ryan) am collaborating on a project with Rena and I become aware that I'm in an OWW brain state, I might pause and say "Hey Rena – you know what, I've got Oww brain right now and I can tell this meeting is going to be a downward spiral – I'm going to step outside for 10 mins and try to reset." And yes, I actually say "Ow brain". Try it – it's surprisingly helpful!

Your instinct will be to push through Oww brain, but it rarely works. Moving your body, stepping away from a project briefly, or even getting present for a few deep breaths can help break up the clouds of Oww brain and welcome you into the possibility of Wow.

The mental exercises we've been practicing in this program are also helping you proactively cultivate a Wow mindset. Training your brain to savor positive experiences and create space for gratitude are two ways to prime Wow brain and build your mental resilience. you move through your week, we invite you to compassionately acknowledge your Oww brain moments, shift gears, and then practice reengaging from the seat of Wow.


Written by Ryan Kenny, Pause Cofounder


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