Why the brain loves events

by Sarah Nally in
Staring your brain in the face

As a qualified hypnotherapist, I’m fascinated by neuroscience and the brain. I’m capable of getting people to quit smoking, lose weight, and have happy and empowered births and I rather enjoy understanding the ‘how’ so I can continue to refine this wonderful skill. I’ve recently started studying a diploma of neuropsychology and I read New Scientist every week and neuroscience journals daily. Yeah I like the brain.

Have you ever suddenly realised you were in auto pilot? Like when you are driving somewhere, on the train, even at work writing emails. Something happens and you realise that you have not been entirely ‘here’. Brain scans have recently revealed what we have long known in hypnosis to be true, when you are in this autopilot mode, you’re in a semi trance state and this auto pilot mode is run by a set of brain structures called the DMN (Default Mode Network). Your DMN is super smart, it processes things with more accuracy and faster than you can in a conscious state – from playing chess to driving your car, scientists have been able to show that when we switch from a conscious state to the DMN, everything flows.

Knowing this is important because just because the DMN has control of a process, doesn’t mean that it is processing the best things for us faster and more accurately. Our DMN may swiftly reach for a cigarette, run a red light, consume, consume and consume more things – fast and accurate are by no means the best way to live your most wondrous life.

Scientists have also found that the DMN can be interrupted by lighting up novelty detectors and getting the brain to switch into an ‘on’ state. As predicted, the key is to be surrounded by experiences, people and processes that are unfamiliar – so the brain has to pay attention before switching to auto-pilot. Here is where it gets interesting again. Our brains are obviously super comfortable in the DMN state because they switch there even in unfamiliar environments pretty fast, so the trick to hacking your auto pilot is to consciously stay in a curious and connected state, scanning the environment for new levels of novelty or interest. In a normal work environment, we push much of what we do to autopilot – now I haven’t worked in a corporate office for nearly 5 years now, but I do remember people reaching for their laptops and phones during meetings, moving through the motions of the day absent mindedly and rarely consciously engaged.

Events and immersive experiences are so good for hacking our brains auto pilot because they take us outside of our comfort zone. We hear from people we haven’t heard from, we are in different settings, we do different things, eat different food. Mixing things up isn’t just exciting and rewarding, it helps us switch our brains on and this actually boosts our auto pilot mode when we do switch back to DMN after the experience.

Events aren’t just fun – think of them as important neurofeedback training that will enhance your auto pilot mode and also get your dopamine firing – not to mention the people you’ll meet and the takeaways that could improve the way you live and work.

This is why I love designing events so much. Understanding the human mind. Understanding how we switch into a trance state so easily and accidentally auto process much of what we do fascinates me. Waking people up, pushing them outside of their comfort zone (with a soft place to land) is something that I live and breathe for. Watching people light up, get connected and switch out of DMN and into THE WONDER ZONE is why I do what I do.

Your cart