tubeI am no scientist. Nooooooo way.

But if I had been born with a totally different brain (which earned much better grades) I would have jumped at the chance to research things – reason being, science is just so fascinating.

Sometimes it seems like all the really cool stuff you can actually verify is done by scientists. From the discovery of dark matter to the reason why lady birds don’t look drab in the eyes of male birds, science is chock full of breaking news – the kind that doesn’t involve celebrities caught in yet another public wardrobe malfunction.

But so be it. Given my DNA and rapidly advancing age, any direct research that goes on in my world must forever remain of the most highly qualitative sort, using a subject pool of one female, aged 42 1/2, caucasian, nearsighted and accident-prone but very, very curious.

In fact, right at this very moment I am researching the link between depression and surrender using the entire available research subject pool.

So far I have discovered that the correlation seems high. What I mean by this is, when I choose to surrender something – perhaps my habit of worrying all day about someone else’s unpleasant behavior or my parrot’s insistence on chowing down on windowsill grout – instead of instant relief I often feel an initial wave of depression.

Since I have been reading this month’s favorite book, “Untangling the Mind: Why We Behave the Way We Do,” I am starting to realize this is because my deeply ingrained, well-trained Darwinian survival instinct is at war with my equally Darwinian desire to evolve so I can qualify for “survival of the fittest.”

The depression is like an instant message from my amygdala-based survival instinct saying, “Hey – don’t push the ‘off’ button on this habit/pattern – you need it to survive!”

The surrender instinct, in contrast, arises from my cortex-based thought processes that say, “Hey – do you want to be stuck in these old unproductive habits/patterns forever? No? Then surrender them and try something new already!”

These two processes – my instinct-based survival mechanism and my conscious desire for self-improvement – are fighting with each other. And depression is the temporary outcome.

So while I am attempting to surrender – to let go of – ingrained habitual responses to life and people, assuming that when I finally accomplish this I will feel instantly better, what is actually happening when I accomplish this is that I feel instantly worse.

Or at least I think this is what is happening. I am attempting to retrain my survival instinct – or assist it to evolve – and it is not yet as delighted about my efforts as I am. As my mentor often reminds me – it takes great strength and continual self-effort to turn old bad habits into new good habits. And my life is worth it.

Today’s Takeaway: Have you ever detected a link between an effort you make to improve your experience of life and temporarily feeling worse when you finally make the desired change? If so, what are your thoughts on why this occurs and what works to ease the temporary discomfort of positive change?

Woman scientist image available from Shutterstock.