From Lee Gerdes


The Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) of the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) presents Positive and Negative Valence ideas for research and consideration. This is also a helpful way to consider overall wellbeing.

When one thinks about “valence” in positive and negative senses, it may be helpful to think about the positive and negative sides of overall wellbeing. The positive valence side is made up of positive states of satisfaction, contentment, and relaxation, while the negative valence side is made up of states of suffering, distress, sadness, or anger. To see these exact states of wellbeing  and positive or negative valence change in a human being in a short time (1 hour to 3 weeks generally) is amazing, and it’s amazing to see such dramatic shifts happen coincidentally with shifts in brain patterns and rhythms, while life situations remain relatively constant.

I’m convinced that the key to wellbeing as the key to positive valence is in the brain rhythms and not simply situational. I’m convinced that when I realize these brain rhythms are driving my perception of my own wellbeing in the moment, and the situation I find myself in at that moment is only a temporary state, my personal power, confidence, and overall wellbeing are as great as they can be.

As the world studies and better understands what the NIMH is encouraging in their effort to seek RDoC research, I’m also convinced that the world will be a better place; We humans won’t be as apt to react in ways disproportionate to a situation and we will endeavor as individuals and collectively toward a greater sense of wellbeing—a positive valence—driven by a balanced brain.

It is important for us all to respect and honor this brain power.


Lee GerdesWe need heroes and heroines, people to look up to--those significantly demonstrating the best life has to offer, who can show us the way through life. I’ve found a new personal hero, and the book about him is entitled Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. She is the author of another book I love entitled Seabiscuit, a story of a race horse whose heart to compete and live life to its fullest was a symbol to millions of people during the depression.

Unbroken is the story of a World War II veteran--Louis Zamperini--who was lost at sea for 47 days and then captured and tortured by the enemy for two years. It is an amazing story of survival, ingenuity, resilience, and forgiveness. I’m humbled to learn of this kind of person, this kind of life force. Though he is no longer with  us (he passed to the next life on July 2, 2014 at the age of 97), this is a life that matters and will always matter. This is a life we can seek to emulate in positive ways.

I believe it doesn’t require such dramatic circumstances of incredible hardship for us to help our brain to reset itself and seek to do the right thing for the long term. At least I believe that's the case if the brain is properly balanced. Sometimes, I believe, extreme trauma can have an extremely positive imprint on our lives. Extreme trauma is often that which causes us to seek that which is truly important and leave all of the rest of the stuff of life to fend for itself. I don’t think I could have done that without balancing my brain. And, I don’t think I would have sought to balance my brain unless/until I was forced to seek assistance. And then, as it happened, it was an inside-to-outside experience. Having a brain that would move into a state of deep relaxation and reset itself–wow, I had no concept how truly incredible that opportunity was and will continue to be for me.

Louis Zamperini is a hero beyond imagination. And, given the capacity for each of us to function with a balanced brain, to prioritize what is important, we become, I believe, small heroes and heroines whose life matters greatly, much beyond our own time. I salute a balanced brain to lead us all to a life that matters.


Lee GerdesI am an observational scientist, learning by what I am able to observe. About 12 years ago, having observed many people who exhibited a strongly dominant right temporal lobe EEG amplitude, I noted that they also seemed anxious and quick to respond emotionally in a manner much more pronounced than was called for by the situation. These right-dominant clients would respond by either fleeing  situations that caused them discomfort or by striking out at people whom they blamed for their discomfort. For example, a right-dominant person may go shopping on a busy Saturday before Christmas. They arrive to find the parking lot full and spend some time driving around the lot searching for a parking space. Finally, as they round a corner, they spot a car preparing to pull out of a space just ahead. They position themselves and wait to take the spot, but before they can another driver swoops in from the opposite direction and steals it. Wham! The right-dominant driver either pulls up behind the parking spot thief, honks his horn angrily, rolls down his window and gives the thief a piece of his mind; or, he screeches his tires as he speeds away, possibly to go to a different mall or possibly to go home without shopping at all. Fight-or-flight seemed the response mechanism for these right-temporal-lobe-dominant people. Having a much more pronounced response than the situation called for was also a common train among them.

At about the same time I observed that there were also people who had a strongly dominant left temporal lobe EEG amplitude. Such people often seemed withdrawn or prone to sadness and depression. I noted that these left-dominant clients seemed at times unable to readily respond to situations outwardly. Though they appeared calm and perhaps withdrawn, they had a lot going on beneath the surface. They too would respond to situations in a seemingly inappropriate manner. However, when faced with the full parking lot from the example above, the left-dominant individual would withdraw after he deemed his parking space stolen, blaming himself for failing to find a space, for being unobservant, for going to the wrong mall, for procrastinating and waiting until the last minute to do their holiday shopping. The left-temporal-dominant people also had a much more pronounced response than the situation called for, but theirs was a kind of freeze response. Defeated, the left-dominant individual may continue to drive around the lot for an extremely long time, seemingly frozen in what he was doing.

Eventually as the brain patterns of the right- and left-dominant individuals began to balance between the left and right, inappropriate response mechanisms seemed to diminish altogether. These individuals would begin to demonstrate more healthy and stable responses to their life situations. The balance seemed to enable them to attain happiness they may have never known. This process of facilitating brain’s self-balancing was eventually called Brainwave Optimization®, and today over 60,000 people have used it to seek happiness and wellbeing. Life is short, and we all deserve the ability to seek happiness and wellbeing, an existence filled with appropriate responses and lots and lots of gratitude for being alive.