When you are in thrive zone, you are on top of the world, able to handle the challenges that come your way with equanimity and grace.

But when you are in survive zone, it’s hard to get out of your own way, and all you see is the things that suck. We’ve all been there…our brains just can’t see the good that’s around us.

Here’s a way to think of it that helps the women I coach.

We all have an emotional setpoint. It’s where we live most of our lives. We have emotions that bring us down and up from that place, but the place we seem to come back to a good percentage of the time is our setpoint.

Your emotional setpoint is a number on a scale of -10 to +10. (I actually now refer to this scale as the Ladder of Well-being, but that graphic Susan created is so cute, I’m going to keep it as a “scale” for this post. 🙂 )

If yours is a +10, you feel happy and in flow most of the time. +10 is what I call Radiant You. You are in love with life, and life is in love with you. You radiate all of your best qualities in most of your interactions. You are resourceful, confident, loving, patient, playful, flexible, resilient, happy. We all have it in us to be this Radiant version of ourselves…This is the real you, the core of who you are that is sometimes out of sight but always there.

If yours is a -10, on the other hand, you feel down most of the time. You are in a state that I call Hijacked You. You have it in you to feel happiness and joy, but your brain has been hijacked by some form of lower vibration emotion based in fear — think anxiety, grief, frustration, jealousy, depression or something similar. This is NOT the real you, but it might feel like it sometimes.

Anything from 0 to 10 is THRIVE Zone. This is where all those good-feeling emotions arise in you often.

Anything below 0 down to -10 is SURVIVE Zone. This is where you’ll be more likely to feel the more challenging emotions.

So where are you on the scale? Taking the time to answer this question for yourself can be the first step toward a shift in the up direction. We have to tell ourselves the truth of what’s real for us if we want it to change. It’s a part of being The New Brave, telling the truth about where you actually are and not putting a shiny face on when you feel anything but.

What’s your number?

Whatever it is, it’s not permanent. Your setpoint can change. With conscious, intentional effort you can rewire your brain to feel more of the emotions you want and less of the ones you don’t, no matter what your life circumstances are.

There are forces that pull you down on the scale, and there are forces that pull you up. When you practice the strategies for the ones that pull you up, you begin to lay neural pathways (like a train track or highway system) to a new way of being in the world, moving closer and closer to the REAL you, the RADIANT you.

It all starts with truth-telling. Where you are on the scale most often? And where would you like to be 6 months from now? Are you a 4 but you’d love to live at an 8? Are you a 7 who’d like to be a 10? Are you a -2 who would be happy to get to a 4 for now?

If you’re not where you’d like to be, try this:

1. Tell yourself the truth about where you are and where you want to be.

2. Then brainstorm a list of 25 possible ideas for what might move you up. Consider how you can get around people who have figured this out and learn from them. Consider resources like TED talks. Consider online groups (like The New Brave’s Playground!). Consider courses (you can start with The New Brave’s free 5 Habits Happy People Have — sign up to receive it via email in the sidebar on this page). Consider books that help you think differently. (Remember, brainstorming is creative and open and fluid, not rigid and analytical about what will and won’t work. Just play on the page for now and write 25 ideas.)

3. Hone in on 1 to 3 ideas to explore further. Put them on your calendar so you actually do them.

The most important step in your journey is always the next one. What will it be?

If you find this post thought-provoking, you might also like Creating the Emotions You Want.