The Resilient Mindset ModelTM

The Resilient Mindset ModelTM serves as a framework for understanding the brain in order to help people make mindfully resilient choices.  Mindfulness is the focusing of attention and awareness.  The idea behind the model is that by becoming consciously aware of what is happening in the brain, we are empowered to make more mindful, intentional choices. Created by an educator, Donna Volpitta, Ed.D., a neuroscientist, Princy Quadros Mennella, Ph.D. and a designer, Dian Wessels, this model uses four characters to illustrate different brain areas and functions:

The Resilient Mindset ModelTM has three main parts:

The Four Ss of Resilience

The way that we think about the four Ss found on the dragonfly’s wings (self, situation, supports, strategies) determines our response to any challenge, good, bad, big or small. Therefore, we can use those Four Ss as a framework to prepare for, handle, and reflect on any challenge. This use of that framework offers our brain a consistent map to support the formation of more resilient brain pathways.

The Four Characters of the Brain & REACTS

We think of decisions as good or bad. Our brain thinks of them as long term vs. short term.

The ant lives in the cortex/ frontal lobe and is in charge of our long term decisions: going to the doctor, studying for the text, waking up to exercise. He carries the tools for optimum brain performance. When those are in place, we are better able to make decisions that benefit us in the long term.
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The grasshopper lives in the limbic system and is in charge of our short-term decisions/ short-term survival. He doesn’t care what happens in the future; he is only concerned about what is happening right now. The grasshopper is fast and strong.
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The glowworm lives in the amygdala, a special part of the limbic system that is in charge of looking out for threats. When she sees an immediate threat, her job is to automatically switch control of the brain from the ant to the grasshopper, who can get us out of the way of danger.

The brain interprets physical threat and social threat in the same way, so REACTS is an acronym that outlines the social threats and rewards to the brain. When any one of those threats is present (respect, equity, alliances, control, territory, or similarity), the glowworm responds in the same way- switching control of the brain from the ant to the grasshopper for fight/flight mode.

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The dragonfly lives in the prefrontal cortex, which house our executive functions. She serves as the “CEO” of the brain and is in charge of mindfulness, self-awareness and situational awareness. She has the Four Ss on her wings because she uses them to guide her choices in response to challenge.
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