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Most of us are familiar with the concept of being positive. Being optimistic can largely improve your mental and physical health. But it’s easier said than done since we are always surrounded by volatile agencies. These agencies can trigger you or might induce negative thoughts. Apart from that, it’s easy for our brain to generate negative thoughts.
Psychologists have talked about this very phenomenon in their system one theory which includes your automatic and unconsciously generated immediate thoughts. In system two, we have our conscious mind which basically gives you some control over some of these involuntary thoughts. Our lives are usually driven by system one but people who are highly functional can control what they think. So, once they start making that conscious effort, our brain starts getting conditioned into think exactly along the line one wants to. So, here are few ways you can re-train your brain into thinking positively:
Keeping a track of your own thoughts
Observing helps, since that helps you infer. Obviously you can’t possibly track 70,000 thousands thoughts that go on in your mind at any point but you can track the ones which are recurrent. If these recurrent thoughts induce negativity then you can track these and write them down on your journals. This will give you a place to start once you have marked out the thoughts that induce negativity in your life.
“Negative thoughts can make your brain dysfunctional in this case- that means function in a way it was not designed to do. Prolonged negative thinking associated with depression causes emotional responses which are hard to control” — Train Your Brain to Get Happy: The Simple Program That Primes Your Grey by Teresa Aubele, Stan Wenck, Susan Reynolds
Surround yourself with positive energies
Building a positive circuit is necessary because that helps your brain to be trained in a way where it will look for the positives. To help your brain do that, you can sit somewhere secluded for a minute or so, look for the positives in your life. You can do this about three times a day. Continue doing it for forty five days at a stretch. These positives will be built on small things and eventually the neural network will develop accordingly. It might seem that you are manipulating your brain into think positively when negativity is apparent, but treat this as a filter to your negative thoughts. As mentioned earlier, our brain is conditioned to have automatic negative responses to things but if we are being able to follow the pattern or this training, then the chances of having positive thoughts increase.
“Negative thinking slows down brain co-ordination, making it difficult to process thoughts and find solutions. Feeling frightened, which often happens when focused on negative outcomes has been shown to decrease activity in cerebellum which shows the brain’s ability to process new information and the left temporal lobe which effects mood, memory and impulse control” – Train Your Brain to Get Happy: The Simple Program That Primes Your Grey By Teresa Aubele, Stan Wenck, Susan Reynolds.
Make a list of things that you are grateful for
Before going to bed, sit down and open your journal. Think about at least five things which you are grateful for. The list might exceed any stipulated number but start small, then slowly add more to that list. Don’t negate the small things that make you happy. Include everything, even if it’s a small gift that you’ve received from a distant friend or a book that you are reading. Include everything on the list that makes you feel grateful for.
So, let’s just say you aimed to save 5k from your budget in one month. But you failed to do so because you went on a shopping spree last week. The 5k which you failed to save will make you anxious but look on the brighter side, now you have some great additions to your closet. Always look for the silver lining in things, especially when there are negative connotations to it. Even if you have failed to lose that extra 10 pounds of your body, don’t be upset, just be confident about how you look like because you don’t need to meet the conventional standards of beauty.
Conditioning your brain
The more you learn to do things with a positive attitude, the easier it gets for your brain to generate these kinds of default behaviors which would seem automated. Your actions will condition your brain just like your brain acts up by giving you recurrent thoughts, because your optimism will take you to places where you feared to venture before. So, be a person who has healthy and positive physical habits along with that positive attitude of saying “yes”, even if it means being blamed for being an annoying ray of sunshine all the time.
“Your self-talk may be based upon some of your attitude. A positive attitude towards self generates positive self-talk, while a negative attitude generates negative self-talk” – A Better Way to Think: Using Positive Thoughts to Change Your Life by H. Norman DMin Wright
Looking after your body
Your emotional state depends on how you eat and sleep. It is also directly affected by your exercise habits, food habits etc. To help yourself think positively, you must also learn to take care of your body. Make sure that you get a proper diet that includes the right nutrients, minerals, and vitamins, and try to never eat alone. You can also do yoga or take morning walks to have a healthy and fit body. If you want to do something even more cathartic, then join a boxing club. There are extensive researches done that links depression to your food habits. Your physical health needs to be taken care of first in order for you to deal with the mental and emotional aspects.
You need to learn how you can change setbacks into opportunities. Once you start doing that your neural wiring will fetch more positives than negatives by default. So, get up. Shrug it off. And face each day with a blinding smile because, in the end, “this too shall pass.”