Did you know there are simple ways to override default negative thoughts, essentially hypnotizing your mind to think positively?
There is no getting around the fact that negativity is all around us, which significantly impacts our minds. The brain is innately programmed with a “negativity bias” – the tendency for your brain to be more sensitive to unpleasant stimuli.
Scientists believe the tendency to react more strongly to negative input had a good reason – our distant ancestors had to deal with danger constantly; thus, their survival relied on being able to detect and avoid dangerous situations. In short, the bias has evolutionary roots.
Then, there is the incomprehensible complexity of the human mind, with approximately 100 trillion neural connections. This unfathomable number of synapses explains our complex way of thinking. It also explains why we have negative thoughts that replay themselves repeatedly without us understanding why.
The good news is that you can control what your mind produces. While you may never be able to rid your brain of negative thoughts completely, you can drastically reduce them. With patience and the willingness to discipline yourself, you can reprogram your mind to stay positive.
Here are 5 daily disciplines that will help you reprogram your mind to positive…
1. Keep a gratitude journal
Research has shown that practicing gratitude regularly makes your brain healthier and happier. Some benefits of being grateful include more motivation, better sleep, and a better mood throughout the day.
One gratitude study involved assigning a group of young adults to keep a daily journal of things they were grateful for. The other group was instructed to keep a daily journal of things that annoyed them or why they were better off than others. The group that kept the gratitude journal demonstrated greater increases in attention, determination, energy and enthusiasm.
This study demonstrated three important takeaways: (1) gratitude has great psychological benefits, (2) thinking that you are “better off” than another person is not gratitude, and (3) true appreciation is an important aspect of being grateful.
Gratitude is not a comparative practice. It is honing in on the positive aspects of your life that make you more appreciative.
2. Repeat positive affirmations
In numerous studies, positive affirmations have been shown to change how the brain is wired effectively. This rewiring changes how the brain filters incoming stimuli, effectively resulting in a more positive mood.
Dr. Mona Lisa Schultz, neuroscientist and author of various books on the subject of affirmations and the brain explains:
“We can rewire the patterns in our brain with cognitive behavior therapy or affirmations. Affirmations change the way our brains are wired and the brain lights up differently. So it’s not just this flow, woo-woo stuff…(affirmations) have a bio-chemical, neuro-chemical, and neuropharmacological affects just as effective, if not more effective, than Prozac, Zoloft, or whatever else you have.”
Here’s a quick 4-step method to create positive affirmations:
– Take some time to think about areas of your life you’d like to improve or how you’d like your life to be.
– Write down a list of the most important improvements you’d like to make.
– Write down a few positive statements for each item on your list. Jot them down in the present tense, and focus on what you want, not what you don’t.
– Post these affirmations around your home and read them frequently.
3. Associate and surround yourself with supportive people
Positive people have a positive effect on your thinking. Embrace the company of individuals who display a positive mindset. Doing so will inspire, empower, and motivate you to be your best.
As mentioned earlier, the brain has a default setting that remembers and holds onto negative events. Negative people are no different. They will alter your way of thinking, and you will, consciously or unconsciously, begin to mirror their behaviors, words, and thoughts. This makes it all the more important to mind the company that you keep.
Refuse the company of negative people by keeping in mind your end goal – developing habits that allow your brain to stay positive. Your mindset is more important than accommodating people that negatively affect your brain and slow your progress.
4. Ignore negative thoughts
Remember this: you are not your negative thoughts, period. Our negativity bias makes it probable that negative thoughts will surface throughout the day.
Negative thinking is simply tabloid material for the mind. There is no substance to tabloid material…it’s designed to attract the curious shopper into paying for useless and intellectually dishonest information. Publishers of tabloids rely on the impulses and misguided curiosity of people who see them.
The brain is the same way. It may be clever to present the information, but in the end, it’s void of anything representing the facts. The facts are these: you are a person dedicated to improvement, you are positive in your outlook, and you innately know that you are a positive person.
When negative thoughts present themselves, don’t acknowledge them. Don’t wage a thought war by attempting to rationalize with them. You observe them, sure, that’s natural. Observation doesn’t indicate acknowledgment.
When you don’t engage negative thoughts, they fade away; in the same way, the desire to buy that tabloid magazine diminishes when you leave the store…and you’re better off.
5. Stay active
Idleness gives ample time for the brain to overanalyze and overthink. The easiest solution is recognizing when your brain is taking you down this road and diverting the course.
There are many ways to become active, but exercise is the best (by far). Exercise releases endorphins, the hormones that are responsible for feelings of euphoria. It’s a natural antidepressant that far exceeds the capabilities of any prescription drug. Its positive effects are also long-lasting, remaining with you throughout the day.
Other benefits of exercise on the brain include:
– Oxygenizes the brain, improving its function
– Releases a plethora of hormones, aiding and providing nourishment for brain cells
– Stimulates brain plasticity by stimulating the growth in critical areas of the brain
– Improves learning and memory
– Reduces the risk of brain-related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and dementia