Practice Positivity | Eight Daily Activities
Thursday, April 22, 2021
If you think your brain is wired to think negative thoughts – think again. Research shows that positive thinking can be learned with practice and used to protect against stress and depression, according to an article by Jane Brody in the New York Times.
“Neuroscience research shows we can retrain our brains to focus on the positive,” said Ajay Sharma, M.D., psychiatrist for Genesis Behavioral Health. While everyone experiences negative emotions, always giving into fear, sadness and anxiety can have detrimental effects on a person's mental and physical health, according to Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Those who recover slower from emotional setbacks have a higher risk of health problems than those who bounce back quicker.
Here’s the good news. Barbara Frederickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, found the brain is "plastic" enough to generate new cells and pathways that could enable the brain to foster positive responses and lower individuals' risks for a variety of health problems.
The researchers found that participants increased positive emotions and had greater social connection after six weeks of compassion and kindness meditation training. They also improved function in one of the main nerves involved in controlling heart rate. After two weeks of training in kindness and compassion meditation, there was a change in the participants’ brain circuitry that is linked to an increase in certain positive social behaviors, such as generosity.
8 steps to positive thinking
1. Do good deeds for others. This not only brings happiness to other people, but it can help brighten your day too.
2. Build and nurture relationships. Strong social bonds with family or friends can improve a person's self-worth. These connections are also associated with better health outcomes and longer lives.
3. Set attainable goals. By setting out to achieve realistic goals, you can avoid the stress of falling short.
4. Embrace who you are. Learning to love your strongest qualities and attributes can help keep sadness at bay.
5. Practice resilience. Made a mistake? Don't sweat it. Instead, consider it an opportunity to grow and learn.
6. Let go. Don't let the past get in the way of your future. Stay focused on the present.
7. Learn something new. Taking up a sport or trying to learn a new language can help build self-confidence and resilience.
8. Appreciate your surroundings. Take a moment to look at the world around you and begin to appreciate all it has to offer.