Everyone talks about thinking positively, but HOW do we actually do it?

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Everyone talks about thinking positively, but HOW do we actually do it?


Neuroplasticity‘Positivity’! It’s the new buzz word. It seems as though everyone is harping on about the benefits of thinking positively, positive thoughts and a positive mental attitude, but how do we do it, and why? 

During this article we will explore the power of positive thought and crucially, how you can ‘be more positive’, especially when you might feel anything but. 

In psychotherapy we talk a lot about the primitive brain and how functioning in this part of the brain on a regular basis can be quite a bad thing for us. The things is, the more we function in this part of the brain, the more likely we are to suffer from depression, anxiety and a range of physical ailments (IBS, chronic pain disorder, sleeping problems, immune disorders, lack of confidence, anxiety and so on). Cue, the role of positivity. Our brains have the ability to re-wire themselves which can either work for, or, against us. Take a look at this infographic below to see how this concept of ‘neuroplasticity’ works.
In order to feel better or overcome any physical problems we may be suffering with, we need to trick our primitive mind into thinking that things aren’t so bad so we can start to decrease functioning in this part of the brain and move across to our solution focused, happy part of the brain (the left pre-frontal cortex). 
But, how can we do this? 

1. Set reasonable goals. 

“A lot of people who see the negative side of things also tend to put themselves down because they set huge, intimidating goals that are difficult to attain,” says Lavinia Lumezanu, a marketing executive and leadership trainer. So instead of saying, “I want to earn more, work less and be happy!” start with a much smaller goal. We know that control is a constant so once we gain control from doing one small thing we can move onto the next. Small goals lead to bigger goals. 

2. Turn “problems” into “challenges.” 

We are less likely to produce the stress hormone cortisol if we view a situation as challenging but do-able rather than all doom and gloom. So, change the way you view a situation to decrease the amount of adrenaline you produce and consequently, increase the amount of serotonin (happy hormone) you produce. 

3. Fake it to make it.

Even if you don’t feel happy or believe you can get to where you want to be, you can always pretend. Reset your default answer. Our brains can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality so reset your default to what or how you want things to be.

4. Surround yourself with positive people. 

Culture is everything. Our brains naturally mirror people around us so if we are surrounded by people who drain us or indulge themselves in negativity, we will naturally mirror them. So, switch the polarity and surround yourself with people who radiate happiness and our brains will try-it-on-for-size i.e. we will be happier. Hey Presto!