The Science Behind Positive Thinking & Rewriting Your Brain for Success
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Do you have a positive outlook on life most of the time?
Regarding positivity and maintaining a positive outlook, there are plenty of challenges. Turning on the news or scrolling through social media will give you enough harmful content to make it look like nobody has a positive mindset. But guess what?
You don’t have to subscribe to that way of thinking!
Your world becomes a different place when you have a positive attitude. The volume of the negativity around you starts to grow faint, and you aren’t bothered by the petty things that can cause worry and anxiety. A positive mindset can completely rewire how our bodies and brains interact.
If you want to learn how to block out the negativity around you and rewire your anxious brain, come along! This article has plenty of tips and hacks for maintaining a positive attitude.
What Does Science Say About the Effects of Positive Thinking?
Overcoming the different stressors and difficulties in life can be a challenge, and we could all use a bit of a boost, right? Scientific studies on positive thinking show that the right mindset can be the catalyst we need to overcome the negative influences in our lives. It just takes some time and effort to get there.
Neuroscientist and professor Dr. Andrew Huberman specialize in how our brains react to different triggers and have performed groundbreaking studies on brain development, neuroplasticity, and repair. And according to Dr. Huberman, positive thinking significantly affects our lives.
Scientific studies on positive thinking and positive outlook show that the right mindset can be the catalyst we need to overcome the negative influences in our lives.
Two chemical messengers control our motivation and happiness regarding positive thinking — dopamine and serotonin. Our bodies release dopamine when we accomplish our goals, giving us the rush to keep going so we can achieve even more. In contrast, we feel calm, relaxed, and comfortable when our bodies release serotonin.
Our bodies don’t continuously regulate dopamine and serotonin in the way we want, and sometimes we can chase too much of one another in hopes of improving our mood. However, finding balance in our lives helps us earn a steady flow of neurochemicals. Maintaining a positive attitude is the key to unlocking that balance!
How to Rewrite Your Brain for Positive Thinking
So how do we find that balance in our life — how can we rewire our anxious brains to unlock the power of positivity and happiness?
Rewiring our brains may seem like one of those “easier said than done” situations, but positive thinking and maintaining a positive outlook come down to our habits. If you build habits that support a healthy attitude, you will start moving the wires in your brain from negativity to positivity. Here are 5 habits you can develop to foster positive thinking and happiness:
Habit 1: Create a Vision and Life-Fulfilling Goals
Without having something positive to work toward, your body doesn’t naturally produce enough dopamine. You need to have a destination in your mind of what you want to achieve. That way, you can give your brain the fuel to think positively about succeeding at those goals. The best part is that your vision doesn’t need to be a life-altering, out-of-this-world goal.
If you have something that lights you up, start there. One of the great things about humans is that we all have different things that bring us joy. Your zone of excellence could be in business, the arts, sports, etc. It doesn’t matter where your passion lies; what matters is that you tap into that passion as motivation to create your vision.
The better you create a vision and set achievable goals for yourself, the better you will think positively. This change occurs because when you achieve your goals, your body rewards you for them. You feel that sensation of dopamine release that drives you to move forward.
Habit 2: Express Gratitude and Engage in Positive Self-Talk
It may seem small, but how we speak to ourselves has an immense impact on our attitude. If you never express gratitude for the things you have in life and never reaffirm your success, your attitude will suffer. But when you live from a place of gratitude, the way you think will follow suit.
We’re not saying being grateful will keep negative things from happening. Life stinks sometimes, and refusing to acknowledge those moments isn’t a healthy way to handle them. However, if you can look back on those low points later and go, “Wow! That was terrible, but look at what I learned from the situation,” you can turn yourself into the hero of your story instead of a victim of your surroundings.
Positive self-talk is also something that goes hand-in-hand with living from a place of gratitude. According to the all-star punter and Super Bowl champ Steve Weatherford, self-talk is key to maintaining a positive attitude. When you go into something believing you will achieve it, you can change your life!
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Habit 3: Take Care of Your Physical Health
You are a physical, mental, and spiritual being, and when you don’t take care of one part of yourself, the rest of you will suffer. Maintaining good physical health helps you build a better foundation holistically. When dialing in on your physical health, exercise and diet are two excellent areas to focus on.
Now, we know everyone isn’t about to tear up the gym or train for a marathon, and that’s okay! However, exercise is necessary to keep your body healthy. You don’t even need to participate in “traditional” workouts. Find a way to get your body moving — it could start small with walks in the park, dancing around the living room, or low-intensity activities like disc golf!
Part two of maintaining physical health is diet. We know it can be a struggle, but having a healthy diet is critical. Eating clean and avoiding food with poor nutritional content can also do more than make your body healthier. It also fuels your mind and helps you think clearly, which promotes a positive attitude.
Habit 4: Focus on Your Breathing
Let’s do a little experiment. Take in the deepest breath that you’ve taken all day … now let it out completely, and try to make your exhale twice the length of your inhale. How do you feel?
Author and journalist James Nestor believes we all need to breathe better. Much of our breathing is reflexive, and we do it without thinking much about it. That’s why many of us have developed poor breathing habits that negatively affect us. To breathe correctly, you must inhale and exhale through your nose; it increases oxygen absorption and helps your brain work better.
To breathe correctly, you must inhale and exhale through your nose; it increases oxygen absorption and helps your brain work better.
Controlled breathing exercises can help you refocus your mind and suppress negative thoughts. One effective exercise is the squared breathing method. Count to four while breathing in, hold your breath for the same four-count, then breathe out for the same time. This technique lowers heart rate, increases oxygen levels, and reduces stress.
Habit 5: Prioritize Meditation and Sleep
Rest is just as important for your positive attitude as achieving your goals. Earlier in this article, we talked about how you need to balance dopamine and serotonin. Points of rest are vital for the production of serotonin and feelings of happiness. Meditation and sleep are fantastic ways to promote rest in your daily routine.
Meditation isn’t something that comes naturally. It requires you to slow down, look inside yourself, and find a place of stillness within the whirlwind of life. But when you can master the practice of regular meditation, you get a chance to focus and become more conscious of your attitude. If you are new to meditation, Headspace or Calm are great apps to help start and support your journey.
Sleep also has a significant effect on your outlook on the world. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule allows your mind and body to repair themselves, and the proper amount of rest improves your overall mood. As an adult, you should sleep at least 7 hours a day. If you struggle with maintaining sleep, this podcast with Shawn Stevenson has excellent tips on unlocking powerful rest.
Can You Increase Your Positivity and Happiness?
Of course, you can! Shifting your mindset from negative to positive may be challenging, but rewards are worth it. Science shows that a positive attitude can help you overcome difficult moments, increase happiness, and build stronger relationships.
To make the change, focus on building better habits that support a positive mental attitude. Remember that your mind, spirit, and body work together when developing new habits. Taking a holistic approach to your health is the best strategy for rewiring your brain for positivity.
Every new habit is a step toward the best version of yourself! Cheers to a more positive outlook on life, and cheers to greatness!