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Understanding the power of a positive attitude

Do you know someone who is always moaning? No matter what happens in their life they always seem to be able to turn it into something negative? Are you one of those people? If so then it’s time for you to harness the immense power of a positive, can-do mindset!

What does the science say?
Human beings seem to be hardwired to be negative. It’s a fact that we gravitate towards darker emotions like anger, disappointment, frustration and sadness, and we shy away from positive ones. Just look at the TV news and notice how much airtime is given to negative things that are happening in the world, and how much is given to the positive actions being made.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way and we don’t have to embrace negative emotions. The science of Neuroplasticity explains how our brains morph and our neural pathways can actually be changed through positive thinking.

“Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to form new connections and pathways and change how its circuits are wired; neurogenesis is the even more amazing ability of the brain to grow new neurons” (Bergland, 2017).

The idea of Neuroplasticity was first introduced by William James in 1890. While it was rejected at the time, today it is widely accepted as being true and is used as the basis for life changing science including restorative treatment for sufferers of mental illnesses, brain injuries, cerebral palsy and strokes. However, as we learn more about the brain and its relationship to neuroplasticity, the potential for growth and change in all of us is becoming ever clearer.  

When treating serious health problems doctors use repetitive mental and physical strategies and activities to literally reset pathways in the brain and overtime strengthen them, like any exercise strengthens muscles. So, how can this be applied to positive thinking? Well, like any muscle the brain can be trained. It has the capacity to rewire itself and become stronger given the right kinds of practice and training.

Neuroplasticity is much more pronounced in children than it is in adults, however there is still a great potential for change. It can help us restore old functions and connections, enhance memory, improve cognition, learning and more.

Practices such as memory tasks and games, juggling, learning to play a musical instrument, learning a new language, yoga, light exercise and brain games like sudoku and crosswords are all proven to helpful in treating the effects of depression and anxiety through the science of neuroplasticity.

Applying this to our mindset
Now while the occasional sudoku puzzle might help you get started, you also need to learn how to be more positive in your reactions to certain situations and your overall mindset. This is where positive thinking exercises can come in.

Start with positive affirmations. These are daily statements or mantras that you repeat to yourself and over time are soaked up by your sub conscious. For example, if you struggle with a short temper then you can say “I am a calm and considered person”. Over time you can start to believe that these things are true and watch as they affect your day to day life.

Another approach to fostering a positive mindset is to try and frame difficult events during your day in a positive way. Here’s an example. Let’s say that your first call of the day goes badly. You speak to a customer, who’s very irritated and decides to take out their frustrations on you. A negative reaction would be to think “Wow, it’s not even 9AM. Today is going to suck”. A positive reaction on the other hand would be to think “Every call is different”.

Finally, you should think about how you speak. Your vocabulary reflects what’s going on in your brain and the more you use negative language the stronger you are making the negative pathways. Instead, you should adjust your chosen words to be constantly positive.  Avoid statements like “I Can’t” and try and reframe them in a more positive way.

How do you maintain a positive mindset? Let us know by connecting on social media at @TimeForYouGroup.

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