The practice of remembering a positive experience alters your brain. Who would of thought that thoughts themselves are the key to happiness? Thoughts cause neurochemical changes in the brain – the more powerful the thought, the more significant the changes will be. Mental activity permanently sculpts the brain through electrical signals. Electrical signals are constantly working, physically moving back and forth through the brain. Examples of these neural actions are provided through neuroimaging of the brain. In these medical studies a patient may be stimulated with pictures, sounds, or any sort of subject influence. From these scans doctors and scientists have mapped out parts of the brain where “feel good” chemicals fire off and the volume in which these chemicals occur. Furthermore, scientists have reported that repeated thoughts alter the volume of a chemical, such as dopamine, in the brain over time. Knowing this, wouldn’t you say that positive thinking may not be so cheesy after all?
Imagine a program with your bank account that rewards you for each dollar you invest by matching your dollar with another. On the other hand, when you withdraw a dollar, the program withdrawals a dollar from your account as well. Now picture your brain as the bank account and each positive thought you invest rewards you with another positive thought. Again, on the other hand, when you withdrawal a positive thought, for a negative thought your brain punishes you by withdrawing more positive thoughts. Why is this? When your brain gets into the habit of thinking negatively, positive thoughts have less and less room to be stored; and this works both ways – positive begets more positive, while, negative begets more negative.
What is common knowledge? The more we practice something the better we get at it, even if that something is negativity. In this state of mind everything appears empty, sad and life seems to victimize you repeatedly. The only way to end the cycle is to counter the negative with the positive. What can positive thinking do that is so awesome, you might ask? Well, for starters, when we continuously manifest thoughts our brain chemistry PHYSICALLY changes. Studies have shown that positive thoughts alone can improve: natural euphoria, organ function and physical strength – to name a few.
The Intention Experiment: Using Your Thoughts to Change Your Life and the World, Lynne McTaggart writes:
A sizable body of research exploring the nature of consciousness, carried on for more than thirty years in prestigious scientific institutions around the world, shows that thoughts are capable of affecting everything from the simplest machines to the most complex living beings. This evidence suggests that human thoughts and intentions are an actual physical “something” with astonishing power to change our world. Every thought we have is tangible energy with the power to transform. A thought is not only a thing; a thought is a thing that influences other things.
Stop what you are doing and either: grab a piece of paper and pen, open notes in your phone, or use any source of documentation. What I want you to do is list ANYTHING in your mind that induces feelings of pleasure. Dig in your memory bank, visualize yourself at your best, picture a place that makes you feel nostalgic, think of anything that makes YOU feel good – past, present, or future – and write these moments down in full detail. For chronic negative thinkers this exercise may be challenging and this is because our brains have become wired to criticize every aspect of our life. The trick is to allow the critic in your head to have it’s say and when that voice is done, ask the critic in your mind to relax and sit back because their turn is over. Do NOT fight a negative thought because this also gives that thought gravity. Instead, allow the thought to come and go and immediately after focus on a positive thought (remember the positive thought investment analogy.) Keep practicing the art of positive follow-up thoughts because your mind’s first instinct will be to protest the change. Routines are comfortable and your mind may not be receptive to this new habit. However, after time and practice positive thinking will be the new norm and your mind will reward you with more happiness and bliss.
Nothing is off limits as long as it makes YOU feel happy. Once you have your list, read it over, study each topic and give gravity to each moment. The more attention to detail you give your positive thought, the greater happiness will manifest into your future.