One of the surprising things about our brains is that they are ‘plastic’. Not literally, of course. But they are mouldable.
What does that mean exactly? Well in neuroscience terms, it means that we can change the connections between our nerve cells (neurons). We can create new connections, strengthen existing connections and prune out old connections.
In wellbeing terms it means we can change the way we think. We can learn to be more positive, optimistic or confident. We can stop being anxious, fed up and fearful. And we can do this by paying attention to the way we think.
When we are born our minds are pretty much a blank canvass. Then life experiences and events shape the way we think. We may be influenced by parents, teachers, siblings and friends. It may be that we see the way they respond to situations and adopt their responses. It may be that we learn that by behaving in a certain way, we get attention.
If these experiences are nurturing and positive we stand a reasonable chance of being in a good headspace by the time we go out into the world.
But if we have had a hard time of things, we may struggle to find peace of mind. We may decide that life is not fair, or we are not worthy or there’s no point in trying something new because we won’t be any good at it. We have created a habit of looking on the gloomy side. This negative attitude becomes our reality.
But all is not lost. We can absolutely change our experience of life, simply by changing the way we think about things. I say ‘simply’. It’s a simple concept, but we need to apply some effort to learn how to do it.
The good news is though, like any new skill that we learn, the more we do something the easier it becomes. If we repeat the new behaviour often enough it becomes automatic, a subconscious habit. And that means we don’t have to apply so much conscious effort, we simply enjoy a new way of experiencing life.
So, how do we do this? Well a good start is simply to focus on what’s positive in your life.
There’s a great exercise that I do most days and it helps to keep my spirits up. Every day I find at least five good or nice things that I’ve done or have happened to me. It doesn’t have to be something major or earth-shattering. It could be something as simple as remembering to use my loyalty card at the supermarket.
When you do this kind of mental exercise regularly you soon notice a difference in your mood. And it’s fun.
So, are you up for taking your mind to the positivity gym? If you are, you’ll strengthen the connections in the area of your brain that’s geared for positivity and be able to change the way you think about things.