Lately, I’ve been meditating on being grateful. Which I find difficult – my mind gets overwhelmed by thoughts, worries, and memories, and not always pleasant ones.
We have this defense mechanism in our brain, the one that remembers the failures, the break-ups, the mistake, the negatives…that little thing that always makes us judge ourselves, saying that we are not good enough, that we’ve should do this or not that. I bet you know what I’m talking about.
Now, psychology wise and evolutionary, it makes sense. We remember better those “bad” things, so we can avoid them in the future. This shows us how we relate to positivity and negativity, we are survivor beings and our brain stores these memories or experiences differently.
What tools do we possess to counter negative thinking? How does negative thinking affect our day to day life?
Rationality and willpower are great tools, very powerful tools in our arsenal, but it might not be enough in this case. Let’s face it, “negative” experiences and bad memories are here to stay, they are part of who we are, and we need to accept them – not only “live” with them, but to really accept them.
We know that physical state affects our brain, but can our brain affect our physical state? Turns out it can. Negative thinking affects our brain by triggering our Hypothalamus– part in a brain that is also responsible for stress management. Stress from negative thinking also creates changes in the brain that may affect your likelihood of mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, schizophrenia and mood disorders, it also affects your energy level, appetite, and overall well-being.
Thinking about your childhood and teenage years, how many good days and amazing experiences you had – a lot of them get stacked bellow less pleasant day to day memories.
But how can we change that? How to tackle it?
I believe we need to add empathy, compassion, and pride to our toolset.
I’m not talking about selfish pride, I’m talking about that self-esteem, that “I have value” pride! Take some moment each day, say thank you, if you’re having a bad period in your life – write down each day the good things you have in your life or happened that day – family, health, friends, funny moments, social activities, hobbies, music and so on and on.
Start observing those good things because we don’t do it naturally, we almost take it for granted.
Start showing more compassion and empathy to those around you, but mostly, to yourself.
As it says in a golden rule: Love others the same way you love yourself – it is impossible to achieve that if you don’t value yourself and don’t have that pride and empathy towards yourself.
If you do take a couple of minutes to meditate – think about how positive thinking affects you, how can it affect those around you.
I know that life is not a bed of roses, but it is not a bed of thorns either!
The same way our body changes its composition by eating habits and exercise – our brain changes its composition by practicing positive thinking. It’s all about changing our perspective.
According to Emiliana Simon-Thomas, a Ph.D. and science director at UC Berkley: “We know that neural pathways are changing every minute of your entire life and that your brain is generating new cells throughout your life. And this neurogenesis is not only associated with the formation of new memories but with mood stability, as well,”
Being grateful can help us in our daily life. It helps to put us in a better mood, and when you are in a good mood, it’s easier to help others feel the same – hence the “good vibes”. And most importantly it helps you to be “present” and at the moment, to acknowledge those good things.
Start creating empathy and compassion by thinking about it, by focusing about positivity even if doesn’t make sense, being rational all day will lead you back to those day to day worries, those worries that we have already enough without pausing for a minute.
Have a great week!