I’m SOOOO excited for October! I’m devoting this whole month to how to be happy now. I’m going to be talking about how to stop negative thinking, how to start positive thinking, how to avoid the mistakes you’ve likely made in the past when you’ve tried affirmations and thinking positive thoughts, what the steps are for living happily in your now and how to make these changes and keep them for the long haul (and, of course, showing you all the research to back it up).
Get ready to say goodbye to the negative thinking treadmill and hello to a welcome cycle of happiness and peace.
This week focusing on why you have negative thoughts to begin with. You’re going to learn how and why you’re hard-wired to focus on the bad stuff and then I’m going to teach you two easy-to-use, effective tips to turn off your internal Negative Nelly (or at least mute her) and turn on your Positive Patty.
You’ve Got to Really Understand How and Why You’re Built
As I’ve mentioned before, we’re running on what’s now faulty hard-wiring that we haven’t evolved past yet. Because, relatively, we’re very new here.
We Learned Quickly to Focus on the Bad, Instead of the Good
Believe it or not, even when you’re feeling calm or happy, your brain still scans for threats and possible danger. Here’s the big problem with that. To your brain, life and death threats (the only kinds it knows) include:
- Arguments with your partner
- A disagreement with your sibling
- Thinking about a coworker who seems to be doing better than you on a project
- Any disappointment or frustration
- The idea of someone taking something from you (like your partner, credit for something, or actually something physical)
Even when you’re calm, there’s a subtle anxiety, worry, unease or feeling of separation from others.
The ratios have been around awhile for positive to good actions. In marriages it’s 5:1 and, in general life it’s at least 3:1. Meaning that, in your life in general, for every 3 positive things that happen, it takes only one negative thing to cancel those positive gains out. In your relationship that goes up to five positives for every one time you screw up (likely because of our higher expectations for our love partners).
There are basically three parts in your brain responsible for all this overreaction:
The Snowball Effect
Over the course of your life, each negative experience you catalogue, ruminate over and think about makes your amygdala even more sensitive to anything negative. Remember all those stress hormones that are now activated from the hypothalamus? Well, now these are flowing into your system and strengthening and stimulating your amygdala! So, that fire alarm in your brain will now go off more easily and get louder and louder!
3 Reasons Good Stuff Doesn’t Stick with Us
- You overlook good stuff because your brain is so busy trying to either avoid the bad stuff or fix problems (real or imaginary)
- When you do notice something good, you don’t feel it. In other words, it’s a fact, not an experience. With no strong emotion attached, it doesn’t get hard-wired in the same way. You’ll finish that big project at work finally, but then you move on to the next thing (that you’ve already been stressing about) without acknowledging in a real way the big accomplishment you just had. (I see you)! I remember when my kids were babies and I got that first smile or giggle. It filled my heart to bursting! These days, if I don’t stop to think about it, I let all those laughs and smiles move by with hardly a second thought.
- Unless you consciously stop and savor a good experience, it gets stored in the brain the same way as when you remember to take out the trash. It doesn’t help shape your brain or lay down strong neural networks or memories.
All this month we’ll be working on turning your “natural” tendencies around. I’m taking the time to teach you this so you understand that you REALLY need to be diligent with new behaviors and habits but that you absolutely can turn around your negative thinking and become a positivity generating machine!
Here are two tips to make it happen!
Tip #1: Turn Fine into a Feeling
Tip #2: Think About What Didn’t Go Wrong
There’s almost nothing better for you than taking a few minutes each day to set your day on the right track! You want to start off on your best foot, so I’ve created this Meditation Starter Kit. You just need 3 minutes to start your day – that’s it! Just 3 minutes to start the positive momentum of a great day!
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