The Science of Positivity
Positivity, the link between how we think and how we feel – you know how the saying goes? “Don’t worry. Be happy!”
Sounds simple enough right? The reality is, it’s not. Our heads are often filled with negative thoughts and emotions, and it seems that complaining and fearing the worst, are our go-to reactions – especially here in South Africa.
The thing is, people (and science) are starting to prove that these thoughts are more powerful than we realise, and that training your brain to think positively, could actually benefit your body, mind, and life.
Some very clever people, like Barbara Fredrickson (a Positive Psychology researcher at the North Carolina University), have spent many years researching and proving the positive impact it can have on your developing your skills.
Read The one word that can instantly change your mood for some more inspiration.
How negative thinking affects your brain
Ever noticed how, when you’re stressed about a never-ending to-do list, you seem to actually get less done and focus on the insurmountable mountain of work instead? Our brains are hardwired to focus entirely on negative thoughts, which stem from our “fight or flight” reaction that kicks in as a survival instinct.
Our to-do list isn’t going to kill us, but your body doesn’t know that and switches into a “hyperfocus” mode as soon as you become consumed with stress, anger, fear, and worry.
Negative emotions actually prevent our brains from differentiating between getting the job done and worrying about how we’re going to do just that.
The science of positive thinking
The science of positive thinking is quite simple. Positive thoughts have 2 main effects on our brains. Firstly, a positive state relaxes us. When we’re relaxed, we’re more likely to take a self-assured, confident approach to our problems. We also know that a relaxed mind processes complex information more efficiently than a stressed mind.
Next, and this is the interesting part. A positive state of mind energises the brain. When we’re engaged in positive thinking, our synapses fire more frequently, in more areas of our brain. This enables us to couple our memories and stored knowledge with cognitive processes – resulting in more creativity, lateral thinking and problem-solving.
Positive thinking, as a science, is not accepted by everyone. Even some of the smartest people in the world are finding it tough to show the tangible impact of positive thinking. The problem is simple to understand, but tough to overcome. It’s a subjective experience. Positive thinking to one person may be everyday thinking to somebody else.
That said, it seems that this subject is gaining popularity and is pretty much accepted by most successful people – after all, they’re the ones who make the most of this simple secret.
Do you use the power of positive thinking? Maybe you have a tale to tell of how it helped you? Let us know on Facebook!