Ever tell yourself to cheer up? With no success?
Ever lie awake at night remembering what you didn’t get done?
Maybe you believe you’re living in neutral and unable to kick into first gear.
Does is make you feel any better to know that our brains have been driving our negative and anxious behaviour for over two hundred thousand years?
One, two punch.
Your brain is determined to protect you with your fight or flight response; it hasn’t realized that society has moved on and you don’t face down hungry lions on a regular basis.
Your brain still triggers a high-level response to a threat, even if the threat is minor
Adding insult to injury, you are both blessed and cursed with imagination. You readily imagine threats that trigger the fight or flight response.
Combine that with the natural negativity bias and you have the one-two punch of negativity, pessimism, anxiety and worry.
You aren’t down and out for the count
Scientific research establishes the brain changes based upon its experiences.
What you linger or dwell upon, where you put your focus, rewires the brain to more easily call those and similar responses and thoughts to mind. It thinks it is doing you a favour of being more efficient.
Dwelling on the negative feeds the brain to trigger more negative thinking.
Focusing on the positive feeds the brain to trigger more positive responses.
You can’t stop your brain from changing, so you might as well be aware of how you’re changing it.
Think of it like smoking—there was a time when doctors prescribed smoking to calm their patients. Then the research on the effects of smoking came in. Yoiks!
Once people realized that smoking was harming their health, they had a choice. Keep smoking or quit.
Now we know that our thoughts and feelings physically affect our brain which in turn affects our sense of well-being.
You are in charge
What does this mean for you?
Simply put, think of yourself as being in a boat. Do you want to gently ride the waves? Or, do you want to spend your time bailing water as you hover along the water line?
Capitalize on your time
Before I tell you simple steps, I want to remind you that repetition is key.
Why? Because repetition is what rewires the brain.
Rewiring the brain leads to lasting change.
What lasting change? Less anxiety, more joy, a better sense of well-being, more resilience to handle what life throws your way.
30 seconds here—the length of a few breaths--and then again there, and so on.
Repetition causes rewiring.
And 30 seconds of what you might be asking?
Are you ready?
30 seconds of feeling good.
Oh, you have doubts. Understandable. So, what is the worst that is going to happen?
You are going to experience amazing sensations of feeling good. (And, I don’t want to scare you off, but it might feel like JOY.)
And here’s how.
Your two steps to lasting change
Step 1 Recognize: identify something pleasurable
Step 2 Revel in it. Experience. Relish. Luxuriate in them. Feel them throughout your body. This is not a head exercise but a physical experience
Revel in them for a few moments or as long as the sensations last. Don’t chase the sensations, just enjoy for as long as they are there.
Be open to the experience and let it trigger other pleasurable moments and stay with those for as long as they linger.
Recognize: Recognizing a pleasurable moment as it occurs is more of a challenge than you might think. You are used to blowing through your day and taking the little things for granted as you knock off your to-do list. (No criticism here, just a fact of life for many of us)
Recall: The brain rewiring is not dependent upon experiences as they occur. You can recall moments of pleasure from your day, or your life.
Anything that brings a smile to your face or warms your heart. Recall it.
Luxuriate in it.
Picturing your child? Finishing laying mulch on the garden? Smelling a fresh cup of coffee? The sound of birds out your window? The list is endless. And the smallest thing can bring the biggest pleasure so don’t edit your list. Revel in them all.
Profound changes do not require profound actions.
Simple steps. Repeat.
Yes. It is as simple as that.
The benefits are immediate in terms of your jolt of well-being as you luxuriate in your moments of pleasure.
With repetition, the rewiring of your brain equals lasting changes.
What do you wish for yourself? A large body of scientific research has spoken. What you focus on is what changes your brain.
Picture yourself standing before two doors. One is marked ‘resilient and joyful’ and the other is marked ‘anxious and negative’.
There is no impediment to you entering either door.
You have total control.
Which door are you going to walk through?
Did you make your choice? Do you feel good about it? Why not take a few seconds and FEEL that good feeling. No time like the present to get started!
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All of the content I provide is for general information and is useful to most everyone who will read them but they are not a substitute for professional medical care.