Neuroscience has recently undergone an information explosion. Thanks to innovative technology like digital imaging such as fMRI’s, we know so much more about the brain than we did ten years ago.
One of the most exciting advances has to do with the plasticity of the brain. In other words, it’s ability to change. What is even more incredible is that the brain takes it’s shape in whatever you rest your mind on. And while the concept of focusing on the positive to attract the positive is not a new concept, we now have the science to back it up.
The brain takes to negative thoughts like Velcro. Since neurons that fire together, wire together, our sensitivity and reactivity to the negative increases. But we can alter that.
Rick Hansen, best selling author and founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplation Wisdom (www.wisebrain.org) suggests ‘planting a garden in the mind of your brain.’ In other words, hardwire your brain for happiness.
To do this you need to focus on realistic standards, acknowledge your accomplishments and attributes. Remain non-judgemental. Positive emotions such as love and kindness can reshape the brain resulting in improved mood, an increase in positive emotions, decreased stress and increased resilience.
This is wonderful news for anyone who has suffered negative experiences that continue to weigh heavy on the mind. Even though thought circuitry may have been rewired by the incident, we have the ability to change it for the better. (For those who have experienced trauma, seek professional help.)
Techniques used to shift the brain into better balance involve mindfulness. By staying in the moment and assessing the feelings that come up, we can in turn, label the associated feeling. Research has shown that labelling negative emotions can decrease their severity.
As you think about the negative experience, bring forth a positive one. By doing so you will re-imprint the memory with some positive. Attitudes of kindness and acceptance also go along way in altering the memory. This is planting a garden where there might otherwise be weeds.
Although not a quick fix, it is estimated that it takes five positive interactions to override one negative. All the more reason to get started right away!