positive thinking

Embrace positivity: How being positive affects your brain chemistry

Thinking positively releases chemical secretions in our brain. Optimistic thinking leads to serotonin production which makes us happy, calm and less anxious.
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Have you ever seen a child that remains happy and giggly throughout the day? Even after a crying episode, the child quickly regains composure and even becomes chirpy. Positivity comes naturally to human beings, especially when they are young. It is because our brain chemistry is designed this way – when we think positively, our serotonin levels increase and we feel happy and relaxed. Positive thinking impacts the prefrontal cortex of our brain which increases activity and enthusiasm in people. In fact, brain chemistry affects our responses and behaviour a lot.

“The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible and does the impossible,” said the world leader Winston Churchill once. This quote is an epitome of the possibilities that positive thinking can bring. When one thinks positive thoughts, they harness creativity, enthusiasm, focus and productivity. The reverse is also true. When one enters a negative spiral, they succumb to impulses and delay responses. The serotonin levels decrease, making the mood sombre, depreciating brain’s capacity to function at its optimum level.

But being human also means that in a room engulfed in darkness, we search for the feeblest of rays. The brain seeks a positive thought pattern to regain its basic human traits of being joyful, energetic and wanting further growth. A positive attitude fills our cup to the brim as we beam with new ideas, hope and joie de vivre.

This is why we must understand the importance of positive thinking and resolve to remain optimistic to transform our lives to an unimaginable extent.

Soulveda explores the various facets of how positive thinking affects the brain chemistry.

The power of positive thoughts

Imagine yourself at your optimistic best. Positive thoughts empower you and make you cheerful. You look at life and people with affection, optimism and hope. Positive thinking generates creativity, focus, enhanced problem-solving and zeal to be more productive. This in turn leads to fruitful results cementing your positivity further.

In a similar manner, we also experience negative thought patterns in certain phases of our lives. Lows impact our moods, behaviours, relationships and every aspect of life.

According to Eric Kim from the department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard, findings suggest that one should strive to ‘boost optimism because it is related to healthier behaviours and better ways of coping with life challenges.’ Positive thoughts further nurture a creative and constructive mindset, essential for learning and growth.

Mind matters

“Folks are usually as happy as they make up their mind to be,” said Abraham Lincoln. What we think and what we manifest are related. How it works is science – positive thinking helps the brain release neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. These chemicals play a vital role in maintaining optimum activity level of human body physiologically as well as mentally.

Let us look at our brain closely. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is the centre where new synapses are formed. PFC reinforces positive thinking and translates it to neurons. Again, a negative thought pattern enforces more synapses and neurons supporting negative thinking. The PFC makes us aware of our thinking process, helping us move our focus to positive thoughts.

Genetics at play

Our behaviour is the outcome of influences by people and circumstances surrounding us. Family is the first unit which impacts people and shapes their thinking and behaviour. What we learn from our immediate environment becomes entrenched in our minds. What we think and how we think is majorly learnt from our previous generation. Later, the external environment and circumstances help us develop thinking patterns and responses.

Genetics play a key role in the formation of our mind-sets while our comfort zone deters us from challenging deep set thinking patterns. If we do not consciously choose our thoughts, positive or negative thinking patterns set the tone for corresponding emotions, influencing the genetic make-up of the mind. For instance, one might have often heard about depression running in a family. It means that for some, a genetic pre-disposition towards anxiety and depression is seen.

Positive thinking or consciously trying to think positively helps in activating certain parts of the brain, empowering us to develop better coping mechanisms. Even if the brain tends to slip into a depression mode, a conscious effort by us can have transformative results.

Condition brain to think positively

A positive attitude is cultivated by rigorously training the brain to focus on the positive. Being positive is a skill which can yield extraordinary results for people as well as those around them.

Each day, we are inundated with a number of challenging situations but our response decides the outcome. When we maintain a positive outlook even in a hostile situation, it reflects on our mind which further creates suitable and fresh opportunities for us to flourish in.

Once we decide to retain a positive attitude, we begin thinking of ways to maintain this positivity. Meditation helps immensely in conditioning the mind to accept and remain rooted in the present scenario. It brings an essential tranquillity and calm required for the brain to think creatively and carve out-of-the-box solutions. When the going is tough, it is easy to succumb to the negativity but proper conditioning of the mind can redirect it to a positive state for short term as well as long-term results.

With a positive mind-set, people can be physically active too and this, in turn creates a soothing impact on the mind. Exercising or physical activity leads to increased oxygen supply to the brain and releases neurotransmitters like endorphins and dopamine. This also lends to better brain functioning in terms of problem solving, having fresh ideas and an enthusiastic approach.

When you truly learn and condition yourself to be positive, it reflects in your entire persona including a heightened brain activity, so try these methods and watch your life improve.

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