A man named Steve Parton from CuriousApes.com wrote a brilliant article about how your thoughts shape your brain, and we thought it extremely essential to share this information with our readers to drive home how necessary it is to not only THINK POSITIVE, but to avoid thinking negative. They not only shape it, they reshape it, continuously. Every time you have a thought, an experience, learn something, your brain has changed. And you may say, “Sure… I know this,” but what you may not know is this isn’t just a figurative concept, its physical. Your thoughts literally, change your brain. Lets discover how.
In your brain there is a collection of synapses separated by empty space called the synaptic cleft. Whenever you have a thought, one synapse shoots a chemical across the cleft, or empty space to another synapse, thus building a bridge over which an electric signal can cross, carrying along its charge the relevant information you’re thinking about. It’s very similar to how nerves carry signals from the sensation in your toe all the way up to your brain where it’s actually “felt”.
Every time this electrical charge is triggered, the synapses grow closer together in order to decrease the distance the electrical charge has to cross. The brain is rewiring its own circuitry, physically changing itself, to make it easier and more likely that the proper synapses will share the chemical link and thus spark together, making it easier for the thought to trigger. So yes, your brain is physically changing itself.
Parton says, “The exciting and fascinating thing is that the synapses you’ve most strongly bonded together (by thinking about more frequently) come to represent your default personality: your intelligence, skills, aptitudes, and most easily accessible thoughts (which are more-or-less the source of your conversation skills).” Mind blown. This means that you can actually physically mold a positive mindset by thinking positive often. You’ll create synapses that fire closer together. So what he’s saying is when you have positive thoughts and negative thoughts, if you were to have those positive thoughts more often you increase the chance of having positive thoughts because those synapses move closer just by having them. Even if the same instance may also trigger a negative thought to fire, by having thought positive more often, the positive thought will beat out the negative thought by completing the connection first. By continuously thinking positively, bravely, graciously, lovingly, and any other positive way you can think of, you reduce the chances for negative, sad, pessimistic, or fearful thoughts to beat the positive ones.
Steve “wows” us yet again when he takes it one step further to explain that not only can your own thoughts shape your brain and your reality, but the thoughts around you can as well, something we’ve been talking about for years, that attitudes are contagious. He talks about the human imagination and how it lets us live in the past, present and future, and how it allows us to access memories that let us predict and negotiate the future. For instance, that ice is cold, and you will burn your hand if you stick it in the fire. It happens so seamlessly that we don’t even realize it, and he said it also applies to emotions. When we see someone exhibiting an emotion, (anger, sadness, excited, happiness, etc.) our brain “tries out” that same emotion to imagine what that person is going through. It does this by firing the same synapses in your brain so you can understand or relate to what the person is going through. This is called empathy, and Parton also says this is how we get pack or mob mentality. Where you may get excited at a concert when others are going crazy, you will get sad at a funeral, even if you were not close to the person who has passed.
This also happens around your peers, friends and coworkers. Someone may start complaining about something bad that happened to them or the fact they got passed over for a promotion, how life is just unfair, and you will sometimes just sit there and agree with them. You’ll say things like “I’m sorry man thats not right” or “Its just not fair, that person is horrible.” You’ll find yourself getting caught up in their complaining and trash talking that you’ll mindlessly start agreeing with them – because your brain is firing these synapses, and trying them out. If you hang around these people long enough you will continue to fire negative synapses and they will move closer together. Closer than the synapses that control your good mood and positive attitude. And then what happens? Your brain has been reshaped and now the connections that get bridged first are the negative ones. You’ve changed your attitude and your mindset and your physical mind just by hanging out with negative people.
This is why it is so vitally important to hang around people who think positive, especially if you want to be happy and have a positive life. He’s not saying “Don’t be there for your friends in need, or when they’re down.” Just don’t let their negativity reshape your positive attitude and way of thinking. Don’t listen to them complain so much that your own mind begins to change. You need to spend time lifting them up, and not sympathizing with their negative attitudes – and cut them off when they do think that way. You need to spend even more time around uplifting upbeat, motivated, positive, loving, caring and thoughtful people to help mold and evolve your brain into a loving, caring, positive, happy one.
Stress is another thing that can negatively impact your brain. The more you fire synapses of stress, anger, hatred, jealously, fear, the more stress you build up and the more your brain releases the stress hormone cortisol. Psychology Today gives a greater explanation of why this is bad:
The stress hormone, cortisol, is public health enemy number one. Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease… The list goes on and on. Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy. This week, two separate studies were published in Science linking elevated cortisol levels as a potential trigger for mental illness and decreased resilience—especially in adolescence.Cortisol is released in response to fear or stress by the adrenal glands as part of the fight-or-flight mechanism. — PsychologyToday.com
So how do we guarantee a well shaped and happy mind? By choosing positive thoughts over negative ones… love over anger, courage over fear, happiness over sadness, forgiveness over revenge, motivation over laziness, kindness over hate. Any situation in your life gives you the ability, no matter what synapses are firing to make a choice to rewire and reconfigure your brain’s circuitry by only seeing the good in any situation. You can choose to view failure as a bad thing, or you can choose to view it as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and to work harder. You can choose to be jealous of someone who has more than you and is more successful, or you can use them as a role model to inspire you and motivate you to worker hard and achieve your dreams.
The point is you need to take a step back and assess where your synapses are firing and make the change to rewire the way you react and the way your brain thinks and it all simply comes through making the positive choices over the bad or negative in every single situation in life. The choice is yours, and every choice affects your happiness. We hope you make the right one and become an active player in developing your positive attitude. #choosepositive