Rick Hanson, in his recent article, How To Trick Your Brain for Happiness states, "we have started to better understand the neural bases of states like happiness, gratitude, resilience, love, compassion, and so forth. And better understanding them means we can skillfully stimulate the neural substrates of those states—which, in turn, means we can strengthen them."
It's so exciting to see that some of the recent breakthroughs in brain research are confirming what our grandparents have known all along: the power of positive thinking. What is going on in the mind, our thought life, is actually confirmed as having a biochemical effect on the physical processes happening in the brain, and that's REALLY GOOD NEWS! "Why?" you ask! Because that means that we can actually strengthen our brain to be MORE positive, MORE generous, MORE grateful, and MORE compassionate. It's good news because it means that we CAN change the way our natural thought patterns affect the moods, emotions, and attitudes that may be hindering our successes and personal growth.
Because the brain is elastic, and is so to some degree throughout our entire lives, the pathways that release the "good chemicals" (those associated with generosity, sharing, happiness, contentment) can be strengthened, and the pathways that release the "negative chemicals" (those associated with fear, strife, worry, pain) can be weakened. What a wonderful tool for us as human beings and individuals to know that we are NEVER "stuck" and that, on the contrary, we can improve our outlook on life, our interactions with others, our attitudes, and our state of mind because of the elasticity of our brains!
In past posts, we've touched on the fact that our brains are, to some degree, wired for "bad news" and danger. This is a hangover from when life was lived in rural, agrarian cultures and we needed to be alert to the dangers of the world around us. While self-preservation and awareness of danger is still a very important component of our natural instincts, and therefore essential to the hard-wiring of the brain, we are much less likely to be attacked by a wild animal than our predecessors. What a wonderful age we live in that we needn't be hypersensitive to these types of dangers any more, and we are free to allow our brains to be trained to see the world through a positive lens. What a wonderful opportunity we have to live in OUR contemporary world, and SEE good, DO good, and FEEL good!
Because of the elasticity of our brains, the more we practice positive, grateful, generous, and compassionate thoughts, the more naturally these thoughts will begin to occur and spring forth in our though life. What a wonderful opportunity we have each and every day to go out into the world and touch the lives of those around us with positive thinking!