Your Brain Thrives on Positivity
We love feeling good. Our day seems brighter, tasks more manageable, and nothing can get in our way when we are optimistic. Positivity increases our self-confidence; it is why we take risks. The power of positivity drives us to find the good in others. We have faith in ourselves and others, freeing us to accept affirmative responses.
A feel-good attitude generates from the neurons in our brain. To understand the effect positive and negative feelings have on our mindset, we need to know how our brain functions. Our brain controls our emotions in the amygdala. The amygdala regulates and responds to positive emotions like joy or negative emotions like anxiety or depression. Positive thinking changes the chemistry of the brain affecting genetic markers and can change brain cells. The change of genetic traits is a catalyst for our well-being and future generations. Positive thinking is also associated with an increase in cells that boost your immune system. Essentially, positive energy is a soldier that protects your mind and body from harmful influences. Healthy emotions create a buffer and can suppress negative emotions such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Our brain’s chemistry affects how we feel. Cortisol decreases when we think happy thoughts or feel joy, and the brain creates serotonin in response to our positive emotions. When serotonin levels are normal, one feels happy, calm, less anxious, more focused, and emotionally stable.
Positive emotions impact the brain’s prefrontal cortex - located in the front of the brain. When the prefrontal cortex is activated, there is an increase in activity and zeal. The increase in positivity establishes heightened mental reactions such as creative thinking, intellectual adaptability, and an increase in the brain’s capacity to process information. Our attention span is increased, and we think in terms of “we” instead of “me.”
The prefrontal cortex is essential in mind/body connection. All of our brain functions come together in the prefrontal cortex and then are spread out to the body. Think of the prefrontal cortex as the internet. When we want to know something, we use a search engine (prefrontal cortex); the search engine takes the question or information and begins to search the internet. The signals (neurons) scour for information and sends back what it finds. Once the information is presented on the search result screen, you have the opportunity to reflect. The disbursement of neurons also helps you control your emotions, focus, and realize your thought process.
The article “How does positive thinking affect neuroplasticity?” outlines how positive thinking affects our brain:
- Synapses (areas connecting neurons) increase, in turn, increasing mental productivity by improving cognition.
- Intensifies ability to pay attention
- Improves the ability to think and analyze incoming data
- Enhances the ability to solve problems quickly and enhances creativity
We can’t stay positive all the time. There are times when we feel emotions such as stress, depression, or anxiety. These emotions affect how we respond to our environment and our loved ones. Our environment plays a vital role in how we view our community or our life’s progress. If we experience negative situations such as poverty, lack of love, abuse, or neglect, our brain chemistry will change. Negative thinking affects our mind, body, and spirit. Some of the side effects of negative thinking are:
- A decrease in the speed our brain processes information
- Finding solutions becomes difficult
- Creative thinking is impaired
- Activity in the cerebellum is decreased – positive feelings are impaired
- Mood, memory, and impulse control are affected
The chemistry behind positive and negative thinking results in reacting and acting to situations in our lives. Genetic predisposition to positive or negative thinking can hinder us. Still, we will learn how to shift from negative thoughts or behaviors to healthy thoughts or actions with help from a group or a therapist.
There is a different path for everyone on their journey to well-being. Discovering the way we feel at peace is essential to healing. Often, we don’t know where to begin our search for healthy habits. In some cases, we aren’t aware of the cause of our negative thoughts or feelings. Seeking answers can start with joining a group focused on changing negative behavior patterns. Group members will share their experiences and give support. Those who are in groups understand the difficulty of identifying and beginning a journey to a healthy life. Find a mentor, someone you are comfortable talking with, and accept their insight.
We forget we aren’t alone in our search for comprehensive care. We can work with a group, our mentor, or sponsor to discover positive ways to change our circumstances. We need to find a connection – what works for us – to build a mind, body, spirit connection that grounds and lifts us.
The benefits of positive thinking are numerous. We find happiness in our lives and those around us when we engage in positive thinking. Positive or negative emotions can affect our brain chemistry and actions. Positive thinking can lead to enhanced creativity, staying focused, problem-solving skills, and overall mental productivity. On the other hand, negative emotions can lead to slower response times, memory impairment, and decreased impulse control. A negative mindset can result from environmental factors we experienced as a child or as an adult. Genetics also plays a role in our mindset. Positive or negative experiences create corresponding emotions that transform the genetic make-up of the mind. People who inherit ways of thinking can struggle with depression or anxiety. Achieve Medical Center will help you understand your feelings, and our doctors can provide genetic testing if you want to learn more about your genetic predispositions. To schedule an appointment, call (619) 375-3977.