Rewiring Our Thoughts
Are you accused of being a Pollyanna about life? Pollyanna was the little girl who always saw the silver lining in every cloud. Personally, I’d rather be Pollyanna than Eeyore from the Winnie the Pooh stories, the latter who sees the cloud in any silver lining.
If you’ve read my work for any length of time you probably know I’m not one to spout trite affirmations. Phrases of positive content are definitely helpful in reshaping our thinking, but we must supplement them with equally positive actions. Some people seem to think thinking, saying or writing affirmations is the end all; then they’re upset when their desires don’t fall in their lap, or appear wrapped up with a pretty red bow and delivered by a hunky FedEx® guy in shorts!
Still … just being positive appears to have clinic evidence to recommend the practice of going for the good, instead of anticipating the bad. Social psychologist Alison Ledgerwood is a researcher who “investigates how certain ways of thinking about an issue tend to stick in people's heads.”
Not surprising is that positive thinking leads to more positive results than negative thinking. But there’s a more bizarre and quite eye-opening fact about the opposite. According to Ledgerwood, thinking from bad-to-good, or losses-to-gains, requires more work on our part than moving from good-to-bad, or gains-to-losses. And, in most cases, our brains never quite get all the way back to the positive, as we experience a bit of “residual doubt” even when the worst thing we can imagine doesn’t happen.
This may have served us well as hunter/gatherers thousands of years ago, but in modern society it can be a serious problem. One would think that going from A-to-B would be the same as going from B-to-A, yet studies indicate the opposite. In other words, if we want to have a more productive, satisfying and successful life we are better out starting out with the positive angle of anything, instead of looking for all the negative consequences.
Ledgerwood reports that research from University of California Davis suggests that “writing just a few minutes a day about the things we’re grateful for can boost happiness, well-being and health.”
In a world that focuses on what’s wrong it can be a challenge to focus on what’s right. However, stepping up to that challenge is exactly what the clinical research tells us we must do for not only our success and happiness, but for our peace of mind and physical well-being.
So here’s a thought: Instead of assuming that the next tragedy reported via the media is definitely a terrorist attack fueling the “phobia du jour,” why not move directly to compassion and support for those affected?
If you’re not already doing so, start each day even before you get out of bed by focusing on the positive things that you expect to happen. (Side point: EXPECT good things to happen!) And, before retiring, write in a “Gratitude Journal” about just three things that happened that day for which you can give thanks.
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
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