One interesting phenomenon about brain function is that our minds will far more readily process and remember ideas that we intentionally focus on. Our brains are wired for survival mode, instant “fight or flight” responses, always being prepared for the risks and challenges in life. This means that our natural state tends to lean more toward the negative, always looking for the next obstacle. To be prepared for the next challenge.
However, when our instant reflex for every challenge in life is a negative, our ability to be creative, productive, and make sound decisions is heavily reduced. While being prepared is important, being optimistic and positive is more important to being able to generate innovative, healthy, and long lasting solutions and outcomes.
Staying positive requires active intention, so here are a few ways to help stay in the right frame of mind:
1) Surround Yourself with Positive People – emotions are more contagious than any virus
2) Help Others – the feeling you get from acts of kindness boost your happy brain chemicals (dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, endorphines).
3) Show Gratitude – making a habit of thankfulness will not only make others around you happier (and help point #1), it will also train your brain to focus more on the positive actions you see.
4) Diet and Exercise – the better we feel physically, the better you can feel mentally
5) Develop Hobbies You Love – All work and no play make for a dreadful day. Set aside an hour a day to do something you love to do. (preferably beyond television!) Allow your brain time to relax and unwind.
6) Be Mindful of Your Thoughts – This is not a Jedi trick. Just realize that every scenario in life has a positive and negative way to look at it. Do you choose to see the challenge or the opportunity in the situation? Glass half full or half empty? Intentionally looking for the good in life, the silver linings, will go a long way to helping retrain your brain.
So, are you going to choose to focus on positive thoughts, actions, content, outcomes? Or do you choose to focus on negative content and outcomes like the news, social media, or politics?
For those who choose positive, here is an amazing series of videos my wife found. This is from one of the actors from The Office, and it is great at focusing on the good in life and with this COVID-19 situation.