Positive feelings enhance your wellbeing and happiness, yet we naturally tune in more to negative than positive feelings. That’s just the way our brains are wired. We need to stay safe and avoid threat.
Training your associations with positive feelings will help optimize your wellbeing.
In this webinar, Dr. Evian Gordon shares insights on the neuroscience of positivity. Checking and challenging negativity with more realistic positive context allows you to make better decisions and reduce stress.
This webinar is about the power of your positive brain.
In the next 10 minutes, I will share insights from neuroscience about the impact of positivity and I’ll propose a pathway for you to consider to know and train your positivity. Today’s webinar is about the Power of Your Positive Brain. This is part of a 10 webinar series and each one’s about 10 minutes long. Its goal is to empower you with a more effective brain to reduce stress and feel calm, make clear decisions, nudge positive feelings, have quality personal and work relationships, and master your zone of peak performance.
Know your brain. You can know and train your brain to switch on negative automatic bias to more realistic positive thinking in all situations. There are multiple successful strategies to think positively. They range from a psychological to a spiritual point of view. I’ll just briefly mentioned two. The first Martin Seligman, who highlights the importance of focusing on your natural strengths and in being optimistic in thinking about the future. The second is Barbara Fredrickson. She highlights the importance of continually nudging positive thinking since they have the capacity to spiral and broaden and build your positivity and your openness to grow quality relationships and quality connections with other people.
A common element of these approaches is to challenge your negative thinking and provide it with the more appropriate realistic context. There are five thinking traps that can be overcome with brain training your positivity. First is Catastrophizing – charming. This is when people magnify their problems. Future negative events that are only remotely possible become in their minds certainties and they believe that they will end up in disasters. For example, the plane on which you’re traveling hits turbulence. You think, “We’re going to crash and I’ll never see my family again.” Second, black-and-white thinking. You set high standards for yourself and others in see everything as all or nothing. If you don’t do something really well, you tell yourself that it’s simply not good enough. This thinking trap is really common in people who tend to be perfectionist.
An example is you clear out your garage, which is quite a bit task. But instead of working on one section at a time, you tackle it all at one go and you tell yourself, “I have to get it finished today or I’ll never get it done.”
Third example is jumping to conclusions. You jump to a negative conclusion when there’s insufficient evidence to support it. An example of this is the mind-reading trap in which you think that you know what someone else is thinking when there is no way that you can really be sure. An example is in official looking letter could arrive in your mail and you think, “This is definitely more hassle. It’s probably a bill.”
Fourth example: Over generalizing. You think that because something unpleasant has happened in the past, it’s almost certain to happen in the future. An example is that you’re running late for work and you think, “I know that I’m going to get caught in traffic or a traffic jam; happens every time especially when I need to get somewhere urgently.
The fifth thinking trap is “should” statements. You set very high standards for yourself and tell yourself that you “should” do this or you “should” have done that. You feel guilty about falling short of your “should” expectations. An example is if you haven’t followed a new business lead because you’re fully focused on the current opportunities and you think to yourself, “I should have followed that new lead because all my current opportunities could fail.”
Checking and challenging negativity with more realistic positive context allows you to make better decisions and reduce stress.
Train. So now that you know about positivity, how can you train to be more positive? Knowing is in the doing. Every strategy to boost your positivity will only become an automatic brain habit with regular training. Just like training and strengthening a muscle delivers physical endurance. You can also train your positivity to override negativity.
So let’s get started with the first game. It is Thought Challenger which we played at the beginning of the Webinar. It draws upon the well-established principles of CBT, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, developed by Aaron Beck from the University of Pennsylvania in the 1980s. But it also incorporates strategies to avoid the five negative Thinking Traps – Catastrophize, Black and White Thinking, Jumping to Conclusions, Over-Generalizing and “Should” statements – but it also includes the optimism insights, the broaden and build, developing more realistic thoughts, and recent CBT variance that draw upon calm acceptance of negativity. Most of all, the current features of game theory, that’s interactive engagement and reward feedback.
Thought Challenger is a personalized thought habits changer. It’s a negative brain “circuit breaker” if you like, that allows you to more easily tackle the adverse situations that are inevitable to come your way. In essence, it engages you to look at more appropriate options and make changes from being negative to positive – engaging, realistic and fun.
The second brain training that I’d like to share with you is Positive Reflections. This is a positive self-talk, positive statements about yourself that can help to break the cycle – to switch from positive when you have negative intrusive thoughts. So these are positive thoughts such as, “I will focus on what works for me”. Although positive emotions are transient; the effect can be quite long-lasting. Over the long-term, the effects of positivity can accumulate, they can become a resource that you can draw upon in times of crisis or in need.
People who savor and dwell on the highlights of their life extract more positivity from life. Positive people have been found to replay positive events about their life and to relive those good feelings surrounding them. Add photos to your entries and frame your special photos to put on your wall. Experiences are best remembered if you use these personal visual cues that help you relive and appreciate positive events and positive moments. It’s now over to you
Know Your Brain 1-2-4. There is one organizing principle for all your brain functions and that these two minimize danger and maximize award. There are two modes of processes; Conscious – variable; and non-conscious – intuition. And 4 Key Processes: Thinking, Emotions, Feelings and Self-Regulation, to make you most adaptive and effective in everything that you do.