Positive Thinking and the Impact on the Human Brain
The power of positive thinking has become somewhat of a cliche over the years. It's uttered by delightful people who seem genuinely happy all the time. Positive thinking as a conscious decision seems impossible when we often don't have control of the things that happen around us. The boss berates us in front of co-workers, our children aren't doing well in school or the car breaks down on the side of the road. All these things and the hundreds of little annoyances throughout the day contribute to the negative thinking and feeling most of us have.
Until recently, the power of positive thinking seemed to be a myth anyway. If it created a lasting effect, we would have heard more about it. Barbara Fredrickson wrote a paper about the impact of emotion on psychological well-being in 2008. She talked about the fleeting experience of positive emotions, and the paradox of them having lasting effects. Scientists always believed that the brain was unalterable except through powerful things like surgery or trauma. Dr. Norman Doidge wrote a book called The Brain That Changes Itself. In his book, Doidge talks about neuroplasticity, which is the discovery that the brain isn't a fixed entity that cannot be changed or altered. It's more like a muscle that can be trained through daily exercise.
Although depression has been proven to cause physical pain, sleepiness and sleeplessness, we hadn't fully made a connection between thinking positively, consciously altering our attitude and health through positive thinking. Positive thinking opens neural pathways and has a large impact on our emotional health as well as our life.
What This Means
Impact on Sleep
Positive thinking involves more than a Pollyanna attitude. To benefit from positive thinking, it must fuel action and repetitive shifts in perception.
Tips for Positive Thinking
Positive thinking will not happen overnight, and it will not happen without a lot of work. Recent breakthroughs in science and brain health tell us that positive thinking has more effects than we previously realized and it's worth exploring for our own health and well-being.