Here’s a challenge for you: See if you can notice if your thoughts spiral into a string of negative thoughts. Once you’ve noticed it, challenge yourself to reword those thoughts! Why? Because it is possible to think yourself happy!
Our brains have millions of neural pathways (imagine them as little roads in our brains) and our thoughts have a great influence on these pathways in our brains. If we constantly choose to think about the negative effects, outcomes or impact of something, we are forming certain pathways in our brains. These pathways have a direct impact on our mental and physical health and can have an influence on our immune system and decision making skills, for example.
Research indicates that choosing to think about any situation in a positive light first, allows feel-good hormones such as serotonin, dopamine and other endorphins to be released. These hormones can help to combat symptoms of depression.
Here’s how you can cultivate happy thoughts:
When faced with a challenge, notice what you choose to think about it. If negative thoughts pop up, catch them and notice them.
Don’t judge yourself for thinking these negative thoughts, rather just notice that they have popped up in your mind.
Now that you’ve noticed them, see if you could exchange them for something else, for example: Original thought: “I just got my pay check and it really is not enough to cover all my expenses.” Happier thought: “I just got my pay check. Although I would like to receive a bigger pay check, I am grateful to have a job and an income.”
Important note: The intention is not to disregard and ignore challenging experiences by covering them up with positive thoughts. That is called toxic positivity. There is always room to acknowledge when something is challenging, but there is also room for evaluating the way we think about it and whether this thinking is helpful or not.
Are you up to the challenge to cultivate a habit of positive thinking? If you are, be ready to see what an amazing impact it can have on your physical and mental health!