Where does positive thinking come from?
Since you create your own reality by manifesting it, how can you create it for yourself the best as possible? Why do negative thoughts keep coming to your mind? How can you get rid of them? What about this positive thinking? Why is it so hard?
In this article you will learn:
- Why positive thinking is difficult for you.
- What to do to start thinking positively.
As you already know, the feeling of joy, pleasure, peace, love, or happiness are nature’s ways to make you take care of your survival. Your mammalian brain rewards you by releasing neurochemicals when you are doing something good for your survival or your reproductive success. This is how it motivates you to behave for your survival. So, it is not possible for these substances to flow continuously in your brain. In other words, happiness is not a permanent state.
From 2013 to now, the World Happiness Report is published annually by the United Nations, which examines the state of global happiness in 156 countries. Each time, 5 Nordic countries: Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland are among the top ten happiest countries. So, it was decided to investigate what exactly makes the citizens of these countries feel happy. It turned out that these factors are: institutional quality (oxytocin), extensive social benefits (oxytocin, dopamine), low corruption (oxytocin), well-functioning democracy and the state (oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine), a high sense of autonomy and freedom (serotonin, dopamine, endorphin), and a high level of social trust in each other (oxytocin).
Your brain’s job is to look for problems everywhere to avoid them, that’s why it has evolved.
So negative thinking is its natural state, but it is also the natural state of your brain to constantly seek happiness. Your brain expects negative things to feel good. You think negatively because your brain expects negative situations to feel good. The brain wants to feel good, that’s why it looks for happiness. Your mind doesn’t analyze what is going well for you, because it has no purpose in it. It would just waste unnecessarily valuable energy. It needs this energy to ensure your survival, so it always sees good or bad through the prism of its survival needs at the moment. You won’t see good if you are always looking for the bad. Your brain has evolved in a world full of threats, so escaping the threat is its ultimate goal. In other words, the awareness of our own death causes our negative thinking.
“I will run out of fuel, I will not get to home” – I will die,
“I will be late for work, they will throw me out” – I will die,
“I am ugly, he will leave me” – I will die, etc. etc.
Therefore, the voice you usually hear in your head is usually cynical, limiting, and monotonous. And usually, it doesn’t give you anything.
It seems to you that the dialogue you conduct with yourself non-stop simply gives an account of what you see and experience. In fact, however, the opposite is true. With your dialogue, you create your own life experience and then act in a way that corresponds to that creation.
It seems to you that your inner reactions are caused by outer facts. Meanwhile, your inner reactions are simply neural pathways caused by the rise and fall of neurochemicals.
When you talk to yourself, it happens in your cortex because, as you know, the mammalian brain works by releasing neurochemicals. Happy chemicals mask your sense of danger, but when they stop working, that feeling comes back to you again. It may feel like something is wrong, but your brain just returns to its natural state. If you recognize this decline as being absorbed into neurochemicals, you’ll know it’s not the end of the world. And if you expect pleasant feelings all the time, you will feel worse.
Satisfying your needs brings you joy, but mitigating the threat brings you even more joy. Whether you run away from your attacker or find your wallet, the pleasure in mitigating the threat is enormous. When the pleasant feelings are over, you can always repeat them. You have to feel bad to be able to enjoy pleasant feelings.
In situations that threaten your survival, the mammalian brain releases cortisol.
You usually call this cortisol surge panic, stress, anxiety, shame, suffering, misery, misfortune, suffering, pain, or fear. It makes you feel bad. In nature, as a rule, it is associated with specific reactions of animals, such as fight, fleeing, freezing in motion, fawning and running away to avoid getting hurt. In humans, it causes negative thought patterns, which are their form of flight, fight, or freeze-up.
“It’s all because of these idiots!” – you fight
“This world sucks!” when you try to distract yourself from personal problems – you escape.
“I can’t help it, this is what this world looks like.” you freeze.
“Apparently he needed it more than I did.” you fawn.
When you are in danger, negativity makes you feel good.
Our negative thought patterns come in many different varieties. For example, cynicism, reflection, or panic chaos related to the attempt to imagine all possible scenarios.
Negative thinking feels good to you when old neural pathways have combined it with the expectation of happy chemicals to get relief from cortisol.
When negative thinking has brought you relief, when you have been feeling unwell with your cortisol surge, you will still be relieved by negative thinking. The cortex allows you to compare and notice patterns in the world around you.
So when you encounter difficulties or obstacles in your life, you recognize this pattern in the world around you. Therefore, you always expect the worst:
“I will definitely fail”
“I will lose everything, it’s too risky”
“I can’t cope because it’s a bad time”
You generate expectations to make sense of the world and you keep forecasting how the world works. You make predictions about your relationships, finances, politics, health, and career. And when your prognosis is bad, it feels like a threat to your survival.
Your mammalian brain constantly compares your rewards to expectations.
When the reward exceeds your expectations, dopamine is produced. And when the reward is below your expectations, it produces cortisol. As the brain gets used to the rewards, it is constantly looking for new and constantly wanting more. So you are constantly dreaming about having more and better and you are disappointed with the world in which you currently live because it differs from your ideas.
You build expectations for other people, which, after all, do not always behave as you expect them, so you experience disappointment. You need trust and closeness to feel good and meet your basic needs, but subsequent disappointments deepen your negative thinking.
You expect a privileged position in society to satisfy your need for domination. So to achieve it you compete, control, manipulate because you want to feel special. And when it fails, or when someone behaves the same way towards you, you suffer and blame the world, or you attack your opponent. That’s why you were arguing in line yesterday when the clerk decided to serve someone else in front of you.
However, you can learn to ignore your brain’s natural tendency to think negatively by creating a habit of positive thinking because of the way you experience reality is a habit. So, you can train your ability to look positively at the world by reprogramming your brain.
How to do it?
1. Try to find something positive in each given situation.
Don’t focus on the negative. If you practice this for 45 days, it will become a new habit for your brain. In this way, you will teach your brain to look for the good sides as naturally as it naturally looks for the bad sides. When a negative thought comes to your mind, stop immediately and consciously remove it, replacing it with a joyful one.
2. Try not to watch the news before going to bed.
Choose carefully who you spend time with, what you listen to and what you read.
3. Make a habit of using positive words.
The more positive words you use, the easier it will be for you to think positively.
4. Identify the threat.
Pay attention to when you start imagining black scenarios. Try to understand what caused your cortisol discharge so that you can eliminate the cause of it. Prevent.
5. Be aware that you can meet your need through your own actions.
Don’t expect others to do this for you. Take your fate into your own hands.
6. Respect that others also meet their needs.
Think about others. Be aware that we all have the same needs because we are all mammals.
7. Learn to expect long-term rewards, even if you can’t notice them immediately.
Focus on each step, imagine the result of your actions. Be aware that rewards are unpredictable, and frustration is not a threat to your survival.
8. Do not give up.
Be aware that repeating a new behavior over and over again will eventually turn it into a habit because that’s how your brain works.
9. Have realistic expectations. Adapt them to your new experiences.
The key to positive thinking is to understand that your thought processes are under your control. You are in control of your own thoughts, not yours thoughts controls you. Positive thinking is not just a cliche. It’s a job. Daily, conscious work on yourself. You are not alone in it. We are all riding the same car. We are all mammals and we live among mammals.
Loretta Graziano Breuning „The Science of Positivity”, Adams Media, 2017, New York
Frank Martela, Bent Greve, Bo Rothstein, Juho Saari „The Nordic Exceptionalism: What Explains Why the Nordic Countries Are Constantly Among the Happiest in the World”, March 2020, worldhappiness.report https://worldhappiness.report/ed/2020/the-nordic-exceptionalism-what-explains-why-the-nordic-countries-are-constantly-among-the-happiest-in-the-world/