So What ABout a Positive Mindset?

We have been hearing about the power of positive thinking for a long time. And now the big word is «manifesting». What you experience or obtain is a result of your thoughts. What the mind dwells on will show up in life in some form. And people have done a lot of visualizations and repeated affirmations and so forth with mixed results.

Science has been having more and more to say about this, For example, on the University of Liverpool website for Oct 17, 2013 we read that dwelling of negative events is the biggest cause of stress, whereas changing to positive thinking patterns and coping strategies reduces stress levels. A report on the Michigan State University website for September 14, 2017 states that expressive writing of worries allows chronic worriers to dwell less on them and, without the rumination, to be less stressed and more efficient in carrying out tasks. In Science Daily September 19, 2017 we read of studies showing that people with depression tend to spend more time in REM (dream) cycle sleep, apparently continuing the depressive thought patterns (ruminations) that maintain their depression while awake

On the Johns Hopkins medicine website, the article «Natural Relief for Depression» reports improvements in depression and anxiety through mindfulness meditation, which stops for a while «the ever churning worries and fears that can fuel it.» In «Five Scientific Studies that Prove the Power of Positive Thinking» by Mark Guidi we read of the power of positive visualizations, that happiness makes you successful rather than success making you happy, that short term stress strengthens the immune system but long term stress (which goes with negative thinking) ravages the body, and that positive thoughts lead to longer life.

A lot of attention is currently being given in neurology and psychoneurology to the concept of neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change with different patterns of thought and behavior. The structure, functioning, and biochemistry of the brain are very changeable through life .(We old dogs can learn new tricks). Two very good books on this are by Norman Doidge: The brain that Changes Itself, and The Brain’s Way of Healing.

A positive mindset that has been shown to be very effective in vatrious studies is gratitude. For example in the article «The Amazing Effects of Gratitude» in Mindful, November 24, 2017 it is reported that gratitude journals lead to improvement in mood, health, and overall outlook on life.

So one’s mode of thinking is crucial. Science is catching up to ancient wisdom: the Buddha said that you are what you think. It is a matter of changing patterns of thought and the behaviors that they maintain. It takes some dedication, but the momentum of old patterns can be changed. It also requires self-honesty and willingness to look within. If you are making an affirmation or doing a visualization and something doesn’t feel right, look for whatever negative belief or attitude may be just under the surface and which you have probably (usually not fully consciously) been repeating to yourself for years. Look at it without judging yourself, challenge it, relax with it and then proceed with thoughts of a positive nature. Without this sort of examination, a lot of postive thought becomes more wishful thinking.

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