SFH #14: Positive Thinking

Science backed practices for boosting your mood and energy ⚡️

With a fine tip orange dry erase marker, I write what I'm grateful for each morning on my daily planner board. I always have a sense of calm and groundedness as I write it out. I have not always been consistent with a daily gratitude practice, but it has consistently been a positive start to my day when practiced. ✍🏼

Positivity broadens your sense of possibilities and opens your mind, which in turn allows you to build new skills and resources that can provide value in other areas of your life. ☀️

Here is the landmark study providing the science-backed research that positive thinking works.

Let's look at this from the flip side. ↪️

Negative emotions narrow your mind and focus your thoughts in a protective state. We start to shut down the outside world and options available to us because of our evolutionary instinct to survive. Our feelings and emotions send signals to our brains that we are in danger (the kind of threat that once protected us from saber tooth tigers), and we begin to narrow to prepare to fight or run to save our lives. Of course, we no longer have to address life or death situations on a day-to-day basis, but our bodies (including parts of our brains) act as if our life is on the line. 🐅

Some examples:

Can you remember that last time you were in an argument with a loved one or a friend? Did anger or other emotions consume you to the point where you couldn't think about anything else for several minutes or even hours? Did that argument or an argument of the past permeate your thoughts for days on end, draining your energy? 

How about when you are stressed with all things on your plate for the day? Do you find it hard to start anything because you feel paralyzed by the scope of your tasks at hand? 

Or can you remember feeling bad about not exercising or not eating healthy? Do you fixate on how you are doing it wrong? Don't you have the willpower or discipline? Don't you have the energy? Maybe you think you are lazy? Perhaps you think it's just motivation? Do you start to project these feelings onto others and blame them for your lack of discipline and motivation? 

If you can identify with any or all of these scenarios, you can see the detriment that negative thoughts and feelings have on us.

So, how do we effectively increase positivity in our life? ⬆️

  1. Creative Movement aka Play 🤾🏽‍♀️

    We can start with a walk because of the access to the creative mind and movement1. Your creative mind can begin to launch just after a few minutes when doing it consistently. Leveling up for your positive boost is turning that movement into a more creative expression. We mostly see this as a form of play. Play can be anything where we are in motion, allows us to create, respond, and engage with an external environment. My favorite form is dancing. I just turned on Odesza Radio on Pandora to groove with my boys this morning. 🕺🏼

  2. Write It Out ✍🏽

    At this point, I'm sure you've heard the merits of journaling2. It's turned into an industry in and of itself. I've made a run at the Bullet Journal, the 'Best Self' Journal, the 5 Minute Journal, and the Gratitude Journal, to name a few. If you've kept up with a journal for more than a week, have you noticed any trends that occur as your read back over your entries? The longer I go on journaling, the more my expression becomes open and vulnerable, turning to possibilities and positivity.

  3. Meditative of Mindful Practice 🧘🏽‍♀️

    No doubt that meditation and meditative practices have been on your radar, maybe even more than journaling. No time like the present to jump in. Being able to slow down and take time to either meditate or perform a mindful approach can help your brain and your body detox3You are grooving neural pathways that allow you to activate self-connection, resilience, and positive emotional outcomes. Mindful practices that rise above the rest - yoga, tai chi, qi gong, and of course, walking!

1

https://devinchughes.medium.com/why-walking-helps-us-think-stanford-study-finds-walking-improves-81ecd5aa61b1

2

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/25/style/journaling-benefits.html

3

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/04/harvard-researchers-study-how-mindfulness-may-change-the-brain-in-depressed-patients/