Friday, August 14, 2009

Re-train Your Brain (you are what you think!)

We’ve all heard the expression “You are what you eat.” Now, studies indicate that a more accurate statement may be “You are what you think.”
I’ve been a huge advocate of positive thinking for years. Not only is it extremely helpful when making goals and striving for success, it’s just more fun. I always admired the positive people in my life and spent years re-training my brain so that I, too, could be one of them. Who doesn’t want to be one of those people who are always smiling and can laugh at their own misfortune?
When I finally reached a point where I could be considered a positive person, I noticed something. Not only was I happier, I was healthier, too… both physically and mentally. I got sick less often, I lost weight with less effort, I wasn’t constantly fatigued like I used to be, and I just seemed luckier in general. Of course, everyone in my life thought I was crazy for thinking my positive outlook had anything to do with it.
Actually, I might not be so crazy after all. New studies, especially studies by Dr. Bruce Lipton, indicate what many who know The Law of Attraction have believed for years: our thoughts can actually change our DNA.
Traditionally, it was believed that biology was controlled by molecules. Turns out, our cells are a lot smarter than we thought. They are controlled by signals coming from our environment, thoughts, and food we eat. They adjust their behavior accordingly. This doesn’t mean we can all become supermodels overnight just by thinking it (I know, that’s unfortunate). It does mean that things you think are beyond your control are not necessarily so.
As if that’s not reason enough to become an optimist, a recent scientific study indicates that a positive attitude can actually help protect your heart from disease. The study found that out of 97,000 women between 50 and 79, the optimists were less likely to die during the eight year study period, less likely to show symptoms of coronary heart disease, and less likely to die of heart complications.
Looking at our society in general, it’s clear that the positive people tend to be the people who succeed. When rich, famous, insanely successful people are interviewed, they never say they never believed in themselves, that their success was by chance, or that they didn’t think they were worth it. Everything that happened, they’ve made happen. And each of us has the same ability.
This is not to say that the world is a perfect place where things never go wrong. Alarms don’t go off. Tires go flat. Money runs out. People mistreat us. But that doesn’t mean we have to dwell on them, think we are destined for failure, or become one of those negative assholes no one likes to be around. No one is happy all the time (at least, not without copious amounts of drugs, which eventually run out, I’m sure). But you can be genuinely happy most of the time.
Everyone is different. Some people can re-train their brains quickly. For some, it takes years. For some, it never happens… because they refuse to make it happen. Since everyone is different, there are many different ways you can help yourself become an optimist. Here are the tips that worked for me:

1) Train yourself to wake up every single morning thinking it will be a great day. There’s a reason for the expression “he/she woke up on the wrong side of the bed.” If you wake up pissy, you’re going to be pissy all day. You’ll dwell on all the bad things that happen and you won’t even notice the good things. That sucks. Don’t have those days (at least, not all the time).

2) Exercise. It releases endorphins. Endorphins are awesome. You’ll feel like you did something good for yourself- because you did. Also, it keeps you healthy. Healthy people are happy. You’ll begin to appreciate your body not for its size but for what it can do.

3) Allow yourself to be pissed off when something bad happens. Like I said, you’re not going to feel amazing all the time. The trick is not to dwell on it. Get mad, rant, do what you need to do… and then, let it go. It’s easier said than done, but with enough practice, it really does work. Holding onto anger isn’t healthy. Wishing bad things on others is like drinking poison and expecting them to die. Let it go… after a good rant and maybe a baseball bat fantasy (just one!).

4) Be grateful for what you do have. Sometimes I look through magazines or watch TV and get bummed out that I don’t have a mansion and I’m not a size 2. Then I realize I’m being a total tool. I have a very nice house, a husband who loves me unconditionally, a family I love, and awesome, genuine friends. I also have a body that was once a size 12 and is now a 6. I made all those things happen.
I read somewhere that statistically I am richer than 90% of the world simply because I have a roof over my head and enough food to get me through the day. I think about that when I want to be sad that I can’t go out and spend $10,000 on a new wardrobe. Be grateful. You really do have more than you think… and the more grateful you are, the more you receive. For real. Try it.

5) Realize you deserve good things. Why do people, especially women, feel guilty when people do nice things for them? You deserve help when you need it. You deserve to go after your dreams. You deserve to be healthy by exercising and eating things that are good for you. You deserve love. I have never had a problem with feeling deserving, as anyone who knows me will tell you, but I feel the guilt sometimes, too, before I stop myself. Enjoy the good things you receive, or they won’t be as good.

6) Compliment others. Mean it. It will make their day and you’ll feel pretty damn good yourself. Accept compliments.

7) Believe you’ll succeed. Again, you don’t see successful people saying “I always thought I’d be a loser all my life.” If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. I know that totally sounds like an after-school special on crack, but I can attest to its authenticity. If you find it hard, fake it ‘till you make it. This also works.

8) Realize that you alone control your own happiness. No one else has the power to make, or ruin, your day unless you let them. I admit I still let others ruin moments for me, but never an entire day. Don’t give other people that kind of power.

Studies continue on just how much our thoughts create the people we are. But it’s clear that all those things once dubbed “New Age” aren’t necessarily so crazy after all. I, for one, am excited to see what will be learned from current and future studies on this subject. I have a feeling we’ve only scratched the surface of what could be truly amazing breakthroughs.
Bad news, though: you can no longer blame your genes on your crappy outlook on life. Stop making excuses and get happy. It could save your life… or at least make it awesome.

Sources: http://www.brucelipton.com
http://laurieboris.pnn.com
http://www.articlesbase.com/spirituality-articles/your-thoughts-can-change-your-dna-258420.html

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