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Rewire Your Brain to Think Positively

When you walk into your kitchen, what do you notice first, the beautiful flowers on the counter or dirty dishes in the sink?

If it’s the dirty dishes, that would be quite common – noticing the negative before the positive.

Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist and best-selling author, reported that we’re evolutionarily wired to notice bad over good. This clearly made sense 200,000 years ago for our ancestors who were trying to avoid threats and survive.

Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize itself and change its hardwiring structures over our lifetime. This can be both positive and negative for our mental health. If we’re not aware that our brain has a natural bias to notice negativity first, and we don’t know that we can train it to see more positively, we risk becoming more prone to focusing on negativity. This can impact our thinking, emotions and general mental health. As negativity becomes more intense, it can result in increased risk for mental illness such as depression.

It’s beneficial to understand some basic brain research in order to take positive action to offset thinking patterns that promote negative plasticity. With proper treatment and support, we can learn to stop negativity and repair the brain so it can become more positively wired. This is the micro skill of thinking of the positives first.

Awareness

This micro skill leverages lessons learned from meditation. They promote the benefits of being patient when learning this skill and not judging yourself, just noticing and then gently refocusing your attention. When you walk into a situation, approach it with the intention of looking for the positive. By being aware that your brain is naturally biased, and reminding and refocusing, you can train it to find the positive first.

Accountability

If you’ve been overly prone to see the negative first and have a difficult time seeing the positive, this can be changed if you really want to. For this micro skill to work it’s necessary to understand and accept that only you can directly impact your brain to increase its positive plasticity. If you can’t seem to do it alone, professionals can help you learn how. Positive change begins with awareness, and requires self-motivation. If you’re committed to find more of the positives in your life, this can benefit your mental health over time.

You can teach your brain to focus on the positives instead of the negatives
 to help improve your wellbeing and mental health.

Action

Your brain’s wiring is impacted by your habitual thinking habits. The more you create positive plasticity, the more likely you’ll wire more happiness into your brain.

1. Search for the positives.

Before you walk into your home after work, make a commitment that you’ll notice three positives before allowing your brain to focus on a negative. You can take this practice to work, team sports and relationships. This trains your brain to look for the positive over the negative. If your brain goes to a negative, don’t judge it; release it and move on to find the positive.

2. Give the positive more air time and importance.

It’s common for people when they get together to talk about what’s not working and focus on negatives. Make a commitment to give the positives more air time when you interact with others. By focusing on the positive and talking about it you create conditions and expectations for your brain to notice more positives, so you have more to share. This activity can influence others to think positively, which will help them as well.

3. Refocus to the positive.

Life isn’t perfect, so there will be times when you have a challenge that’s not positive and you want it over with. The key is to move away from the negative, because it inhibits you from finding a solution. By acknowledging the challenge and changing your focus to finding a solution – a positive – you move your attention away from the fear centre of the brain to turn on other parts that drive decision making and planning. This helps to increase your resiliency and move through life’s challenges and setbacks.

Bill Howatt is the chief research and development officer of work force productivity with Morneau Shepell in Toronto.

This article supports The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell’s Employee Recommended Workplace Award. This award recognizes employers who have the healthiest, most engaged and most productive employees. It promotes a two-way accountability model where an employer can support employees to have a positive workplace experience.

Bill Howatt    SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL    NOVEMBER 1, 2017
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How to Stop Projecting

These tips can help you stop projecting your less-flattering traits onto other people.

Expert Source: Psychotherapist and clinical psychologist Joseph Burgo, PhD, author of Why Do I Do That? Psychological Defense Mechanisms and the Hidden Ways They Shape Our Lives.

Cranky existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once wrote, “Hell is other people,” and we’ve all felt this way from time to time. Especially when the snide comments of a coworker, a friend’s constant complaining, or our sister’s endless bossiness annoy us to distraction. If only they would change, we think, we’d find some peace.

We’re often wrong about that. In a process psychologists call projection, we attribute traits we dislike in ourselves to other people. Then those people drive us crazy when they remind us of qualities that we’re trying to suppress.

“Parts of ourselves don’t simply disappear when we disown them,” explains psychotherapist Joseph Burgo, PhD, author of Why Do I Do That?

Shouting “I could never be like that!” in response to an annoying person helps deflect attention from the part of us that is actually like that. And even if the other person renounces his or her unpleasant behavior forevermore, someone else will come along and trip that trigger — at least until we accept that we’re rejecting it in ourselves. This process is part of what Burgo calls our “innate tendency toward integration.”

Learning to identify projection, Burgo says, is enough to stop it in its tracks — and prevent it from harming our relationships. He offers some tips on how to get a handle on this sneaky psychological defense mechanism.

Challenges to Overcome
• Ego. We tend to believe we’re mostly perfect, which has its drawbacks. “When we encounter something that challenges this idealized view of ourselves,” Burgo says, “we’re much more likely to blame it on other people than to own it.”

• Lack of awareness. The projection response is largely unconscious, he notes. Until we notice its signs in our mind and body — physical tension, mental obsession — we’ll be unaware that we’re doing it.

• Psychic resistance. The whole point of projection is to offload feelings that we don’t want to feel — usually aggression, sadness, shame — onto others. So, it’s natural that we resist owning up to our feelings and the role we are playing in a difficult relationship. “We’re not particularly interested in taking back the projections because they’re painful,” he says.

• Habit. If we’ve been projecting for years onto a person or group, the pattern may be so ingrained that it operates like a “built-in defense,” says Burgo.

• Exhaustion. We’re more likely to project our feelings onto others when we’re tired, tense, stressed, or feeling rundown.

• Our real shortcomings. “There are always ways in which we fall short,” Burgo notes, “so trying to maintain a sense of self-worth can be challenging. It’s much easier to blame other people than to struggle with our own feelings of shame or disappointment.”

• The real shortcomings of others. The people who bug us are not perfect either; they may well be displaying antisocial or inappropriate behavior. Distinguishing the difference between our “stuff” and theirs isn’t easy.

• Dehumanization. When we project, says Burgo, we turn the other person into a symbol: the Bossy Jerk or the Needy Wreck. “They become a personification of the thing you’re getting rid of. Rather than being a whole person with whom you might be able to empathize, they become a kind of caricature.”

Strategies for Success
• Notice preoccupation. Projection has characteristics that distinguish it from mere irritation, says Burgo, and chief among these is an “inability to let go of our focus on the other person.” This comes with intense feelings and a conviction that you are not like that person or group at all. “It’s a kind of mental blaming and self-justification that can go on and on and on.”

• Look inward. Projection is, by definition, a turning outward. The first step in overcoming it, he says, is to make the shift to self-awareness. Take stock of how you’re feeling, how you’re breathing, and so on. This will help interrupt your obsessive focus on the “problem” person and redirect your attention to where it can do some good.

• Calm yourself. “Focus on your breathing to stop the word-chatter in your head that’s justifying the projections,” Burgo advises. Take a few breaths in on a count of four, and exhale on a count of eight. This is a simple and effective way to settle yourself down.

• Notice your body. When he senses he may be projecting, Burgo does a body scan, checking “my back and shoulders where I carry tension, around my eyes where I register fatigue and sadness, in my belly where I feel hunger and other kinds of longing.” He suggests noticing these sensations without trying to explain them in relation to someone else — which can be challenging.

• Get real. Burgo acknowledges that difficult people may well possess the same negative traits you disavow in yourself. “We often project into reality, meaning that if we’re a very critical person, we’ll project it onto someone who actually is critical,” he explains. “But they’re not only critical, and you need to try to see them in their full humanity. And if they are truly toxic, you need to shield yourself from them rather than making use of them to disown parts of yourself you don’t like.”

• Trade places with the other. Burgo suggests asking yourself, “How would I feel if I knew somebody else was thinking about me the way I’m thinking about X or Y?” This can help convert the other person from a symbol of what you don’t like (in yourself!) into a human being who, like you, is probably just doing the best he or she can.

This originally appeared as “Own Up” in the September 2017 print issue of Experience Life.

Jon Spayde is an Experience Life contributing editor.

BY JON SPAYDE | SEPTEMBER 2017


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Psychology says, when we’re constantly wishing for something, we overlook everything we already have.

  • The mushrooms in Mario games are based on a real species called ‘Amanita Muscaria’ that when eaten, make people feel like they’re growing.

 

  • Straightening out the physical aspects of your life can also bring clarity to the mental one.

  • Drinking white or green tea every day will minimize the environmental damage done to your skin, and minimize fine lines and wrinkles.

Happy Friday!
 source:   factualfacts.com   https://twitter.com/Fact   @Fact


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The One False Belief Holding You Back

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

This summer I was in one of those tourist traps that sell insipid signs like, “I’m on Lake Time” or “Love You More.”  They also had one I’ve never seen before, and it has stuck with me ever since. It said, “Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone.”

Damn right.

The one false belief holding you back is that you think that your past determines who you are. If that were true, no one would ever overcome adversity, benefit from a second chance, or improve themselves through education, self-discipline, or perseverance.

Your past actions, good and bad, can be judged by you and by others. You can learn from your errors as well as your successes. Others can think what they will, but neither your reflections on your past nor others’ opinions of you determine who you are now or in the future.

comfortzone

Believing that your past defines who you are is a toxic fallacy. Consider a circus elephant chained by one leg to a stake in the ground: Why doesn’t the elephant just pull the stake loose and wander away? Because it couldn’t do so when it was young. And so the adult elephant is still restrained—not by the chain, but by its past, or rather, the learned associations from its past (Chain around leg means “can’t walk”).

Cognitive dissonance is the culprit that motivates us to maintain the belief that what we were in the past is all that we ever will be. Leon Festinger originated the concept back in the 1950s. He also proposed the principle of cognitive consistency—that is, that we seek to maintain mental and emotional balance by thinking and acting in compliance with who we think we are. And who do we think we are? The same person we have always been. And so when we attempt to think and act differently, cognitive dissonance sets in.

Here’s the trick— metacognition. That simply means being able to observe one’s own thinking and feelings objectively and unemotionally, so that one can assess what may be “pushing our buttons.” If you want to change but experience cognitive dissonance in the process, metacognition can help you identify dissonance as a normal but unhelpful reaction. With effort you can then master the dissonance and proceed with the changes you want to make, until those changes become the new normal.

Are you chained to the past? If so, that chain exists only in your mind. You can remember and reflect on the past without being defined and limited by it.

What’s stopping you? Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Dale Hartley Ph.D., MBA     Machiavellians: Gulling the Rubes     Aug 08, 2016
 


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How You See the World Is How the World Sees You

by Vishnus Virtues

Growing up, I believed the world I lived in was a struggle.

And you know, I was right.

It was.

At home, I repeatedly heard things like, “money doesn’t grow on trees,” and “we can’t afford that.” I began to notice that things that I wanted cost too much and were out of reach.

While working in our small family business growing up, I heard my parents say regularly that business was a struggle and it was hard to make it by every month. And again, it was. Our family tried to save money everywhere it could and put off putting things until the next month. I remember asking for fee waivers for different projects at school or scholarships to go on field trips.

I noticed that our financial and economic life was a struggle.

My Indian parents talked (lectured) a lot but were not very open in communicating and never spoke about their feelings. I came to see the world as one where it was abnormal to talk about feelings and normal to hide how one really felt.

In my own relationships and marriage later, I came to see non-communication as acceptable without realizing how detrimental it was. Talking about feelings felt like a sign of weakness and it was better to be silent than bringing emotions into the mix.

I’ve realized that our perspective in life stems from the things we’ve experienced and the people we’ve interacted with.

The way you view the world reflects the way the world has treated you.

The way the world has treated you gives you the lenses you use to see the circumstances in your life.

  • Believe in lack and poverty: encounter financial insecurity.
  • Believe in adversity and tough times: perceive everything in life as a struggle.
  • Believe that dreams take forever to come true: notice that your life is at a constant standstill.

If you have certain negative beliefs about the way the world works and the way the world treats you — beliefs you’ve developed throughout the course of your life — know that there’s good news: you can do something about it.

You can turn around your disempowering view of life.

To see the world differently, you must change the filter you’re using to view the circumstances around you.

Once you change the filter you use to see the world; you’ll perceive life events as entirely different from what you previously imagined. And ultimately, you’ll live a much richer and more abundant life.

Here’s 4 ways you can change your life’s beliefs to have more empowering life experiences:

1. Awaken to your world view.

Most of your life you’ve taken what people have told you about your life and merged it with your personal experiences. This has shaped your world view.

What you must do now is call out this world view and realize it’s just one perspective.

If you believe that finding a job is difficult or that doing your life’s work is impossible, become aware of this perspective.

Take note of the beliefs you hold in each area of your life.

What is your belief about money?

What is your belief about work?

What is your view about problems and struggles you face?

world-projection perspective

As a simple exercise, write down each area of your life you want to explore: Money, Work, Dreams, Career, Job Security, Relationships, etc.

Under each category, write down what you believe about that area. What are your views about each area?

For example, work. Do you believe that the harder you work, the more you earn?

Do you believe that to earn more, you need more education?

Do you believe that work has to be in an office and 9-5?

Do you believe in staying in one job for life?

Notice these are simply beliefs that represent one perspective. These beliefs are not true for everyone – just true for you.

2. Flip the script.

If you’ve written your take on each area of your life, you’re in a place to change your life’s perspective.

Now, review each area and acknowledge that your views and beliefs about the world may not be the ultimate truth.

Your beliefs may be true for you based on your circumstances, but they’re not the ultimate “truth. ”

These beliefs may be true for you based on what you heard when you were growing up and on the life experiences you’ve had, but room exists for a different perspective.

If you have a negative or disempowering world view, acknowledge this and be open to the existence of an opposing world view.

If you believe money is tight and difficult to come by, acknowledge that the opposite world view is that money is easy to come by and the world is filled with abundance.

If you believe your job is a means of earning a living and that’s it, acknowledge that your work is your life’s greatest contribution. Acknowledge that some people are living their purpose while doing their life’s work every day.

Whatever negative or disempowering views you have of the world, look at the opposite and contrary view of what you currently believe.

3. See the world through new lenses.

Once you have a better understanding of what you believe and how you see the world, and after you’ve acknowledged the flip side of the coin, start seeing the world through a new set of lenses.

When something happens to you or around you, don’t neatly store that new incident in the same old belief system file.

Be willing to challenge the way you interpret the events in your life.

If you encounter a problem, look for the lesson in it.

If you face a setback at work, determine how it helps you pursue your greater purpose.

If a salesman tricks you, realize how much savvier you’ve become as a result.

If someone breaks your heart, see how it’s really setting you up for your life’s best relationship.

When dealing with life’s events, know that you have two choices and that you have the power to determine how you see each event.

You can view the circumstance or problem through your old lenses and your former belief system, or you can look at it under a more empowering light.

You determine whether it’s positive or negative.

You decide whether it’s helpful or harmful.

You choose whether the life event is a setback or a lesson.

I’m encouraging you to look at your life events using your new perspective – via the shades of abundance, happiness, positivity and growth.

Look at situations and people in the best light.

4. Celebrate, call out and expect to see the world you desire.

Here’s the best part about seeing the world through a different set of lenses.

Your life will literally start to change.

If you perceive people as helpful and events (even bad ones) as leaning in your favor, you’ll encounter a world that’s pulling for you and that
wants you to succeed.

To keep the good things coming your way, acknowledge and celebrate the new developments in your life.

Instead of seeing a bad boss as a terrible manager, realize how much better you’re becoming at your work through the mentoring you’re receiving. Also, acknowledge how much better you’re getting at dealing with abusive bosses.

Instead of seeing a layoff as a life-crushing event, call it out as a positive, life-changing event. You would never have left the job you hated, but the fact that you were let go allows you to reprioritize your life and do work that really matters.

Continue to see circumstances with positive new lenses.

Acknowledge the circumstances of your life and celebrate them. Try to appreciate everything that happens to you and look for the silver linings even in the worst life events.

Stay optimistic; expect things to turn out in your favor.

Expect to encounter people who help you, work that promotes you, relationships that fulfill you and gifts from nowhere that truly surprise you.

Maintain a positive vibe and be open to the possibility that the world will create positive circumstances in your life.

And come to see how every circumstance furthers your purpose, improves your life and gets you closer to your dreams.

Once you choose to see the world in a more uplifting light, you’ll notice positive developments, favorable events and more abundance.

Your perspective and belief system 

shape your world view.

Be willing to flip your perspective and alter your belief system and watch your life transform.

Vishnus Virtues, Author, Blogger and Life Coach
Vishnu writes a popular relationship and personal development coaching blog. He coaches people who are going through divorces start over, get unstuck and find their purpose in life.


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Tips for Staying Grounded

Though we live in a materialistic culture, most people don’t really know how to be fully present in the “material” of their own body. In fact, we do many things to escape the experience of feeling and being present in our own skin.

What does it really mean to be “grounded”? The word, of course, carries the connotation of being connected with the ground, the earth, and that which is solid. A person who is grounded is able to really connect with the energy of the earth, stay present in moment-to-moment experience in their body, and stay settled and calm.

Interestingly, according to Ayurveda (the traditional system of health and wellness originating in India), the autumn is a time when we are naturally less grounded. With the change of seasons, wind, and dryness characteristic of fall, comes an increase in the air element and a decrease in the earth element. Fall, therefore, is a good time to practice staying grounded.

Here are a few tips for this time of year (and for staying grounded any time of year):

-keep to routines
-maintain a regular sleep/wake schedule
-make time to eat nurturing, warm meals – and eat slowly
-soak in a warm bath
-slow down in general
-practice deep relaxation
-make time for contemplative prayer and/or meditation
-take time to respond rather than quickly reacting to things
-take time to nurture yourself
-listen to what your body needs
-visualize grounding and nurturing images
-take time to be outdoors
-walk barefoot on the grass
-avoid loud music and enjoy quietness
-don’t overload your schedule

With the fall comes the celebration of the harvest. What a wonderful time to appreciate and celebrate the earth and the abundance that it provides.


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6 Habits Of Resilient People

What makes some people persevere through trying circumstances while others begin flailing at the first sign of crisis? Understanding the key qualities of resilient people is the first step to cultivating that bounce-back quality in yourself.

By Gwen Moran

On April Fool’s Day 2011, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with early-stage invasive breast cancer. As a freelance writer with a career I love and a family that depends on my income, I spent most of the year juggling surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation with assignments, interviews, and youth soccer schedules. Throughout, friends and colleagues seemed surprised that I remained relatively active and pretty optimistic.

What else was there to do, I wondered. Taking to my bed for the better part of a year wasn’t an option for my personality or my bank account. Why not look at the bright side of early diagnosis and great prognosis and keep going? During that time, I contributed to two books, wrote dozens of articles and ended the year with a clean bill of health.

Since then, I’ve been more curious than ever about why some people persevere through trying circumstances while others begin flailing at the first sign of crisis. I wondered if there were commonalities among resilient people and whether it’s possible to develop those qualities and strong points. The answers, according to the experts, are yes and yes. Here’s what those never-say-die folks have in common–and how you can develop them for yourself.

1. They Build Relationships.

People who bounce back tend to have a network of supportive people around them, says Michael Ungar, Ph.D., co-director of the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. For some people, that’s a close-knit family, but for others it’s a carefully cultivated group of friends, colleagues, mentors and others who actually care and are willing to help. Ungar says he’s seen the tendency to seek out support sources in children as young as five years old: When the family unit isn’t functioning in that way, children tend to reach out to coaches, teachers or other adults as a support network. Similarly, resilient adults seek out others who care about them who can offer emotional, professional or other assistance when times get tough.

2. They Reframe Past Hurts.

Lorenn Walker had just left a hotel bar one night in 1976 when an unknown assailant nearly murdered her. He fled, but she was left badly injured, needing surgery on her face. Her recovery took four months. Through therapy and willfully refusing to be mired in fear and resentment, she was able to “reframe,” or think about the situation in a different way. Instead of resenting the scars and the fearful memories, the Waialua, Hawaii, lawyer and counselor sees the attack as the catalyst that led her to her work in what she calls restorative justice–counseling prisoners and victims of violent crime in how to make peace with the past and cultivate meaning in their lives.

“You have the power to determine how you’re going to look at a situation, and you don’t give that power to other people, particularly people who are bad or who hurt you,” she says.

3. They Accept Failure.

Paul LeBuffe lectures about resilience as part of his role as director of the Devereux Center for Resilient Children, a Villanova, Pennsylvania, facility that works with educators and mental health professionals to develop more resilient children. It’s not uncommon for his audience to include young people who were highly successful students, but graduated during the recession and are devastated at their inability to find jobs.

“They don’t know how to cope with the fact that they didn’t get the first job they applied for. So we hear a lot about these young people sitting in their parents’ basements playing video games,” he says.

If you don’t give yourself the opportunity to fail sometimes and accept it as a part of life, you’re going to struggle with bouncing back, LeBuffe says. Successfully emerging from failure develops the ability to be optimistic that things can be bad now, but they’ll be okay eventually, he says.

4. They Have Multiple Identities.

If you get most of your self-worth from your job and you get fired, you’ve suddenly lost both your source of income and a big part of your identity, says Ungar. Resilient people often have a number of areas from which they get their sense of self-worth, says Ungar. They may have deep friendships or family connections, strong faith, or a leadership role in the community. They’re better able to bounce back, because even if one goes away, they still have a sense of connection and being valued from those other areas, he says.

5. They Practice Forgiveness.

Whether it’s forgiving yourself for a failure or forgiving someone else for an injury or injustice, being able to let go of past hurts and move on is an essential component of resilience, Walker says. When you find yourself “ruminating about grievances and negative stories, you have to just stop yourself and remind yourself of what you have to be grateful for,” she says. If you’re not a naturally forgiving person, this takes practice, but it is a skill that can be mastered, she adds.


6. They Have a Sense of Purpose.

LeBuffe says resilient people have a sense of purpose that helps them analyze their situations and plot the next moves. This stems from a set of values that is unique to each individual. When you know what’s important to you, whether it’s family, faith, money, career, or something else, you can prioritize what needs your attention most immediately to help you get back to where you want to be. That goes for organizations, as well. When everyone knows the ultimate goal, they can make meaningful contributions. When they don’t, they’re mired in indecision.

“If the people who work in a company don’t know the values, they’re paralyzed. They have to keep coming back to senior management to say, ‘What about going after this market?’ or ‘What do you think about extending credit another 30 days?’ instead of being able to act adaptively,” he says. “It’s the same for people. You have to know what’s important to you to be able to take action.”

source: www.fastcompany.com