We human beings are called the crown of creation because of our brain. The higher brain (the neocortex) produces the fluid and creative intelligence to succeed at our goals, and the emotional and social intelligence that instills joy in our work, peace in our day, love in our relationships, and physical vitality.
Yet for far too many people, the brain does not seem to crown our lives with health, wealth, and love. Quite the contrary, it seems to malfunction in self-defeating patterns of negativity that undermine our success and happiness. This is the lower brain (the amygdala) taking charge of our experience, reducing us to fight or flight stress reactions that dump toxic stress hormones into our system, switching our emotional set point to anxious, angry, or depressed, lowering our IQ, and damaging our DNA and immune system.
This begs the question: what can change a brain wired for stress, disappointment, and illness to a brain wired for success, happiness, and prosperity?
The answer is a change of mindset can. In the last 15 years, research has established that our brain takes its direction from our state of mind. A dynamically positive and peaceful mindset literally wires your brain for the intelligence, creativity, passion, and well-being that enables you to flourish. Conversely, a negative, fearful mindset takes you in the opposite direction, wiring your brain for a stressful life plagued with unhappiness, self-doubt, and disappointment.
Here is secret #1: Everything for a human being is mindset. And basically there are only two mindsets.
The first mindset is negative, generating an inner experience of contraction that feels like the walls are closing in on you. It is built on the fearful, stressful, pessimistic thinking that makes you believe you are a victim of circumstances. The stress hormones that a negative mindset produce actually shrinks higher brain networks.
The second mindset is positive generating an inner experience of expansion that makes you feel like the sky is the limit. It is built on inner peace, love and optimism and makes you believe you are larger than circumstances. A positive mindset not only amplifies higher brain function, it also stimulates the growth of new connections within the higher brain to increase your potential to reach even greater heights in your life. Your brain wires you for the Good Life, which a life of being well and doing well on the path to flourishing
This leads us to secret #2: Brainpower is attained through the mental shift from fear to peace.
Making this shift through a sustained mental practice literally prunes the faulty lower neuro-circuits that produce a life of stress, and simultaneously causes higher brain structure to expand, enabling you to flourish at every level of life that matters to you.
And this leads us to secret #3, which is the best of all.
The daily practice that builds the positive mindset to generate positive brain change is simpler than you might think, and brain change occurs faster than you might imagine. The prescription is to eliminate the negative and accentuate the positive. Here is a two-part starter kit that can begin to create this change in you.
#1: Eliminate the Negative: Eliminating the negative involves making this essential shift from fear to peace. Both are clearly an internal matter, meaning each begins with thoughts you believe that then extend outward to form how you experience the world. All your moods are produced by your beliefs, determining how you see the world and what you expect will happen. Mood and expectations profoundly influence what does happen, meaning you usually get what you expect to get. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that is wired into the brain.
Another fact research has uncovered: The negative thinking that causes anxiety and depression nearly always contains gross distortions, meaning the greater part of the emotional turmoil people experience is largely mind-made, unrelated to reality. It is happening in you, far more than to you.
Obviously, the first step in rewiring your brain is changing your mindset. The Clear Button is a tool that can help you bust the negative thinking that blocks brainpower.
Imagine there is a button at the center of your palm that, when pressed, sends a signal to your brain to stop fearful, worried, judgmental, or pessimistic thinking.
· Press the button and keep pressing it.
· Next, take a breath and count “1” and on the exhale think red.
· Take a second breath and count “2” and on the exhale, think blue.
· Take a third breath and count “3” and on the exhale, think green.
Now take a final breath and as you exhale, let your mind go completely blank for about 10 seconds. Then, relate to the present moment and engage the current situation, consciously choosing to be at peace, confident in the clarity this choice affords you.
#2: Accentuate the Positive. Start each day on a positive note.
· Begin by asserting the established fact that you are inherently worthy, meaning you’re inherently golden, exactly as you are. Your worthiness has no prerequisites. Simply asserting your inherent worth is how you actualize it.
· Next, frame your day in a positive light by feeling appreciation for the gift of another day of life; another day to share with the people you love; another day to pursue your dreams.
· Reflect on how you want to feel today as you work. Reflect on the state of mind you want to sustain throughout the day. Reflect on how you want to be with people.
· Set your intention to have a great day, achieving meaningful results in whatever you do. Equally, set the intention to succeed at sustaining a peaceful and positive attitude on the inside, regardless of what happens on the outside.
Research also shows that people who start the day mindfully in this way experience more positive emotions during the day, are more engaged in their work, and are more likely to feel connected and supportive toward others.
In addition, whenever a moment occurs that expands, elevates, or deepens your experience during the day – whatever it is, for whatever reason – stop and take note of it. Tell yourself this moment is important. Allow the experience to imprint on your brain. Don’t try to hold on to the experience. Simply surrender to the moment for as long as it lasts with a willingness to experience it fully.
Practice these simple steps every day and your brain will begin to change. Read The End of Stress and empower this change even more.