What makes us pessimistic – and how do we become optimistic?
Recent research prove that brain activity in optimistic people is different from pessimistic, but the good news are you can change your path and say goodbye to the bad thoughts, this is how.
Always looking on the bad side of things? It’s not too late to change: researches claim that a person can teach himself to be optimistic within 7 weeks using two simple exercises. One has to do with looking at angry and smiling faces, and the other one is meditating for 20 minutes.
Using a simple exercise, our brain can change the way it acts and change our pessimistic view on life. The data was presented in a documentary film by the BBC where Michael Mosley explain that due to his insomnia he suffered for the last 20 years – he wanted to become a happier man – one that also sleeps well.
Mosley was examined by the specialist in the field – Professor Eileen Fox from Essex university in britain, and the results show that there is a lot of activity going on in his brain – in areas that are connected to negativity and pessimistic feelings.
Former researches showed that people who suffer from over pessimism and anxiety have some kind of asymmetry in the big brain, so there is a lot of activity in the right hemisphere than in the left, for an unknown reason. Are you pessimistic as well? the BBC offers an online survey to help you decide.
Analyzing the electric activity in the brain, specialists succeeded in proving that the right side of Mosley’s brain is 3 times more active than the left side while resting. Mosley was offered two daily exercise to perform that will allow him to change the way he thinks. The first one – Meditation, he was asked to sit in a quite place and concentrate in physical elements like his body weight and the way he breaths, for 20 minutes. It is possible to start doing it for 10 minutes a day and gradually raise the length of the meditation.
This way, the meditation technique allows our thoughts to come and go without thinking and getting in them too much.
On the second exercise you look at a computer screen where 15 faces are displayed with anger or with no emotion – and one smiling face. Mosley was asked to recognize the smiling face and click it. after doing that – the set of faces change and again – he had to find the smiling face. The rational in the idea is to train the brain to look for positive images and get himself ready, more easily, for optimistic thoughts.
Mosley reported in the movie that after 7 weeks his mood got significantly better, he started sleeping better and feel an overall optimism. Surprisingly the asymmetry in his brain somewhat balanced. and the final indication of course – he got more optimistic.
Be optimistic in 8 steps:
First of all, breath. Before you give more attention to anxiety or bad thoughts that bother you, focus on your breathing, the feeling of the air flow slowly going inside your nostrils and goes down your throat into your lungs.
Listen to your heart. Feel your heart beats and imagine it pumping the blood and throwing it back to every part of your body. continue to do so until you are ready to start meditating.
Organize your thoughts. Focus your attention in the thoughts that makes it hard for you. what thoughts are currently on your mind? are there many of those or is it just one that makes you feel bad everytime? Try thinking about these problems rationally instead of reacting to them emotionally.
Don’t try to stop your thoughts. Unlike the wrong idea – you do not “empty” your brain from thoughts while meditating. Thoughts are not the enemy and if you try to struggle with them – you will only make them stronger.
Act as if your thoughts are ambient noise. Try to make your brain adapt to thoughts as if they were white noise, like talking in the radio that you hear nearby. you can hear them but not focus on them. your attention is directed to the fact that you don’t listen to what’s said.
Don’t judge your thoughts. They are not “good” or “bad”, since everything in your brain is equal. if you treat them with curiosity and forgiveness, it will be easier to handle them.
Bring your thoughts back to track. Every Time your mind goes to negative ways, acknowledge that and re-focus into observation.
Exercise this for a few minutes. Start at 10 minutes and gradually raise the time. you might feel a bit dizzy at first, because your brain will stop running in circles, but it will work. It’s even possible that you’ll recognize more thoughts then usual while doing it, but actually – you just got more aware. the more you practice – the more you can easily handle worries and be in less panic.