Is negative thinking bad for your brain?
Scientists seem to think that it is.
Researchers at King’s College London found that repetitive negative thinking may increase your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
At the time of writing there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, so this topic deserves your attention.
The Kings College study found that a habit of prolonged negative thinking diminishes your brain’s ability to think, reason, and form memories.
Another study, reported in the American Academy of Neurology journal, also found cynical thinking produces a greater risk of dementia.
Essentially, negative thinking will drain your brain’s resources.
When you change your thinking, your life changes
Brains get good at what they do.
Negative thoughts create ‘channels’ in your brain.
This way of thinking can become your default.
If you do a lot of negative thinking, you wire your brain to be good at producing negative thoughts.
Your brain also gets good at seeing things to be negative about.
One of the many byproducts of negative thinking is stress.
Stress then leads to more negative thinking.
Here’s a suggestion: When negative thoughts come, and they will, don’t just ignore them.
Instead when negative thoughts occur, do the following:
Stop what you are doing.
Close your eyes if you need to.
Replace the negative thought with a positive thought.
Hold the positive thought in your brain for a full minute, or more.
When you actively think positive thoughts to replace a negative thought you will train your brain to think differently.
You are using what doctors call neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganise itself by forming new neural connections.
You can use this neuroplasticity in your favour.
You can reprogram your brain to think mainly positive thoughts.
There are two keys steps to achieve this.
- Attention Density – the amount of attention paid to a particular mental experience over a specific time.
- Attention Duration – holding the thought long enough for your brain to begin to create new ‘channels.’
When you pay attention to how often, and how long, you think of something, you become a sculptor of your own brain.
How cool is that?
Changing your habits of mind can change your life.
A good book to read on self-directed neuroplasticity is You Are Not Your Brain, by Jeffrey Schwartz.
A Sure-Fire Stress Buster
Stress often arises from dissatisfaction.
Dissatisfied people naturally to want to complain.
Thus a sign of stress is constant complaining.
But this works both ways.
When you spend a lot of time complaining, it can increase your stress levels.
So here is a suggestion you can try.
Go for a whole week without complaining.
Not even once.
If you relapse, start your week over.
Back to day one.
Go for a whole week without complaining…and watch the people around you change.
Such is the power of mirror neurons.
These neurons fire when we act in a certain way and also when we observe the same action being performed by someone else.
Your behaviour – positive or negative – can influence how others behave.
When you stop complaining, you will also prevent stress from building up.
Those around you will also stop complaining and creating a more positive mental environment for everyone.