The average human brain weighs three pounds. Our brain cells can live our entire lifetime and are capable of having 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day or 35-48 thoughts per minute. We use the terms brain and mind as though they are one in the same but they are two distinct and separate things. Our brain is the physical organ located inside our skulls whereas the mind is the invisible world of our thoughts, attitudes and feelings. Just as we choose to nourish our body with healthy food, we need to nourish our minds to be the best version of ourselves.
So how do we can we feed our minds to have a better life? By the thoughts we allow in, what we focus on daily and what we allow to grow within ourselves. The type of thoughts we have can certainly impact our daily lives. Positive thoughts will add value, help build skills to see more possibilities in life. Negative thoughts close our minds to many possibilities and narrowly focus our lives.
In a research study conducted by The University of North Carolina, groups of people were shown short movie clips. One group was shown clips that contained the negative emotions of anger and fear. A second group was shown clips having the positive emotions of joy and contentment. They were then asked to imagine themselves in similar situations as the clips and write down what they would do. Those who viewed the positive clips had many more responses than those who viewed the negative clips. This proves that positivity opens our minds to possibilities.
No one is to blame. This is a leftover survival skill from centuries ago that helped us when we crossed paths with a bear or tiger. We needed to be able to narrow our focus, eliminate all distractions and get out of harm’s way. Today, thankfully, we don’t need to do this as often but our brains are still patterned this way. This explains why it is our nature to always look first for the negative or what is wrong in every situation. For example, if I have to give up sugar then I can’t ever have dessert or I can’t exercise because I don’t have enough time. We have all met the “Negative Nellys” who find fault with every single thing in life. They are never happy and have the ability to suck the life right out of a room. Negativity has a very strong pull and uses up valuable energy.
So what are some things that you can do to feed your mind for a happier life?
The simple act of daily meditation can help increase your positive emotions. It doesn’t matter when you decide to meditate and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Start with sitting in a quiet place and focus on breathing. Start for two minutes and then build on that. Don’t worry if at first your mind keeps wandering off to other places. Just redirect it back to your breathing and continue. Each time it wanders and you bring it back, you are strengthening pathways. It truly is amazing how quickly you can build your ability and see results. I love starting my day this way. I find that I am calmer and less reactive to the daily stresses of life.
Practicing gratitude daily helps improve happiness. This can be paired up with meditation. Everyday think of one thing you are grateful for. It can be as simple as your eyesight to see a beautiful sunrise. If you do this in the before bed, think of something that made you smile that day or brought you joy. You may want to keep a gratitude journal where you can write about your positive experience. At the end of the year, you can reflect back on all those wonderful memories.
We fill our schedules with so many busy activities. Working a job and raising a family leaves little time for anything else. Schedule “Joy” into your calendar. Do something small each day that makes you smile. This can be as simple as reading for 15 minutes or enjoying your favorite cup of tea after work. Once again, it doesn’t have to be difficult or take up a lot of time. We all need more “joy” in life to help us be more vital.
Earlier this week I was listening to a podcast featuring Tony Robbins. He talked about the idea of “what you focus on, you will find”. If you focus constantly on the negative then you will find only negative limiting your possibilities. Focusing on the positive will help you see more possibilities increasing happiness. As you continue on your health journey, remember to care for your mind that cannot be seen. It is as important as caring for your body in achieving your ultimate vitality!