Posted on 11 September, 2017

What Happens to Your Brain When you Think Positive Thoughts?

By Jacob Andreae in Change, Mental Clarity, Health, Mindset What Happens to Your Brain When you Think Positive Thoughts?

[Image source: LinkedIn]

Even thoughts have the power to physically change your brain. Thoughts stimulate the release of neurotransmitters, which are the chemical substances that allow your brain to communicate with itself and your body. Neurotransmitters control a range of biological functions such as the release of hormones. They also control how you feel.

...if you learn to replace negative thoughts with positive ones, the changes to your brain, and the frequency of positive thoughts, enhance dramatically.

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I feel very grateful to have been brought up with an optimistic mindset. It has served me well throughout my entire life. That’s not to say I don’t feel negative emotions like fear, anxiety, stress and sadness, or become pessimistic, skeptical and cynical at times. But I’ve had the skills to change those thoughts and get myself out of those feelings, more often than not very quickly. By the way, it’s not bad to experience those thoughts and feelings, just not all the time.

The good news is that you can learn to be more optimistic, and experience positive thoughts more often, at any time in your life.

Your brain actually physically changes in response to the thoughts, and hence the feelings, that you have. When you think positively you feel happier and less depressed, your awareness expands, your mental productivity is strengthened, your ability to think and analyse improves, your view of the world enhances and your attentiveness increases.

There are some amazing changes to the structure of your brain from simply thinking positive. Plus, if you learn to replace negative thoughts with positive ones, the changes to your brain, and the frequency of positive thoughts, enhance dramatically.

What Happens to Your Brain When you Think Positive Thoughts?

New neural pathways are developed
When you do anything new, your neurons (the cells that transfer neurotransmitters for communication) form new connections with other neurons. This means that if for some reason one path can’t be accessed, there are other paths that can. It also means that as you continue to use a path, from thinking positively for example, you continue to strengthen that path.

Synapses grow closer together
Strengthening a neural pathway actually means bringing the two neurons closer together. Whenever an electrical signal is activated, the synapses (the space between one neuron and the next which neurotransmitters are transferred across) grow closer together. This decreases the distance that the electrical charge has to travel and hence, as the many synapses grow closer together, the signal is transferred faster.

Positive thoughts win the race
As you continue to think positive thoughts and those synapses grow closer together, those positive thoughts win the race against negative thoughts. Any situation is neither positive or negative. It’s your thinking that makes it so. You can actually make yourself more positive by practicing (just like physically working out) what a positive person would think, and then feel, in response to a range of situations. Eventually, with practice, this becomes a habit. Then when a situation occurs, the pathway that triggers the positive thought, and therefore the positive emotions and then the positive behaviour, beats the negative thought because the synapses have grown closer together. This then becomes your default personality.

Mirror neurons
Your brain is filled with all these little gems called mirror neurons. These can be either very good or very bad. Depending on whether you think more positively. Mirror neurons are extremely beneficial because they allow you to learn from your environment, other peoples experiences, and to demonstrate empathy. So, the thoughts of other people can actually become your thoughts. When you experience someone feeling an emotion such as happiness, sadness, fear, anger or joy, your brain “tries out” those emotions to imagine what that person is feeling. It does this be attempting to fire the same synapses as those being fired in that persons brain. It’s for this reason that you should consider very intently who you spend most of your time with.

The brain is an amazing organism. Probably the most amazing organism on the planet. It physically changes constantly as a result of ongoing thoughts right throughout your entire life. Your thoughts actually shape the structure of your brain, creating new neural pathways and bringing neurons closer together, in order to strengthen the likelihood of repeating thoughts and hence, feelings and behaviours. The brain is absolutely amazing!

How positive are your thoughts on a consistent basis?

About Jacob Andreae

About Jacob Andreae

I write and speak about Fitness, Nutrition and Mindset. 

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What Happens to Your Brain When you Think Positive Thoughts?A quick start guide to losing weight and staying on track. Learn the strategies I use to eat and move for optimal health. Includes worksheets to enhance your motivation, commitment and discipline, along with a sample eating plan and exercise program.