What made you happy today?
Please think for a few seconds to find an answer to this question.
It’s not easy to think of something straight off is it?
This is because our brains have become unconditioned to looking for and highlighting the positive.
Here’s the good news: it’s quite easy to re-wire our brains (neuroplasticity) to automatically focus on the positive AND this will benefit us in all areas of our lives.
Here are just two, of the many documented, benefits of what a positive disposition can achieve*:
1. 180 Catholic nuns, all born before 1917, from The School, Sister of Notre Dame were asked to write down their daily thoughts in an autobiographical diary.
More than 5 decades later, at the age of 85 their entries were analysed for positive sentiment.
The nuns who journal entries contained more overtly joyful sentiment lived nearly ten years longer than the nuns who entries were neutral or negative.
By age 85, 90% of the happiest quartile of nuns were still alive compared to only 34% of the least happiest quartile.
2. “My twin sister was a terrible pessimist, she died when she was not yet 70 because she never laughed, never. Laughing is beautiful though,” says 108-year-old Alice Herz-Sommer.
“I’m an optimist, for me it’s only the good things, never a bad thought,” she says.
Born in 1903, Mrs Herz-Sommer has managed to retain a positive outlook despite a horrific start to life. The oldest living survivor of the Holocaust, she was imprisoned in Terezin (also known as Theresienstadt) concentration camp, near Prague, with her young son Raphael.
She survived the war by playing the piano in concerts within the camp. Her husband died in Germany at Belsen concentration camp.”
It turns out our brains are not only hard-wired to perform better when happy but can adapt and improve faster under positive conditions.
Studies have shown our baseline happiness can be adjusted. In short, it’s possible to train our brain to think more positively and this is the key to become happier.
Before you bought the car you now drive did you notice how many of them were on the road?
Then right after you bought it, you suddenly noticed all the other cars on the road that happen to be the same, colour, make and or model.
Of course, these cars were always there, it’s just your brain is now more in tune with cars that are the same as yours.
Your brain can be trained to look for anything it wants to.
Try this: shut your eyes for ten seconds and whilst they are shut think of the colour red.
Then open your eyes.
Does the colour red stand out more than any other colour.
Now try to think again, what made you happy today?
When you ask yourself this question, your brain scans its memory for anything positive in your day.
When you do this on a regular basis your brain gets better at looking for the positive. In technical terms it strengthens it’s synaptic pathways.
This video explains it better.
This is why I set up happymap, to learn and consciously practice positive thought.
HappyMap encourages us to post something that made us happy everyday and by doing this your are training your brain to look for the positives.
Does it work?
Yes, we have data and testimonials stating it’s helped people do the following:
– Think more positively
– Worry less
– Feel better about themselves
Can you complete it? Yes of course you can…. think positively 🙂
There’s also another, amazing, benefit to becoming more positive – to read about it click here.