The Neuroscience of Happiness: Rewiring Your Brain for a More Positive Outlook

By

Ben

Published on

December 7, 2023

Updated on

December 7, 2023

Medically reviewed by

Ben

Brain retraining

The Neuroscience of Happiness: Rewiring Your Brain for a More Positive Outlook

We all know that our thoughts play a huge role in our overall happiness, and sometimes it can be tough to stay positive when life gets challenging. But by retraining your brain to look for the good in every situation, you can start to see a big change in your overall attitude, outlook and even your mental and physical health. Here are some tips on how to get started but first let’s dive into the neuroscience of shifting the brain’s negativity bias and lay out the immense benefits you get when you retrain your brain to be positive[1].

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What happens when you retrain your brain to be more positive?

When you train your brain to focus on the positive, it can have a significant impact on your overall well-being[2]. Some of the benefits of having a positive outlook on life include:

  1. Increased happiness and satisfaction with life.
  2. Increased resilience in the face of stress and adversity.
  3. Better physical health and decreased incidence of illness.
  4. Increased creativity and productivity.
  5. Improved relationships with others.
  6. Greater sense of control over your life and your environment.
  7. Increased mental clarity and focus.
  8. Reduced incidence of anxiety and depression.
  9. Improved sleep quality.
  10. A longer lifespan!

Why am I so negative?

The Default Mode Network (DMN) is a group of brain regions that are active when we are not focused on a specific task. This network is responsible for our thoughts and feelings, and it’s often responsible for our negative thoughts and emotions. This is because the brain has a negativity bias, which means that it is more difficult to be positive than negative. The brain is constantly scanning the environment for potential threats, and so it’s much easier for it to focus on the negative things that are happening than the positive things.

But fortunately, there are ways to overcome this bias and retrain your brain to be positive. One way is to practice mindfulness meditation, which helps you focus on the present moment and not get caught up in your thoughts. Another way is to practice cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps you identify and change the negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to your negative moods. Both of these techniques can help you rewire your brain for happiness and a more positive outlook on life[3].

The problem with regular old “Positive Thinking”

While positive thinking can be helpful in some situations, it often doesn’t work in the long run. This is because trying to force yourself to think positively can actually backfire and lead to more negative thoughts and emotions. In fact, studies have shown that people who engage in positive thinking often feel worse than those who don’t.

So what’s the solution? Instead of trying to think positive, try to focus on being accepting of your thoughts and feelings. This means that you accept that negative thoughts and emotions are a normal part of life, and you don’t try to fight them or push them away[4]. This can be difficult at first, but with practice, it becomes easier.

In addition, it’s important to focus on living a meaningful life. This means that you have goals and values that are important to you, and you actively pursue them. Doing things that are meaningful and purposeful helps to override the negative thoughts and emotions that come up during tough times.

7 science-based ways to retrain your brain to be more positive

Science has shown that there are a number of ways to retrain your brain to be positive. Here are seven science-based methods that can help:

  1. Practice gratitude – One of the best ways to retrain your brain to be more positive is to practice gratitude. When you focus on the good things in your life, it helps to put things in perspective and makes it easier to find the silver lining in difficult situations.
  2. Use positive affirmations – Repeating positive affirmations helps to rewire your brain and can have a powerful effect on your mood and outlook on life.
  3. Smile – Even if you don’t feel like smiling, forcing yourself to do so can actually help to boost your mood. When you smile, your brain releases dopamine, which makes you feel good.
  4. Exercise – Exercise is not only good for your physical health, but it’s also great for your mental health. It helps to release endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects.
  5. Spending time with positive people – hanging out with negative people can often bring you down while spending time with positive people has the opposite effect. Positive people can help to lift you up and make you see the world in a more positive light.
  6. Take care of yourself – If you’re not taking care of yourself both physically and mentally, it’s going to be difficult to be positive no matter how hard you try. Make sure that you’re getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and taking some time for yourself every day to relax and de-stress.
  7. Practice meditation – Meditation is a great way to train your mind to be more positive and peaceful. It helps to focus on the present moment and clear away negative thoughts and emotions

The key to happiness lies in our ability to control our thoughts and focus on the positive. And while it may seem like a daunting task, with a little effort, it is possible to retrain your brain to think more positively. What are some things you can do to retrain your brain for a more positive outlook?  

  1. Ruminate on positive thoughts as opposed to negative ones – Make a concerted effort to look for the good in every situation, no matter how small.
  2. Perform Random Acts of kindness – when you help others you help yourself.
  3. Take some time each day to do something you enjoy, whether it’s reading, going for a walk, or listening to music. By making a conscious effort to retrain your brain, you can soon find yourself feeling happier and more positive in all aspects of your life. And while it may take some time and effort, it will be well worth it in the end!
  4. Become a rational optimist.
  5. Listen to upbeat or classical music.
  6. Savor the moment – take a deep breath.
  7. Take some time each day to do something you enjoy, whether it’s reading, going for a walk, or listening to music.

Why it’s so important to find the good in every situation

Negative thinking = negative anticipation (and anticipatory chemical processes)

When you’re faced with a difficult situation, it can be tempting to focus on the negative. But by retraining your brain to look for the good in every situation, you can start to see a big change in your overall outlook on life. Here are three reasons why it’s so important to find the good in every situation:

  1. It can help you maintain a more positive outlook on life.
  2. It can help you appreciate the good moments more.
  3. It can help you better deal with difficult situations when they arise.

So next time you’re feeling down, take a step back and try to look for the good in the situation. You may be surprised at how much better you feel! No matter what life throws your way, by retraining your brain to focus on the good.

How to overcome negative thoughts and emotions

If you find yourself struggling with negative thoughts and emotions, there are a few things you can do to help overcome them. First, try to take a step back and look at the situation from a more positive perspective. Second, practice gratitude by writing down three things you’re thankful for each day. And finally, make sure to take some time each day to do something you enjoy. By following these steps, you can retrain your brain to think more positively and find yourself feeling happier in no time!

Tips for staying positive during tough times

Tough times are inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you have to let them get the best of you. Here are a few tips for staying positive during tough times:

  1. Remember that tough times don’t last forever.
  2. Stay connected to your support system.
  3. Make an effort to see the positives.
  4. Feed your mind good more positive information.

Retrain your brain to be positive FAQs

How do you retrain your brain to be more positive?

You can rewire your brain to be happier by training it to focus on the positive. This means making a concerted effort to look for the good in every situation, no matter how small. And while it may seem difficult at first, with a little practice, you can soon find yourself seeing the glass as half full instead of half empty.

How do I rewire my brain to think positively?

You can rewire your brain to think positively by making a concerted effort to look for the good in every situation, practicing gratitude, and taking time each day to do something you enjoy. Additionally, try to take a step back and look at difficult situations from a more positive perspective.

How long does it take to retrain Your Brain?

It takes time and effort to retrain your brain, but the rewards are well worth it. You may start to see a difference in your outlook after a few weeks of consciously making an effort to focus on the positive.

How do you train yourself to have a positive mindset?

You can train yourself to have a positive mindset by making an effort to look for the good in every situation, practicing gratitude, and taking time each day to do something you enjoy. Additionally, try to take a step back and look at difficult situations from a more positive perspective.

How can I retrain my brain to be happy?

You can retrain your brain to be happy by making a concerted effort to look for the good in every situation, practicing gratitude, and taking time each day to do something you enjoy. Additionally, try to take a step back and look at difficult situations from a more positive perspective[5].

What is the first step in retraining your brain to be positive?

The first step in retraining your brain to be positive is making a concerted effort to look for the good in every situation, no matter how small. Additionally, try to take a step back and look at difficult situations from a more positive perspective.

How do I stop having negative thoughts?

If you find yourself having negative thoughts, try to take a step back and look at the situation from a more positive perspective. Additionally, practice gratitude by writing down three things you’re thankful for each day. Finally, make sure to take some time each day to do something you enjoy. By following these steps, you can retrain your brain[6].

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Conclusion

Overcoming the brain’s negativity bias can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. With practice, anyone can learn to be more positive and happy. Here are seven science-based methods that can help:  1) Practice gratitude – Being grateful for the good things in your life helps to put things in perspective and makes it easier to find the silver lining in difficult situations.  2) Use positive affirmations – Repeating positive affirmations helps to rewire your brain and can have a powerful effect on your mood and outlook on life.  3) Smile – Even if you don’t feel like smiling, forcing yourself to do so can actually help to boost your mood. When you smile, your brain releases dopamine, which makes you feel good.  4) Exercise – Exercise is not only good for your physical health, but it’s also great for your mental health. It helps to release endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. 5) Spend time with positive people – Positive people can help to lift you up and make you see the world in a more positive light 6) Take care of yourself – If you’re not taking care of yourself both physically and mentally, it’s going to be difficult to be positive. 7) Practice meditation – Meditation is a great way to train your mind to be more positive and peaceful. It helps to focus on the present moment and clear away negative thoughts and emotions

But you don’t have to go through this journey alone – try the activities and lifestyle tips outlined above and find out how much better life can be when you feel calm and in control. If you’re looking for a practical program to help you with your recovery and brain retraining, re-origin may be the right fit for you. The re-origin neuroplasticity training program is focused purely on addressing the root causes and restoring your brain and body’s ability to self-manage and self-heal.

Re-origin is an evidence-based Neuroplasticity Program specifically designed to help retrain the part of the brain responsible for triggering negative brain bias. With a bit of dedication and practice of our self-directed techniques, many individuals have found that they have been able to overcome the negative thought loops and return to living healthy and happy lives. Visit www.re-origin.com/program for more information on how our Neuroplasticity Program can help you rewire your brain to overcome your brain’s negativity bias.

References

  1. Ford, B. Q., Lam, P., John, O. P., & Mauss, I. B. (2018). The psychological health benefits of accepting negative emotions and thoughts: Laboratory, diary, and longitudinal evidence. Journal of personality and social psychology, 115(6), 1075–1092. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000157
  2. Harvard Health. (2021, August 14). Giving thanks can make you happier. Retrieved September 21, 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier
  3. Harvard Health. (2020, July 6). Understanding the stress response. Retrieved September 21, 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response
  4. Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress. (2022, February 3). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved September 21, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950
  5. Shaffer J. (2016). Neuroplasticity and Clinical Practice: Building Brain Power for Health. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 1118. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01118
  6. Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke. (2021, July 29). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved September 21, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456?reDate=21092022


By

Ben