“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” ~ John Milton ~ Paradise Lost
I write a lot about attitude and maintaining a positive one. This week I was in a conversation with a friend and they told me how much they try to stay positive about things but no matter how hard they try, something will happen that makes them angry, upset or stressful and their attitude instantly turns negative. They wanted to know how it is possible to maintain a positive attitude.
I’m certainly no scientist and rarely write about any type of scientific phenomena, but to really get to the root of staying positive requires some scientific explanation. The answer and reasoning are quite simple actually; negativity comes from the left brain. If you want to stay positive, become more of a right brain thinker. Sounds simple, right?
The left side of the brain is our analytical brain. It’s the foundation of our survival as a species. This is where the fight or flight instinct was first developed that allowed early man to survive, so I don’t want to give anyone the notion that left brain thinking is all bad, but some left brain thinking controls the negative thinking that greatly limits our lives. The right lobe is our artistic and creative side and also houses our five senses.
Those are the simple basics, but it does get slightly more complicated. The left side of the brain also contains the built in mechanism of judgment. Here is where we judge circumstances. Whenever a customer, child, spouse, or anyone else in the human race does something that directly affects us, we instantly judge. Was it a good thing or a bad thing? If it was a bad thing, we react with negativity; a part of the fight or flight instinct. In other words, negativity is brought on because most humans over the years have developed in such a way as to allow the left lobe to become dominant.
It has been widely documented among persons who suffer some sort of left lobe injury, such as a stroke, that they become much happier after the injury. They are able to develop and maintain a much more positive attitude and outlook on life when they begin to utilize right brain thinking more and more. But don’t worry, you don’t have to have a stroke to build and maintain a positive attitude. You do, however, have to exercise the right lobe so you develop stronger right lobe muscles so to speak. Just as you would do repetitive dumbbell curls to develop your biceps, you must do repetitive exercises to develop your right lobe.
Before we get into the “process” of developing your right lobe, you may be thinking this doesn’t apply to you. Before you make that assumption, ask yourself a couple of questions. Do you ever have difficulty falling asleep because you have too much on your mind? Do you ever have difficulty listening to someone because they said something and your mind is already thinking about your response long before they finish speaking? Do you ever read something, then have to go back and reread it because you forgot what you just read? Psychologists call this “mind-chatter” and it is 100% left brain.
Since the right brain houses the five senses, you develop right brain thinking by focusing intently on those senses. For example, when you brush your teeth in the morning, instead of filling your mind with thoughts of the day ahead, close your eyes and clear your mind. Focus on how the toothpaste tastes in your mouth, what the bristles feel like as they polish each tooth, hear the sound the brush makes. When you step into the shower, instead of thinking about what you’re going to wear that day or about the funny thing that happened that you are going to tell you co-worker about or what you are going to do that evening, focus your attention on what the warm water feels like as it sprays against your skin, how the lather feels in your hands or listen intently to the sound the spray makes against the shower walls. When you eat, instead of plowing through the meal to satisfy your hunger, savor each bite. Feast your eyes before taking the first bite. Imagine how it will taste. Then feel the warmth of the food, the texture and fully experience the flavor as it satiates your taste buds. Fully allowing your senses to experience things is how we develop right brain activity. When having a conversation with someone, instead of allowing your mind to begin processing your responses, listen intently to each and every word being spoken and see the words in your mind, focus your attention to their body language and facial expressions, hear the pitch and tone in their voice, then formulate your response.
According to Doctor of Neuroscience and author Shirzad Chamine, we should do these simple right brain exercises at least 100 times per day for about 10 seconds each. That may sound like a lot, but trust me, once you get used to intent sensory focus, it happens without even thinking about it. Soon, you will find it much easier to not be instantly judgmental whenever a perceived negative situation occurs. Also, ask yourself this question.
“What are 3 to 5 positive outcomes that could result from this situation?”
That question should be your first response to any situation you perceive as negative. Asking that question is the first step in maintaining a positive attitude in any situation. When something you perceive as negative occurs, the fight or flight response of the left lobe is look for the negative. Through the law of attraction, our own negative response to a situation often prevents any type of positive outcome. By first asking the question, you are opening your mind to the possibility that this may not be such a bad thing after all. Your subconscious mind is now open to and looking for positive solutions.
I think it is probably humanly impossible to remain positive at all times and in all situations, but by first seeking a positive outcome and opening our minds to the possibility that even terrible situations often have a very positive outcome eventually, and by exercising right brain activity so it is easier to respond with right brain responses rather than fight or flight responses, we give ourselves a chance to have a much more positive outlook on life when it may not go our way.
To learn more about developing right-brain thinking, I highly recommend;
- Right and Left-Brained: Which One Are You? (jonmatthewlewis.wordpress.com)