I have been fascinated over the years with how the brain works and what causes the brain to make a person be positive or negative. So many people that I am around on a daily basis at work are extremely negative, I can go to work in a great mood and after being there for an hour or so I find myself turning negative also. I do believe that who we associate with daily does play a major role of how our personality will become. So what is it in our brain that turns us from positive to negative?
Prefrontal Cortex (PFC)
There is a section of the brain that is called the prefrontal cortex (PFC), this serves as the integration center for all our brain functions. The PFC is located at the frontal lobe of the brain and it regulates the signals that our neurons transmit to the other area of the brain. Science believes that there is a link between a person’s will to live or die and the functions of the prefrontal cortex. The PFC allows you to control your emotional responses and behaviors and this region of the brain is what controls our thoughts and actions with the internal goals that we have set or elect to pursue. This is why it is important to have short and long term goals for our life.
The power of positive thinking
The brain is a powerful muscle that is also full of chemicals and neuron transmitters. Positive thoughts and happy attitudes decrease cortisol and produces serotonin which carries signals between the nerves. Serotonin is a chemical that researchers say is responsible for a person’s mood, when a body is low in serotonin this leads to depression and anxiety. Serotonin transmits impulses between nerve cells and contributes to the wellbeing of the human body. Serotonin impacts every part of your body, from your emotions to your motor skills. Serotonin is considered a natural mood stabilizer and the chemical that helps sleeping, eating, and digesting. Serotonin also helps reduce depression, regulate anxiety, heal wounds, stimulate nausea, and maintain bone health.
How to regulate your serotonin
In my research I found that reducing stress and anxiety is one of the major keys in increasing your serotonin levels. Since we live from day to day with stress in our lives we are constantly doing things in our lives that have a negative effect on our serotonin levels in our body. If you find yourself craving sweet things like candy and other foods that are high in sugar your body is probably telling you that your serotonin levels are low. When your serotonin levels are low your body will tell you to eat sugary items in order to produce more insulin. Eating to many sugary items will play a negative effect on your body which will cause your body to be addicted to sugar and turn your body into a type 2 diabetic.
When we are under stress our body excretes a steroid hormone called cortisol also known as glucocorticoid. This chemical is produced in the adrenal glands in our body and then released to travel in our blood all around the body. Cortisol can have many different reactions in our body depending on which cells it is working with. The effects of cortisol can control a bodies blood sugar, metabolism, blood pressure, memory formation and many other items. If the body has way to much cortisol you may see a rapid weight gain, high blood pressure, muscle weakness, and anxiety and depression.
The power of happiness
The old adage of what you see on the outside of a person is what is happening on the inside of the same person. This is so true, your thoughts form your character, your inner thoughts will reflect your character. Every thought that comes from the brain release a brain chemical, so when you are focused on negative thoughts the brain slows down and can dim the brain ability to function correctly which will cause depression. But if you focus on positive thinking, happy thoughts, joyful actions and thoughts this will decrease the cortisol and produce serotonin which helps the brain function at peak capacity.
Getting back to the prefrontal cortex of the brain
The PFC is the only part of the brain that can control your thoughts and emotions. The PFC allows you to control your emotional responses and it helps you to focus on goals and dreams that you elect to go after, the PFC helps you to grow as a human being and if need change your life to the way you decide to live.
Let’s look at 4 ways to improve your PFC so you can be happy.
- Your environment and who you hang with
The people you associate with on a daily basis is one of the main focuses of the environment that we are in. If we are taking in negative thoughts and feelings daily this will cause us to become negative and our brain will produce cortisol which zaps our joy and our strength. I find myself going to work happy and joyful then after an hour of negative talk and depressed associates I find myself falling right back into the trap of being negative myself. We must find a way to disassociate with negative co-workers and find ways to stay happy when being around negative forces.
- Journal positive thoughts and positive activities in your life
When you journal you are not just writing down things on a piece of paper you are actually etching these times and thoughts into your subconscious. Plus this is a tool that you can go back and review when times have you down or depressed. Journal is a great exercise to log a positive thought, emotion, activity that took place for you that day. Everyone should journal something positive each and every day. At the end of the week or month go back and review your journal.
Take time out of the day to meditate. This is a great practice to do every day, one should spend 15 – 30 minutes a day to give your brain and body a break. By closing off the world around you and resting the brain it will improve positive thinking and positive emotions. Again being positive has been proven to decrease illness and give us purpose in life.
- Be Optimistic
An optimistic person tend to be in better moods throughout the day, be more self-sufficient, are more successful in life, these people are also in much better health usually with lower blood pressure and diabetes. People who are optimistic are more committed to their goals, are more successful in achieving their goals, are more satisfied with their lives, and have better mental and physical health when compared to more pessimistic people. Gratitude is also associated with optimism and has been determined that grateful people are happier, receive more social support, are less stressed, and are less depressed.
What does all this mean to us? In order for us to have a much healthier and more rewarding life we need to change from having a negative outlook on life to being more positive and grateful. Some of us need to change some of our friendships and find positive people to associate with. Some of us also need to change the way our brain thinks and acts, we need to take time to give our brain a rest everyday through meditation and reflect on positive events and affirmation that come our way.
Think happy thoughts throughout the day, when hit with negative forces stop and refocus on positive thoughts. You are the one in control of your mind and you have the ability to change the things your brain thinks about. Start using this power of the brain to change from a negative pessimistic person to a positive optimistic leader.