Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Don't worry, be happy! Training your brain into a happier outlook.

Trying to get back to your 'pre-baby' weight is a challenge when the 'baby' is now getting married!

When my eldest daughter got engaged last year, I was convinced that the upcoming wedding gave me the perfect motivation to finally get back in shape.  I started exercising, even took up running, gave up wine (?!) and .... nothing happened.  Not a pound shed, not an inch lost.
It was very tempting to fall back to old habits and beat myself up but I decided to have a change of mind. Whenever I catch myself being self-critical and judgmental and start thinking negative thoughts, I practise gratitude.  I am grateful that my body is strong, healthy and actually capable of running.  I am grateful that my lovely daughter has met a lovely man and they are happy together.  I am grateful that I get to be at the wedding.  As I consciously work with my thoughts, my focus is no longer on beating myself up but on love, commitment and sharing.

Brains are hardwired to perform at their best when they are in a positive state - we become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient and productive.  Research in the fields of neuroscience and positive psychology has confirmed what spiritual teachers have known for centuries: daily discipline in developing self-awareness will change the state of consciousness.  In other words, getting to know your thoughts has a profound affect on how you experience life.

It takes 21 days to change our brain state from positive to negative.  Shaun Achor, CEO of Good Think Inc., has identified 5 practices which, when done each day, will faciliate the shift and give you what he calls 'The Happiness Advantage', a state of mind from which success can be achieved with ease.
  1. 3 Gratitudes: finding three things to be grateful for in each day teaches you to see the positive rather than remain caught in negative thinking.
  2. Keep a journal: writing about one of those positive experiences each day allows your brain to relive it and recreate the emotions you experienced.
  3. Exercise: regular physical activity teaches the brain that behaviour matters.
  4. Meditation:  stilling the mind increases the powers of observation, helping us notice and appreciate things even more.  It also settles thoughts and strengthens the ability to focus.
  5. Random Acts of Kindness: helping others makes us feel connected and part of something bigger than ourselves.
Practising these 5 tasks every day floods the brain with dopamine, the brain chemical that makes you happy.  Dopamine turns on the learning centres in the brain, helping the brain adapt to the world in a different way.  

These daily practices reverse self-defeating patterns in the brain and build habits that create lasting, positive change.  

Try them, let me know what happens, I'd love to know how you get on.

Anxious about an upcoming event?  Need support getting into a better frame of mind? 
Contact Kim on 07789 408378 or email kim@relationshiptraining.co.uk

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