As we continue this week on our journey to joy, we are ready to examine Hana Matt’s second proven way.
Way #2: “Transform your negative thoughts into more constructive and positive ones. Consciously changing your thoughts alters your brain biochemistry, releasing the joy biochemicals to produce happiness.”
Hana Matt turned to neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson and his studies on this matter for a more complete explanation of what exactly this idea of thought transformation means. Dr. Davidson found that, “thinking new and different thoughts creates new neural pathways. Changing your thoughts produces changes in your brain, and perhaps your DNA. When you change your thinking to support your happiness, the old negative neural pathways shrink, and the positive neural pathways widen. That makes it easier and more automatic to think positively, which releases joy biochemicals and creates joy. But it takes awareness and positive intentions to change thoughts.”
Seems easy enough, right?
This idea takes us back to the practice of mindfulness. When we are mindful of our emotions and reactions to various stimuli, we are opening up the opportunity within ourselves to take control over how those feelings will ultimately affect us and our overall wellness and happiness. There are infinite ways in which we may experience something negative in our lives. There are times when we will feel helpless, depressed, anxious, angry, confused, stressed, overwhelmed, betrayed, or even numb. These feelings mean that we are alive, even though they are most unpleasant to feel. But instead of dwelling and focusing on the negative, it is possible to shift your consciousness toward the positive. We all have that power.
This is not to be confused with wishful thinking or a simple declaration that today you will be happy. This is a practice that must be consciously ongoing. You have to decide to change the path of your thoughts. Like mediation or yoga, everyone can make this shift as long as they are willing to work at this practice, learn to be in the present, and obtain a mindful control over one’s thoughts. This is not something that will just magically happen over night, but is something that you will quickly feel changes occurring within you once you begin this practice.
Hana Matt explains that, “negative thoughts tend to be self-fulfilling and cause suffering due to the biochemicals which they release, such as cortisol, a stress hormone. Instead, see the full range of possibilities and pick your best option. We create a negative story based on our limited view of “the facts” as we see it. But those facts can change and there is also so much that we are not aware of. We can develop other aspects, skills, and qualities. We are not victims or helpless, unable to shape our life. Some form of change or improvement is always possible even if internally. You always have choices, even if only inwardly. The ability to consciously choose and infuse your mind with positive thoughts is essential to produce biochemicals.”
If you mindfully practice this shift of thoughts, eventually it will become second nature. Your mind will have recalibrated itself to naturally allow your thoughts to flow in a positive way. When your thoughts are more consistently positive, your joy biochemicals will be flowing steadily.
Thanks for sharing a smile with us this week.