An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. ~ Bill Vaughan
With another new year upon us, I’m considering what resolutions I’ll make this time around. It’s easy to fall back on all the old familiar ones:
- Lose weight
- Eat more vegetables
- Cut out sugar
- Exercise more
However, after giving this some thought, I decided to go a different route.
If you happen to read the news these days you may have noticed how depressing it is. We get a steady diet of violence, crime, poverty, crooked politicians and business people, global warming, etc. I have a tendency to ruminate on the graphic details of gun violence. After the last of many recent mass shootings I had a nightmare; the first one in many years. I wrote a post about it called Scary World, Scary Dreams.
It got me thinking about how all this negativity affects our minds and ultimately our moods. During my search on the Internet I found a great article on attn.com called What Negative Thinking Does to Your Brain, written by Kathleen Toohill. It talks about how our brains are wired to have a negativity bias, the effects of negative thinking, and how to shift negative thought patterns. It’s amazing to me that we have the ability to alter the structure of our brains through a process called neuroplasticity. In other words, we can beat the negative bias that evolution programmed into our brains by thinking positive thoughts and participating in positive experiences. Practicing mindfulness, affirmations, meditation, and keeping a gratitude journal are just a few ways to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
As I compose a short list of new year’s resolutions for 2016 I’m going to add “practice positivity.” I can’t change or prevent the bad stuff from happening, but I can limit the negativity and focus more on the positive aspects of life. There are many inspirational stories out there; you just have to work a bit harder to find them!