This is the recommendation for mental health and wellbeing of author, Rick Hanson. He is basing his conclusion on the neuroscience of brain plasticity. It turns out that our brain changes, depending on what we focus on. A continual focus on fearful situations wires your brain to be more sensitive to threat, and the neural pathway from the part of the brain that perceives a threat, to the brain’s alarm system, becomes more like a super highway, and floods the body with stress hormones and neuropeptides. Conversely, when you focus on the good, you build circuits in brain areas that dampen down fearful responses and release feel-good chemicals throughout the body.
Over time, our brain, our mental outlook, and our behavior change in response to what we continually focus on. HOWEVER, you are the gatekeeper, you can control this process by what you give your attention to.
Currently, we are seeing, hearing and feeling such fearful things around us. Accept that that’s natural, that’s the way our brain has evolved over time, and how we as a species has survived-by responding to threat. Some of us have become addicted to keeping up with every development, in effect flooding our body with the wrong type of chemicals, we have in effect become like Velcro for the bad stuff, its sticking to us more securely all the time.
If we are to pay attention to the latest research in neuroscience, the single best thing we can do for ourselves at the moment, is to limit our attention to the bad stuff. Be informed by it, take action on the guidelines provided, see what you can do to help others. Deliberately turn your attention to the ‘silver linings”, both personally and globally. List all the good people and situations in your life. Appreciate what you do have, and can do currently. Set yourself a mission and some tasks for the day- action is a potent de-stressor. Daily write out your list of the good things that have happened and that you have accomplished. Rewire your brain to focus on the good.
My own background is in yoga and meditation, as well as psychology. I believe that we have a spirit, a life inside us, and that there is an energy, or life force that comes from that spirit. This is more than a belief with me- as someone who has practiced yoga and meditation for many years, I experience that flow of life force through my mind and body on a daily basis, I have evidence of its transformative power in action. That energy that comes from you is the most valuable resource you have as a human being. It flows most freely and strongly when your mind is clear, and you are more connected with your spirit. Yoga exercises were originally meant as a way to get your mind out of the “monkey chatter” and into the flow of life. Then you flow that energy into the outcomes that you want, personal or global healing, and not the outcomes you don’t want. In yoga, they call this the law of karma, that like attracts like.
Interestingly, modern neuroscience is starting to catch up with the ancient philosophy of yoga:
YOU ARE THE GATEKEEPER
YOUR ATTENTION IS THE LIFE GIVER
GIVE YOUR ATTENTION/LIFE TO WANT TO SEE MORE OF IN YOUR LIFE and IN THE WORLD