Whether you like it or not, your happiness depends on how you see things. It has very little to do with the actual event that presents itself but rather how you choose to interpret it. Lets say that you’re on your way to work and you blow out a tire. Some would choose to see it as a negative. Now you’re going to be late and the cost of a new tire is enough to make your blood boil. Others might choose to feel blessed that no one was hurt. The tire can be fixed but a life is irreplaceable.
Which scenario most aptly fits your persona? Would you rather feel angry and frustrated or relieved and gracious? Many of us would like to think that we would choose to feel grateful but this is not always the case. So why do we get caught up in negative thinking? Is this the way that humans truly are? Your brain was challenged shortly after you were born when you entered Life University and enrolled in your first class Negative Thinking 101, with your parents as your first professors.
Your brain is like a garden. Whatever seeds you plant, they’re sure to grow. Your garden can be overwhelmed with toxic plants and weeds or flourish with life giving organic vegetables. It really comes down to who taught you how to garden. Everyone you come in contact with is trying to get you to see “it” his or her way. The question is; how do YOU want to see it? Better yet, how do YOU want to feel?
From the very beginning, your brain has been molded to respond to stimuli in your environment. The nerve cells (neurons) start building connections with each other to make your circuits more efficient. This is called neural plasticity, which implies that your brain is plastic and therefore is moldable. This process is often referred to as learning. As you go through life, quality teachers and mentors have the capacity to help positively mold your brain. You develop an ease about you that allows you to see the forest through the trees and solve problems before they wreak havoc. You learn to experience love with great passion and communicate like mission control. Life becomes a peaceful journey of fulfillment and optimism with a sprinkle of obstacles. After all how much can a person grow if they don’t have problems to solve?
Here’s the caveat. The brain can also be molded to see the worst in any situation. If the brain learns to be skeptical, frustrated and angry, it will only strengthen itself. Much like a tropical storm becomes a hurricane, your life becomes more tempestuous than peaceful. I’ll bet you work with someone that sees the negative in almost any situation, the Debbie Downer of the office. You swear you’ll never be like that but her influence may eventually wear you down and remold your brain to see things less than positive. You see, Debbie is a person who has earned a PhD in crappy thinking. No matter the situation, she’s conditioned to see it the way the brain says to, negatively. Before you strangle her, take a deep breath and realize that for her to see it any other way is going to take reconditioning of the brain circuits. Literally the structure of the brain must change and this will take consistent effort and only if the individual really wants it. Imagine trying to learn to play guitar. At first it’s painful and frustrating but in time the brain circuits change while muscles and nerve cells learn to work together. Your fingers move along the fret with ease as you form beautiful notes.
Have you ever seen the surface of the moon? It’s loaded with impact craters from stuff that’s been slamming into it for billions of years. Your brain is a lot like the moon; molded by the impact of pain producing events and the opinions of others. As you carry those scars with you, they affect your emotional state leading to continued frustration. Unlike the moon, your impact craters can be smoothed out. You need to identify your weaknesses (the scars if you will). If you make a concerted effort to clean your lens of perception, you’ll begin to see things in a more positive light. Nerve circuits shift such that your first reaction to an event is to find its’ silver lining. You stop blaming others for your shortcomings and you start living. Wisdom is now your ally and as you share this with another, your brain plasticity increases. You regain control of the ship regardless of the storm.
So let me ask you, do you want to improve the way you see it or is your way of thinking bringing you consistent joy and happiness? Any thought you have can always be reframed. Simply stop complaining for 30 days and see what happens to your mood. Whatever you choose, remember that consistency molds the circuits of the human brain.
Dr. Peter Percuoco is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and a Keynote Speaker. With 30 years of experience, Dr. Percuoco has stepped out of the clinic and onto the stage to share his message of hope and potential inspiring people to be the best that they can be.