HOW TO CREATE A POSITIVE BRAIN
When our family was sailing around the world on our yacht, my two children could not attend public school. There are no schools when you are sailing a thousand miles from land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The only way they could take their high school courses was by correspondence. My daughter did two years of high school on the yacht, and my son did three. Both of them had to take chemistry as part of their curriculum on the high seas.
Studying chemistry by correspondence presents unique challenges, not the least of which is the fact that I had to teach it to them. They had considerably more enthusiasm about wind surfing and snorkeling than they did about chemistry.
By mutual agreement, we called this course Chemistry from Hell.
I dutifully went through the chemistry book with them page by page, and we worked through every problem at the end of each chapter. It took four months of working four hours a day to finish the course and take the final exam.
I learned some valuable lessons when I taught chemistry to my children, but none of the lessons have anything to do with chemistry.
If you are thinking about teaching chemistry to your children, you should probably think again. You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. We spent hundreds of hours standing in front of the water trough, but I’m not sure how much drinking got done. I have given up teaching chemistry to my children.
But since you aren’t my children, I have a small chemistry lesson that I want to teach to you.
Fortunately, it’s not Chemistry from Hell; it’s only a few simple facts about the chemistry of your brain.
TAKE CHARGE OF THE CHEMISTRY OF YOUR BRAIN
Whether you realize it or not, your brain chemistry has a massive impact on the direction and quality of your life. Furthermore, you have a high degree of control over exactly what that chemistry will be.
You don’t have to take a course in chemistry to be able to run your mind and push your brain chemistry in a positive direction.
What you put into your mind affects the chemistry of your brain.
When you put in positive things, you push the chemistry in a positive direction.
When you put in negative things, you push it in a negative direction.
You brain has billions of neurons (brain cells) and trillions of connections between those neurons.
Brain cells are not physically connected directly with each other like the wires in your house or car. The neurons are connected indirectly through special chemicals called neurotransmitters.
When one brain cell talks to another, it sends the message using neurotransmitters.
The sending cell releases a tiny packet of chemicals that carries the message to the receiving cell. This scenario repeats itself trillions of times each day. The amount and distribution of the neurotransmitters is critical to the normal functioning of your brain.
The health of your brain cells and the amount of neurotransmitter chemicals available have a great deal to do with your state of mind.
People who have severe depression are often found to have a deficiency in the amount of neurotransmitters available.
Drugs that deplete the supply of neurotransmitters often lead to depression.
Drugs that elevate the supply tend to alleviate depression.
For thousands of years, people have experimented with the chemistry of their brain. Alcohol, LSD, peyote, hallucinogenic mushrooms, ecstasy, amphetamines, crack cocaine, heroine, and marijuana are all chemicals that people use to change their brain chemistry and to achieve a different mental state. These chemicals alter the physiology of your brain, and if you abuse them long enough, they alter the anatomy as well.
Changing the physiology of your brain takes your mind on a temporary trip to another location. Changing the anatomy not only takes you to a different mental destination, it leaves you there with permanent brain damage.
While it’s obvious to most people that you can alter your brain chemistry using chemicals, it’s much less obvious that you can alter it by changing what you put into your mind.
Although further research needs to be done in this area, one thing is clear.
Whatever your state of mind, there is a brain chemistry that corresponds to it.
POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE BRAINS
Do positive and negative brains really exist?
Is there really such a thing as a positive brain chemistry and a negative brain chemistry?
The answer to these questions is an unequivocal yes.
Every thought that you think is embedded at some level in the chemistry of your brain. When you say that someone has a positive mind, you infer that their positive thoughts are embedded in the biochemistry of their brain.
Your brain consists of hundreds of different types of molecules (chemicals) arranged in a highly complex configuration.
Some of those chemicals are relatively stable structural molecules that create the anatomy of your brain.
Other chemicals are non-structural, and they create the physiology of the brain.
It takes both types of chemicals to make your brain work.
Your brain contains trillions of cells, and each of those cells is a highly organized bag of chemicals.
Your brain cells talk to each other using neurotransmitters, which are a different class of chemicals.
Electrical impulses transmit messages throughout your central nervous system, and other types of chemicals called ions are responsible for creating those electrical potentials.
Your brain is an infinitely complex living chemistry set. It’s the chemistry of life, and that is why it’s called biochemistry.
WHAT YOU PUT INTO YOUR MIND AFFECTS THE CHEMISTRY OF YOUR BRAIN
The chemistry of your brain isn’t static. What you put into your mind actually influences the chemistry of your brain.
The distribution and balance of neurotransmitters in your mind vary with your mood and patterns of thought.
One type of brain chemistry is associated with depression and negative thoughts, and a different type is associated with a positive state of mind.
Positive self-talk pushes the chemistry of your brain in a positive direction. When you use positive self-talk on a regular basis, you do more than create a positive mind, you actually create a positive brain.
The type of thoughts that you think determine the chemical environment inside your brain.
If you choose to think depressing thoughts, you create the chemistry of depression.
If you choose to think anxious thoughts, you produce the chemistry of anxiety.
If you choose to think negative thoughts, you produce the chemistry of negativity.
If you choose to think angry thoughts, you produce the chemistry of anger.
Research indicates that there are groups of people whose gene chemistry is associated with depression. Studies of the human genome have found that the DNA of depressed people may actually make some of them susceptible to depression.
It appears that not all people are created equal in their ability to have a positive mind. Millions of people are genetically predisposed to mood disorders. They inherited a brain chemistry that makes them vulnerable to negative thoughts and twisted emotions. The stresses of daily life gradually take a toll on their mind, and they start to sink in a sea of negative thoughts. When these individuals take a licking, they don’t keep on ticking. They get depressed, they become overwhelmed by inertia, and their life implodes.
If you don’t believe that there is a chemistry associated with depression, why do you think that drug companies spend billions of dollars developing antidepressant drugs?
Modifying the chemistry of your brain with antidepressants is big business.
If you don’t believe that there is a chemistry associated with anxiety, why do you think that drug companies developed anti-anxiety medications?
At one time Valium was one of the most prescribed medications in the western world. Drug companies made billions of dollars selling Valium helping people alter their brain chemistry so they no longer felt anxious.
Drug companies spend billions of dollars doing research to discover how the chemistry of your brain works. Once they understand the chemistry, they can make a drug that hopefully alters it in a favorable manner.
Medications and drugs aren’t the only way to alter the chemistry of your brain.
What you think about, and what you put into your mind alter it as well.
Positive thinking, positive attitudes, and a positive operating system are embedded at some level in the chemistry of your brain. The same is true for negative thinking, a negative operating system, and depression.
You can modify the chemistry of your brain using medication or illicit drugs. You can also modify it using cognitive therapy.
Cognitive therapy works because it changes the way you think, and when you change the way you think, you change the chemistry of your brain at some level.
The good news is that there are now many medications for mood disorders that can restore your brain chemistry to a more positive state so that your sense of well-being returns. The medications are not all the same, so if one type of medicine doesn’t help, there is a good chance that a different one might do the job.
Each family of drugs for mood disorders operates by a different mechanism.
Doctors can’t predict which medication will have the most powerful effect in alleviating the negative and distorted thoughts associated with mood disorders. Some medications require several weeks to have their maximum effect. Pills aren’t magic, but they are powerful if you give them time to work.
Not everyone with a mood disorder needs to take medication to restore a positive outlook.
Medical research has shown that some mood disorders can be treated effectively using only cognitive therapy (counseling) without medication. This type of therapy teaches you how to recognize and eliminate the twisted and distorted thoughts typically found in mood disorders.
When you struggle with negative thoughts and distorted emotions, you now have multiple treatment options that offer real hope. Depending on the type and severity of your problem, you can use medical therapy or cognitive therapy to start feeling better. You may even use them in combination to restore the normal chemical balance inside your brain.
THE REST OF THE STORY
Medications and cognitive therapy aren’t the complete answer to negative thinking and mood disorders.
These two types of therapy help you eliminate your negative and distorted thoughts, but eliminating the negative doesn’t automatically make you positive.
To become a positive person, you must put positive things into your mind. This isn’t optional. There is no other way to create a positive mind.
You change the way you think and feel by changing what you say when you talk to your mind.
If you want to change the way you feel, you are going to have to change your inner dialogue. You are going to have to talk to your mind in a different manner.
You must monitor your self-talk and make sure that it’s positive, and if it’s not positive, you must change it. This isn’t optional. If you don’t make your self-talk positive, there is no way you are going to win the battle of the mind.
The wheel of change always turns in the direction of what you put into your mind.
What you put into your mind is critical.
The only way to become a positive person is to put positive things into your mind.
You can make your mind as positive as you want if you are willing to put positive things into your mind.
People who have a genetic predisposition to mood disorders have an even greater need to fill their mind with positive things.
People who have an inner vulnerability that predisposes them to depression need to be especially careful about what they allow inside.
If they fill their mind with toxic waste, they will become depressed. For these people, the price of a positive mind is eternal vigilance. They must continually stand watch on the door of their mind to keep it from filling up with toxic waste. They must also become proactive and adopt a program in which they spend time each day putting positive things inside.
HOW DO YOU PUT POSITIVE THINGS INTO YOUR MIND?
Filling your mind with positive things is easy once you know how to go about it.
The positive self-talk found in my book, Maximum Strength Positive Thinking, is a good place to start.
This book shows you how to change who you are by changing what you say when you talk to your mind. Maximum Strength Positive Thinking is full of positive thoughts that you need to have in your mind.
My book, Owner’s Manual for Your Mind, shows you how to make a life and how to run your mind. It contains thirty-one changes principles that are a road map that takes you from where you are to where you want to be. Those change principles help you put the right stuff in your mind to get a positive operating system up and running.
My book, Programmer’s Manual for Your Mind, shows you how to install a positive operating system and gives you dozens of different methods for putting good things into your mind.
My book, Real Power: Maxing Out on God’s Love, shows you how to connect with the most powerful and most positive force in the universe, God’s love. His love gives you a completely new way of thinking and feeling. It points your life in the right direction and gives you the power to make the trip. There is no limit to how good your life can become when your heart and mind are full of God’s love.
I created the Positive Thinking Network with hundreds of positive websites that you can use to fill your mind with positive things. Visit PositiveThinkingNetwork.com and give your mind a massive push in a positive direction. Putting positive things in your mind could not be easier. With a few clicks of the mouse, you can cruise the Positive Thinking Network all the way to a positive mind.
WHEN YOU CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS, YOU CHANGE YOUR CHEMISTRY
When you think negative and limiting thoughts for a long time, you create a chemical imbalance in your brain, and you feel bad.
When you think positive and unlimited thoughts for an extended period, you restore the normal chemical balance, and you feel good once again.
What you think about matters, because it determines the chemistry of your brain. What you think about determines whether you have a positive or negative brain.
You are responsible for the chemistry of your brain.
When you choose your thoughts, you choose your brain chemistry. When you change your thoughts, you change your brain chemistry.
You are not the victim of your chemistry, you are its creator.
When you get your thinking straightened out, your brain chemistry returns to normal.
Positive self-talk is an extremely powerful tool that you can use to put good things into your mind to create a positive brain.
CAUTION FOR PEOPLE WITH SEVERE CLINICAL DEPRESSION
People who have severe clinical depression must take medication under the supervision of a physician.
Serious mood disorders clearly have an abnormal chemistry at work, and medication can favorably alter it so that there is improvement.
People suffering from clinical depression and serious mental illness need medication to control their disease. But they also need to control what they put into their mind. They need to create a positive brain chemistry by putting positive things into their mind.
People who are suicidal and trapped in deep depression will not be cured with positive thinking or positive self-talk.
Positive thinking may help these individuals, but it will not cure them.
On the other hand, anxious and negative thoughts don’t always require medication. For most people, these types of thoughts are the result of living a toxic lifestyle that slowly takes its toll on their mind.
When they stop living in a self-destructive manner, their pattern of thinking returns to normal.
In the absence of serious psychiatric illness, they can probably get along fine without medications. In all situations, they should consult with a physician to make sure they are doing the right thing.
BACK TO THE BASICS OF HEALTHY THINKING
When you look at a newborn baby, you don’t see any signs of depression or anxiety.
God gave that baby a clean mind and a pure heart, and it takes years of thinking toxic distorted thoughts to arrive at the place where anxiety and depression compose a significant portion of its thought life. It requires years of training to become a miserable unhappy human being.
When you have been thinking negative and limiting thoughts for twenty years, you should expect to experience some anxiety and depression.
On the other hand, when you start thinking positive thoughts, the chemistry of your brain shifts in a positive direction, and you start feeling better.
You are responsible for your brain chemistry.
You create it by the type of thoughts that you think during the first twenty years (and subsequent years) of your life.
You can create the chemistry of depression and dysfunction, or you can create a brain chemistry that predisposes you to joy, a positive attitude, and achievement.
If you don’t like your present chemistry, you can change it by changing what you put into your mind.
You need to get back to the basics of healthy thinking.
You must stop polluting your mind with toxic waste and start filling it with good things.
A POSITIVE MIND IS NOT AN ACCIDENT
Altering your brain chemistry with pills isn’t enough. You need to change what you are putting into your mind. You need to change what you say when you talk to your mind.
Now is the time to accept responsibility for your mood and state of mind.
Your life will not miraculously improve on its own. Talk to your physician to find out if you need medication. But don’t rely only on medication. Go the whole distance and take control of what you put into your mind.
A positive mind isn’t an accident. It’s something that you do on purpose.
Start living with intention and make your life better by putting good things into your mind.
Spend time each day reading good books, reviewing positive graphics and repeating positive self-talk. And just as important, stop putting negative toxic waste into your mind.
If you don’t stop putting mental garbage in your mind, there is no chance that you will ever develop a positive brain.
If you do these things, it won’t be long before a positive operating system is up and running.
You can make your life as positive as you want. All you need to do is fill your mind with positive things.
Remember, if you want to have a mind free from depression, nobody can stop you.
If you want to learn more about how to win the battle against depression, you can read Zero Tolerance to Negative Thinking by Dr. Dave.