There are three types of people in this world: Optimists, Pessimists, and Realists. Pessimists think that optimists have a blindness to reality. Optimists usually think that pessimists only see the harsher sides of things. And realisits sit somewhere in the middle of negativity and positivity. However, all three of these traits have one thing in common; they’re all learned behavior. We didn’t just wake up one day and decide to be pessimistic. As we grow older and our frontal lobe develops (this is the part of the brain that makes decisions), we calculate behavior we’ve seen and learned from and become either optimistic, pessimistic, or a realist. But, just like all things in Intentional Living, we can choose differently if we don’t like the current results. You can train your brain to be optimistic by unlearning past behavior and, most importantly, believing good things can happen to you.
Preparing for the best doesn’t mean disregarding anything that can go wrong; it means not expecting things to go wrong. Just because they may have in the past, doesn’t mean that they have to every time or in the future. People tend to think that you might be cocky or ignorant to reality when you expect the best. But being optimistic isn’t about “pretending” not to know the realities of the world, but rather knowing them and having faith that the world can be better.
How to Train Your Brain to Be Optimistic
We can train our brains to do or believe anything. If we say something enough or do something enough, it becomes second nature without even realizing it. So, if you’re chronically pessimistic and wake up each day believing you’ll have a bad day, then yes, you’re correct; you will have a bad day. Even if you want to believe differently, if all you practice is negative thoughts about your day, your day will be bad. Whatever we believe, we manifest. It’s not about just saying, “today will be a good day,” with an underlying fear or knowing that it won’t be a good day. It’s about training your brain to believe differently and knowing that despite your past experience, you can get different results.
How to believe and not just act optimistic
Training your brain to believe something different than it already does can be difficult. It depends on many things, like the emotional weight of the belief, how often you “practice” this belief, or maybe you learned this belief. But the good news is that no matter how heavy or long you’ve practiced it, you can always unlearn behaviors and beliefs. You need to practice three primary habits to train your brain to be optimistic.
One is mantras/ affirmations. Creating mantras you practice daily creates new neural pathways that will eventually replace the old belief. This is a similar practice to creating affirmations in EFT. Two is forgiveness. We develop beliefs from experience. And the more we experience something, the more we believe it. Practicing forgiveness where past negativity has created your belief will help you strengthen your new belief for something different. And three is allowing setbacks to happen and moving forward. Not every day is going to be perfect, and that’s okay. But we can’t let one bad day set us back and let us fall back into an old belief.
Practicing mantras/ affirmations is a simple and highly effective way to change how your brain thinks and what it believes. Mantras, or affirmations, are thought patterns we practice to change our neural pathways. Remember when I said we don’t just wake up and choose to be negative? The reason that’s true is that we cannot choose without evidence. In everything you’ve ever experienced, your brain has subconsciously filed that experience somewhere in your brain. The easy way to sort this by is negative or positive experiences. If you’ve experienced something “negative” and you’ve experienced it several times, each time, your brain is filing it away as further proof of a belief.
For example, if you get stuck in traffic 4 out of the 5 days each week that you’re heading to work, and this pattern persists over weeks, each day, your brain is filing that experience as further proof that “you’re always stuck in traffic.” But, by practicing mantras or affirmations like “Traffic will be a breeze today.” or “It’s so nice to arrive at work in 20 minutes.” then you’re creating new subconscious beliefs that even though these affirmations themselves might not be true, at least your brain understands there are other options besides being stuck in traffic. Over time, and as you create even more concise mantras, your brain will change its belief, and you will quite literally attract circumstances, like less traffic, that will make the new proof your brain needs to change your belief.
Practicing mantras is absolutely the most challenging step. Once you start telling your brain to believe differently, forgiveness and setbacks seem easy. When we start training our brains to believe differently than they already do, we have to address the proof of the old belief. By forgiving past circumstances and releasing their hold over your present, you’re allowing space for new experiences to enter. By letting go of the handle past experiences have, you’ll no longer expect them in your future. Meaning if you forgive (or if that sounds too silly), release and let go of the past experience of chronically sitting in bad traffic, you’re letting your brain know it’s okay to experience something else.
Moving beyond setbacks
This is where we get to keep our “realistic” point of view rather than being an “optimist” who promotes toxic positivity. We do not live in a perfect world. As I’ve stated so many times before, and will always remind you of, we live in a world with free will. Meaning other people’s choices will affect our lives. Bad days will happen, and negative habits we’ve experienced in the past will happen again. But, this is when we go back to step two and practice more forgiveness. We cannot let one, two, ten, or however many setbacks stop us from changing our lives. No matter how many setbacks we have, we must choose to persevere and continue creating change.
It should feel uncomfortable and hard when you begin to train your brain to be optimistic. You’re training your brain to believe differently from an already well-established and learned belief. But remember, you’re on this journey because you’re choosing to live a better, more intentional life.
P.S. I have a little announcement for you! The podcast will be taking a brief hiatus through the holidays and New Year! My personal and business priorities are getting a little shift, and that meant taking a break from the podcast! But don’t fret! The Do the Dman Thing Podcast will be back and, of course, BETTER THAN EVER, on February 1st! I’ll see you then!
grab a coffee and listen to the podcast!
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