Wednesday, August 19, 2020

How Thoughts Shape Our Lives – And How to Shape Your Thoughts

 How Thoughts Shape Our Lives – And How to Shape Your Thoughts

What you think shapes your life.

That’s because what you think shapes your behavior, which indirectly controls the way your life unfolds.

If you think you’re unlucky for example, then not only will you not take any chances, but you might also actually miss opportunities that appear. You’ll focus on things that go wrong, and this will make you feel worse about yourself.

If you think you’re bad at your job, you won’t speak up in meetings, you’ll keep your head down, and you might even be less prone to power dressing!

Affirmations

In the case of thought like 'I'm always unlucky', you now know that you're only unlucky because you think you're unlucky. Likewise, the thought that 'good things never happen to me' is self-perpetuating. Ask yourself genuinely what your skills are and your assets. Be objective and ask others if necessary. Chances are you will find that you're just as capable as everyone else so the only thing that could be bringing you down is your own negativity. Accept this and replace those thoughts.

Likewise, you can also use positive affirmations in order to improve your luck. These are statements you repeat to yourself like 'I'm a successful and positive person'. Over time, if you repeat these enough they can become ingrained and part of your psyche. If you struggle to remember to use them, consider putting post-it notes up around your home.

This might seem like it wouldn’t accomplish much, but by constantly exposing yourself to these positive messages, you will be repeating the same thoughts over and over and actually strengthening the neural pathways in the brain that are responsible for creating them. As these become strengthened, they will become more likely to be activated in the future.

In short, those positive thoughts can actually become a habit.

Thought Restructuring
 
There are other more powerful methods you can use to transform thoughts too. One is to use “thought challenging.” This means looking at the content of your thoughts and assessing whether it’s accurate.
 
Can you really just be an unlucky person?

And if you are so bad at your job, how are you in the position you’re in now?

Another trick is something called hypothesis testing. Here, you actually put those negative beliefs to the test in order to prove to yourself they’re inaccurate. For example, take on a big project at work and show to yourself that you can do it!

Using these techniques. you can learn to change your beliefs and that's when you will start becoming luckier.

How the Placebo Effect Impacts On Luck, Confidence, and Happiness

The placebo effect is a powerful effect noted in scientific research that shows how simply believing something can often make it true… biologically. Give someone a sugar pill and tell them it will make them smarter and they might become smarter.

The placebo effect is the ability of our beliefs regarding our own bodies and our own health to actually trigger changes in our biology – specifically in our neurochemistry and hormone balance. If you tell someone they're ill, then they become stressed and they produce more stress hormones like cortisol. In turn, this strains the immune system and they actually become more ill. Actually this is technically called a 'nocebo' – which is the 'negative' version of a placebo (normally placebo is used to describe things getting better).

Just as you can make yourself more unhealthy then. You can also make yourself better by believing you will get better. Of course, you can't overcome a terminal illness, but simply by being positive, you can increase your chances of a rapid recovery. That's because being happy will cause physiological changes in your body: it will increase your production of positive mood hormones for instance and it will keep you calmer.

The placebo effect can go a huge way to making things work out better for you. You don’t need a sugar pill to “placebo yourself” into acting more confident and becoming more confident as a result.

A great example is to look at it this way: when someone puts a 'curse' on someone, this can often have terrible negative impacts on their life. Of course, curses aren't real, but that person's belief that something bad will happen means their immune system suffers from stress, their unconscious mind starts sabotaging them and they give off negative vibes in social situations. The result is that they are more likely to get ill and tired, they become more accident-prone and people don't want to be around them. Powerful stuff!

Studies have shown that being anxious actually causes you to look for negative things and to miss opportunities. A tense, anxious, 'unlucky' person won't see that $50 note on the sidewalk because they're too busy being negative. Happy, positive people with self-belief do notice these things.

Believing in yourself then and believing you are lucky can have all of these effects in reverse. If you believed that you had taken a pill to turn you into a superhero and you genuinely believed it, your life would likely pick up in a lot of areas.

How Brain Power and Focus Make You Happier and Luckier

It is common in self-help literature to hear that being more confident, believing in yourself, and regularly thinking positive thoughts can all help you to feel happier and to even influence your life in a positive way.

But here’s another factor you might not have considered: brainpower. Did you know that mental focus, creativity, sharpness, and more can help to make you happier and even luckier?

Those who are more positive and happy tend to notice opportunities more because they are less stressed. But by the same token, you could notice even more opportunities by being more alert and switched on.

Likewise, effective use of CBT requires mental discipline which in turn needs energy and focus. The last section on health will deal with this to an extent but on top of this, you also need to ensure your brain is just loaded with energy and that it's functioning better. If you're groggy and easily distracted you won't be able to exert the necessary discipline to change those negative thoughts.

So how do you boost your brainpower?

A Quick Guide to Upgrading Your Brain

One way to quickly upgrade your brain is to give it more energy. We've seen how sleep can help with this but you can also do it through the right diet and supplementation. Omega 3 fatty acids for instance help to improve brain cell permeability which in turn aids rapid communication and thus brainpower. Similarly, studies have shown that creatine – a supplement that athletes use to increase cellular energy – is capable of improving focus and IQ.

Brain training 'games' haven't been conclusively shown to work with the exception of the 'Dual N-Back' test which can increase 'working memory' and thus pattern recognition – critical for seeing and noticing those opportunities.

Most important of all though is to learn how to get into a 'flow state' which is that mental state where everything just seems effortless. In this situation, your brain floods itself with the neurotransmitters dopamine, anandamide, and norepinephrine which work together to further enhance pattern recognition, reflexes, attention, and creativity.
 
How to trigger these flow states? You convince your brain that what you are doing is hugely important. And you can achieve this through the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy (which you now understand) as well as by simply being highly passionate about what you do – by loving your job and your partner. People who love what they do are happier, more focused, and much happier.

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