Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 8 - Page 36

BALANCE Positive Mind, Positive Life T hink positive, and positive things happen.” For many of us, this has become a fluff statement, something that is thrown around but not really given much merit. But research is now showing that positive thoughts can actually create more opportunities and help us build skills that can increase the value of our lives. What Negative Thoughts Do to Your Brain Negative emotions narrow our thoughts and cause our brains to act in a singular way. This instinctive reaction is useful if you find yourself in a life or death situation. If you are walking down the street and a giant grizzly bear steps in your path, the negative emotion of fear may cause you to run away. Your brain ignores all other options, such as picking up a rock, climbing a tree, or even calling for help, because they seem irrelevant. While running away may be a good choice if you ever find yourself toe to toe with a grizzly, if we constantly live in a state of fear, anger or worry, we put ourselves in an instinctive flight or fight mode, which prevents our brains from seeing the other options and choices that surround us. Therefore, we can miss out on all sorts of possibilities. How to Think Positive What can you do to promote positive thinking? Well, any- 36 thing that sparks feelings of happiness, satisfaction and love will work, but if you are truly lost as to where to start, you can try one of these three ideas. 1. Meditate. Meditating regularly can help to shift negative thought patterns as well as improve concentration and slow the loss of brain cells. Don’t know where to begin? Here is the link to a great article that suggests some apps that you can download to help you get started. 2. Start a gratitude journal. A study published in the Journal of Research in Personality examined a group of undergraduate students. Ninety pupils were divided into two groups. The first group was told to write about an intensely positive experience each day for three consecutive days. The second group wrote about a control topic. Three months later, the students who wrote about positive experiences were found to have better mood levels, fewer visits to the health center, and fewer illnesses. Training your brain to concentrate on the good things ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses instead of the bad can not only improve your mental attitude, but also, it may improve your health. 3. Schedule time to play each day. We sched- ule meetings, conference calls and doctors’ appointments, but when was the last time you scheduled time to just have fun? It’s time to give yourself permission to enjoy life and allow positivity in. If you’re prone to negative thinking, all this talk about how bad it is may seem disheartening. It’s easy to assume that we have no control over our thoughts. After all, they often pop up out of nowhere, and once they take hold, it can be difficult to break their grip. The good news is that it is possible to change our thought patterns and train our brains to think more positively. When you make the conscious decision to live a more positive life, you suddenly see the possibilities for how your past experiences fit into your future life. ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses 37