Think you can berate yourself into doing better? Think again!

It turns out that a harsh attitude of judgment, motivated by our inner critic is bad for our brain and subsequently, our long-term health.  Rather than motivating us towards excellence, a diet of negative self-talk can activate the neural circuits that lead us in a downward spiral – a vortex of sadness, tiredness and despair.

The great news, though, is that transformation can be achieved in a way that is stable, non-striving and based more on being than doing. Being is difficult to quantify, however, paying attention with loving-kindness to our being, can set us on the upward spiral of positivity and may be key to finding stability and peace. (Fredrickson

Siegel states, “We know that what you do with your mind – how you focus your attention, intentionally shape your thoughts and purposefully calm your emotions – can directly change your brain.  That’s the key to neuroplasticity – how our experiences, including what we do with our minds, actually change the activity and even the re-modeling of our brains”

To help focus your mind and keep you on the upward spiral, here are a few tips from neuroscientist Alex Korb:

  • Smile – smiling increases positive feelings.
  • Splash cold water on your face – slows down your heart rate by indirectly stimulating the Vagus nerve
  • Stand up straight – a German study showed that when people stood in a confident posture they were more decisive
  • Take a deep breath and breath out slowly – this helps activate the calming parasympathetic nervous system
  • Activate the gratitude neural circuits – take a moment every day to write down three things you’re grateful for.
  • Go out in the sunshine – warm sunshine on our skin activates the upward spiral neural networks.

Be kind to yourself, and if you can’t be kind, be neutral – its way better than being mean!

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