5 Ways to Rewire Your Brain for Optimism

I think the holistic movement has gotten a lot of unwarranted flack. I’m not a Whole Foods regular and on a scale of Portland, Oregon to Dallas, Texas, I’m a comfortable Washingtonian, but I definitely think that there are a lot of fantastic things about holistic health and happiness. It’s not just for hippies. In fact, a lot of medical schools are teaching holistic health practices in addition to traditional medicine. Here are a few things I’ve learned that have definitely helped me build and maintain a healthy mind.

1) Practice Daily Self-Care

First and foremost, self-care is not selfish. You are the only person that can truly take care of you. Think about the airplane emergency announcements. They don’t say, “put masks on others first” because you’re of no use to others if you can’t breathe yourself. Similarly, if you don’t take time to take care of yourself, how can you truly give your best to others? Practicing daily self-care can be as simple as enjoying a cup of coffee and really savoring it, focusing on the taste, smell, and emotions you experience while drinking it. It could be going for a run and staying mindful of your surroundings, the sounds of birds chirping, the feeling of your feet hitting the ground, the endorphins you experience post running. Focus on what you enjoy and enjoy it with abandon. Start your day with a self-care practice and make it a habit. Doing so will train your brain to look forward to the day and put your mind in a place more receptive to others.

2) Try Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Nope, It Has Nothing to Do With Computers

Neurolinguistic programming is the study of human thought or what actually goes on in the act of thinking. It’s less complicated than it sounds. I’ll just give you an exercise. Think of the best thing that’s happened to you this past month. Really relive it. Experience the emotions all over again. Now touch the knuckle of your middle finger with your thumb and think of another great experience over the past year, even better than the first. Give yourself time to really enjoy the memory. Release your thumb and touch your middle finger again when you reach the peak of your happy memory. Keep doing this and do it daily. Eventually you’ll feel good just by touching your middle finger with your thumb. You’re essentially creating an anchor for your brain where it associates touching your thumb to your knuckle with feeling good. If you’re interested in learning more about the science there are tons of books to get you started. Feel free to contact me for some other exercises and recommendations.

3) Apply Creative Visualization Techniques

If you believe in the law of attraction, creative visualization could be a great exercise for you. The idea behind creative visualization is that energy is magnetic and that thoughts and feelings have their own magnetic energy that attract energy of a similar nature. So when you think negatively about yourself, your life, or your situation, you’ll attract more negative people, situations, and emotions into your life. This is not to say that you fake happiness and pretend that nothing bad will ever happen to you, but rather you focus and believe that you are a powerful force of abundance and that you will manifest greatness. Here is a creative visualization exercise. Relax your body starting from the tip of your toes to the top of your head. Take three deep breaths and once you’re completely relaxed, think of something you really want. Really imagine yourself having it. If it’s a great vacation imagine you’re there. What does it look like, smell like, feel like? Now keep that image in your head and make a positive statement like “It feels amazing to be on vacation” or “damn this drink tastes good.” Finally, end your visualization with the statement, “I am a powerfully magnetic person and this or something better is coming to me.” Again, there are tons of great books and exercises so definitely let me know if this sounds like your cup of tea. 🙂

4) Buy a Gong

My co-worker teases me all of the time because I always tell him to buy a gong. But seriously, it’s great! Most tabletop gongs come with a mallet and if it’s a quality gong, the sound will be amazing. Simply sit on a cushion on the floor play sounds in intervals. It’s very soothing and an especially good way to relax or unwind after a long day. I’m telling you, buy a freakin’ gong. Do it! Sound therapy is a great way to de-stress and refocus your energy.

5) Meditate

If you’re just getting started with meditation, try a guided meditation. The speaker will walk you through it. You can find a bunch on YouTube or spotify. I also highly encourage you to try group meditation. There is something about the power of a group that can make it much easier to meditate. Lastly, I have a sound and light meditation machine that anyone can borrow. A few friends have tried it and loved it. You get to wear cool 80s sunglasses and listen to binaural beats for 15 minutes or so. It’s a little trippy but produces many of the same positive benefits of meditation.

So get your mind happy. Happy thinking produces happy living.


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