Brain Bulletin #97 - Is Negative Thinking Bad for Your Brain?

in Brain Bulletin

When was the last time you thought about your thinking?

How much of your thinking is positive? Negative?  

That 'well-known neurologist' Willie Nelson once said,  "Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results." It turns out that this is true where your brain health is concerned. 

Is negative thinking bad for your brain?

Scientists seem to think that it is. Researchers at King's College London found that repetitive negative thinking may increase your risk for Alzheimer's disease (Journal of Alzheimer's Disease). Remember, at this time there is no cure for Alzheimer's, so this deserves your attention. 

The study found that a habit of prolonged negative thinking diminishes your brain's ability to think, reason, and form memories. Essentially draining your brain's resources.

Another study reported in the journal American Academy of Neurology found that cynical thinking also produces a greater dementia risk.

Remember, brains get good at what they do. Negative thoughts create 'channels' in your brain. This way of thinking can become your default setting. If you do a lot of negative thinking, your brain wires to be good at producing negative thoughts. Then your brain also gets good at seeing things to think negatively about.

One of the byproducts of negative thinking is stress, which then leads to more negative thinking. And so it goes ..... 

One of my most read Brain Bulletins deals with this:

Brain Bulletin #6 - A "Sure Fire" Stress Buster

Here's a suggestion:

    When negative thoughts come, and they will, don't just ignore them. Pay attention. Stop what you are doing. Close your eyes if you need to. Replace the negative thought with a positive thought. Hold the positive thought in your brain for a full minute, or more. When you do this, neuroplasticity starts to work in your favour. The two keys at work here are attention density, and holding the thought long enough for your brain to begin to create new 'channels'. Scientists refer to this as Quantum Zeno Effect.

You become a sculptor of your own brain. How cool is that? 

A good book to read on self-directed neuroplasticity is "You are Not Your Brain", Jeffrey Schwartz. 

When you change your habits of mind, your life changes. Tom Hopkins once said, "Being miserable is a habit; being happy is a habit; and the choice is yours". There is some truth to this.  

One more suggestion:

    Go for a whole week without complaining. Not even once. Log it. If you relapse, start your week over. Back to day one. Go for a week without complaining, for sure you will change.....and then watch the people around you change. Such is the power of mirror neurons.

Congratulations on learning something about your brain today. The Brain Bulletin is committed to help to do just that. If you missed any Brain Bulletins you can find them in the Brain Bulletin Archive: Brain Bulletin Archives


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My favourite book this month was "Brain Drain - The Breakthrough that Will Change Your Life"  by Charles F. Glassman. A great read on reworking your habits of mind. 


It's been a great month. My new website is almost done. It has been a big learning curve. Apparently, learning challenges are good for my brain!

Presentation highlights were  Southridge School, Delta Secondary, GAD School, BCCPA Conference, and SD #40.  Best of all, I got to speak to 100 octogenarians last week - "Brain Power of Seniors". They inspired me!

Also, happy to announce two tours next year: Germany in Jan., and Ireland in May. Please let me know if you would like a presentation to your organization on the brain and learning, leadership, or health/wellness.

Thanks for reading the Brain Bulletin......remember, you are a genius.

Terry Small, "the Brain Guy", Independent Scholar & Learning Skills Specialist.

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