Hello, Is your brain Rainy or Sunny? In other words are you an optimist or a pessimist? I have noticed that my son and I like to look on the bright side of things, while my husband looks at the darker or negative side of things. I have always wonder why this is with all of us. So when I found this article and I thought it would be a good read for any of you who wonder too. I may even get the book.It seems neuologists have developed some insight to the reasons why we are either one way or the other. The best part of the article to me is when I read that there are now "several techniques based on solid scientific evidence that allow us to begin the journey from pessimism to a more optimistic take on life" All in all a good thing I would say. This is not the full article, believe it or not, I actually cut some of it out! For the full article click on the link below.
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Why do some people flourish, seemingly resilient to all that life throws at them, while others are vulnerable and at risk of serious problems like anxiety and depression?
My approach to unraveling this mystery has been to probe the minds of both the vulnerable and the resilient with the traditional tools of cognitive psychology.
Flashing positive and negative images on a computer screen so fast that they duck beneath the radar of consciousness gives us a momentary glimpse of what captivates the unconscious mind. And what have we learned?
Techniques like this tell us that the mind of the pessimist is drawn imperceptibly toward the negative while the upbeat and positive is a magnet for the optimist.
Crucially, these differences -- whether we turn toward the bright side of life or the dark -- can be traced to specific patterns of activity within the brain itself. Bundles of nerve fibers connecting our "thinking" brain with ancient regions that control our primeval "feeling" brain make up two sides of our emotional mind.
The "rainy" brain part highlights the negative, while our "sunny" brain draws us toward the positive. Of course, both elements are essential to a healthy and successful life, and it's the checks and balances between these two systems that ultimately make you you and me me. In short, it's our emotional mind that gives meaning to our lives by tuning us in to what really matters.
At the very root of what captivates our emotional mind are two polar opposite constructs: fear and pleasure.
These biological motivators kick-start our rainy and sunny brain circuits, which, in turn, underlie our pessimistic and optimistic mindsets. These brain systems infuse our mind with meaning, make us aware of what might harm us, alert us to what might go wrong, draw us toward what's good for us and highlight the sheer joys and pleasures of living.
Take the following: You are rushing for a meeting and miss your train. You hurry to the office, finally arriving a few minutes late. When you enter the room, everybody looks up, and your boss smiles and says, "Glad you could make it."
Question: Is she being sarcastic? Or is she happy to see you? The truth is, how you interpret this situation can set the tone for the rest of your day. Cutting-edge science tells us that these ways of interpreting and analyzing the world around us can become habitual and that it is these habits of mind that make us who we are.
The good news is that the human brain has a startling capacity to change. For years, neuroscientists believed that from a young age, our brains became inflexible and neurologically set in their ways. The burgeoning field of neuroplasticity, however, has completely overturned this notion and shown us that our brains are far more flexible than we ever dared to imagine.
And I'm not just talking about superficial changes at the level of "thinking." Instead, I'm talking about real concrete change in physical structure.
Our relationship with our neurons is organic: Sure, we respond to our neurons, but our neurons respond to us, to the things we do and even the things we think, resulting in observable changes in our brain. This exquisite malleability ensures that our unique, personal experiences provide us with a customized brain with its own highly individualized sets of circuits, switches and connections.
The bottom line is that if we change our cognition, we can also reshape our brains.
In other words, if we train our brains to be optimistic or pessimistic -- to navigate, intentionally or not, the streets and avenues of positive or negative feelings -- we change the emotional circuits in our brains that determine how we respond to the things that happen around us.
In my book "Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain," I discuss how genes and environments work together to influence how emotional circuits develop. Rather than being hard-wired, our social relationships and how we live play a huge role in shaping and reshaping our brains. In fact, there are now several techniques based on solid scientific evidence that allow us to begin the journey from pessimism to a more optimistic take on life.
While we need both aspects of our emotional mind -- rainy and sunny -- to live life to the full, there is abundant evidence that an optimistic take on the world, especially when linked with realism, is associated with better health, more success and a deeper sense of well-being.
By Elaine Fox