Practice doesn’t always make perfect. Repetitive thinking patterns can produce well-being, or negative outcomes. Dr. Donald Hebb, pioneer of neuroplasticity, is renowned for coining the phrase, “Neurons that fire together wire together.” Dr. Norman Doidge, author of The Brain That Changes Itself, states that thoughts change brain structure.
So, what happens to a person’s brain from patterns of complaining or finding fault? Recent research reveals that people who habitually complain may be changing their brain for the worse. From a neuroplasticity perspective, negativity breeds negativity. If negative thinking is left to loop within the brain, negative thoughts compound and configure the brain’s structural neuron network.
Building on Dr. Hebb’s work, Dr. Michael Merzenich stated that “your experiences, behaviors, habits, thought patterns, and ways of reacting to the world are inseparable from how your brain wires itself.” When we are repeatedly focusing on the negative by complaining, we are firing and re-firing the neurons responsible for negativity bias, everyday anxiety, harmful behaviors, some forms of depression, and relational difficulties.
Once again, practice does not always produce perfection, but some practices can significantly improve quality of life. There is a wealth of research indicating that meditation and mindfulness are powerful tools for combating negativity.
Following a three-month experiment at the University of North Carolina, it was determined that people who meditated daily continued to display increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, and decreased illness symptoms.
It may not be possible to live positively 24/7, but we can align with research and intentionally interrupt negative thinking and behavior. By adding in the practice of meditation into your daily schedule, you can experience a significant difference in your quality of life. Here’s a thought worth pondering: how would you incorporate 20 minutes of meditation into your life?
Written by: Sheri Schulze