What are the secrets for a successful life?
We all have heard about the power in positive thinking. And from experience, we all know it’s easier said than done. The reason it’s not easy is because our survival mechanism gives us a propensity for negative thinking that many experts say comprises about 80% of the average person’s thoughts.
That means if we’re not lucky enough to have learned to think positive thoughts on purpose and in a way that really works, 80% of our time will be spent in doom and gloom.
The human propensity for negative thinking is so strong that it supports an annual $10+ Billion dollar self-help industry in the US alone. It includes costly and time-consuming coaching, workshops, rehabilitation, and a ton of self-help products and courses. All this is designed to help people develop and maintain a habit of positive thinking in a variety of subjects to achieve a goal that they believe will give them new and better outcomes. But if we don’t understand how something works–like electricity–and we haven’t experienced it working–unlike electricity–we are hard-pressed to believe it works.
The conundrum, or issue with being able to apply positive thinking is threefold:
1) We don’t get positive experiences unless we think positively;
2) we can’t productively think positively unless we believe it works; and
3) we can’t believe it works without consciously understanding how it works.
The key to being able to think positively and thereby create positive life outcomes begins with consciously understanding how positive thinking works.
Once I understood this and the underlying principles of how positive thinking affects the brain, positive thinking had real meaning for me. That’s when I finally believed my positive affirmations could work, and so they finally did! Not until then did the saying, “Believe it and you’ll see it,” have meaning for me, which finally led to experiences–like electricity–that proved it does work. Let’s explore the underlying mechanics and principles of the brain so we can gain clarity about both how and why positive thinking works, so you can “believe it before you see it,” and finally use it effectively.
Changing the default brain to the intentional brain
We humans have carried with us from ancient times a part of our brain called the amygdala. It is responsible for our survival mechanism of fight-or-flight. When we have a problem, our amygdala’s warning signals are triggered and we respond or react. Most of the time our response is to worry and fret, or we even become fearful and have an anxiety attack.
Worry, which is a form of fear, triggers our fight-or-flight mechanism, which shuts down the brain (to at least some degree, depending on the depth of our fear) because our energy (our blood) concentrates toward our extremities. This happens so we can muster our best ability to punch, kick, bite or run. This was useful when we had the sabre-toothed tiger to be concerned about. But in today’s world, we rarely need to react to the degree we do. Because of this response mechanism we often over-react with a burst of inappropriate emotion.
Even when we have little problems, the negative thinking we engage in at an average person’s base rate of 80% reduces our potential brain function and puts us in enough of a fight-or-flight response that we are prone to over-react. Just when we need our brain the most to help us come up with good solutions, our hard-wiring causes us to have a poor response that not only doesn’t help us, it usually makes things worse.
Part of my story is that I suffered for decades with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and a life full of problems on top of problems–all the while affirming every positive statement known to man and thinking everyone was suffering as badly as I. I was raised to think negatively and cynically about everything, I over-reacted to everything, and positive regurgitating didn’t help me much because I didn’t believe the positive statements I was making. I experienced a pretty poor quality of life, especially considering how hard I worked at it and how nice, externally, my life really was! Once I understood the brain science, I could “believe it before I saw it” and carry on with positive thinking in a realistic and effective manner. For more about me, please visit the About RoriO page.
The first thing to understand about the brain is that our lives are ruled by our subconscious mind. We can’t consciously work with any idea unless it’s already been accepted and believed in our subconscious. But it has to be understood by the conscious mind first, and then the subconscious can have an “Ah-Hah!” moment, and use the new information to override an old belief with a new one. Once a new belief has registered in the subconscious, we are free to consciously act according to the new belief, make changes in our lives, and reach loftier goals. Let’s look at some practical examples of how new beliefs are formed and how someone might use them to achieve a specific goal.
How to use the subconscious mind
Before Tightrope Walkers and Olympians can accomplish the goals they envision, they need a conscious understanding of gravity and biomechanics as it affects their ability to perform.
They can get these by watching others perform, by studying to learn things they don’t already know like how the body can be strengthened in the ways it needs or get better leverage while performing, and by practicing to experience their new understanding. Practicing is where they consciously apply new understandings, and instill the correct focus and muscle memory. Telling themselves they can reach the goal of a specific level of performance is only helpful if they understand and have put into practice the underlying principles of the required skills.
It’s the same for positive thinking. We need the background information of how it works so we can believe it will work when we apply our skills, and then we can experience that it does work. Then we are even more inspired to continue working it!
Remember, it is first the understanding of the underlying principles of how something works that gives us the belief that inspires us to practice. Then the practice gives us the experience, piecemeal, that it works. Putting the pieces together leads to the actual performance of the wanted outcome, the goal. Now I think we’re ready to examine the underlying principles of how positive thinking affects the brain, and then link it to the manifestation–or goal–of positive life outcomes.
The neuroscience behind applying positive thinking effectively
Independent studies by several neuroscientists concluded that when people notice a negative thought and override it with three or more value ideas, such as peace, love, and calm, then brain function improves. They watched study participants’ brains on scanning machines as they overrode negative thoughts with positive values, and their brains lit up, indicating improved functioning. At the same time, participants reported feeling joy. Later on, participants who made a habit of noticing their negative thoughts out in the field of life, and purposely overrode them with three or more positive value thoughts, reported that their relationships improved.[2, 3]
A big surprise came when the scientists saw that over time, those who maintained a practice of three or more positive value thoughts to every negative thought had changed their brain structure. Their amygdalae had shrunk! Remember what I said about the amygdala? It’s responsible for our emotional fight-or-flight survival response. Override your negative thoughts with positive values and your amygdala will probably shrink, which in turn should reduce the number of your knee-jerk responses that get you into trouble!
When you override your negative thoughts with positive, your brain functions well, you feel joy, your relationships improve, and you become more appropriately emotionally responsive. Something else the scientists discovered is that three or more positive thoughts to override each negative thought kept the study participants just above depression, while more caused greater joy.[3, 4] The added bonus, besides creating better relationships, is that this level of positive thinking allows us to more easily find solutions to our problems, which serves to make us think even more positively, and feel even more joy. Not bad for simply thinking positively on purpose!
Let’s talk about why good relationships are the most crucial element to our well being and are key to improving our life outcomes.
When we are appropriately responsive, we are nicer people while standing in alignment with serving ourselves. We are not a doormat nor are we aggressive, we are simply assertive while smartly considering all involved. Nicer people have better relationships because they are likely to be fair, honest, and respectful while aggressive people do and say mean things. We trust nice people, and we want to do business with them, work with them, work for them, or have them work for us. Get the picture? Good relationships not only are satisfying in their own right, they lead to more economic opportunities. And we all know that having opportunities can lead to a richer experience of life.
Brain power is the horse that pulls us to success
Good relationships are triggered by positive thinking, but it’s not the positive thinking or good relationships alone that cause successful life outcomes or achievement of goals. It’s the optimal functioning of the brain that makes us smarter that is the cause of our success!
Simply understanding how the brain works when thinking positive thoughts improved my belief in the power in positive thinking. Linking what positive thinking could do to improve my relationships, which in turn could increase my economic opportunities (the carrot), inspired me to notice my negative thoughts (the stick) and replace them with positive thoughts consistently. As my positive brain experienced working smarter (more efficiently), I could consciously tap into positive thinking more and more easily, and consistently experience better brain function and problem-solving abilities to reach my goals.
Positive thinking works, but there is a formula to it. It starts with developing a habit of monitoring your thoughts. Then it boils down to thinking enough positive value thoughts to override any given negative thought. Let’s review.
What’s next? The 5:1 Override©
Now that you understand a bit about how positive thinking affects the brain, and how that leads to achieving goals or better life outcomes, it will be easy to apply. I’ve taken what the scientists discovered about thinking positively in general, along with using the value words, such as peace, love, trust, calm, etc., and adapted it to creating affirmations that are true for us. It absolutely works for me and for those I’ve taught who have tried it and use it. Here’s how and when apply it:
Whenever you feel bad, take note of the thought that caused the bad feeling. Then override the negative thought with positive thoughts at a ratio of at least three or more to one, five to one just to be certain. Think either value words or about the positive truths in your life, or a combination of both. This generates a feeling of appreciation for your life, and if you do this often enough, your life will change accordingly!
I named this process The 5:1 Positive Override.© There is much more detail to The 5:1 Positive Override than the room on this page allows for, but now you have the basics. You can learn more in my upcoming online course, 3 Systems for Successful Life Outcomes©, which teaches this and two other techniques in detail. I encourage you to play with The 5:1 Positive Override as you now understand it, because although it can always be done more effectively, it generally can’t be done incorrectly.
My upcoming book, Hero versus Heroin: Stories And Strategies For Successful Life Outcomes, has already garnered awesome testimonials even before my final edits and publishing.
My upcoming online course, 3 Systems for Successful Life Outcomes©, includes three learning objectives:
1) Positive Thinking That Really Works!
2) Discovering and Living Your Passion!, and
3) Build Your Skills Up To 6 Times Faster!
The systems in the online course work in real life, and you can easily turn them into good habits that will quickly have you enjoying a life freer of your propensity toward self-sabotage.
The synchronous effect of using all three of these techniques together can accelerate your improved life outcomes in a profound way. You can learn more about my book and online course on my page, Success Systems by RoriO.
I have taught my techniques at speaking engagements, and they have proven useful to those who struggle as well as the lucky few who don’t exactly struggle. They can be used by anyone of just about any age and any walk of life, and I invite you to teach them to those you love and care about, especially children. You can also invite me to speak to your group about how these work in real life, and how to quickly apply them. Send a note to me via the Contact page, listed in the menu at the top of this website.
Besides applying and benefitting immediately from what you learned here today, you can also benefit by checking out my blog about self-improvement audios. CLICK HERE to access the articles where you’ll learn the science behind how and why audios can work to create better brain function and better life outcomes! And don’t miss the corroborating reviews of products I use that have helped me inexpensively tap into my brain to enhance my life even further. They are listed on the My Product Reviews page, and vary from meditation, hypnosis, subliminal audios, subliminal videos and sound frequency audios, to video programs you can use to create your own visuals of the life you want.
If you’re interested in building a website to enhance your business outcomes, I also provide a review of the best website building training and online platform program available today. The Wealthy Affiliate platform (you can click the ad in the right sidebar) can be started FREE to see if you like and trust it. When you sign up, it costs less than $1.00US/day and actually will have you up and running within weeks (as I am here) because it works! I have spent tens of thousands of dollars and 4 years trying a plethora of products and services, and I know which ones align with my mission to help people improve their lives. I am very particular about the products I sell here. I’m not out to get rich; I’m on a mission to help you and your loved ones succeed in life. Sales help keep my blog going.
You already understand how better brain function leads to better relationships, more economic opportunities, and better life outcomes, and that it starts with positive thinking. It takes positive thinking to pursue the life you really want.
Why not begin right now with some inexpensive brain-enhancing products? Or build your own website and sell products that relate to something you are passionate about. CLICK HERE to access the articles where you’ll learn the science behind how and why those audios work to create better brain function and better life outcomes!
Be sure to check out all my blogs, listed on the right. It has posts loaded with information like you learned here, plus I’ll be adding controversial information on the subjects of education, aptitude testing, employment, and skills versus talent. I discuss how all of these affect life outcomes, and I suggest ways to improve on current systems. Most of all, I educate about the growing heroin epidemic that primarily affects teens and young adults, and what we can do to solve the problem. That is where Success Systems Institute started, but isn’t only for addicts.
Remember, new information helps you open your subconscious mind to new beliefs that can enhance your life! This applies to all industries and all areas of life, and I do my best to present the most interesting information available.
Wishing you your best possible life,
- Ph.D., B. M. (2013, May 7). Shyness Is Nice. Stop Fighting Your Negative Thoughts. Retrieved May 19, 2014, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/shyness-is- nice/201305/stop-fighting-your-negative-thoughts.
- Newberg, A. B., & Waldman, M. R. (2012). Words can change your brain: 12 conversation strategies to build trust, resolve conflict, and increase intimacy. New York: Hudson Street Press, pp. 130-132.
- Mark Robert Waldman (Executive MBA Faculty at Loyola Marymount University) in an interview by Janet Bray Attwood with Certified Passion Test Facilitators listening in as part of their training with Attwood, 2013.
- Newberg, pp. 189-190.