We all probably know people who believe in or practice the law of attraction or affirmations or positive thinking. Now, I’m not here to tell you that these things are necessarily right or wrong.
What is “right” is what is right for you.
What I am here to tell you is that science has proven, beyond any doubt, that you can put the energy of your mind and brain to work for you. Your brain generates thoughts that manifest as electrical impulses. Science estimates that you have around 6,200 thoughts per day. That’s a lot of energy!
Also, according to science, we know that your thoughts are tangible things that can influence other things — including yourself, living beings, and even inanimate objects. This can help you or hurt you. Why not use all that energy in your head to help you?
Let’s look at what the science says.
Thoughts Influence Other Things
It’s been well documented that you can affect your own body in many ways with your thoughts. When you think of something that scares you, your heart rate and breathing increase. When you recall a painful memory, cortisol levels increase. Did you also know that your thoughts have been shown to alter some biological processes in another person including gross motor movements, and those of the heart, eye, brain, and respiratory system? Researchers have demonstrated that human intention can affect a variety of other living systems, such as bacteria, mice, cats, and dogs, and even the direction in which fish swim.
Quantum physics has proven that living things are constant transmitters and receivers of measurable energy. Thoughts are bundles of electromagnetic energy, and new models of consciousness depict them as being able to move beyond physical boundaries and having the properties of energy. In The Intention Experiment: Using Your Thoughts to Change Your Life and the World, Lynne McTaggart writes:
“A sizable body of research exploring the nature of consciousness, carried on for more than thirty years in prestigious scientific institutions around the world, shows that thoughts are capable of affecting everything from the simplest machines to the most complex living beings. This evidence suggests that human thoughts and intentions are an actual physical “something” with astonishing power to change our world. Every thought we have is tangible energy with the power to transform. A thought is not only a thing; a thought is a thing that influences other things.”
Thoughts Have Power
The power of your thoughts is the basis for some belief systems made popular by The Law of Attraction (LOA) and the book, The Secret. While our thoughts definitely do have the power to influence, these philosophies promise anyone that they can get rich and famous, find the person of their dreams, or get skinny instantly and effortlessly just by thinking the right thoughts. It’s not quite that simple or direct.
That’s not what I am talking about here. Let’s look at an example.
There’s no disputing that your thoughts are measurable electrical impulses that affect your own body. If you are constantly stressing about money and the accumulating bills, how do you think those thoughts are influencing your body? If you worry ceaselessly about getting cancer and overreact to every physical ailment, what kind of energy do you think those thoughts are subjecting your body to? Conversely, if money is tight, but you focus on your competence and ability to work through the situation and recognize the abundance that is present in your life otherwise, how do you think those thoughts are going to influence your body?
Science has shown that your thoughts about stress determine how it affects you and has even proven that your thoughts about exercise can magnify the benefits. What you think and say to yourself matters. Why not use this to help you?
Three Ways to Put Your Thoughts to Work For You
Your brain is naturally negative. So, don’t feel bad if you tend toward negativity or worry. It’s just your brain doing its job. This trait, called negativity bias, actually began as an evolutionary advantage because your brain’s top priority is always your survival, not your happiness. It’s constantly scanning your environment looking for signs of danger, ready to sound the alarm, and it learns from and holds onto anything it considers a danger or loss much tighter than some neutral or pleasant memory.
However, there are proven ways to give your brain a more positive slant and put it to work encouraging and supporting you. Below are proven methods to do that. These practices, over time and with repetition, through experience-dependent neuroplasticity, can actually, physically change your brain so that positive thinking becomes easier and even the default for you.
One way to harness your mind’s power to help yourself is through affirmations. Affirmations, also called self-affirmations, are thoughts you intentionally come up with to support, encourage, and calm your brain and body. They can be positive statements challenging specific negative, depressing, or anxiety-producing thoughts and beliefs. They can also just be general supportive thoughts supplying encouragement. Science shows that affirmation can successfully reduce stress and have many other benefits.
Your mind usually thinks in pictures to accompany words. The words in an affirmation, automatically and involuntarily, bring up related mental images. That’s why affirmations and visualization work particularly well together. You can read more about affirmations for success here.
Your brain sends basically the same messages to your central nervous system whether something is being imagined or experienced. As in the “worrying about money” example given earlier, this can work to your disadvantage with anxiety and stress. However, you can also intentionally use your thoughts and imagination to support and strengthen your brain and body to create more confidence, success, and happiness. Research has validated that visualization influences actual physical changes in your body. You can read specific visualization techniques to help you reach your goals here.
Mindfulness is simply a way of thinking. At the most basic level, it’s simply being aware of what’s happening as it’s happening. Being mindful means that you become aware of the workings of your mind, in the present moment. By practicing mindfulness, you can become aware of your thoughts on the spot and challenge the ones that do not support or encourage you. In doing so, you can then reframe them into affirmations or statements that are going to support and encourage your growth and goals. You can learn more about mindfulness here.
You are thinking all the time anyway. Why not put your thoughts to work for you?
You can choose to work with your thoughts to consciously apply their power to support and encourage you in any situation. Intentionally guiding your thoughts and mind puts you in control of your life. You never have complete control of what happens around you and never will, but you can control and choose what you say to yourself about what happens. There is where your power is. It’s already in you — in your head!