“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
You might find it absurd when someone says, “You can choose to be happy.” However, it is not only true but also has good scientific reasoning behind it. It is very important to have control of your mind because it can help you make changes to the physical organ known as the brain. The brain is basically the physical organ, but the mind is the consciousness and thought process of a person. Therefore, having control over the thought process can bring required changes to the brain.
There is a concept of brain plasticity, which describes how the brain is being rewired by our everyday experiences. This revelation has given a new courage to people opting to change habits, improve health and increase happiness. So basically, in the brain, messages are transferred through electronic impulses, which we also call neural impulses. What happens is that when a message is being transferred, it creates a neural pathway that is strengthened by emotions and practice. If a certain pathway is used multiple times, it strengthens compared to the ones not used so often.
This procedure helps people develop good habits and increase happiness. When one chooses to continue to feel happy intentionally, they are strengthening the pathway that is being used, therefore making it easier to replicate the feeling of happiness. Brain plasticity is the physiological basis of transforming our minds. Mental activity is basically what strengthens the neural pathways, so it is important to train your mind to bring a change to the physical parts of your brain.
“Neurons that fire together wire together.”
Thinking about things can either create new habits or make the present ones stronger. The reason why people find it harder to build new habits and follow old ones is due to their bodies’ adaptation to an automatic response following an already established strengthened path.
Why do we find it harder to wake up early in the morning or follow a workout routine? There are two types of efforts required from you in order to accomplish this: 1. mental effort that prepares your mind to perform an activity that you have never done before, requiring you to create a neural pathway that does not exist. 2. the physical activity of carrying out that habit, which can be more easily adapted if you train your brain accordingly.
The human brain is amazing, and it is important to know how to train or rewire it to adapt to healthy habits and increase happiness. The neural pathways that exist are basically the autopilot of a human being, according to which the body comfortably recreates everyday routines. Memories of existing habits are basically saved into our brains, and to save energy and act quickly, our past is recycled. It is said that by the time we’re 35, 90% of our actions are derived from our previous experiences.
“Every day brings a choice: to practice stress or to practice peace.”
Our beliefs play an important role in maintaining stress and happiness. They are the feelings and emotions that one has been thinking about repeatedly. They don’t have to be necessarily right or wrong, but they’re just strong opinions. Now those opinions can be changed. However, it takes a lot of effort to bring the change to your belief system.
The beliefs, interestingly, are not based on the facts but rather the interpretations of the facts. Therefore, it is important to question and examine the interpretation to understand the true lesson behind its formulation. According to psychologists, the majority of the work that needs to be done on the client is for them to accept that they have a problem, and accepting your flaws is the most important step you can take toward changing your habits and increasing your happiness.
When we say that somebody is an optimistic person or somebody is a pessimistic person, it is basically because they have strengthened their specific pathways so every time they encounter any situation in their life, their brain chooses the quickest path to formulate the beliefs. So, when somebody is optimistic, they have used their neural pathway to bring positive results, so much so that every time they face any kind of situation, their first instinct or their autopilot is to think positively about it and vice versa. Therefore, it is not important to be born as a pessimist or an optimist. You can develop these habits with time and practice.
The reason people choose the path of least stress is because it is the one with the least resistance. Analytically speaking, the brain is influenced by the emotions that are most repetitive and have a lot of intensity. Because stress is present in every aspect of our daily lives, its repetition and emotional intensity outweigh any feeble attempt at positivity. The concept of plastic paradox, by Norman Doidge, describes the unpleasant side of brain plasticity. Just like the brain can adopt new habits, it can also strengthen the existing ones. That can lead to very stubborn habits and disorders. It is important to use this concept in your favor, but a lot of effort is required.
All in all, it is important to know that nothing is permanent. You can always be happier and be more at peace. All you require is a little bit of faith and a lot of self-control. When you consciously start inducing happy thoughts, your brain will make it your default in any situation. Just like any change that we try to bring into our lives requires effort, this also requires effort, but is very much possible. “Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy.”