Positive Thinking Does it Work?

Positive Discrimination aids happiness

Moving Mountains One Thought at a Time

  

By Amy Price PhD   

Positive thinking can be effective  in the beginning to change  outlooks because we are using the mind to actively alter our internal environment and this requires choice and discrimination at the conscious level.  This response gradually gets automated and conditioned to specific symptoms of negativity and loses impact.      

 Response to our environment is often at sub conscious levels and this response can be heightened by threatening, or rejecting information. Negative information which is not optimally processed can perpetuate sensitivity to rejection and lead individuals to  develop low self esteem. Studies have shown that people with low self-esteem have an attentional bias for rejection and people with high self-esteem do not [5]. Imaging studies show that we process rejection in the same area of the brain we process physical pain. Negativity releases a bio-chemical cascade that derails our built in reward system. Suddenly we have a need for sweets and fats to overcome the pain. This is a short term solution that makes us fat, cranky and tired over time as blood glucose levels spike and then drop causing motivational loss, exhaustion and frustration. Positivity discrimination can train you to quickly and automatically filter the positive, beneficial things from every situation and keep your reward system balanced, strong and happy.    

Research indicates self esteem levels can be increased with training.[5] Positivity bias trained in targeted ways can boost natural dopamine levels scores and trigger reward response mechanisms. Oxytocin [1], a  neurochemical crucial for satiation . Flourishing or a positivity bias is characterized by four key components: (a) goodness, indexed by happiness, satisfaction, and superior functioning; (b) generativity, indexed by broadened thought action repertoires and behavioral flexibility; (c) growth, indexed by gains in enduring personal and social resources; and (d) resilience, indexed by survival and growth in the aftermath of adversity    

 Brain strategies that focus on discriminating positivity factors under speed conditions require visio spatial skills, divided attention, executive function and speed of processing.[2]Targeted Action games starve out negative flashbacks by competing for visio spatial and sensory processes using mental rotation thus minimizing PTSD or other negative  memory traces. Deliberate memory recall is left intact [1] Positivity ratios need balance as individuals   flourish  when positivity ratios are above 2.9 ration, while  disintegration occurs when positivity rations top 11.6.  [2] Positivity needs to be recognized as genuine to increase esteem and promote flourishing [3] Older adults with relatively high levels of trait neuroticism evidence impairments on decision-making tasks, Neuroticism  signals a greater likelihood of age-related neuro-cognitive decline. [4] Positivity discrimination can reduce negativity[5]    

 My Brain Solutions is offering a free trial of  E-Catch the feeling to help you to increase your skill at discriminating quickly in favor of positive input and decreasing your sensitivity towards rejection and negative events. If you have an IPhone or Blackberry this can be teamed with My Calm Beat for optimal heart rate variability. This link will take you to mobile solutions including E-Catch The Feeling for your cell phone. For more information on My Brain Solutions, the first integrative neuroscience based brain optimization program and a free trial please email    

  References:    

  1. Holmes et al Can playing the computer game “Tetris” reduce the build-up of flashbacks for trauma? A proposal from cognitive science. PLoS ONE. 2009;4(1):e4153.
  2. Fredrickson B, Losada M. Positive affect and the complex dynamics of human flourishing. American Psychologist. 2005;60(7):678–686.
  3. Rosenberg, Et al ,Linkages between facial expressions of anger and transient myocardial ischemia in men with coronary artery disease. Emotion,. (2001). : 1, 107–115.
  4.  Denburg, et al. Poor decision making among older adults is related to elevated levels of neuroticism. Annals of behavioral medicine 2009;37(2):164-72.
  5. Baccus JR, Baldwin MW, Packer DJ.(2004) Psychological APS.;15(7):498-502..

IQ, Poverty and Culture

Change Ethnic Poverty

Change Ethnic Poverty

Students of African American and Hispanic background were recently part of a pilot project using a novel system of cognitive assessment to assess children’s learning potential. It was developed by Professor Reuven Feuerstein. The assessment consists of a battery of six to eight tests which measure abstract thinking, analogies, and qualitative thinking and are not culturally-biased.

“Nationally, African American students are identified as educationally mentally retarded twice as often as their white peers; and African Americans are identified as emotionally/behaviorally disordered one and a half times as often as their white peers. The actual number of these “BD” (Behavioral Disorder) diagnoses has increased by 500% between 1974 and 1998.”

Dr. Eric Cooper, President of the National Urban Alliance notes how unfortunate it is that “misdiagnosis of special education status has been used to place a significant number of children of color into programs that doom them to a life of low expectations and low achievement.”

Professor Feuerstein agrees and writes that “Too often we give up on children who are labeled with learning disabilities, but my work has found that using more creative techniques to teach these children will lead them to the same successes that life offers the other children in the classroom. Poverty is not destiny and we can reverse major depression in a child’s cognitive development and realize impressive results.”

Feuerstein’s theory of Structural Cognitive Modifiability “views the human organism as open, adaptive and amenable for change. The aim of this approach is to modify the individual, emphasizing autonomous and self-regulated change. Intelligence is viewed as a propensity of the organism to modify itself when confronted with the need to do so. Intelligence is defined as a changeable state rather than an immutable trait.”

Feuerstein’s claim that “poverty is not destiny” and that we can improve a child’s cognitive development and realize impressive results is profoundly important. He asserts that the benefits to all of society cannot be overstated.

Let me give one example. It has been proposed by Dr. Paul Nussbaum that learning may act as a potential vaccine again Alzheimer’s Disease and other age-related neurodegenerative diseases of the brain.

If we begin to think of learning as a process that improves health, like nutrition and exercise, then all students need to maximize their cognitive development. If tens and hundreds of thousands of poor children are placed in programs that doom them to a life of low expectations and low achievement and learning does act as a vaccine against age-related neurodegenerative diseases of the brain, we are accelerating the rate of dementias.

Childhood poverty has already been linked to dementia. Author of the research, Dr Moceri, said that “a poor quality childhood environment could prevent the brain from reaching a complete level of maturation.” The areas of the brain that show the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s are the one that take the longest time to mature during childhood and adolescence.

There are more than 5 million people in the United States living with Alzheimer’s. This means that every 72 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s. The indirect costs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias amount to more than $148 billion annually. Feuerstein’s International Center for the Enhancement of Learning works with children throughout the world. Plans are underway to start implementing the partnership in 20 U.S. cities. Educators, policy makers and journalists should follow the story carefully.

–Dr. Rohn Kessler

CEO and Founder Sparks Of Genius

Sustained Learning Power For Difficult Times

Reach Learning Potential

Reach Learning Potential

By Amy Price PhD

We are trained by what we see. The power to visualize can work for us or against us. This is why students who have a bad start seldom get up and why one bad relationship can lead to a negative lifestyle. If you watch the media around us or even UTube in a negative economic climate you will see a loss of hope and an increase in destructive images because people’s brains respond to  what they see.

An alternate title is “What you see on the inside produces consequences on the outside”. The Bible states this a couple of other ways “As an individual  thinks in his/her heart so is their destiny”   The prophets explained  the Israelites initial inability to enter the land of promise by saying  “They were like grasshoppers in their own sight and so they were the same in the eyes of others”.  

Science bears this out. According to integrative neuroscientist Evian Gordon (2001, 2008) minimizing danger and maximizing reward is a significant principle in how the brain organizes and in so doing impacts our lives. If a situation leads to a reward response such as positive emotions, words, or activities the brain engages and approaches or engages. When a situation brings up negative emotions or punishment the brain sends out an avoid response and detaches.

Learning is influenced by how we percieve ourselves. In one research study participants completed a paper maze that featured a mouse in the middle trying to reach a picture on the outside.  Half of the group saw a piece of the cheese as the picture to reach while others saw a predator.

The effect on learning the maze was astounding those that had the cheese picture solved more problems more creatively than those with the predator picture. (Friedman and Foster, 2001).  Other studies relate how people who specifically visualize and mentally practice winning have significant advantages over people who did not practice and in fact what they ‘thought” gave them a similar advantage to actually practicing (Logie and Denis ,1991)

Mental images have the power to change your life. The subconscious mind accepts these images as reality, and gradually you start to believe what you imagine, act accordingly, and unconsciously work toward making them a reality in your life. This can work for you or against you depending on how you visualize.

Practicing the paths to mental success can increase thinking power and allow routes to harness freedom and learning and increase your ability to act on what you see. If you visualize negative situations, difficulties and problem, and continue doing so, your moods will gradually become negative, you will alienate people, you will close your eyes to opportunities, and your self-esteem will go down.

At Sparks of Genius we offer positive solutions to increase your mental health and to sustain and multiply brain enhancement

Successful people attract success, because they constantly imagine and expect success. Mental images are like a movie or still pictures that you see in your mind. If you watch them again and again your subconscious mind will ultimately accept them as you reality. They will affect your thinking, relationships , and problem solving skills. To put it simply changing your movie can rock your world.

Using the power of mental  images involves learning to choose and cultivate positive life movies while editing out scenes  that diminish your confidence  to learn. I used to counsel  patients on how to change the scene in a nightmare to get a different ending. You can do the same thing in life.

Practice thought awareness, be aware of your thoughts. When you catch yourself visualizing negative life scenes that display you as weak, stupid or incompetent, stop the movie, eject it mentally   and put in a new movie  with a happy ending. When others deliver negative content edit it and delete events that do not support you and make you small. Visualize what you want and know is just  and what will make you happy and satisfied. Your mind is waiting on you for education, new vision and better habits.

It takes 30 days to change a habit so be patient and kind to yourself and remember that people who don’t care don’t matter. When I think back on those that have hurt me the details are faded,  but I will forever remember the kindness of a young woman and a stranger who without asking bent down to tie my shoes when I could not do it myself after a back injury. I was too proud to ask but she saw my need and wordlessly contributed to my life and added value. Think of movies where others showed you kindness and play these. See yourself as accomplishing your dreams and  accepting the rewards of your labor.

Life is like the movies…You produce your own show.  What you put in the hands of others will be multiplied to you…ask yourself what kind of movies am I contributing to others

For another way of seeing this  check out  articles on http://empower2go.blogspot.com

 References :

Friedman R. and Foster J. (2001). The effects of promotion and prevention cues on creativity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 1001-1013.

Gordon, E. (2000). Integrative Neuroscience: Bringing together biological, psychological and clinical models of the human brain. Singapore: Harwood Academic Publishers.

Gordon, E. et al. (2008), An “Integrative Neuroscience” platform: application to profiles of negativity and positivity bias, Journal of Integrative Neuroscience.

Robert H. Logie, Michel Denis 1991,Mental images in human cognition (Amsterdam, Netherlands) ; volume 80 of Studies in Surface Science and Catalysis

Vision and The Paranoia Switch

Thoughts are Seeds of Destiny

Thoughts are Seeds of Destiny

By Dr Rohn Kessler

 

In The Art of Power, Thich Nhat Hahn writes about five spiritual powers that are the foundation of happiness—faith, diligence, mindfulness, concentration and insight. Let’s focus on diligence, the notion that can train ourselves to come back to our best and highest self.

Imagine that we have seeds in our consciousness such as joy, forgiveness, peace, anger despair and hate. These seeds can be awake or asleep. If you live in a positive environment seeds like anger, fear, despair, violence and craving are sleeping and not touched. If you live in a negative environment these seeds are touched, watered and begin to grow.

“So it is wise for you to choose a good environment that will prevent these negative seeds from being touched often. You should not allow other people around you to touch these seeds, and you should not allow yourself to water them.” This is diligence.

“When you read an article full of violence or watch a violent television program you turn on the seed of violence. The first step of diligence is not to turn on these negative seeds and not to allow the environment to turn them on…Try not to expose yourself to sights and sounds that stimulate the seed of craving or the seeds of anger in you…You need diligence to practice this, and you may need a community or group of friends with similar values to help you create a good environment.”

I was thinking of this while reading The Paranoia Switch, a book about how terror rewires our brains by Harvard psychologist Martha Stout. She asks one question: What were you doing on the morning of September 11, 2001?

Dr. Stout claims we all have immediate and vivid memories of 9/11 that we will carry to our graves. “We will be able to recall small details—the weather where we were, what we had been up to but stopped doing, exactly which telephone we picked up—as if we had had tiny videotapes in our heads.”

She also claims that, based on neuropsychological research, the 9/11 attack turned on our “fear switch” by traumatizing our brains and causing overreactions to the reality of life.

The following is some of the information presented:
1) Immediately after the attack eight out of ten women and six out of ten men were depressed.
2) Three to five days after the attack, 44% of Americans reported at least one symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
3) Two months later 31% of respondents to a L.A. Times poll felt their personal sense of security was still “a great deal” shaken.”
4) One year later, 30% of Americans said they still thought about 9/11 every single day.
5) A study published in 2005 that followed the infants of 38 mothers who had been at or near the World Trade Center attack reported that at one year old the babies of mothers who had PTSD showed low cortisol levels —linked to being vulnerable to post-traumatic stress. In other words, “…maternal post-traumatic stress disorder may have transgenerational effects beginning when the child is in utero…”

What’s the point? The point is that “When you read an article full of violence or watch a violent television program you turn on the seed of violence.”

Diligence is the practice of training ourselves to come back to our best and highest self.

Dr Kessler is the CEO of Sparks of Genius in Boca Raton Florida.

Partnership…The Art of Caring

Patnership and Unity Brings Fun!

by Amy Price PhD

In work with people a team means everything. Self esteem and ways of relating are constructed by what is learned from team interaction. Even in graduate school students learn that the key to power for scientists is flexibility and cooperation.

Many experiments show success after numerous well planned failures. Sometimes it takes only a new way of seeing to trigger a break through. We can mourn the past or prepare for the future, we can not do both. Often weakness in one team member will trigger unknown strength in another so it pays to obey the three fs of creativity,. Fun, flexibility and favor.

Your family and friends are a team that cares about you. Remember them, be thankful for their care and treat them well

The future depends on what we do in the present …Mahatma Ghandhi

The Artist and The Team

Praying Hands sculpture (USA today ,2009)

Praying Hands sculpture (USA today ,2009)

Many years ago there were two gifted artists. They were poor and scholarships went to the politically astute so they were on their own with talent and no money. They devised a plan. The one brother went into the mines to work and support the other while he went to graduate school.

This brother, spurred on by the help of his brother graduated with honors and became widely acclaimed. He went back to his brother with joy and said “I can put you through school with class”. The other brother without bitterness lifted up his hands to show them to his brother, they were broken and crooked from years in the mines. He said “I can not go, the mines have cost me my hands”

The artist did a sculpture of his brothers hands, they became his greatest work. Most of us know them as they became the image for the famous serenity prayer. In life sometimes we are the hands and at other times the artist. It is good to consider the cost to our team and provide feedback and favor before hands are destroyed. But even hands that seem to be useless have value. Who you are is more valuable than what you do

“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless” Thomas Edison.