Have you ever wondered why it seems like being happy needs a lot of work? Well, because our brains are not made for happiness. For survival purposes, the mind produces happy chemicals (dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) in short spurts, which are then quickly metabolized. Thus, motivating us to do steps to feel happy again.
Due to the nature of the brain, positivity can be hardly met. It’s normal to receive surges of negative chemicals, as you find your way to your happy chemicals, especially during a stressful day at work. Cortisol, the chemical responsible for our bad feelings, has its own survival purpose. It helps the brain navigate its way to the happy chemicals when an obstacle hurdles the path to achieving your needs. Once the brain succeeds to get past the obstacles, and the happy chemicals become have been released, the brain will go back to scanning possible obstacles again.
Meaning, the mind is developed to look for problems. According to Loretta Breuning, PhD, Founder of the Inner Mammal Institute and Professor of Management at California State University, her Dog Poop Paradox explains how the mind works. She says, in the past, pet mess were everywhere because picking up after your dog wasn’t the norm. Until the times have changed, and the streets became cleaner. However, this change didn’t make anyone happy. Instead, when one poop misses to hit the trash, it becomes a problem, a disappointment. It’s because the brain has evolved, and is now skilled at scanning problems. The brain is naturally looking at a negative point of view, but there’s a way to rewire how it works. There are steps that we can do be more positive instead of negative, and it’s all about the right mindset.
Build a positivity circuit
According to Dr. Breuning, “negativity will engulf you unless you build yourself a positivity circuit. To do that, spend one minute looking for positives, three times a day for forty five days.” This is one of the best ways to manipulate your brain to counter its negative nature. It trains your brain to look for positivity, the way it scans for negativities.
It can be difficult to be positive if you’re living in an awful world. However, it’s just a matter of perspective. We can find positivity everywhere, in every situation, even in the smallest and simplest things. The easiest way to train your mind to be optimistic is to learn how to appreciate little things. In the case of the Dog Poop Paradox, simply valuing the absence of pet mess in front of you will help your brain develop neural connections. It can be tough to be positive when negative things are too apparent, but again, it’s just because the brain sees the world in a false, negative lens that needs correction.
PARE with Positivity
In order to reach success, you must be able to PARE with your negativism. Build your positivity circuit in Personal Agency and Realistic Expectations. No one can ever predict the future, but you can always take pleasure in choosing your next steps towards your goals or needs.
Know that you will REAP
The surge of cortisol brings unpleasant feelings. When this happens, remember to keep Realistic Expectations. This will be your alternative for the times you get feelings of survival-threats. Cortisol surge typically happens when you fail to receive rewards for your efforts. However, you must know that nowadays, human achievements don’t usually come from efforts that result in instant benefits. Practice patience, and adjust your expectations when results become disappointing. Besides, in any circumstance, you always get to choose your next step.
According to Dr. Breuning, “PARE and you will REAP, because Realistic Expectations lead to Acting Personally.” We can blame genetics, and evolution of how the mind works. However, we are in the age of the world where human composition is adapting to the current changes. Life has changed, and so is the way of survival. The real battle now is in the mind. Positivity is the key to success, where the right mindset plays a major part. We can now choose to trigger our happy chemicals, instead of wait for the world to bestow it to us.