Thinking has to do with controlling, directing and using information; in this way, we problem-solve, make decisions, understand and form judgements (reason) and establish concepts. Our brains go through a process of pattern recognition whereby new experiences are judged against recalled ones. Thought/thinking is a mental process that lets us devise a representation of the world. We use this as a way to deal in a coherent way with our desires, goals and plans.
What is the actual mechanism of a thought? It’s an electrochemical process that takes place in our neurons (nerve cells). When we have a thought, there is an electrical signal that passes back and forth between the neurons that are responsible for that thought. This also produces a surge of physiological changes, where peptides, or short chains of amino acids (think small proteins) are released and then travel throughout our bodies, connecting with appropriate receptors on each of our cells as they do.
Here’s where it gets interesting:
- Because the brain strives for efficiency, it reinforces the connection every time two cells communicate with each other, thus making it easier for them to do so next time, i.e. it’s easier to have the same thought (imagine a well-worn path to your neighbour’s house)
- Each separate emotion releases specific neuropeptides that change the structure of each cell; if you are perpetually releasing peptides for, say, anger, when your cells divide the daughter cells will have more receptors for that negative peptide (and less for “positive” peptides)
!!! If you are constantly thinking negative thoughts, you are literally programming your cells to receive more of the same negative peptides and less of the positive ones, making you more inclined towards negativity!!!
Have you heard of the field of epigenetics? Your thoughts are speaking to your genes! Some genes, like eye colour, are hard-wired, while others are actually switched on and off depending on your lifestyle and life experiences. This doesn’t mean you are able to change the genes themselves, but rather their activity, which involves the hundreds of enzymes, proteins, etc. that regulate your cells.
“Think” about all of that. The facts are overwhelming – not only is it true that “you are what you eat,” it’s also true that “you are what you think.”
This is great news, as it means we have immense power in and over our lives…power to choose the input our genes receive (positive in = positive out), and power to effect changes in our physical being, from the cellular level to the process level ( we all know about the “placebo effect”).
No matter the physical, mental or emotional state you’re currently in, you can change – meaning improve – the way you think. We, as humans, are adaptable. Throughout our lives we are always changing, always growing. We can benefit from this fact, referred to as neuroplasticity, it just takes practice; thinking in new ways rearranges our brain cells to better serve us.
Since many of our cells are replaced fairly frequently, we can reprogram our “negative” cells to be more positive by living in gratitude. Mindfulness, along with meditation, connects us to the source of our mind-body system, which enables us to affect gene activity.
The more we improve our mental habits/mindset, the more beneficial the response will be from our bodies. Remember, when we stop thinking a thought, it is a signal to our brain that it is no longer important; the connections between neurons will break down and we can build new, more positive ones.
As Louise Hay said, “All we are ever dealing with is a thought, and a thought can be changed.”
We look forward to having you join us on Facebook where we are all learning positive habits, including controlling our thoughts.