“There is no use to worry,” Great Grandma Fehriens always said. And she was right. Ninety percent of what we worry about never happens.
If you are in the habit of seeing the worst in a situation you are exercising that pathway of perception in your mind. The neurons that fire together wire together. Anger, fear and anxiety produce the flight or fight chemicals of adrenaline, cortisol, and cyclophosomide while focusing on positives in a situation can generate endorphins, interleukins, and interferons which result in the feelings of relaxation and joy. Candace Pert at Georgetown University is just one of many researchers showing the ways in which our habits of mind can influence our mood.
At the turn of the 20th century, Williams James found this to be true in his psychological observations. One of his five characteristics of thought is that “…whilst we think, our brain changes, and that, like the aurora borealis, its whole internal equilibrium shifts with every impulse of change. The precise nature of the shifting at a given moment is a product of many factors. The accidental state of local nutrition or blood-supply may be among them” (234).
Observing the intransitive quality of thought, James speaks of the human mind seeing its thought object relationally. “When everything is dark a somewhat less dark sensation makes us see an object white.” Imagine then if we saw all around us as white how much brighter our darkest spot would be.
How do we learn to reframe situations? Making the effort to share positive experiences rather than negatives one is one important way and works to reverse the 20:1 ratio of negative experiences being repeated twenty more times than positive ones.
How do we habituate to state our experience in the positive? For example, if we are driving down the road with some friends how do we not say, “We almost hit that squirrel” but instead reframe our thought into the positive to say, “We missed the squirrel. The squirrel is safe!”?
How do you reframe life into the positive?