Brain cells talk to each other. So, what are your brain cells talking about? What would they say about the way you think and control your own thoughts? In an ancient Hindu text, Bhagavad Gita said, “The mind acts like an enemy for those who don’t control it.” Researchers Rand Spiro and J. Jehng state that cognitive flexibility is a skill where individuals can spontaneously reorganize their knowledge and adaptively respond in many ways to radically changing situational demands. Being that people can flexibly retrieve knowledge from their brains, they can change the way they think. They must understand different problems and attempt to problem solve.
I love popular self-help guru Wayne Dyer’s quote, “Don’t believe everything you think!” Your thoughts change based on your experiences. Your mind is adaptable and flexible so it can learn and gain new knowledge. Rather than being rigid in your thinking, you have cognitive flexibility. Author Daniel Amen has found that negative thinking can sabotage you which lowers your brain activity and affects many systems in your body, especially your heart. Do you focus on things you like or things you don't like? Being able to adapt to various situations depends upon your understanding and thoughts about that situation.
Preacher and author Norman Vincent Peale said, “Change your thoughts, and you change your world.” For several years I would create a list prior to going to bed of all those things I needed to do the next day. I thought that by creating the list, all the things that were on my mind would dissolve until the next morning when I would retrieve my “To Do” list. Creating a list only caused more stress. One night I was very tired and forgot to create my list and as I was falling off to sleep I thought about my productive day. I felt thankful for all the good things in my life. It was a great way to fall asleep, focusing on those things that made me happy.
I invite you to think about changing your routine right before bedtime. Rather than focusing on the things that went wrong during the day, think about the positive things that made you happy. If you first think about what made you happy and then experience the feeling of happiness, while you are sleeping, your subconscious mind will focus on the good experiences. This cognitive flexibility gives you the opportunity to shift your thoughts and approach to dealing with your problems.
Resilient individuals can positively reframe negative thoughts to positive ones. Ray and associates found that this cognitive reappraisal can alter emotional responses by changing one’s interpretation of a situation’s meaning. To reappraise is to change the way you think about the situation. Thus it becomes a way to control negative emotions. Dale Carnegie said, “Do you remember the things you were worrying about a year ago? How did they work out? Didn’t you waste a lot of fruitless energy on account of most of them? Didn’t most of them turn out all right after all?”
Look at your perception of the situation and your thoughts and how that dialogue you are having with yourself is making the situation stressful. Think positive rather than negative when focusing on stressful situations. Be flexible in your problem solving and decision making abilities. Think about the way you think!