EXPERT STRATEGIES FOR FOSTERING A POSITIVE MINDSET FOR JOYFUL LIVING
Let’s dive right into my top ten tools for cultivating a resilient, positive mindset, where small steps pave the way for big impacts in joyful living.
TOOL #1: MAKE A POSITIVE MINDSET YOUR HOBBY
Your brain is your most treasured organ for a calmer, happier, sharper and healthier you. Get to know it and learn how to use it. For your starter textbook, read The Healthy Brain Book to take a trip inside your brain in a simple and memorable way.
TOOL #2: GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY
Suppose you came into my medical office for a consultation and opened with, “Doctor, I just want to feel better fast. Give me your top prescription!” I scribble on my prescription pad: “Go outside and play!” Surprisingly simple, yet an effective way to add small, meaningful doses of daily joy. (See our previous Nutrex article: “Go outside and play – the neuroscience of movement in nature.”)
TOOL #3: THINK-CHANGE YOUR BRAIN: TRASH TOXIC THOUGHTS
The top six-word sentence that helps you understand these tools to a positive mindset is this: Where attention flows, brain tissue grows.
New and exciting technology, called MRI and PET scans, enable scientists to peer inside the brain to see how changing a thought can change brain tissue. Researchers would take a sad, depressed person and teach them to think only happy thoughts for at least a few weeks. After this think-changing therapy, the pictures inside the brain revealed the sad center getting smaller. When sad centers get smaller, the happy centers get larger – highlighting a path to joy. You’ve heard the saying “You are what you eat.” Also, you are what you think.
TOOL #4: EAT SMARTER, FEEL BETTER
Remember, the top organ most affected – for better or worse – by what you eat, is your brain. Follow my logic: your brain is mostly fat. Yes, you are a “fathead!” The smartest fats in the brain are omega-3s, DHA and EPA. The top food source of these two smart fats is wild Pacific salmon. Or, if you’re not a seafood-lover, check with your healthcare provider on taking an omega-3 supplement.
Love your awesome antioxidants. What is it about fatty brain tissue that makes it unwell? It oxidizes, meaning it turns rancid, sort of like the rancid smell of a piece of fish you mistakenly left out overnight.
Solution: eat more antioxidants.
Our top pick of antioxidants – besides what Dr. Mom said: “fruits and vegetables,” is Hawaiian Astaxanthin. This natural nutrient makes salmon pink and is one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants. And, it has been shown to help protect against dementia. (See Nutrex-Hawaii.com for recommended dosages of Hawaiian Astaxanthin according to need and age.)
TOOL #5: IF YOU CAN’T CHANGE IT, DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT
The phrase “don’t worry, be happy” is one of the most scientifically studied phrases. My favorite study is the centenarians study of persons who not only live to be at least a hundred years old but live healthfully and happily. One of the main “medicines” the centenarians reported was: “If I can’t change it, I don’t worry about it.” Beating yourself up by thinking, “If only I had…” or “I should have…” not only robs your brain of energy that could be used to grow your happy center, it also raises your stress hormones which, when too high for too long, can shrink your happy center and grow your worry center.
Our favorite family vacation is chartering a boat in the Caribbean. One day we had mechanical problems on the boat and we limped into the harbor for repairs. The cheerful boat-repair person greeted us with: “No problem, mon.” That cheerful greeting rewired my brain toward: “Don’t worry about the problem. Dwell on the solution.” The rest of that week I wore my favorite t-shirt which read: “Don’t worry, be happy!”
TOOL #6: THINK “WELL,” AVOID BEING “WORRIED SICK”
If you’re facing inflammation or an infection, or you want to help prevent those illnesses, enjoy the BELIEF EFFECT. Over my five decades in medical practice I’ve noticed, and science supports, that positive thinking people – “I believe I will heal” – tend to heal better and get sick less often.
Positivity promotes mental longevity.
TOOL #7: EYE FEEL GOOD!
Again, in my medical practice I often ask: “How many hours a day do you spend looking out the window at the sky, or in nature?” Yes, when I ask that, persons are surprised, wondering: “Dr. Bill, what does that have to do with my depressed mood or sadness?”
Your eyes are windows to your brain. Keeping your eyes healthy helps keep your brain healthy. Also, the retina of your eyes is another tissue highly prone to oxidation. Again, enter our favorite antioxidant, Hawaiian Astaxanthin – and science supports this. (Sawaki, et al. 2002)
TOOL #8: TAKE A DEEP BREATH
Yes, Dr. Mom was right again. Inhale – feel belly expand. Pause. Exhale – feel belly contract. Back to our main mantra: “Make your own medicines.” The Smart Designer of the brain knew we were going to mess it up, so there are multiple self-dispensing pharmacies all over your body that automatically open up. Some of those pharmacies open up while taking a deep breath.
SCIENCE SAYS: THE FEEL-BETTER EFFECTS OF BETTER BREATHING
- Increases feel-good hormones oxytocin and endorphins
- Improves blood flow to tissues.
- Supports a healthier immune system.
- Reduces excess stress hormones
There is no prescription medicine that comes close to these self-made medicinal feel-good effects of taking a deep breath. Learn it, feel it, love it!
Hum to feel better. Want to get more feel-good bang for your breathing buck? Hum during deep breathing. Just before you begin exhaling, place your tongue gently behind your upper teeth and against your palate. As you exhale, hum a prolonged sound you like (called a mantra). My favorite: Feeeel (inhale) gooood (humming while exhaling).
Exciting technology (windows into your brain) reveals that during deep-breathing the emotional centers of your brain light up better. Add humming vibrations and your emotional centers light up even more. Wow!
TOOL #9: START THE DAY A PEACEFUL WAY
As you wake up, remember: “stay in bed and stew is bad for you.” As soon as possible, look outside or go outside, say “hi to the sky,” and begin your day with a thankful mantra: “I am thankful for…” No matter how difficult life gets, we all have a few things to be thankful for.
TOOL #10: ENJOY THE HELPER’S HIGH
You feel good by doing good. As often as possible during your day, try to help someone else feel better, and you’ll feel better. You’ll be surprised how getting out of your mind and into someone else’s sparks some healing words that help you feel “Oh, I like what I just said. I’m going to try that myself!” Enjoying a high dose of the “helper’s high” is the reason I still enjoy medical practice after five decades and enjoy writing these articles.
Scientific references and further reading:
The Healthy Brain Book by William Sears, M.D.
Sawaki, K., et al. (2002). “Sports Performance Benefits from Taking Natural Astaxanthin Characterized by Visual Acuity and Muscle Fatigue Improvement in Humans,” Journal of Clinical Therapeutics & Medicines, Vol. 18, No. 9, pp. 1085-1100.
Natural Astaxanthin, Hawaii’s Supernutrient, by William Sears, M.D., 2015.
The Biology of Belief by Dr. Bruce Lipton
Healthy reminders; to download see: AskDrSears.com/healthyreminders
This content is not meant as personal medical advice. If you feel mentally unwell, contact your mental healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before starting a new diet, exercise, or health program.
Consult your healthcare provider before starting a new diet, exercise or health program.
*These Statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Dr. Sears is an advisor to Nutrex Hawaii.
Dr. Bill Sears has been practicing medicine for over 40 years. He received his medical degree from St. Louis University and medical training at Harvard University, the University of Toronto and the National Institute of Health. Dr. Sears has been a clinical professor at the University of South Carolina, University of Southern California School of Medicine and University of Irvine School of Medicine.
Dr. Sears is the author of 45 books including nutrition and wellness titles, including The T5 Wellness Plan, Prime-Time Health, The Family Nutrition Book, The Omega-3 Effect, The Inflammation Solution, The Healthy Pregnancy Book, The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood, L.E.A.N. Kids, among others. He has spoken at numerous scientific conferences all over the world and has successfully motivated others to make positive health behavior changes through practical applications of simple and science-based strategies. Dr. Sears has been featured on 20/20, Dateline, Good Morning America, The Today Show, The View, PBS, CNN, Dr. Phil, The Doctors, and Oprah.