Most people outside the neurology profession don’t really understand that the words you use actually do change your brain. When we use positive words like “love, peace, joy, or gratitude,” you change how your brain works by increasing cognitive reasoning and strengthening areas in your frontal lobes. Using positive words rather than negative ones jump-starts the motivational centers in your brain, directing them into positive action.
“Change your brain, change your life.”
—Daniel G. Amen, M.D.
On the other hand, when you use negative words, you prevent essential neurochemicals from being produced, adding to stress-management troubles. We are all evolutionarily hardwired to worry; it’s how our primitive brain protects us from dangerous situations contributing to survival of our species. The tribe member who said, “what, me worry? I’ll go see what is making all that scary roaring noise.” Well, guess what happened to his gene pool.
When you use negative words,
you prevent essential
With that in mind, allowing negative words and concepts into your mind, you are also increasing the activity in your brain’s fear center. That causes stress-producing hormones to flood your system with all the expected outcomes. These hormones and neurotransmitters interrupt the logic and reasoning activities in your brain and inhibit normal operations. How many of you, or people that you know, got so angry, afraid, or upset that you couldn’t think straight? Dr. Amen suggests that angry words or messages send alarm bells ringing in your brain, and they temporarily overload the logic-and-reasoning centers of our brain.
On the other hand, when you keep a positive and optimistic outlook in your mind, you stimulate frontal lobe activity. This area includes specific language centers that join directly to the motor cortex responsible for stirring you into action. Research indicates the longer you concentrate on positive words, the more you touch other areas of the brain. Operations in your parietal lobe start to change, which in turn changes your perception of yourself and the people with whom you interact. A positive view of yourself ends up predisposing you toward seeing the good in others, while a negative self-image will leave you inclined towards suspicion and doubt. Over time, the structure of your thalamus also changes in response to your conscious words, thoughts, and feelings, and it is believed that thalamic changes affect the way in which you perceive reality.
By focusing and reflecting on
positive ideas and emotions, you improve your overall
well-being and increase
the functionality of your brain.
A study done by Positive Psychology further expands on the effects of using positive words. A group of adults aged 35-54 were given a nightly task of writing down three things that went well for them that day, including an explanation of why. The subsequent three months showed their degrees of happiness continued to rise, and their feelings of depression declined. You might not expect it, but by focusing and reflecting on positive ideas and emotions, you improve your overall well-being and increase the functionality of your brain.
What words do you choose to focus your energy on? If you notice your life isn’t exactly “peachy,” you might give carrying a journal with you to keep track of how often you use negative words.
You may be surprised to find how simple the solution to a better life really can be; change your words, change your life.
SEE A LIFE COACH IN BATON ROUGE
Frank Hopkins is a life coach in Baton Rouge who is certified as a Professional Coach (CPC) by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). Frank has helped numerous people to go through emotional change in a way that is positively transformative.