Rewire Your Brain – Looking For Positives in Uncertain times

Written by: Amanda Cottrell, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Who is glad 2020 is over? Many people will raise their hands or tip their hats to the end of 2020. However, just because 2020 was a very challenging year for so many people doesn’t mean that 2021 is going to be any better. Many of the problems we face each day, month and year relate to our state of mind and are not directly related to the state of the world. Yet, our state of mind greatly affects how we show up in the world.


Did you know you actually have the power within yourself to change your outlook and rewire your brain? Neuroscience is literally beginning to prove that each and every one of us has this power.


For whatever reason, so many of us spend so much time stressing and worrying over the negative events in our lives that we have no control over. When we do this, it affects all aspects of our being. Being aware of our negative thought patterns is the first step in our ability to rewire our brains to become a more empowered, present and grounded version of ourselves.


I want you to take a moment and think… “What is the most common negative thought that pops into your mind?” Before I learned about mindfulness and the power of our brains, my answer would have been, “I am not good enough.” Do you ever feel this way? How could you restate this into a positive? “I can try...I don’t need to be good at it to have fun… Sometimes finished is better than perfect…” Even now, this feeling of being not good enough pops into my brain from time to time. However, now I have the power to recognize this negative emotion for what it is and consciously turn it into a positive.


Take a moment to think about what pops into your mind when you think of 2020? My guess is one of these… this was the worst year, people lost their jobs, people lost loved ones, we were not allowed to see our friends, the world has gone crazy, this is a conspiracy to control all of us. Not a very positive outlook on the world, is it?


What if you actually took a moment to think of the good things that happened in 2020. Did you get to spend more time with your children? Did you reconnect with a friend over zoom? Did you have time to complete a home project that you have been procrastinating about for years? Did you actually start going for walks? Did you spend time doing a hobby that you have not done in years? These are all positive consequences of the events of 2020 that we tend to sweep aside as we bask in the negativity around how the pandemic is affecting the world.


As a teacher, single mom, and author, I have really valued many of the “consequences” of 2020. For years, I taught grade 3, and we look at communities of the world and often discuss how some kids in the world do not get to go to school. Often many of my students would wish they were those kids, not realizing how lucky they truly are to be getting an education. The pandemic changed that drastically. This year my students are so happy to be at school. They have learned to collaborate better, are demonstrating empathy like I have never seen before in my career; they are just happy to get to sit and work with their friends. When we did a week of online school because of the pandemic, they all showed up online each and every day and were so happy to get back to school. They had expressed how much they missed school when they had to do 3 months of online learning last spring. When something we take for granted gets taken away from us, we begin to have a newfound appreciation for it. I know I have a newfound appreciation for my students, coworkers and even just being in the school building that I did not have before the pandemic forced us to work from home for months.


What else do you have a new appreciation for because of our world's current situation? For me, I have had the opportunity to learn so much. My skills in technology have grown exponentially and in a very short amount of time. Even though I was already pretty tech-savvy, I am very grateful for how much I have learned about using technology because of the pandemic. It also provided me with the opportunity to mentor others who do not have the same baseline skills, and in turn, they became better at utilizing technology. If you had to quickly switch over to working from home, did you find some benefits to it? Such as no long commutes, working in your pj's, maybe you are more focused and get more done, you have time to make healthy meals, maybe you built stronger relationships with your coworkers because you were all going through uncertain times together and developed a certain level of empathy and understanding for each other that you did not have before.


The more I focus my mind on the good, the more good that flows into my life. We all have the power to look at any situation from a positive or negative perspective. I truly believe that situations are neutral. It is our minds that decide if the situation is positive or negative. Each and every day, we have the opportunity to learn and grow and do better than we did yesterday. What can you be grateful for from 2020? How will that help you rewire your brain to create a better 2021?


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