When it comes to your thought life, depression has a way of setting the automatic default to ‘negative’. You can pick whether this is the case by asking yourself when you last complimented yourself? Or when last did you put yourself down for who you are or something you did?
Many of us—whether due to genetics, brain chemistry, our experiences or coping skills—tell ourselves way too many negative thoughts. We often catch ourselves thinking the same negative, unproductive thoughts over and over; or we find it easier to be critical of ourselves than it is to be accepting and appreciative of who we are and what we have achieved.
The more we have a thought, the stronger the neural connection supporting that thought in our brain grows. A well-developed thought “is like a ski track in the snow. The more you ski down a path, the easier it is to go down that path and not another,” says Alex Korb, a neuroscientist and author of “The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time.”
By taking positive steps and with practice you can create another path; one with be stronger neural networks devoted to positive thoughts, or a happier brain. Psychologists call the technique cognitive reappraisal, which is at the heart of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This is an approach used by many psychologists.
This is not simply a ‘think happy thoughts and you will be happy’ approach to living. Rather, it is a practical approach to improving your life in an easy-to-follow, yet structured process.
While it is true that you can practice it on your own at home, most people benefit from a structured approach and guidance to get started, and to stay on track. This can be through our one-on-one counselling, or using distance education tools.
Remember too the other great benefits that research shows come from this – better mental health and more life satisfaction, and even better-functioning hearts.