In order to create a Flourishing Mindset, you will need to first do some housecleaning in your mind. This may be done by clearing your environment of people and things that keep you from flourishing. Bring in people and things into your life that will support your flourishing. This may mean adopting new friends and associates: people who have the vision and drive you are uncovering, people who are excited about life and who appreciate you for who you are (rather than whom they think you should be). It may mean insisting on different conversations with the people who remain in your life, conversations that inspire and uplift rather than demean or tear down.
Start the practice of things like writing gratitude lists and thanking people. As psychologist John B. Arden explains it, “Behavior changes the brain and the brain changes behavior. It’s a bidirectional flow of information. It’s not one way or the other.” Dr. Arden has written several books including The Brain Bible and Rewire Your Brain that describe recent findings in neuropsychology about how our brains work and how we can use that knowledge to rewire our own brains for better outcomes.
Up until several years ago, psychiatrists, psychologists, and physicians believed that the brain was substantially unchangeable in its physical structure. But scientists are now able to see that the brain is “plastic” and can modify itself based on your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
In fact, your brain is constantly developing new connections (synapses) between neurons (nerve cells that carry signals through the nervous system) and killing off old neurons that are not being used. As signals that move along a nerve, they run into a gap and can “decide” to form the next connection in one direction or another. If that same “decision” is made over and over, that neural pathway is made stronger and smoother. The brain actually restructures itself to make the signal’s journey easier. But if you make a different decision and start using a different pathway more often, your brain will modify itself again to make this new route easier. As you strengthen the new pathway, the old pathway will start to disappear like an old trail through the forest that no one walks down anymore.
The idea is to do things that create positive neural connections and allow connections that support bad habits to die off out of neglect. Dr. Arden also talks about improvements in lifestyle factors that have a direct influence on our brains: good relationships, ongoing education and learning, consistent exercise, healthy diet, and adequate sleep.