Overcoming the bad to get to the GOOD

The Power of Positive Thinking
Moving past WHAT & WHY to get to HOW

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In the Executive Functioning Series

Memory and Energy Management

Visiting a few blogs as I begin to populate a brand new Pinterest Board [Our TBR Lists], I clicked over to add one of  D.G. Kaye’s books, “Words We Carry.”  (Some of you may already know that D.G. Kaye is the name under which blogger Debby Gies pens her many books)

I jumped over to read and “like” a few reviews on the Amazon site for this book, and my eyes took note of something that read like what is often referred to as the publisher’s blurb.

Sharing her journey toward overcoming the demons of low self-esteem with the determination to learn to love herself, Kaye’s book allows us to see clearly how hurtful events in our lives can linger, and set the tone for our lives.

I was instantly reminded of an article I posted over three years ago now, on a topic I believe it’s time to revisit: our tendency to collect and carry every stick and stone that has ever broken our bones.  [Are we hard-wired to focus on the bad news?].

I began that article with a question that I think is an important one:
“How come the bad stuff sticks and the good stuff fades??” 

On the way to answering that question I asked another, in response to a comment from one of my virtual friends, essentially this:

I have lived 365 days times my years on this earth.
They can’t all be keepers — and this one wasn’t.

While that’s a wonderful lens through which to look at our occasional experiences of one of those days,  my brain immediately popped in another question:

Why CAN’T all the days be keepers?

I mean, why don’t we just filter out the crummy parts and file away what was good about the day so that ALL of our memories are pleasant and uplifting?

I’m aware, I went on to say, that Pollyanna isn’t exactly everybody’s idea of their favorite role model, but WHY NOT?

I believe I did a good job explaining why our brains tend to hang on to the “warnings” – a memory technique that was extremely pro-survival.

It’s helpful to understand why whenever we are agonizing over yet another of those negative thoughts inspired by some of our earliest experiences.

However, I don’t believe that it is exactly pro-LIFE to allow our brain to continue to have its way with us – especially when we can retrain it.

Life-lessons from my clients

As I continue to say, my clients bring more than a few “juggling struggles” to their coaching calls. They frequently call for their appointments with resolve and hope tarnished by the latest disaster . . . which reminds them of an earlier one, and off we go.

We spend the session in another way entirely, as I practically drag them over to reliving their successes. They hang up with a much better view of themselves — one that empowers them to “get back on the horse” to gallop full speed ahead once more — until the next time something stops them cold and we revisit the process.

We all do it until we train ourselves not to.
And those “positivity” reminders don’t help until we do.
Wrong technique.

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What you resist persists

I know you’ve heard and read those words – or others that are very like them.

What those words really mean, from a brain-based perspective, is that whatever it is to which we give repeated time and focus digs “brain-trenches,” making it all the more difficult for us to travel outside them — for good or for ill.

Every single time we think the thoughts or say the words that drag us down emotionally, it is that much more likely that we will be drawn to thoughts that will drag us down another time. The reverse is also true – once we give the frequently deeper “negative” trenches some time to fill in.

Look at the graphic to the left.  How likely is it that anyone is going to attempt to wander outside the “snow-trench” that has been dug for them?  And how much just plain WORK would it be to do so?

Think of the pathways in your brain in a similar manner.  If we want them to fill in so that it is possible for us to choose to go another way entirely, STEP ONE is to stop digging them deeper!

  • We need to train ourselves to pay more attention to what lights us up and stop giving attention to the brain-chatter that drags us down.
  • From a practical standpoint that means, “Don’t think those negative thoughts.”  Duh!

Say what?

HOW do we train ourselves to pay more attention to the good news?

HOW do we make sure we lay down our many every day, garden variety good memories to serve as wind beneath our wings as we move through life’s inevitable challenges?

HOW do we unhook the cascade of badness that follows in rapid succession with every not-so-great thought that activates our fear centers?

More importantly, how do we stop getting hooked by old fears activated by old memories in the first place?

GREAT questions!

When life hands you lemons . . .

I’m not the only coach who has posted articles about reframing those negative thoughts and making gratitude lists — making lemonade from lemons, essentially.

They are all super exercises designed to change your come-from. Bringing the dynamic to consciousness is an excellent start. Awareness is always the first step on the pathway to growth and change.

However, even giving that little bit of time and focused attention to thoughts that are troubling is not really the best way to proceed directly toward building new pathways so that the old ones can “fill in” through disuse.

  Related Post: The Exploding Optimist (great article from champion optimist, Sue Vincent;
includes some uplifing & humorous personal examples of her reframes of a crazy/crummy week)

Brain Wiring

Neurons that fire together wire together – and vice versa.

I’m sure most of us know that we’re not really “wired” up there in our heads, and I’m sure more than a few of us understand that the machine-analogy has fallen into disfavor as a description of the brain.

It’s useful, however, to use “hard-wired” to point out items on the list of “standard features” — as opposed to the after-market installations.  You know, those differences we often reference in nature/nurture debates.

It’s also useful, when we think of thoughts (and neurons that make thought possible) as “wired together,” to help us conceptualize how thought cascades from thought along similar “pathways” that become more deeply entrenched the more often we activate them.

  • Yeah sure, that little feature kept us alive long enough to pass along our genes by making sure we recalled where the sabre-tooth tigers liked to hang out – making sure a close call was never repeated simply because we didn’t remember where it happened – or that is happened.  Yay brain!
  • However, the more space we give to rehearsing the location of those sabre-tooth hangs, the less “focus-room” we are able to give to enjoying the every day wonders of our lives.
  • More to the point, every time we pull up the sabre-tooth memories, we are digging deeper the “sabre-tooth thoughts” trench.  How deep does it really need to be to assure ourselves that we will remember to run at the first sign of a sabre-tooth?

Back to our old friend, Mr. Amygdala

The amygdala, remember, is that part of the brain that reacts to emotions of fear and anxiety, activating our fight-flight-freeze programming in response to any threatening stimulus – in fractions of a millisecond.

That, in turn, shuts down the PFC (pre-frontal cortex), the “switching station” for the higher order thinking/decision making parts of the brain that we need on board to be able to work through problems and make decisions that will allow us to step through to solutions.

Mr. Amygdala doesn’t differentiate between a current threat and the strong memory of the threat — and he doesn’t want us using resources of brain or body anywhere they won’t be needed to keep us alive. He commandeers them whenever he suspects that they might be needed for tasks more urgent than thinking.

Danger is danger, and danger sounds the first alarm.

The PFC’s slower response time is no match for the speed of Mr. Amygdala’s finger on the “kill-logical-thinking” panic button. Your PFC may override your automatic response to actually head for the hills or arm yourself for battle, but it’s not likely to come up with appropriate responses to the challenges of a particular 21st century distraction of the memory of a problem.

In other words, after Mr. Amygdala has sounded the alarm, attempts to access your more reasonable, logical self to exert your will over the reactive, more primitive parts of your brain aren’t likely to be very successful.

Higher-order cognitive skills are modulated by the PFC – which is taken off-line, remember, by activation of the more primitive circuits of the brain in what used to be referred to as the limbic system (Mr. Amydala’s turf).

And that doesn’t give us those happy dancing feet we love
that make accomplishment easier and a lot more fun.

So what can we DO?

Think a different thought.  SeriouslyDistract yourself by deliberately thinking about something that makes you really happy — every single time you engage with a negative thought.

You probably won’t be able to even remember those items in your sabre-tooth moments, so begin by making a list of what always makes you feel happy – but only those things that never drag along those “yes but” thoughts.  That’s important.  The nano-second you become aware that there is some negative awareness riding the draft, switch to another one immediately.

Keep your list handy and teach yourself to refer to it until you’ve built the habit of redirecting yourself to a more positive and resourceful place  – once you have successfully jettisoned your current habit of rehearsing the thoughts that make you feel crummy.

Here are eight of my own as examples to get you started:

  1. Playing with my puppy TinkerToy (or even looking into his furry – almost always messy – little face). Taking him outside for a walk or a quick game of frisbee is even better!
  2. Dancing – and it especially makes me giggle to dance all by myself in my office.
  3. Taking time from the daily to-dos to make myself some blended iced-coffee – looking forward to its cooling, yummie taste.
  4. Slathering moisturizer on my legs and arms – or giving myself a quick foot rub.
  5. Singing a song I had the pleasure of singing onstage.
  6. Wandering down my long hallway looking at the show pictures of my acting days hanging all over those walls, picking one and reliving the wonderful memories of those wonderful times (several in particular, of a show I directed that I recall as absolutely perfect.)
  7. Revisiting the wealthiest feeling of my life when I was able to buy two little one dollar necklaces for two little girls in carefully mended dresses looking longingly – anonymously watching their little faces light up when the vendor walked over and just handed them to them.
  8. Rereading a comment or three from folks who really GOT what I was trying to say in the article and took the time to tell me how it helped.


NOT just “whistle a happy tune”

Some of you may actually DO that, by the way, and find it effective.  We all have different sure-fire happy thoughts and activities.

The point is to stop digging negative brain-trenches so that you can access happier states of mind — BECAUSE happier states are more resourceful states, and more resourceful states lead directly to more effective Executive Functioning.

What works for you?
It will be well worth your time to figure that out —
and train yourself to DO it.

If I can help with that retraining, be sure to get in touch.


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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

113 Responses to Overcoming the bad to get to the GOOD

  1. Pingback: Habit Formation BASICS | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  2. Jodie says:

    I totally agree with playing with your pets. It’s always amazing to me that the time that I sit down and love on my kitty, just relaxes me and makes me feel so much warmer inside.
    I know they are work and take care, but I truly believe they give back so much….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Funny, I never think of the things I do for Tink as work — except maybe the perpetual grooming that my long-haired pup requires – lol – and then only when he wanders into sticker burrs at this time of year. Mostly its just another way to interact with him – which lights me up like a Christmas tree.

      I’m with you, however. I get back SO much more than I give.


  3. Lisa Orchard says:

    Thanks for the helpful post. This is so important for people to understand that our brain creates grooves and we need to make new grooves in order to get out of our negative thought patterns and behaviors.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I tried for the majority ofl my life to get my mother to stop obsessing about her dysfunctional childhood, and to think positively and move on. She was never able to do this, and it seems many people cannot. It’s an acquired knack which involves living in the present I think – very difficult to do.

    Liked by 1 person

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  11. lwbut says:

    Well written and helpful post ( as usual 😉 ) Madelyn.

    Something i learned from a self-improvement type course i did years ago has stuck with me ever since (even though i can often fail to apply it to my self – sighhh) is the ease with which our brains seem to overlook the word ‘not’ as in “i must not forget to..” and i promptly forget or “I will not do that again” and promptly end up doing just that – A-Gain!

    I believe the reason for this is that the word tells our brain what we do not want and is item-specific, but it does not always connect to a specific of what we want to do in it’s place. So our brain has a focus on what it is we do ‘not’ want, but no focus on what we do want – unless we consciously supply it at the time.

    Which is pretty much what you are suggesting we do when we have a negative thought and select from a pre-arranged list of specific positive replacements. 🙂

    Best to you and Tink,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent comment, Love – I especially love the “item specificity” portion toward the end – back to that “pattern matching” function of the brain.

      Negatives affirm resistance – with no clue as to acceptance (or “allowing” as some of the spiritual gurus suggest). Negatives are also linked to past anxiety, which keeps us uneasy when what we are looking for is the ease of well-being.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to offer *your* words of explanation. Tink sends his woofs!


  12. The idea of the snow trench is so powerful. I have definitely been guilty of wandering through one, too scared to look up or over the sides of it. Love the article, keep it up.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. dgkaye says:

    Wow, what an action packed post here Madelyn. I’m glad you visited my book on Amazon and thank you for mentioning it as well. I can see why my book resonated with you because it’s true what you said, sometimes it’s those bad words that linger with us, more than the good. Oh and I loved Mr. Amygdala LOL. (PS. I was thrilled to see so many reblogging this and just wondering since it may get a lot more exposure if you would mind correcting my name – Debby, but the book is ‘Kaye’s’ book not Gies) Thanks bunches. 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t BELIEVE I did it again, DEBBY – my eyes saw what I meant to type, glancing right past what my fingers had put on the page. YOU wouldn’t believe how many times I proofed it, either, missing it every single time. 😦 — underscoring why authors neeeeed editors!

      Please accept my sincere apologies. I corrected the article the moment I saw your comment, even before I took the time to respond to it! (I would have done so EVEN if I had only one reader and no reblogs, btw.) My intentions were to help not hinder.

      I also added a few words to make it clear that the words I quoted loosely were NOT, in fact, the publisher’s blurb, but merely reminded me of one. My intention was to give folks a bit of an idea of what the book was about and how it led me to develop this post.

      I neglected to copy review sources as I drafted my article and now I can’t find what prompted that wording, or I would attribute, even though it was quoted loosely. Probably my impression of a composite – and I doubt seriously the source of the error.

      You’re a doll to request a change so nicely – I’m sure it must have been a head slapper for you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • dgkaye says:

        Omg Madelyn, pleaseeeee don’t worry about it! I know sh$t happens, lol. Yes, that’s why writers need editors, we can look at the same typo 10 times and not notice, it happens. Please don’t think I was condemning you LOL, I found it funny after our conversation last week about typing names wrong, lol. It happens, trust me. You can’t imagine how many people spell my name wrong or think my first name is Kaye. I really brought it up because you so kindly referred to my book but under my real last name and if anyone considered seeking out my books they wouldn’t find them under my last name. So please, no worries. I know you’re a prolific writer, but typos are part of the biz! 🙂 🙂 ❤ Thanks so much for changing it my friend. ❤ xxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

        • How very kind, Debby. Thank you so much for letting me off the hook. (NOW I’ll probably have to pay close attention that my fingers don’t begin to type “y” when I comment to the “ie” Debs. hehehe)

          Liked by 1 person

          • dgkaye says:

            Lol, that’s it! Just stick to Deb and you can’t miss! ❤

            Liked by 1 person

            • 🙂 Since I’m not a fan of others using nicknames for Madelyn, I am always a bit reluctant to truncate names. Thanks for your tacit permission – lol.

              Liked by 1 person

            • dgkaye says:

              Lol, I had that feeling about you. I’m one who loves to shorten and nickname. How many times I wanted to call you Maddie but didn’t 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

            • You must be psychic – they say I began to express my dislike of Madelyn nicknames when I was about 3 years old and couldn’t even pronounce my own “grown-up name.” I corrected with, “mad-el-MUM!” — very forcefully, I’m told. 🙂 (but please don’t call me that especially – lol)

              I did try out Lyn when I was an older teen – thinking it sounded sort-of cool and knowing that we’d be gone in a year anyway (as always) so if I didn’t like it I could always switch back in my next school. It was a long year!

              SURPRISE! The moving stopped and I was stuck with it until I left for college. Decades later, that entire community still calls me by a name that feels totally awkward to me and I never really liked for myself – and I went to a HUGE school!

              My coaching mentor, Thomas Leonard, was actually offended by Tom or Tommy. He REALLY disliked it when people assumed a familiarity he didn’t feel by using a name that his friends knew he disliked, so it actually had the opposite effect. I don’t take offense but I don’t like still don’t like to be nicknamed. Since names spread so quickly online, I do request the change right away, but correcting folks is always awkward.

              Fortunately, many folks use “mgh” – which began there were only 7 TeleClass Leaders in the entire coaching world (virtual classes so we all identified ourselves before speaking with name and city). Two of us were “Madelyn from New York.” For some reason, my initials never felt like a nickname. Go figure!

              Liked by 1 person

            • dgkaye says:

              Well, sorry, you don’t strike me as a ‘Lyn’, so that’s out! No worries, I hear you, I’ll continue to call you Madelyn, lol. I have an affinity for nicknaming my friends as affectionate names. I love short forms. I have a few friends with long names and I call them by their initial, now that’s short! LOL My cousin Denise and me have been calling one another ‘Cousin D’ for most of our lifetimes. 🙂 And I understand your friend Thomas wanting to be called what feels comfortable to him. On the other hand, my full name is Deborah and I hate it. My mother called me by that name when I was yet again in shit from her, lol. Memories stick. 🙂 xx

              Liked by 1 person

            • Knowing just a bit about your history it is no wonder to me that your given name would make you skeeve (won’t even type it – lol). Memories do indeed stick! For whatever reason, using first initials seems fun to me (like cousin D).

              Liked by 1 person

            • dgkaye says:

              Lol, thanks. Does that give me permission to call you M? LOL 🙂 x

              Liked by 1 person

            • dgkaye says:

              Yay thanks ‘M’ 🙂 xx

              Liked by 1 person

            • You don’t even need to bother with the ‘quotes’ – only good feelings when you use M.

              Liked by 1 person

  14. daisymae2017 says:

    Shared on LinkedIn.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. daisymae2017 says:

    Good post. We all need to figure out what works for us because it’s never the same thing that works. Thanks for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. A super post, Madelyn. Your list of eight happy thoughts is so interesting. I didn’t know you were an actress – how interesting. Do you think it is the same for everyone or are some people more predisposed to be negative. I can’t think that I dwell on negatives from my past at all and my life hasn’t all been plain sailing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Robbie. Acting/directing was my first career – from the time I was 17 and into my 40s (even after I started coaching I was still acting occasionally). FUN times.

      Science does seem to believe that we are genetically “programmed” to be negative or positive. There are a couple of links at the end of the post about that “predispositon” – as well as the reality that we CAN change tendencies toward the negative when we practice the positives.

      A couple of spiritual mentors advise that if you want to raise a happy child to only respond/affirm your children’s POSITIVE expressions and actions – vs. how we tend to do it when we “parent.” GREAT idea, but tough to put into practice. Still, I believe it’s worth keeping in mind, doing as often as possible.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Learning to vet our thoughts is important.. I never realised until I read Louise Hays Book You can heal your Life.. way back when it was first published, just how negative my own thoughts way back when, had become..

    Learning to shift your focus, and out those thoughts I had to train myself to do.. I would so easily put myself down, and it takes discipline to recognise how those thoughts if you keep on thinking them, drag you and your health down..

    Lots of great tips here to do Madelyn ..
    At the end of the day it is only WE who can change our thoughts… Thoughts are powerful, living energy.. Energy which creates .. What we think creates, and what you said about what we what you resist persists So true..

    I think for me, and many more we have to come through the bad, in order to get to the good.. once you reach the depths there is only one way to go.. And that is to climb back up.. learning no one could do that for me.. I had to haul myself up.. And sort myself out.. Seeing we can be our own worst enemies if we do not take stock of our constant inner chatter..

    Love and Blessings,, and a great article which spoke deeply to me . As I take more of your advice. as I stop worrying about catch ups lol.. on WP.. hehe..
    Take care Madelyn..
    hugs Sue ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • We have a lot in common, Sue. When I first moved to NYC I studied with Eric Pace, who was in the same class with Louise when they were both learning from someone who came before them. The older metaphysical works were fascinating to me.

      Despite the seeming assertion of a popular book, it’s never been a “secret” so much as few people were attracted to take the time to learn about it – or were quick to discount it because it couldn’t be proven using the scientific method. My oldest books (besides scripts, lol) are those written by Troward and his “generation.”

      I don’t believe we *must* come through the bad to get to the good – even though most of us do. It’s all a matter of perspective, and has always been fascinating to me how the words we choose anchor us to the good news OR the bad.

      I’m with you on the catch-ups, hehehe. I keep affirming that I’ll find the ones I need to read and comment upon when the time is right. Sometimes it even works – lol. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave your wonderful comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Mr. Militant Negro says:

    Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Christy B says:

    Reblogged this on When Women Inspire and commented:
    This is an excellent post from Madelyn Griffith-Haynie on how to “stop digging negative brain-trenches so that you can access happier states of mind” and why it is beneficial to do so. Please follow Madelyn’s site ADD And So Much More if you are not already doing so as it is full of many informative posts like this one. I hope you all are having a nice weekend xx

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Christy B says:

    This type of article makes me hop around happy because it gives me more ways to turn negatives into positives – which I try to do! I’ve gotten much better at it with practice. Those negative thoughts are really “sticking” some days though.

    When you say why can’t all days be good ones I immediately thought of my view on it and wanted to share it with you – All days ARE good ones but not all moments within them are. So, I can have bad moments within good days. The whole day isn’t bad!! When I use this perspective I find my contentment with life increases xx

    Another great post, Madelyn!


    • I love-love-love your “moments” perspective, Christy – thanks for sharing it. You have clearly jettisoned the habit of black and white thinking that traps far too many folks.

      I know what you mean about those sticky negatives, however. I keep practicing too, toward the time when I don’t spend a dark moment, regardless of what happens. Some days I almost do it, too! Others . . . well, like I said, I keep practicing.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Oops, my comment somehow disappeared….what I said was that I fully subscribe to what you’ve shared; and I continue to love the way you share psycho-educational offerings…you break them down in an understandable and very engaging way. You are a light that never wavers…thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry for your frustration – but happy to get BOTH of these – lol – especially this amazing endorsement!!!

      Since I seem to attract an unusual amount of link spam (well over a million caught by Akismet alone, according to my sidebar widget), I must now personally approve every single comment that gets through. Since this theme doesn’t give folks a “pending approval” message, they do seem to disappear if I am asleep or away from my computer for a bit.

      So now I get to read your lovely thoughts TWICE. 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • No frustration 🙂 Now I know that I wasn’t losing it (I was convinced I hit “send”)…but, I wanted to be sure and give you the credit and appreciation you deserve, Madelyn 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • What a DOLL you are to attempt a second time! I hope that doesn’t indicate that many folks walk away muttering, surprised when they get my response the next day.

          I know what you mean, though. Before I had to go to this system I blamed the WordPress Gremlins every time one of my comments got “lost” after I hit send. They already attract more than their share of user-anger for legitimate complaints, I’m sure. (Good thing I was too busy to follow through and complain – lol).

          I keep praying that the good folks of WordPress will develop an “approval pending” widget for themes like mine that don’t already notify on send automatically. But I’m sure it’s not high on their list of features we all want added (or put BACK – lol).

          Liked by 1 person

  22. I fully subscribe to what you’ve shared…and, I love the way you share it….you continue to provide such valuable, practical information…we are blessed to have your generous offerings. Thank you, Madelyn 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  23. It seems like those “sticks and stones” are magnetized, Madelyn — and devilish hard to shake off. Then when we finally do, some unseen force pulls them back to us.
    Great post. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Teagan. It DOES take practice – and they never seem to go away forever. Beating them back by “over-writing” with happy thoughts really does help, however.
      PS. FYI – you got autospammed for some reason that makes NO sense to me. Wanted you to know, in case a bunch of your comments go unanswered. I get soooooo much link-spam (millions, really! – spam counter on sidebar) that it is extremely rare I have the time to dig through the trash. Hopefully, now that I have “unspammed” this comment Akismet will learn that you are a legitimate member of my community for the future.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No worries, Madelyn. That happens at my blog too. Worse, all year WordPress has been playing games with email notifications. I haven’t been able to keep up with people I enjoy at all without the emails to prompt me to make a visit…
        Here’s to a good new week. Hugs.

        Liked by 1 person

  24. There is a wonderful book by Zelig Pliskin “Life Is Now: Creating Moments of Joy, Courage, Kindness, and Serenity.” He organizes and hosts “Joy Clubs” (it might be translated as “Happiness Clubs”) in Israel that are designed to serve exactly the purpose you describe, Madelyn. Retraining the brain happens sort of subconsciously and spontaneously in those clubs, as club members are free to just sit and listen until they feel comfortable to participate, I’ve always admired his methods and found his ideas extremely helpful in my work.

    Another thought that came to my mind: as I teach Gardner’s Intrapersonal Intelligence, I usually ask students to list 3 to 5 things they DO to make themselves feel better – not THINK, but DO, i.e. physical action that redirects the brain from “the trench” as you describe it. Your list also consists of physical actions that supply positive sensory feed. I completely agree with you that “thinking positive thoughts” is about as effective as the old joke: Why no alchemist has ever discover the mythical philosophical stone? Because, while conducting experiments, they shouldn’t be thinking of a polar bear, but they focus on it so much that that’s all they keep thinking about.
    When I was about 17, I even wrote a sci-fi story based on this concept.

    Another excellent post – read with pleasure!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great comment, Dolly. Thanks for the Pliskin suggestion — added “Life Is Now: Creating Moments of Joy, Courage, Kindness, and Serenity” to my TBR list.

      I love your exercise as well. I have found “paired sharing” exercises so valuable in live seminars to get people engaged in doing as well as listening – and your suggestion of doing as well as thinking is a great reminder that we may need to work from a number of modalities to find what makes us FEEL good.

      HOWEVER, I never realized that polar bears were responsible for such a loss to the world – lol. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Didn’t you know that polar bears were the ones who sunk Atlantis? Then they realized there was no more home for them and migrated to the North Pole where they opened a Disney franchise and made the famous “Ice Age” cartoon.
        I love doing workshops / interactive seminars where I make people DO and internalize information through sensory experiences rather than just droning into their ears.
        Pliskin lives in Israel. He is a Rabbi Dr (psychology, I believe). He has a thriving practice, he lectures all over the world, and he is an incredibly prolific writer. How he manages all this is a mystery to me, but I make sure to buy each new book of his as soon as it is out, and I’ve found a wealth of ideas in all of them. Highly recommend.

        Liked by 1 person

        • WOW – Atlantis and Disney – I learn SO much from you, Dolly. 🙂

          Thanks for the recommendation. I’m sure the Cincinnati library system will carry Pliskin’s books if he’s that well known. If something is available in any library in the system, they will send it to the branch nearest the top person on request list. Sometimes it’s there the next day — and sometimes it’s already there.

          I’ll get on the list. I have no more room to build shelves to house ANY more books – so until and unless I let go of a few, I get my books from the library. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  25. Another well written post Madelyn. It is chocked full of useful knowledge and practical application points.

    Your final point, “… is to stop digging negative brain-trenches so that you can access happier states of mind — BECAUSE happier states are more resourceful states, and more resourceful states lead directly to more effective Executive Functioning.” is paramount.

    We minute to minute make every effort possible NOT to dig that trench. The enemy so often loves and thrives on those negative things to keep us trapped. Loved your personal sharing of things you do to redirect your thoughts. Simple yet so effective.
    mgh added some formatting to this comment to accent the POINT of the entire article – words unchanged

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for getting the underlying message – as always – and for repeating it. I will bold it so that anyone who didn’t read to the end might see it. I’m glad to read you liked my examples – I’m never sure how helpful what *I* do really is, so this allows me to put that thought to bed. THANKS!

      Liked by 1 person

      • We love the humanity in which you ascribe to your post. These are real feelings, real moments, real people and when you personalize you show your humanity. It allows us to connect on both a cognitive and an affective level.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you for this comment. It’s important to me to be seen as a fellow human being with joys and struggles, just like everybody else.

          I’m simply sharing what I’ve learned works and helps *most* people when they try it – learned from a great deal of experience, both as a coach and as a plain-ole’ human.

          It’s like taking a walk down a sidewalk in need of repair. We may trip over some cracks – or ALL of the cracks – but we don’t fall down once we learn to shift our weight.

          Like most things, it takes practice!

          Liked by 1 person

  26. I will try it… thanks a lot for a lot of good tips … it can be sometimes so easy to change something… if we try and if we are brave enough to try.
    I often get lemons by life but after my epic fail with homemade elderberry lemonade I rather throw the lemons back or at someone who ruined my day ;o)

    Liked by 1 person

    • It does take some practice – I catch myself going down negative rabbit holes still. I catch myself sooner, however, and there are times when I immediately look for the good.

      I sometimes even think life IS lemons – there to teach us to control our own emotions regardless, perhaps, but how much more fun to throw them at downer people we want to go away. lololol 🙂

      Thanks again for stopping by. Tink sends his WOOFs.


  27. -Eugenia says:

    Excellent and timely post, Madelyn. I see nothing wrong with being a Pollyanna, as long as the spreading of goodness is authentic. Also, to face realism with an open mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah yes – lip-service “goodness” is annoying to most of us – spreading the shoulds! There is no “should” about focusing on the thoughts that make us happy – we just feel better and are more effective when we can remember to do it. Over time, it becomes a habit of joy. Thanks SO much for ringing in.

      btw- Sue Vincent’s recent post on Optimism gives some great examples of facing realism with a mind open to reframing positively. I just added it to this post for anyone reading who hasn’t seen hers.


  28. Great post as always Madelyn and loved the way you told us to keep ourselves occupied when we have negative thoughts and make ourselves think positive and it is so true cause every now and then the ego wants to assert its naughty self and pull us down. Thanks for the encouragement and inspiring share.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Sue Vincent says:

    You know I am going to agree with you, Madelyn 🙂 While fear and its fallout do still have a place in keeping us safe, and the fluffy messages of ‘all you have to do is think nice thoughts and the world is a fairyland’ might not be realistic, choosing to find the positives in any situation does change your relationship with them and allows you to move forward with more confidence and purpose. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Yes! Your suggestion to train our brain to switch from thinking negative thoughts to positive thoughts really works. I stumbled upon that concept about 14 years ago, and the difference it has made in my life is like the difference between night and day. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for seconding this advice. Very few concepts that really, really work are unique or new. There are simply new and different ways of expressing them, hoping to reach new audiences and get folks to tweak them and try them so the “vibration” of the entire planet changes for the better.

      I try to “translate” some of the New Age memes into a language that people can understand from a more practical standpoint and might be more likely to embrace.

      Thanks so much for helping!!!


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