The value of training your brain to be positive

Why being kind to yourself is important

wtopstaff | November 14, 2014 11:58 am

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WASHINGTON – There is real value in becoming your own best friend and training your brain to be more positive. And if that sounds strange, consider that it beats turning to chocolate, alcohol or your pet for support, says Elizabeth Bernstein.

Bernstein, the Bonds columnist for The Wall Street Journal, wrote a column about the benefits of supporting yourself through a hard time.

The article is based on 15 studies conducted over the past seven years and led by Mark Leary, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University.

“In times of stress, even people with close social networks can feel utterly alone. We’re often advised to ‘buck up,’ ‘talk to someone’ (who is often paid to listen) or take a pill. Wouldn’t it also make sense to learn ways to comfort and be supportive of ourselves?” she writes.

Most of us would like to think of ourselves as kind to other people, but Bernstein says we need to start by being more compassionate to ourselves.

“I think we’re not as good at being kind to ourselves,” she said during an interview on WTOP. “It’s interesting to me, research shows that people who learn to be kind and sort of care for themselves, they are happier, healthier and they age better.”

There’s no telling why most of us are our toughest critic. But Bernstein says it can be destructive.

“We’re our own coaches for better or for worse. But what I’m seeing in this research, we need to have the kind of coach … [We need] the one that says, ‘Good job.'”

For the article, Bernstein spoke with adults who took on unique ways of staying positive.

“My favorite is the woman who changed all her computer and website passwords to positive affirmations,” Bernstein says. “So they said, ‘You look good today,’ ‘Great job,’ ‘Do good work.’

“She said, ‘I have to type these in several times a day, why not say something good to myself?'”

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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