When we are exposed to some outside threat, we experience stress. Our fight or flight impulse takes over. Our new brain (neocortex, also known as conscious mind) shuts down and our old brain (limbic system and brain stem, also known as subconscious mind) takes over. Our focus narrows to the point where most external sensory input is ignored, other than that sensory input related to the threat. We focus on nothing but the threat.
Stress, a negative emotion, narrows your focus. Narrowing your focus blinds you to most everything in your environment, other than the thing causing the stress. This narrowed focus limits your ability to see solutions to your problems. When you are in a state of stress, part of your brain literally shuts down – the executive command and control center goes to sleep.
Individuals who are able to maintain a positive mental outlook, are better able to handle everyday stress. These individuals have their entire brain working for them. They are more creative and the beneficiaries of something called insight. Insight is that spark of genius that solves seemingly intractable problems with one thought.
The most successful individuals have this ability to stay positive during stressful situations. They understand that positivity is the springboard of all creativity and insight. The key to staying positive during stressful situations is stress-awareness. We need to be aware of the stress we are under so that we can calm ourselves, our thinking and avoid falling victim to stress-induced negativity, which shuts down part of our brain, exacerbating the stressful situation.
Solutions to your problems in life requires creativity and insight, which requires a positive mental outlook, which requires stress-awareness. Only when you are aware that you are experiencing stress, do you have any chance of mitigating the effects of stress.
There are many tools to reduce stress: 5 minutes of meditation, deep breathing, humor or anything positive that distracts your mind, even momentarily, from the stressful situation. Once the effects of stress are reduced, then you can rally your entire brain to inspire you with creativity and insight and come up with solutions that will eliminate the problem creating the stress in the first place.
Positivity expands your thinking, opens up your entire brain and is the key to problem solving.