By September 25, 2013 16 Comments Read More →

The Amazing Ways Your Thoughts Create Your Brain

Flickr - Brain - Lnk.SiDeane Alban, Contributor
Waking Times

Of course you know that your thoughts are generated by your brain. But you may not have considered that in many very real ways, your thoughts create your brain, too. Let’s see how this can be so.

How Thoughts Change Your Brain

Every thought creates a neural connection. If you think a thought often enough the neural connection will grow strong, particularly if there’s an emotional attachment to it. Conversely, if a memory has little use, is rarely stimulated, or has no emotional attachment, eventually those neural connections will largely wither away from disuse.

Thoughts also change your brain by stimulating the production of brain chemicals that change the structure and function of your brain.

A good example is what happens to your brain under stress. When a situation you perceive as stressful occurs, it increases your level of the stress hormone cortisol.

Prolonged exposure to cortisol literally excites some of your brain cells to death, particularly in the hippocampus where memories are stored. This alarmingly can cause measurable shrinkage in this part of the brain.

Conversely, stress feeds the amygdala, your fear center, causing it to grow, leaving you more fearful and anxious.

Excess cortisol halts the formation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein which acts like fertilizer to encourage the growth of new brain cells.

Research suggests that chronic stress stimulates proteins that may even be the cause of Alzheimer’s.

Thoughts That Don’t Serve You

Psychologists have labeled certain negative thought patterns as cognitive distortions. These are common ways your mind will try to convince you of something that isn’t actually true.

See if any of these thought patterns sound familiar to you:

  • Obsessively dwelling on an unpleasant event.
  • Seeing everything as black or white with no middle ground.
  • Using words like “always” and “never”.
  • Jumping to conclusions.
  • Catastrophizing – seeing the worst in every situation.
  • Taking things personally.
  • Blaming others for your problems.
  • Blaming yourself for things outside of your control.
  • Being driven by “shoulds”, “shouldn’ts”, and guilt.
  • Going to any length to be right.

Most of us think this way at least some of the time. It’s pretty easy to see how these kinds of thoughts are working against not for you. They can lead to a lot of unhappiness, not just for you but for those around you.

But changing your thinking is hard. Are there any fool-proof ways to make it easy?

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Besides years of psychoanalysis, is there anything that you can easily do to change negative thought patterns?

You can take some wise advice from an unexpected source – a popular bumper sticker that says “Don’t Believe Everything You Think”.

Next time you catch yourself falling into one of these patterns, remind yourself that you don’t have to believe it just because you thought it. Recognize a negative thought for being what it truly is – a cognitive distortion – and challenge it instead.

You may recall a popular self-help book from the 90s – You Can’t Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought. The next time you find yourself thinking negatively, remind yourself that this is true.

Your thoughts are powerful.

They create brain chemicals that are either adding to or subtracting from your brain health, ability to cope with life, and happiness.

Quiet Your Mind with Meditation

One of the simplest and most effective techniques to gain control of your thoughts is with meditation.

Over 1,000 studies have been published proving the health benefits of meditation. People who meditate have stronger neural connections between different parts of the brain. Their brains show less atrophy due to age and have more neural synapses.

Regular meditators experience improved focus and concentration, greater creativity, stress reduction, better sleep, and even improved immune function. Meditation can make you happier, smarter, and more resilient to handle life’s ups and downs.

Continually monitoring yourself for negative thoughts and challenging them is no easy task. You have to be vigilante and you must be willing to look at yourself with unflinching honesty.

But being a “mind warrior” is worth the effort. Gaining control of your thoughts is one of the best things you can do to improve your brain, your happiness, and overall quality of life.

About the Author

Deane Alban has taught and written on a wide variety of natural health topics for over 20 years. She is co-founder of where she teaches how to keep your brain young, healthy, and fully-functioning for life. She hosts a weekly podcast and is the author of Brain Gold: The Anti-Aging Guide for your Brain. Sign up for her newsletter and get a free special report – “5 Causes of Brain Aging“.


– Depression Doing the Thinking
– Building the Evidence for Meditation at

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  • Great article! Really speaks to the benefits of meditation.

  • xAnonymous

    Find The.Luciferian.Doctrine.pdf

  • Giovanni Montana

    Let say.. just ignore what you heard or seen, like none is my business? Men with balls make things happen, but men without, vote Dumbcraps, because they have no vision and they are underdeveloped persons, the result we experience at this time, they learn how to cheat, how to survive on others back

  • Hal

    Your thoughts are NOT generated by your brain–to wit; The Near Death Experience, where there is a disconnect from the brain and yet the experiencer thinks, remembers and is conscious. Also, there is much evidence through hypnotic regression where a person relates memories and experiences based on the MIND (consciously or sub-consciously) being active–not the brain. So, it would be more proper to state that thoughts are generated by the mind. No one knows where that entity is, and is definately not centered in the brain but is seemingly connected to that computor.

  • Faye Brown

    So this is how the brain changes it’s electron negative state of consciousness to the state of Positive neuron consciousness .. and why I consider scripture says; “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

  • Brigitte

    If we apply this research and consider the results of the mind control operated by the big medias like TV, Hollywood, and the music industry, it is alarming to think how brains steeped in negative emotions which are vaidated by the media stories (greed is good, revenge is a valid goal, hatred, contempt, etc.) then it is no wonder society is the way it is.

  • hp

    I don’t think, therefore I am not.

  • Victor Gagnon

    Absolutely a great article! Thank you.

  • keldoone

    Our brain is merely a very (squared), very(cubed), ten to the whatever.. capable computer… garbage in equals garbage out. How you choose to participate in your life is what generates your life. Blaming anything only creates more of what you think/feel you don’t want.

    There has been so much research on the brain. Starting way back, the line up was that we are “smarter” than everything else because we have a larger brain. Totally untrue… if this were true we would not have hydrocephalic genius’,… people with little to almost no brain and yet are far smarter than most people.

    Then research developed where we mapped the brain and decided where we actually see, feel , hear and taste… etc. Yet that produced alot and virtually nothing. We still do not know where and how we create thought… The brain merely reflects process it does not start the process. And memory storage is still up for grabs.

    And now the new stuff.. new only because it appears to have been hidden for so long that it seems new. The heart has more neuron tissue than muscle… and has an electromagnetic capacity that is 5,000 times that of the brain. It is now strongly suggested that when a person “thinks” from or through their heart their intelligence goes through the roof. All of a sudden people know things they aren’t supposed to know.

    So, we may be educated via the brain, our opportunity is to begin connecting to the heart. So, lets take a look at the heart. there is no way mechanically that the heart can pump blood (for example) through the foot. The capilaries that run between cells are so small that blood cells can pass through only in single file… there is no way the heart can give that push… blood is moved through the body by activity of the body and the muscles of the veins, and arteries all the way down to the capilaries. The heart moves an incredible amount of blood but more importantly it moves… it is a rythm section par excelance. And in that movement it portrays your thoughts, your lifestyle and your beliefs.

    And the heart has incredible connection to the brain (or is that the other way around?) the left brain is capable of a few tasks at any given time, yes, ladies much like most men… the right brain is capable of millions of multiple tasks.
    Left brain is logic, analysis, time, facts, space, right, wrong… whereas the right brain is creativity, poetry, artistic endeavors… example: when you are in the embrace of some one you “love” time flies… when you are in the waiting room with nothing to support creative out put time drags… really drags.

    The right brain has far more connections to the heart than the left brain. And yet we must remember that the left brain is important; it is good to know how to dress, how to drive a car, where home is, etc.

    The down side is that we are “taught” in the left brain… Outside of art class or music, when did the prof ask us to feel about a subject? It was/is always – what do you think! I hated it when a teacher asked what a writer was thinking when he or she did what ever… How the scribble would I know?… yet I could tell you how reading their works or viewing their art, made me feel!

    So the opportunity in front of us is to indeed, learn to meditate… and much more so re-learn how to play… how to be spontaneous in the moment, start having more fun… having fun will in a short time actually become productive if one lets it. Tell more jokes, laugh more often, play with kids… stop and smell, yes, the roses or what ever flower is present, actually give yourself permission to day dream… get back to being alive.

    Thank you for this opportunity to play… with and about your right and left brains.. hope you enjoyed it as much as I.

    • Anonymous

      Love this. you are right about the heart connection. Great post

  • Brigitte

    Meditation is touted as a remedy for a lot of psychological unease. I tried it, signed up and paid top $ for a course and went to sessions several times a week. But I could never stop my mind! As quiet as my body was, my mind was racing all the time and I didn’t benefit.
    I fold a very effective, easy and no-cost solution to meditate: to do something with my hands. It doesn’t matter what you do, what matters is to focus your attention on a *visible* task. Then your mind stops racing and you achieve a state of relaxed concentration. Performing your task from start to finish will bring you the results that elude you when you sit eyes closed on a yoga mat.

    • jewieeriq

      Y R BIPOLAR !!!

    • ray

      thats also a form of meditation. you dont always have to be sitting on a yoga mat to meditate. for examlpe, walking meditation is quite benefical.

  • Mick

    “of course you know that your thoughts are generated by your brain”

    are you sure thoughts are generated by the brain?

    I beg to differ

    • Stv

      Yep, thoughts are generated by the brain. That is, assuming you are using Alan Watts’s definition of “thought.” To wit: the internal linguistic processing of stimuli. Key word here is “linguistic.”
      Consciousness on the other hand, is a whole other matter. Most certainly not created by human brains, indeed not even requiring brains of any sort.

    • Rich

      If you beg to differ, please provide a scientific evidence or studies that supports your position.

      According to the latest fMRI studies, when a person initiate a thought process, portions of the brain will light up depending on his or her thought. Does this indicate that the thought itself originates from the brain? Answer is no, since we dont know for certain but does this prove that our thought originates outside the brain? Again, answer is no. In fact, fMRI research actually support the assertion that our thoughts originate from the brain.

      Nice work!

      Even though the headline was a bit provocative, (as with almost all of Waking Times headlines) this article is the one of the best i have seen from this website. All of his assertions are based on latest scientific research and he makes a very key connection between stress and neurological development.

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