Your Brain is Your Circus; Your Thoughts are Your Monkeys
We supposedly have 70,00 to 80,000 thoughts per day, 80% of which are negative. Ninety-five percent of all those thoughts are said to be "rooftop chatter" - incoherent, idle thoughts that mindlessly skip across the top of the brain. For over 50% of the population, these incoherent thoughts take place even while a person is doing something. In other words, these people are not paying attention to whatever it is they're doing.
We have no control over these thoughts, however, until they are given substance by our feelings. And theses feelings come from one of two sources - fear or love. Thoughts that are given substance by fear-based feelings (such as anger, frustration and anxiety) will become physical life events that we experience as "negative" or "bad". Thoughts given substance with love-based feelings (such as gratitude, peace and happiness) will become events we experience as "positive" and "good".
But how do we control the feelings that give our thoughts substance? We now know that the average human brain has something on the order of 100 billion neurons. Neurons are cells that are specialized to pass electrical signals (information) to other neurons; synapses are the means by which the neurons pass information to one another. Each neuron is connected to up to 10,000 other neurons, which means that the number of synapses in the brain is between 100 trillion and 1,000 trillion; that's 100,000,000,000,000 to 1,000,000,000,000,000.
Over time, neurons "wire together", which means that synapses that repetitively fire simultaneously with each other create pathways of information that become solidified, or wired together. A neural pathway that is wired may consist of 100,000,000 neurons; when any one of the neurons in the pathway is stimulated, the information carried by the entire pathway will become activated and will produce a behavior corresponding to the dictates of the information carried by the neural pathway.
The brain is neuroplastic. This means that neural pathways can be changed or modified by behavior, environment and newly acquired neural processes. A fundamental principle underlying neuroplasticity is that individual synaptic connections are constantly being removed or recreated, largely dependent upon behavior, repetitive thinking, environment and physical trauma.
"When something difficult happens, emotion drives,” Brown told the crowd at the Smith Center. “And cognition, thought and behavior are not riding shotgun and telling emotion where to go. When something difficult happens, thought and behavior are tied up in the trunk and emotion is at the wheel.”