You know how when you play Tetris for awhile, even after you stop, you can still see those little falling blocks in your mind's eye?
The persistence of Tetris isn't simply an annoying effect of a cleverly designed game, according to scientists. Instead it's a reflection of something deeply positive about our brains--their plasticity.
That's a according to a recent post by iDoneThis founder Walter Chen on productivity blog buffer. He cites studies on Tetris (yes, there is such a thing, and yes, this is going somewhere helpful to non-video game addicted entrepreneurs), which found that playing the game for a few hours a week over a period of months, actually changed the brains of players.
"Every time you reactivate a circuit, synaptic efficiency increases, and connections become more durable and easier to reactivate," Chen writes, before summarizing the importance of the findings: "Whenever you do specific tasks over and over again, they take up less of your brain power over time."
That's probably not a shock to anyone who has learned to play the piano, speak a foreign language or even hit a tennis ball roughly where you want it to go. So what's the big deal? This same brain plasticity allows you to master simple skills or sports, also allows you to train yourself to be more positive.
Chen quotes Shawn Achor, the author of The Happiness Advantage who has previously spoken about his work on the brain and happiness to Inc. Just like we can train our brains to more easily recognize the patterns of Tetris, “we can retrain the brain to scan for the good things in life—to help us see more possibility, to feel more energy, and to succeed at higher levels,” Achor says, dubbing this ability "the positive Tetris effect."
So how do you do this? Chen offers four very simple interventions that can, over time, actually rewire your brain to see things more positively:
Looking for more details? Chen's post has much more on the science and what actually happens physically in your brain. You can also check out Achor's interview about how happiness affects brain function (hint: it doesn't make it worse), or get tips on how to reframe situations more positively in the moment from my colleague Geoffrey James. Finally, if you're looking to add more mindfulness to your day, check out this post on how many entrepreneurs incorporate meditation into their lives.
Do you agree that it's possible to alter you basic orientation towards the world and become more positive?