In today’s stress filled, hectic world, more and more people are experiencing mental fog. They feel dazed and confused, having trouble concentrating on key tasks. Others need a brain boost to allow them to get through their workload, be it at school or at work. It’s no surprise, then, that a relatively new class of supplements have become hugely popular in recent years. These compounds are specifically designed to enhance your cognition and boost your brainpower. They’re called nootropics.
There are now literally hundreds of supplement companies that have jumped on the nootropics bandwagon. In this mega-article you’ll not only discover the how, why and what of nootropics, but we’ll also give you the tools to sort out the best from the rest when it comes to nootropics supplementation.
What Are Nootropics?
- 1 What Are Nootropics?
- 2 A Short History Of Nootropics
- 3 Requirements Of A Nootropic
- 4 Natural vs Synthetic Nootropics
- 5 The Autonomic Nervous System
- 6 Who Needs Nootropics?
- 7 How Safe Are Nootropics?
- 8 Sort Out The Basics First
- 9 Neurotransmitters
- 10 Classes Of Nootropics
- 11 Natural Nootropics
- 12 Nootropic Stacking
- 13 The Top 5 Benefits Of Nootropics
With today’s hectic lifestyle demands, many people are relying on prescription drugs, caffeine abuse and sugar packed energy drinks to prevent burnout and allow themselves to get through. Nootropics offer a safe, healthy alternative.
Nootropics such as NooCube are able to revitalize the nervous system, calm you down, enhance your memory and allow you to become a more efficient human being. With the right nootropics, you’ll be able to work smarter and harder!
The word ‘Nootropics’ is derived from the Greek words nous and trepin. The best translation is ‘to bend the mind.’ This may sound a little scary, but the reality is that the mind was created to be flexible. Flexibility of the mind is, in fact, the key to unleashing the creativity, efficiency and overall brain power of your mind.
Nootropics are natural supplements that are specifically designed to enhance brain power, energy, attention and cognitive ability. Certain nootropics can also enhance your sleep and mood. They come from natural sources.
Researchers have, in recent years, been focusing on a term called neuroplasticity. This word simply means that the brain can be changed over time. This means that habits, addictions and patterns of thinking can be changed over time as well. Nootropics can enhance this ability.
However, nootropics will not turn you into a genius. You won’t be able to read War and Peace in an afternoon or be able to remember the contents of Encyclopedia Britannica in a single session. What they can do is to gradually enhance the ability to focus, think more clearly and do more.
A lot of people interchange the words ‘nootropics’ and ‘smart drugs.’ But there is an important distinction between the two. Nootropics are compounds that do not have any side effects or toxicity. Smart drugs are only available through a doctor’s prescription and may carry side effects. Smart drugs are usually synthetic, or manmade. A few nootropics may also be man-made, but the vast majority of them contain ingredients that are sources from Mother Earth.
Nootropics are available in many forms, including as a powder, capsule or liquid. Some nootropics are even aromatic, so that you sniff them into our system.
A Short History Of Nootropics
Even though the word Nootropics is relatively new, the idea of boosting mental performance has been around for thousands of years. Everything from meditation to mind altering herbs, plants and psychedelic compounds have been used through the centuries to produce a mind-altering effect.
One of the oldest and most popular nootropics is the plant Camellia sinesnis var. sinsensis. Its common name is green tea. Folktales and other records tell us that green tea was being used at least a thousand years ago to achieve a mental boost.
The key to green tea’s brain boosting effect is an amino acid called L-Theanine. It has been shown by scientists to enhance a particular brain wave that increases concentration and attention while, at the same time, reducing fatigue and stress.
Green tea was especially prominent as a brain booster in ancient China. In the Amazon region of Ecuador, the Waos people used various plants and poisons that came from frogs to boost their cognitive ability and their eyesight.
These couple of examples highlight that humans have been attempting to push their mental boundaries for eons of time.
Requirements Of A Nootropic
To be classified as a Nootropic, compounds should have the following qualities . . .
- They should enhance learning and memory.
- They should enhance resistance against learned behaviors such as electric shock and hypoxia (lack of oxygen).
- They should protect the brain against various physical or chemical injuries, such as those incurred by pharmaceutical drugs.
- They should possess very few side effects and have extremely low toxicity.
- They should increase the efficacy of the tonic cortical/subcortical control mechanisms, leading to an improvement in both conscious and subconscious behaviors.
Unfortunately, the term nootropics is used very loosely and many products are marketed as nootropics that do not cover these five areas.
Natural vs Synthetic Nootropics
Nootropics may include both man made and natural ingredients. The word natural obviously denotes substances that are safer than those that are synthetic. However, when it comes to brain enhancing substances it is the science which determines the level of safety.
Just because something is a natural doesn’t make it healthy. After all, there are a lot of natural mushrooms in the wild that will kill you with one bite. On the other hand, there are plenty of synthetic compounds that are absolutely safe.
The Autonomic Nervous System
In order to understand how nootropics can help boost your brain, you need top get a basic understanding of how your mind works. Let’s do so by delving into the wonders of the autonomic nervous system.
There are two branches to the autonomic nervous system. These are known as the Sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is characterized by rest, relaxation, recovery and healing. On the other hand, the sympathetic nervous system, which is also known as the fight or flight syndrome, helps us to adapt to an emergency situation. We are wired to respond to these threats and to handle them. The process begins with the released of cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream. This pumps the blood faster to allow us to act more quickly. Usually an emergency situation only requires us to sprint or fight for a few minutes at most. After that, it should switch back to the parasympathetic state to allow us to recover and rest.
For thousands of years, we had all the necessary nutrients and tools we needed for rest and recovery post stress. However, our modern world creates stressors that are ongoing. The result is what we could call chronic stress.
We were not made to deal with chronic stress. One area that it negatively impacts is the hippocampus, which is the brain’s memory center. It needs to be healthy for the conversion of short-term memory to long term memory.
Our primitive wiring thinks that every stress situation is an emergency situation. As a result, the body never gets the chance to switch over to a relaxed state of mental being. But unless our parasympathetic system is engaged, we will not be able to focus.
In order to create the focus, memory and attention we need to do well, we need to have a coming together of good nutrition, exercise, quality sleep and nutritional supplementation.
Who Needs Nootropics?
A lot of the research into nootropics is carried out on elderly people. This is because this is the population group that most commonly suffers from cognitive decline. These are a natural target market who would benefit greatly from nootropics.
On the other end of the spectrum, busy working businesspeople, entrepreneurs and executives who are trying to get every productive minute out of their day will also benefit from nootropics.
Teachers, scientists and other professionals often work extremely long hours, miss meals and take unhealthy stimulants to help them get through They, too, are a natural choice for nootropics.
Another obvious choice for nootropics is college students. Of all groups, college students are the most likely to abuse unhealthy substances in order to give themselves the focus and attention they need. The great thing about nootropics is that they can provide the focus and brain boosting power that students need without any risk of dependence, withdrawal or bad side effects.
Brain injury victims are another group that benefits from nootropics. But you don’t have to be one of these groups to experience the benefits of nootropics. If you’re after a clean, safe, non-addictive, healthy way to boost your brain’s ability then nootropics are for you.
How Safe Are Nootropics?
The easy answer is ‘yes’. There have been literally thousands of double-blind placebo-controlled studies on the safety and effectiveness of nootropics.
One result of all of the studies done on nootropics is that they have what is called an inverted U-shaped dose reverse response. What this means is that just a small dose of a compound may be effective. A little bit more may result in a ‘peak experience’, but too much of it may result in diminished performance, including brain fog and anxiety.
From this we can see that, when it comes to nootropic ingredients, more definitely is NOT better.
When two or more nootropic ingredients are combined you may get either an antagonistic or a synergistic effect. The compounds in nootropics may be helpful to prevent the loss of brain cells as well as reversing cognitive deficits and other mental disorders caused by a myriad of stressors.
Sort Out The Basics First
Nootropics are supplements. That means that they are supplemental to the rest of your life. This is a critically important point because you cannot expect just to take a supplement and miraculously get brain benefits. Unless you have got the other areas of your lifestyle operating optimally for brain benefits, you will simply by wasting your money with a nootropic supplement.
So, what should the rest of your life look like?
Here’s a quick overview . . .
- A healthy diet that is rich in nutrients and anti-inflammatory foods
- A good exposure to natural sunlight
- Regular, sustained exercise
- A balance of isolation and social interaction
- 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night
What A Good Diet Looks Like
When we talk about the word diet here, we are using it in its original meaning – as a lifestyle pattern of eating. We do not mean a calorie restricted period of eating. A hundred years ago, the vast majority of the foods we eat now did not even exist. The majority of them are created in a laboratory.
In view of all of this, most people are not eating either for good physical or mental health. Here is what you should include in your diet . . .
- Meats, such as grass-fed beef, bison, venison, and pork, in moderation
- Fruits consisting primarily of berries for their high antioxidant value and low sugar content, including (but not limited to) blueberries, black- berries, raspberries, and strawberries
- Vegetables and safe starches consisting of dark leafy green vegetables for their high antioxidant value and detoxification compounds such as spinach, kale, broccoli, Swiss chard, and sweet potatoes, and white rice in moderation.
- Herbs and additional seasonings to enhance overall health and brain function, such as cilantro, rosemary, lavender, garlic, Himalayan salt, and pepper
- Healthy fats, such as avocado, butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and dairy
Brain Boosting Exercise
The cognitive benefits of exercise are well established. In fact, studies have shown that regular exercise can actually be more beneficial for the treatment of major depression than commonly prescribed depressive medications.
One study, which was published in the Journal of the American medical Association (JAMA) looked at three groups of depressed patients. One of the groups took part in an aerobic exercise program, another was given an antidepressant and a third group was given both. After a period of 16 weeks, 60 percent of the exercise only group no longer met the requirements for major depression.
You don’t have to join a gym to get the benefits of exercise. Simply getting into the daily walking habit is a great start. MRI scans of the brain reveal an incredible amount of improvement in blood flow and cognitive performance after just a 15-minute walk. Physician and cardiologist Paul Dudley White, advocated “a vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.”
Importance Of Sleep
When you don’t not get enough sleep you are actually putting stress upon your body. Just lying in bed for eight hours is not enough. You have to actually be asleep for your body to rest, recuperate and regenerate itself. During the evening hours, melatonin, a sleep hormone that is known to have cancer fighting properties, is raised to its highest levels. It does so in order to nourish and protect your body and your mind.
Getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night is a key to healthy brain performance, focus, attention, mental clarity and
Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that control our moods, emotions and other feelings. There are more than a hundred of them. A proper balance of neurotransmitters is critical to a healthy mind.
There are two types of neurotransmitters – excitor and inhibitory.
These two must be in balance for your system to function optimally. If they are not in balance you are likely to suffer from cravings, mood disorders, weight problems, poor concentration and sub-par performance.
Excitatory neurotransmitters help keep you moving. The three most powerful are . . .
These three are responsible for focus, drive, memory and the ability to handler stress.
Three of the most powerful brain chemicals that are responsible for focus, drive, memory, and the general ability to handle what life throws at you. Coffee, caffeine, cigarettes, sugar, and other forms of stimulants.
Inhibitory Neurotransmitters are the opposite to exhibitory neurotransmitters. They act to inhibit the firing of an action. The most common inhibitory neurotransmitter is GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA can be thought of as the “brakes of the brain,” since it is commonly recommended as an over- the-counter supplement for anti-anxiety and relaxing effects. Adequate levels of GABA are what allow you to feel calm and satiated when you eat.
Classes Of Nootropics
There are a number of vitamins and minerals that have been clinically proven to positively impact upon your memory and cognitive functioning. The most researched and well-known are the B-Vitamins and their derivatives. As a result, many natural nootropic formulations include b-vitamins on their ingredient list.
Each b-vitamin provides specific nootropic benefits. That’s why it’s a good idea to take a b-complex supplement rather than limiting yourself to a single B-vitamin. Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) has been shown to improve mood and motivation. B3 provides the brain with energy and B6 helps in the production of key neurotransmitters.
As we get older our ability to absorb Vitamin B lessens, making it all the more important to supplement.
Racetams are nootropic drugs designed to improve the memory. Researchers know that they work but they are not exactly sure how.
Racetams were first developed in the 1960s. They are generally what people talk about when they refer to ‘smart drugs.’ The effects of these supplements are generally mild.
Racetams are synthetic, or manmade. They will generally do more than improve memory, also being able to enhance cognitive performance, and attention span.
Adaptogens are a category of plants, herbs, nutrients and other compounds that allow the body to adapt to and deal with various types of stress. They include such things as medical mushrooms, herbs and roots. In fact, there are a large number of adaptogens in the natural world.
For thousands of years adaptogens have been used to switch on and off stress modulators. Adaptogens will decrease the body’s reactivity. It is the key stress fighter in the nootropic world.
Adaptogens are not designed for a single goal, such as getting better sleep.
Adaptogens can help with the following issues . . .
- Depression and mood disorders
- Autoimmune diseases
- Mental stress and physical stress
- Sleep disorders and insomnia
- General immunity
Cholinergics are compounds that interact with acetylcholine in a number of ways. Some of them inhibit an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase. This enzyme actually breaks down acetylcholine. Too much of this breakdown will lead to reduced mental alertness. So, the supplement actually allows acetylcholine to do its work uninhibited with the result that you have a better memory, attention and level of focus.
Other cholinergics increase the sensitivity of receptors on the brain. Some of these nootropics are acetylcholine precursors, which are the building blocks of acetylcholine. Supplementing with precursors is the most effective way to boost the brain’s functioning.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates your mood, social behavior, appetite and many other functions. Serotoninergic work directly on the serotonin system to create a greater sense of peace and calmness. Blanking out your serotonin levels will allow you to experience . . .
- Increased ability to take on new learning
- Greater levels of relaxation
- A sense of calmness
- Reduced anxiety levels
Dopamine plays a huge role in your overall cognitive ability, focus, memory, attention and drive. Boosting your dopamine levels will allow you to . . .
- Improve your sense of clarity both visually and mentally
- Increase your motivation to pursue leisure or business tasks
- Increased your alertness for sports, working, and driving
Anxiolytics are designed to reduce anxiety levels. A key way it does this is by boosting the levels of GABA that is produced by the body. This class of nootropics will allow you to gain some relief from stress, improve sleep quality, have a clearer mind and improve perception.
In this section we’re going to zoom in on the most effective natural nootropic ingredients. These are the ingredients you should be looking out for on the product labels of the nootropic blends that you’re considering purchasing.
Theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid. It is abundant in green tea leaves. It is recognized as an anxiolytic nootropic with the ability to relax the mind without causing drowsiness. When stacked with caffeine, it may relieve depression, boost mental focus and overall mental performance. It has also been shown to improve the quality of sleep and relieve the symptoms of stress by bringing about feelings of calmness, while also reducing the heart rate and blood pressure. It also has the ability to prevent oxidative damage in the brain.
Theanine works by boosting the levels of calming brain chemicals. It also reduces concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol. L-Theanine also increases levels of the calmative neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and GABA, all of which are important for regulating mood, alertness, sleep, and energy.
Reishi is a very bright red herbal mushroom which is not toxic. It includes such compounds as polysaccharides, triterpenoids, proteins, and amino acids which have been seen to treat anxiety, reduce stress, and lessen fatigue.
The reishi mushroom has a tough, bitter baste. It is more commonly found as a tablet or as an ingredient in a nootropic blend tablet.
Clinical research has confirmed that taking reishi can improve memory and learning. It has also been shown to reduce neuron cell death. Reishi also has anti-depressant properties, while also protecting the memory center.
Lion’s Mane is another mushroom variety. However, it doesn’t look like one. They look kind of look like pom-poms. It is covered in dangling spines. Lion’s Mane contains a class of compounds that stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF). This is a small protein that is important for the growth and maintenance of brain cells. Lion’s Mane has been shown to increase NGF levels.
A 2010 study from the Biomedical Research Journal in Tokyo, Japan took thirty females and gave them cookies containing either lion’s mane mushrooms or a placebo. A reduction in depression and anxiety were found in the group that consumed the lion’s mane cookies.
Cordyceps is a type of fungi that includes about 400 species. Cordyceps sinensis has been used medicinally for almost 2,000 years. There are few human studies on this compound. However, a large number of animal studies have shown it to improve learning and memory in rats. This appears to be due to its action on acetylcholine receptors.
Cordyceps sinensis has also been seen to improve exercise performance. As a result, it is a popular gym pre workout supplement.
Vinpocetine comes from the periwinkle plant. It has an enhanced ability to cross the blood rain barrier increases blood flow to the brain. This leads to improved cognition. Researchers do not fully understand the mechanism of action of the compound, however.
A 2014 study in the Annals of Medical and Health Sciences Research that included patients with cognitive impairment showed that taking a 5 mg dose twice a day for 12 weeks was enough to improve memory and concentration.
Vinpocetine has anti-inflammatory qualities, as well as vasodilating properties, both of which improve cognition. It has also been shown to improve memory.
In one study in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, twelve healthy female volunteers received various amounts of vinpocetine and were put through a battery of psychological tests that would analyze their memory and reaction time.
Ginkgo biloba is one of the most popular nootropic supplement ingredients of the moment. It is derived from the gingko biloba tree and contains chemicals known as flavonoids and terpenoids. These are antioxidants that can quench free radicals that contribute to an aging mind and body.
A 2013 study in the Public Library of Science assessed the association between ginkgo supplementation and cognitive function over a 20-year period. They found that the cognitive function of the ginkgo supplementation group declined less rapidly than the group without treatment. Another group in the study used
piracetam as their nootropic of choice, and found that this same beneficial effect was not attained. When compared to the piracetam and no treatment group, the ginkgo group had the only and most profound effect on preventing mental decline.
Gingko biloba is often used as an alternative form of treatment for children with ADHD
Huperzine Serrata is a firm moss plant that contains the nootropic compound Huperzine A. Huperzine A acts on the acetylcholine system and is an acetyl- cholinesterase inhibitor. It has been shown to have powerful brain boosting effect. It provides for an increase of acetylcholine the brain because it prevents the breakdown of neurotransmitters.
In a trial run on subjects with mild to moderate dementia, 12 weeks of huperzine A supplementation significantly improved cognitive function, and no adverse effects were found.
Combining Huperzine A with a stimulant such as the low dose caffeine found in matcha tea has been shown to boost the cognitive effects of the compound. Huperzine A is also able to cross the blood-brain barrier. Combining it with L-Theanine has been shown to improve forgetfulness.
Relora is a patented blend of two natural compounds. The first are taken from the bark of the magnolia tree. The other is the amur cork tree. Together they have been seen to relieve anxiety and depression. They do this by acting on the GABA system.
Rhodiola Rosea is commonly known as golden root. It is marketed as a mood and energy booster. A key compound with rosea is rosavins, which gives it antidepressant and antianxiety effects. Recent studies have identified another compound, known as salidroside, which has been found to be more active than rosavin.
A 2013 study by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research on the effects of rhodiola supplementation on endurance exercise performance (10-minute warm-up with a 6-mile time trial on a bicycle ergometer), researchers found that rodiola ingestion significantly de- creased heart rate during the warm-up and reduced how difficult the exercise seemed, which increased the performance.
Rhodiola is considered to be an adaptogenic nootropic. This makes it beneficial as an anxiety reducer. But it is most commonly used as a mood and energy booster.
Also known as Indian ginseng, Ashwagandha has the scientific name of Withania somnifera. It is an adaptogenic herb that has a long history of use in India. Somnifera translates as ‘sleep inducing.’ However, this nootropic can also be used as an energy enhancer. Ashwagandha is able to boost catecholamine which includes adrenaline and dopamine. This increases memory and personal; motivation.
This is a good choice for people who are suffering from burnout and people with adrenal fatigue.
Bacopa monnieri is also known as the herb of grace. It has long been used as a cognitive enhancer in India. Its active compounds are called bacosides. Studies have shown that these compounds can greatly assist to improve the speed of attention and memory recall. It has also been shown that stacking bacopa with rhodiola results in improved mood.
Bacopa has a unique ability to protect dopamine receptor dysfunction in the brain, which helps maintain your energy and drive.
Alpha GPC is the common name for L-Alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine. This is a cholinergic nootropic that delivers choline to the brain. This then leads to an increase in the cognitive boosting neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Alpha GPC is produced naturally in the body but only in small quantities. However, studies have shown that it only becomes effective as a brain booster at higher concentrations – thus the need for supplementation.
Choline is a B vitamin that promotes proper brain functioning. It is a precursor and a building block for acetylcholine. As a supplemental form of choline, Alpha GPC is able to cross the blood brain barrier.
Panax ginseng is one of the most studied forms of ginseng, which is, in turn, one of the most natural supplements that exist. The word Panax can be translated as ‘cure all.’ It has long been used in Chinese medicine as a general adaptogen and tonic to promote longevity and enhance bodily functions. It has been shown to combat stress, fatigue, oxidants, cancer and diabetes.
A 2010 study in Human Psychopharmacology administered 200 and 400 mg doses to thirty volunteers for 8 days. The 200 mg dose slowed a fall in mood, but the 400 mg dose improved calmness and mental arithmetic, giving it a nootropic-like effect.
A 2013 study in the British Journal of Pharmacology compared to the two nutraceuticals, ginseng, and bacopa, which have consistent acute and chronic cognitive effects, to that of the smart drug modafinil. It was found that ginseng and bacopa had greater effects for specific cognitive tests over that found in modafinil use.
Lemon Balm is a mint that is popular in culinary flavoring. It acts on the GABA receptors, which makes it an effective stress fighter. It also acts on the acetylcholine receptors.
A 2002 study in Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior examined the ability of lemon balm on cognition and mood, after being put through a stress simulation test.
Subjects reported calmness and showed a significant increase in the speed of mathematical processing.
Gotu Kola is fast becoming the go-to nootropic of the Western world. Recent research has shown that it has potent cognitive effects.
A 2008 study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology using gotu kola daily for two months found that elderly patients experienced an increase in working memory and mood.
Gotu Kola is most commonly used to improve mental clarity and reduce fatigue.
Stacking refers to the practice of combining compounds, nootropics or other supplements together to produce and enhanced effect. A common example when it comes to nootropics is stacking L-Theanine, which boosts GABA levels to calm the nervous system, with vinpocetine which boosts memory power. Adding it to L-Tyrosine will balance out the stimulating effects of tyrosine. You could also combine caffeine with theanine, alpha-GPC and vinpocetine to produce a calm but alert mental result.
Companies will often combine stacks into ready-made formulas that are marketed under alluring brand names.
When checking ingredient stacks on products labels, be aware that some companies will use proprietary blends. They will list the ingredients but won’t tell you what the dosage of each ingredient is. They do this for one of two reasons. They may be wanting to protect their formula or, which is more, likely, they might be underdosing the ingredients. Using a proprietary blend allows them to use an inexpensive dosage but still market the inclusion of that ingredient.
To the best of your ability, stay away from proprietary blends.
The Top 5 Benefits Of Nootropics
Let’s round out our discussion by reviewing the top 5 benefits of taking nootropics . . .
Most of us struggle with concentration. This is especially a problem with children who are constantly being exposed to new stimuli on their phones and computers. Nootropics help to overcome the feeling that you’re being forced to concentrate. It makes focusing a natural, easy thing to do. You will be able to concentrate on a task for many hours straight, while also maintaining alertness and clarity of thought.
We all want a better memory. Nootropics help to support and repair the functions of memory such as working memory and recall ability. Some nootropics even enhance brain cell growth and improve connections between neurons. This ensures greater synaptic plasticity while, in turn, improving the function of the memory.
Improved Brain Health
The crazy, stressed out modern Western lifestyle plays havoc with the health of our brains. Nootropics counter this effect by increasing oxygen slowly to the brain. They also help to maintain neurons and other brain cells. Some nootropics even promote the growth of brain cells.
A loss in cognitive ability and memory recall is an accepted part of the aging process. However, many studies have shown that nootropics have a powerful ability to fight against such age-related conditions as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Dementia.
Nootropics are able to boost a person’s mood by acting on the mood enhancing receptors in the brain. It is this that allows people to overcome stress, anxiety, depression and other issues while increasing focus and developing a more positive outlook.