Rewiring your Brain...can we really do it?
Yes. Think of our brains as softwired (like software is to a computer) rather than hardwired. Because they are softwired we can develop and break bad habits and learn new habits.
A habit, for example, can be anything from riding a bicycle with ease to being positive in the face of stress. A bad habit can be wobbling on that bicycle or being negative when faced with stress.
It's all based on what is called neuroplasticity -- making new connections between our brain cells which are called neurons. New connections = new habits.
For example, the more that you will do it again in the future. To Nike's motto "Just Do it!" -especially don't feel like do it. The point is you are developing a new habit. And making an effort long enough until it becomes effortless.
Here's an acronym: F.E.E.D.
- F -- Focus
- E -- Effort
- E -- Effortless
- D -- Determination
Thanks to wonderful new imaging technology and other tools we can actually see how brains differ and change.
There are some great new discoveries that we all can gain from:
- Neuroplasticity -- Making new connections between neurons
- Affect asymmetry -- How the brain's two hemispheres differ in the way they deal with emotions. LH-positive emotion, RH-negative emotion
- Neurogenesis -- New neurons in the hippocampus-part of the brain involved in laying down new memories -- exercise is one of the best ways to get BDNF (Miracle Grow) going-helps grow new neurons -to change your habits
- Nutritional Neuroscience -- How different foods effect our moods and ability to thinking clearly. For example, simple carbs (sugar and white floor) contribute to imbalanced moods and difficulty thinking clearly
Women who are watching now have a thicker corpus callosum-the band of fibers that connect the two hemispheres-meaning that your two hemispheres work better together than men like Spencer and me. For example, you can hear the emotional inflection in a voice better than we can. And every woman will tell you that men can't.
- In the same way girls learn language 6 months earlier than boys.
- Boys are better at gross motor movement and girls fine motor movement.
- On the down side: Women are twice as likely than men to suffer Depression.
- Don't think the men get away with anything- Schizophrenia effects twice the number of men as women.
Medication should not be the first resort but rather the last resort. Most people who are anxious for example can learn to deal with their anxiety without medication by learning new and effective habits.
- Learning to calm yourself.
- Challenging yourself.
- Thinking clearly about what really is stressful.
Think of it this way: Our brains are one of the highest energy consumers in our body. An imbalanced diet contributes to imbalanced moods. Would you put poor quality gas in your car and expect it to run well? Why do that to your brain?
The food that we eat get converted into the cornucopia of brain chemicals that our brains depend on to function right. You throw in junk and you'll get junky moods and poor thinking ability.
What can people do to keep their brains healthy and long lasting?
Exercise, diet, intellectual challenge, social engagement
Remember the practices for a healthy brain -- S.E.E.D.S.
S -- Social Medicine
E -- Exercise
E -- Education
D -- Diet
S -- Sleep
About John Arden:
"Rewire Your Brain" is Dr. Arden's twelfth published book and his seventh book geared toward a general audience. He also wrote "Improving Your Memory for Dummies" and several self-help books for people suffering from job stress, panic attacks, and other mental disorders.
In 1997, his first book, "Consciousness, Dreams, and Self" won the Outstanding Academic Book Award by Choice, a publication of the American Library Association.