Great news for those in midlife and beyond. I’ve always believed our brains could change otherwise my work as a coach and therapist empowering individuals to transform their personal and professional lives would make no sense. Now there’s a word for it. Neuroplasticity. One of my new favorite words. It means that no matter what your age your brain continues to grow and change. And you even have some control over how that happens. Just imagine, you are the one in charge of changes in your brain. Try these three ways to change your brain and see for yourself. When you change your brain, you use neuroplasticity to transform your life.
Only 10% Of Your Happiness Is Fixed
You have the ability to change the other 90%. At birth and in your early years, a combination of nature and nurture, you developed what is known as a happiness set point. When a thermostat is set for 69 or 72 or even 78, the temperature may be higher but it returns to the set temperature. A Happiness set point is similar. You may be more or less happy but you return to your original set point UNLESS you are willing to change. You do deserve to be happy.
Yes, UNLESS you are willing to make changes. Yes, you can increase your happiness set point. One simple exercise to try is to smile at yourself every time you pass a mirror. Look directly in your eyes and say, “I love you.” This is so simple most people are not willing to do it, even though it has been shown to be one of the number one ways to increase our happiness set points. And just love all those negative judgmental thoughts you have about yourself as you do this. This is where a life coach can help.
When You Learn New Things Your Brain Changes
Imagine you are a London Taxi driver. Taxi drivers in London need to pass a rigorous test requiring them to know all the streets in London. These streets are not set up in a nice grid like many US cities, but more closely resemble a tangled body of yarn. These London taxi drivers are shown to have larger memory centers in their brains than the average person. Learning these streets actually increased the memory centers in their brains. Besides memorizing all the streets in London, there are other ways you can change your brain.
You can increase your brain by learning a new language, a new skill, playing an instrument or doing brain game puzzles. Take a baby step and place your big toe over your comfort zone. Try a new experience, a new way home, visiting a new place or talking with someone different from you helps your brain to grow. Try something new and expand your comfort zone at least once a week.
Be Willing to Feel Your Feelings
Your minds, body, spirit and of course your brain are all connected. When you are willing to feel your feelings instead of holding tightly to the story in your head, your brain changes. Often when I first ask a client how she is feeling, I get a story instead of a feeling.
The four basic feelings are sad, mad scared, and glad. When you hold tightly to your stories, your views, and opinions, it’s like putting your brain in freeze mode. When you are willing to let go of the stories and feel your feeling instead, you allow for possibilities and change.
Feel your feelings and let them pass through you. Don’t act on them. You change and become more authentic and approachable by others. As you are willing to feel your negative feelings and release them you actually make room for positive feelings. You feel calmer and more joyful.
Name your feeling. In this moment are you feeling mad, sad, glad scared or some combo? Naming does not mean acting on your feeling. You can acknowledge that you feel angry about a certain situation. That does not mean you need to yell or scream or punch holes in the wall or rant on Facebook or Twitter. You and your brain grow by acknowledging the feeling. Pausing. Create a space between your feeling and your action. Then determine what you chose to do about how you feel. You get to choose. You become proactive instead of reactive. Doing this over time allows you to be calmer and at peace. Plus, you might end up more empathetic, have better quality relationships and feel more joy!
The Power of Neuroplasticity to Transform Your Life
Our brains continue to grow and change throughout our lifetimes. You have much more control on how to shape your brain than you probably realized. As a coach, I love supporting clients in making these powerful, positive changes in their lives. You can do it! Try these three ways to change your brain and use the power of neuroplasticity to transform your life. Your brain is constantly changing anyway, so you might as well be the one in charge of how it changes.
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