We all know the feeling of being stuck in a rut, far from reaching our full potential and feeling held back by repetitive, anxiety-filled thoughts.
It might be difficult to see how making small changes like exercising, meditating or positive thinking could make a difference. This is because our current state of mind feels so fixed.
It should come as great news then, that the scientific consensus today is that the structure of the brain is plastic. It can shift, rewire and adapt constantly. This phenomenon is otherwise known as neuroplasticity.
We now know that within our brain, neural pathways are constantly shifting and changing routes with new experiences. This means that our sense of self, happiness and the way we think are constantly changing.
This also explains why we can never reach the elusive ‘end point’ where we are happy and contented, living our ‘best life’ under perfect conditions. Instead, our brain is constantly changing and adapting as we move through life.
How Does Neuroplasticity Work?
By ‘working’ certain parts of our brain – returning to particular thought processes again and again – these parts of our brain develop just as a muscle would. To be more specific, the neural pathways that make these thought processes grow physically stronger through use. This makes these thoughts easier to access next time we think of something related.
The more we encourage neuroplasticity in our brain, the more plastic our brain becomes. If the conditions of our life and our experience remains the same, so do our neural pathways and our thoughts. By giving our brain new experiences we can:
- Develop new neural connections
- Actually grow gray matter
- Guide our thoughts in a direction of our choosing – to be more positive, creative, proactive or efficient.
Using Neuroplasticity in Your Daily Life
There are two key aspects to tapping into neuroplasticity: shaking up the brain’s experience and conscious mental reframing.
Conscious mental reframing allows you to shift your perspective on life and works best alongside shaking up your brain’s experiences. This puts your brain in a more plastic and flexible state of mind.
Shaking up the Brain
The first step to taking advantage of your natural neuroplasticity is shaking up the brain with changing sensory input. All of the following are great ways to introduce something new to the brain, calling on little-used neural pathways and forming brand new connections.
- Try Something New
Trying new things throughout your life is the most helpful change you can make to boost neuroplasticity. The more you can immerse yourself in different environments and new experiences, the better for you and your brain.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! It’s actually incredibly healthy for your brain and is a key source of learning. It doesn’t need to be way out of your comfort zone to be effective. Trying something new could as small as taking a different route home from work or listening to a new genre of music.
- Form a New Habit
Adding a brand-new habit to your schedule is a great way of disrupting your brain’s daily experience and strengthening new neural pathways.
This can bring a new perspective to other activities in your day as different parts of your brain wake up and neural pathways start firing. But don’t worry! If your newly formed habit doesn’t stick, feel free to drop it and instead categorise it under ‘trying something new’.
- Learn a New Skill
Learning something new, such as a language or an instrument, has been successfully shown to boost neuroplasticity. It increases the density of gray matter in the brain and creates abundant new neural pathways in the process. This leaves your brain in a better position to learn even more skills, take on additional fresh information and understand new ways to perceive the world.
Choosing the Brain’s Direction
Next comes the second part of tapping into neuroplasticity: nourishing helpful neural pathways. By implementing structured, active positive thinking, you can make your brain more joyful, dynamic, productive and creative.
The methods you could use to form more joyful neural pathways are endless, but some simple ones include:
- Practicing gratitude
- Reframing frustrating situations
- Finding and repeating positive affirmations you really believe.
Our minds are constantly changing thanks to neuroplasticity. However, sometimes we need to be the ones to push for this change.
You’re already one step closer to unleashing your brain’s potential. If you’d like to take advantage of neuroplasticity and experience the positive impact it can have, it could be worth speaking to a professional about what tools are available to enhance your life.
- Neuroplasticity: Better Your Brain with Positive Thinking
- How to Step into Your Growth Zone
- Surprising Benefits of Exercise: Confidence and Creativity
For more professional advice about lifestyle changes, contact us at Ceed to speak to one of our life coaches.