Our Brain is Not Set in Stone


I grew up hearing my parents talk about ‘the power of positive thinking’, which in my teen years soon became a detested phrase. When you are feeling down, it’s just not that simple to ‘think positive’. While I was right, that you can’t just flick a switch and feel up when you are down, there is fascinating research about the brain that does support positive thinking.

So here’s the deal, our brains can change - the actual shape of the brain and how it functions. Earlier research suggested that this was only the case during childhood, but today’s research shows that this is true throughout our lives. Our brain changes based on the things that we do and think often. This is Neuroplasticity.

For example, the part of the brain that controls the fingers, becomes larger and more active in the brain of a professional pianist than in the brain of a biker. What is maybe even more fascinating, is that the thoughts we think reshape our brain in the same way. Yes, the things we think, the intentions we have, can strengthen certain parts of our brain. Amazing isn’t it?

So, if you want to change something about yourself or you want to achieve something, a powerful place to start is with your thoughts. Whether you want to feel more positive emotions, to be more optimisitc, have stronger will power, to manage your emotions better and be able to read the emotions in others more effectively, the reins are in your hands. Pay attention to what you are thinking - choose your thoughts wisely so that you can shape your brain the way you want.

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Begley, S., Davidson, R., (2012). The Emotional Life of Your Brain, Hodder & Stoughton

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