There is so much hype going around about all the new discoveries of health benefits in things like exotic cactus juices, rain forest leaves, high energy seeds, leafy greens and squashy yellow veggies, red, azure, purple berries packed with antioxidants, there’s even something about alkaline based H2O which claims to make our body chemistry naturally more hostile for those unwanted microscopic invaders attempting to camp out in your body. As the number of miracle cures and promises emerge increasingly every day, their health benefits start seeming more like Tinkerbell’s pixie dust anything else.
One unsung hero of our growth potential, which works tirelessly behind the scenes and between our ears every day, day in and day out, is your very busy beautiful brain. Yes, even without much extra help from the world’s jungles or desserts, without sweat from your local gym, or water from those alkaline artesian wells, nothing found either in your local library, farmer’s market, health food or vitamin isle of your local drug store could ever match the potential of what your brain does for you each and every day non-stop with neuroplasticity.
And talk about green resource efficiency, your brain is masterful at recycling and renewing itself. Nearly all the ordinary daily garbage you present your brain with, your brain persists as your own personal reclamation powerhouse that takes the good, bad and ugly you throw at it every day in the form of toxic food, air, chemicals, and even negative thinking and emotions, seemingly no matter how you may neglect or abuse it, your brain’s neuroplasticity presses on to recover and repair itself. Although neuroplasticity keeps your brain growing, changing and laying down new tracks even under the worst of circumstances it’s paradoxically quite delicate. Some neuroscientists liken our brain to the consistency of a 3 pound bowl of Jell-O. So while this masterful, mysterious and miraculous phenomenon of brain activity called neuroplasticity will continue occurring night or day whether or not you know it, without you even so much as straining a pinky finger to help it, The paradoxical concern about neuroplasticity is that even though your brain is quite resilient it’s also quite easily damaged by neurological diseases, including stroke, injury and exposure to toxins-even common toxins like alcohol. The upside is because of neurogenesis it’s never too late to improve the efficiency and functioning of the brain which includes clarity of thought, memory and emotions which effect everything we do in life.
As Neuroscientist Norman Dodge phrases it, it’s not just my genius or yours but all human beings that can tap into their brain potential through engaging in learning experiences like EEG neurofeedback, Attachment Focused-EMDR, mindfulness and talk therapies—especially those that challenge us to move past pain, negatively and unhelpful habitual thinking. We all can improve our brain’s mood, clarity and problem solving abilities. As Dodge puts it, we all have “The Brain That Changes Itself” (2007). Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson puts it another way, happiness can be “hardwired.” We can find contentment, calm and confidence and it begins with how we use our minds to change our brains which in turn changes our minds for the better (Hanson, 2013).