You Don’t Have To Be a Doctor To Perform Brain Surgery

Have you ever wondered what makes successful people really successful? A lot of people have. For years, scientists have tried to figure out the qualities that make extremely successful people stand out from the rest of the crowd. Theories have been formed around everything from genetics to environment to personality type. Although there are staunch adherents to each theory, no definitive conclusion has ever been drawn. Scientists can muse all they want and put forth their studies; however, most people would say that successful people are just “wired differently.” People seeking counselors in Denver often ask me whether they can change their ways of thinking to be more positive. Research indicates that yes, we may be able to change these types of character traits.

Psychologists and neurologists used to believe that character traits and thought patterns were established early in a child’s life — when the brain was still considered to be plastic or moldable. It was thought that this is when the brain wire permanent connections between neurons within just the first few years. These are often referred to as brain patterns, neuronal pathways, or samskaras. So, it was thought, if someone was a pessimist, it was unlikely that they would ever be an optimist. If someone was shy, they could never be outgoing. And the list continues.

Recent research conducted by reputable institutions such as Stanford University, among many others, indicates that brains can be physically re-wired throughout one’s lifetime. This implies that what scientists once thought were permanent character traits can actually be changed. This re-wiring of the brain and creating new thought patterns is called neuroplasticity.

The methods for creating new brain patterns are many, and many more are still being researched. Lumosity is one company attempting to make this science accessible and impactful to the everyday consumer. By repeating exercises over time, it is assumed that new neuronal pathways can be created so that people can increase their concentration, speed, and flexibility. This research also heavily insinuates that activities such as repeating positive affirmations aren’t a bunch of feel-good nonsense; rather, when practiced consistently over time, they actually may help form new neuropathways that create and strengthen positive thinking habits.

It turns out authors such as Louise Hay, who were once considered to be too far out of the mainstream to be taken seriously, were on to something after all. Since the 1980’s, Miss Hay has stated that positive affirmations could have a physical effect on the brain and the body. Even she admits that rewiring won’t happen overnight, and won’t be an entire overhaul (she estimates that many people can increase positive thinking to about 80% of the time). However, research does seem to indicate she was ahead of her time and was indeed onto something (something that will be no surprise to her fans and readers. Miss Hay went on to found a multi-million dollar publishing company appropriately named Hay House to promote similar ideas.)

So, the next time you’re tempted to say “I’m just not wired that way!” consider that doing so just reinforces the neuronal pathway that believes you can’t change. If you start thinking positively, over time you actually can build and strengthen habitual more empowering ways of thinking.

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