Neuroplasticity, aka brain plasticity, is the brain's ability to “re-wire” or reorganize itself and that is good news for you.
You likely have more control over how you think and behave than you might realize.
At one time, people thought that only “super human” people were able to accomplish fantastic results.
They believed that the brain's development stopped at a certain age and you had to deal with “what you were given.”
Today, we know that is not true and I'll share a bit about what Neuroplasticity is, why it is important and 8 strategies you can start right now to “re-program” your brain for massive personal performance and business growth.
What is Neuroplasticity
The brain is “plastic”, meaning that it can change much easier than we originally believed to be possible.
Neuroplasticity is the process of change that your brain has in its neural pathways and synapses. The changes occur as a result of your behavior, environment or neural processes.
It is continuously forming new (or strengthing exsisting) neural connections throughout life.
Your brain does what is called “synaptic pruning.” This process deletes the neural connections that are no longer necessary or useful and strengthens the ones it deems more necessary.
Here is an illustration to help you see how this works:
When a variety of people walk over or drive over the same land time and again, grass and other vegetation are worn down. Eventually, a footpath or rut is created. Over time, other people see the worn down area and follow the same path vs creating a new one. Areas that are not traveled over, will have vegetation regrow and cover the once existing path.
Your neural pathways are like those footpaths or ruts.
Why Neuroplasticity is Important
Now that we know that the brain is constantly pruning and building new pathways, we also know that we can change our results by changing our beliefs and practices at any age!
Our neurons make connections based on their usage. So if you keep saying or doing things over and over, you’re building a stronger connection to those thoughts and actions.
You are literally creating your reality.
The more you practice something – a belief, a skill, an exercise or a talent – the stronger the connection becomes in your brain.
At the same time, unused neural pathways break apart.
That also means the stuff you don’t repeat becomes more difficult because of weak neural connections. Otherwise known as “if you don't use it, you lose it.”
Science is awesome when we understand how to apply it!
When you actively apply the concept of neuroplasticity to yourself for your business, you are able to become a better leader, better at sales, more creative, etc.
How to Improve Your Neuroplasticity
1. Feed Your Brain Powerful Thoughts
What you think about matters. Monitor your “self-talk.” The more you ruminate on something, be it positive or negative, the more of a “rut” you are creating in your brain. The pathways you create get stronger with repetition until the behavior is your new normal. Likewise, if you stop focusing on something, those neural pathways can weaken or even disapear if not used.
If you practice new beliefs, you’re able to break bad habits.
If you tell yourself it’s okay to chase your dream, it will become a reality.
It's not magic or “woo woo” thinking. Training your brain is just like training any other muscle. You need repetition to make an impact.
2. Reduce Stress
Remember when I mentioned that what you repeat gets stronger in your neural pathways? That includes how you respond to stress in your life.
Stress is detramental to healthy neuroplasticity. Start by reducing the amount of stress that you have in your life. Stress can be situational as well as environmental. Look at both areas.
If you cannot reduce your stress, practice changing how you respond to it.
3. Play with Brain Twisters
We start creating habits the day we are born. Long-time habits create deep neural pathways that become subconscious. One way that you can create new neural pathways is to alter your subconscious habits.
Jim Kwik is a specialist in optimal brain performance and offers a number of Kwik Brain Challenges on his site. One example that he gives is to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. At first, it will feel very wrong! But over the course of a few days you will see that it gets easier. This exercise is a great example of how quickly our brain can begin to adjust when we ask it to do different things.
4. Read a Book for Fun
Not only is reading a novel for fun a great way to reduce stress, but a study at Emory University found that reading fiction creates heightened connections in the brain and increases your creativity.
5. Art Appreciation for Brain Growth
Creating art or going to a museum and taking in art and thinking about art are great brain exercises!
In his article called How Art Changes Consciousness, Jacob Devaney wrote “When you observe a profound piece of art you are potentially firing the same neurons as the artist did when they created it thus making new neural pathways and stimulating a state of inspiration. This sense of being drawn into a painting is called “embodied cognition”.
The photo shared here was taken by me. “Neuron” by Roxy Paine reflects ideas about nature, industry and artistic processes. She used reclaimed stainless steel to create it. The photo was taken on 2019.08.22 with my iphone while riding on a moving tour trolley sitting between my son, David, and husband, Marlon, at the Fred Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids Michigan USA. The photo was the inspiraton for this content.
6. Make Money (and All Your Other Work) Meaningful
When you are working just to work, you have little motivation to do the tasks that you are unmotivated to do. Define the meaning or purpose for the work that you do and your brain change will be more significant. Dr. Michael Merzenich, author of Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticiy Can Change Your Life, says that when you are motivated and focused, your ability to enhance your neuroplasticity increases significantly.
Here is an example of what that might look like:
Rather than saying, “I want to make an additional six figures in my income next year,” express how that income will be used. Why is that six figures important? To pay for your child's college tuition? To go on fabulous vacations? To buy your dream home? To start that foundation that helps a cause dear to your heart?
Getting specific on WHY you are doing what you are doing allows you to see the future results and motivates you to create those new neural pathways to success.
7. Reflect on New Learnings and Experiences
Journal or otherwise do some kind of reflection after having new experiences or new learning. In 2015, researchers for a Harvard Business School study found that people who were asked to pause and reflect on a task they’d just performed improved at greater rates than those who just practiced a task.
Your reflection can include writing down or discussing strategies or goals for the next time you do the same thing as well as important takeaways. How you felt or how the experience was different than expected are also great ways to reflect.
8. Create a Healthy Ecosystem by Practicing Powerful Self Care
Sleep, hydration, physical movement and good nutrition are good for creating a healthy brain environment!
Sleep is critical to your brain's ability to reset brain connections, clear waste from the brain, re-energize the body's cells, support learning and memory, and assists in regulating mood, apitite and libido. While you are sleeping, your brain is actively working!
Research has also indicated that sleeping shortly after learning something new helps you to retain information and improves your memory.
This is why I reject the “I'll sleep when I'm dead” mantra that many people spout. Practice good sleep hygiene.
Hydration – Drink more water! Our bodies & brains are mostly water AND most of us are dehydrated. Think of your brain like a kitchen sponge. When it is wet, it is pliable & electrical charges can flow well. When it is not, the electric currents cannot fire as easily. Don’t let your brain be a dry crusty sponge! Drink at least 1/2 your body weight in ounces of pure water daily. Also consider, eliminating caffeine because it dehydrates.
Physical Movemenent is beneficial to your brain, because it helps to stimulate chemicals in the brain that impact the strength/health of your brain cells.
Good nutrition is all about feeding your body fuel for premium output. By eating foods that are nutrition packed, you help your brain protect itself.
Any one of these choices done consistently will start you on a path to a stronger brain and business. How cool is that?
I know it can be challenging to do these things consistently. Self-improvement takes effort. That is why only top performers practice these “tricks.”
It can be especially difficult if you don’t have someone there to help you get through the beginning of retraining your brain. That’s why the coaches exist. 😉
If you'd like help, let's talk!
You can start to improve your neuroplasticity at any age and any time. Pick one and get going.
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