The Most Important Breakthrough in Our Understanding of the Brain in Four Hundred Years (Part I)

by Don Goewey

One of the great scientific discoveries in the last twenty years is something called neuroplasticity.  Norman Doige of the Research Faculty at Columbia University said: Neuroplasticity is the most important breakthrough in our understanding of the brain in four hundred years.

Neuroplasticity is the discovery that the brain can change itself to expand and reorganize networks that make us smarter, happier, healthier and more successful in life. It’s what Aristotle defined as The Good Life.  These positive results are produced by positive neuroplasticity. Positive neuroplasticity builds the brain that delivers The Good Life.

Positive neuroplasticity can even be facilitated within a company, taking the company from the proverbial good to great.  It does this by tapping more of the collective brain power that years of stress have eroded. The level of emotional and creative intelligence, individually and collectively, can actually lift from average to exceptional and in a relatively short period of time.  This is why positive neuroplasticity is seen as the new competitive edge. 

It Couldn’t Be Simpler

Attaining the Good Life takes a great brain and it turns out that building a great brain is achieved through simple means, constituting a kind of effortless effort.  Initially, the biggest struggle for people is getting free of struggle. Most of us have been trained to put our nose to the grindstone. The new research points us in the opposite direction.

I spent several years in a think tank, investigating proven processes that facilitate positive neuroplasticity and often I was astounded by how simple it is to facilitate this exponential gain in brain power. Below are three examples, all of which I recommend you practice on yourself:

Example #1: Rewiring to End Stress

Rewiring your brain to transcend stress involves practicing a simple skill that requires less than 20 seconds to perform. The skill entails heightening your awareness, day to day, of all the stress-provoking thoughts and feelings your mind generates and indulges. Practice not believing these thoughts and it creates a condition within the brain for stimulating the growth of GABA fibers. These fibers extend down from the prefrontal cortex to the lower brain and they secrete a peptide that extinguishes stress reactions. Through awareness, you direct your brain to modulate intense emotions.  In response, your brain literally mobilizes the prefrontal cortex to stimulate GABA fibers that force the stress response system to stand down.  Fight, flight and freeze are summarily circumvented.  It’s one way of  curing anxiety, stress and aggression. Neuropsychiatrist, Daniel Siegel of UCLA, is using this type of positive neuroplasticity to quell bullying on school playgrounds.

In next month’s blog post we’ll include an additional two examples you can try on yourself.

If you found these tips from Don Goewey of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in his self-paced, downloadable courses at


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