This New Year, Change Your Brain

By Don Goewey

Most of the New Year’s resolutions people fail to achieve are about health, wealth and love.  Here’s something important to know:  Health, wealth and love all start with a healthy brain.  They are innate capacities neural networks produce.  You can catch all three with one net by making 2011 about rebuilding your brain.  It’s easier than you might imagine. Here are four simple changes you can make that will rewire your brain to give you the good life:

1. Change Your Mind

  1. Be aware of negative, anxious, stress-provoking thoughts whenever they occur. Notice the way these thoughts morph into negative emotions that produce a perception of threat. Don’t try to change these thoughts or feelings. For the moment, simply observe them. If you criticize, blame or condemn yourself for thinking and feeling negatively, simply observe this as another negative thought.
  2. Tell yourself: These thoughts and feelings are in me, not in reality. Take a moment and see the truth in this. Let it sink in.
  3. Don’t believe stressful thoughts: The brain can churn out troubling thoughts at a rate of 50,000 a day. It’s not your fault. It’s the way the brain is wired. You can’t stop thinking, but you can stop believing these thoughts. If you don’t believe an anxious, stressful, pessimistic thought it has no power. It’s just a thought that comes and goes without turning into stress, anxiety, or depression. The more you practice not believing negative thoughts, the more joy you will experience and the more you will see solutions instead of problems. Practice this process for two weeks and see for yourself.

2. Change Your Week

  1. Start the day in quiet. Feel appreciation for the gift of another day of life. Set your intention to have a great day, filled with achievement and sustained through an attitude of peace.
  2. During the day, every two hours, take a “spiritual” break. Step outside or look out the window for a few minute.  Let your mind go completely. Watch the sun shine, the sky change or the wind blow. Connect with life.
  3. Once a week, before going to sleep, count your blessings. Name three things that happened in the previous week for which you are grateful.  Then name three things in your life generally that you regard as blessings.

3. Change Your Pattern

Studies at Duke University found that novelty helps the brain stay young.  Break the mold of old routines and the brain grows.  Travel more.  Get out and see the countryside.  It’ll slow age-related mental decline. So will learning a new skill, like gardening, cooking, square dancing or yoga. These simple changes excite brain cells to make new connections with one another.  Your brain wakes up and you feel young at heart.

“Every time we practice an old skill or learn a new one” says Oliver Sachs, professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University, “existing neural connections are strengthened and, over time, neurons create more connections to other neurons. Even new nerve cells can be generated.”

4. Change Your Chemistry

Walking 30-minutes a day, five days a week flushes stress hormones and oxygenates your brain.  Since it’s not strenuous, leg muscles don’t take up extra oxygen and glucose as it does during aerobic exercise. Studies of people who walk regularly show significant improvement in memory skills.  If walking five days a week feels daunting, then start off walking 20-minutes once or twice a week.  If you can, take your walk in a “green” setting like a park.  Research shows that the psychological benefits of physical activity in green environments are significant.

2 Responses to “This New Year, Change Your Brain”

  1. Edelmira says:

    Appreciate the fresh layout. I really enjoyed the content. Many thanks for a fine blog.

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