Recognizing the Power of Neuroplasticity for a Better Life
I recently finished reading an amazing book that I have to share with you. It’s called The Brain’s Way of Healing – Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity by Norman Doidge, published in 2015. Norman is also the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Brain that Changes Itself (another fascinating read!)
After his first book, Norman said he was inundated with people’s stories of recovery based on changes in their brains. His new book shares these stories of people afflicted with such issues as chronic pain, stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injury, dyslexia, ADHD and several others. He reviews the wide variety of methodologies used to promote neuroplastic changes after traditional medicine told them that there was no hope. These include light therapy with low-energy lasers, filtered sound, movement, devices that send electrical impulses to the brain through the tongue, visualization, and even mental awareness.
What astonishes me is how new this concept is! It wasn’t until around the end of the 1990’s that the scientific and medical communities were convinced that neuroplasticity was real and could be used as a way of healing. Since then, there’s been an explosion of research and new discoveries.
This book was a great reminder of the power of neuroplasticity and that even our thoughts impact our brains. The more we let ourselves dwell on the negative, we reinforce those connections, making them faster and easier. (Neuroplasticity can also have unhealthy outcomes.) When we make the effort to shift our thinking to also see the good, those connections become stronger and easier over time because we’re actually changing our brains.
I’m excited to see what the future will bring as we figure out how to truly harness the potential of this approach – not only for healing but also using self-directed neuroplasticity to intentionally modify our brains to increase our optimism, resilience, and compassion.
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Tina Hallis, Ph.D. is Chief Positivity Officer of The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to helping people and organizations increase their positivity to improve the quality of people’s work lives and the quality of company cultures. She is certified in Positive Psychology, an authorized partner for Everything DiSC®, and a Professional Member of the National Speaker’s Association.