NEUROPLASTICITY V WITH DR. STRAUSS
Today, I want to talk about two factors involved in getting the most out of our ability to rewire our brains.
The brain can be rewired in a positive and a negative direction: we can get our brain to become more alert, involved, motivated and curious. By the same principle, we can also rewire it to become more detached, distracted, “spaced out”, and listless. It is a choice that needs to be actively made and actively pursued. If we want our brains to rewire for enthusiasm, adaptability at learning better, and remembering better, for positive change, we have to choose to be in the right mood for that. As an example, if I decide that I want to use neuroplasticity to retain physical flexibility longer as I age, the success I will have at that will first and foremost depend on whether I feel like doing a half an hour of stretching exercise as I get up. It sounds like common sense, but even so we often strengthen the old circuits by making an excuse for not doing the planned stretching exercise on the day we planned because we don’t feel like it and think it is alright to postpone it to the next day. By doing that, we are almost ensuring that we will postpone it the next day too, and thus we “doom” the planned stretching campaign by not being in the mood for it.
The more effort we put into trying to break through into the right mood, the more our brain will respond in its rewiring process. In the same way, the more motivated and aware you are of the importance of this process, the greater the rewired response will become. A really neat way to help ourselves in this process is to visualize ahead the importance of the outcome of what we are planning to do in the brain rewiring process. Let us use the example of the stretching efforts of the paragraph above again. The more important the focus on stretching activity is for us, the more it speeds up the rewiring process occurring during the stretching. If we work on maintaining our flexibility, we keep our posture, keep our blood flowing, decreases the strain on our joints, prevent muscle atrophy, AND increase muscle strength. If you consider these severe consequences of not paying attention to stretching as you grow older, then your focus on doing it will increase. And the rewiring is more likely to happen and will happen faster.
So until next time when we talk about more factors involved in the best rewiring of our brain, remember to be positive and enthusiastic about whatever you want to teach your brain to do better, and remember to buy into how important that activity, mood state, or cognitive ability is for you.
Read more on our SHaRP Relationship Program.
About Dr. Pieter Strauss:
Dr. Strauss was born in South Africa, emigrating to Canada with his family in 1995. He has a private practice in the Fraser Valley and sees patients with mental health issues in his community. He was Head of the Psychiatry Department at a regional hospital with a staff of nine psychiatrists until last year when he decided to focus on his practice and his work at our hotel. Dr. Strauss has always been interested in long-term human relationships and envisioned enhancing relationships.