The Science of Self-Improvement and Transformation: How to Change Your Mind and Change Your Life

If you try anything — if you try to lose weight, or to improve yourself, or to love, or to make the world a better place — you have already achieved something wonderful before you even begin. Forget failure. If things don’t work out the way you want, hold your head up high and be proud. And try again. And again. And again! ~Sarah Dessen

Self-improvement and life transformation can be scary. Most people are so intimidated by the process that they don’t even try. It doesn’t have to be that hard. You don’t have to be stuck in your old patterns and bad habits.

By understanding how the brain can change by changing your mind and applying that knowledge, you can dramatically increase your chances of improving and changing your life. You can break your bad habits and develop healthier habits. You can overcome roadblocks to your happiness and wellness.

The Science of Self-Improvement and Transformation: How to Change Your Mind and Change Your Life

Brain training can help you achieve your goals and change your life. Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nazareth_college

Unhealthy habits, such as, smoking and over-eating can have serious health consequences for individuals and their families. In turn, serious illness can lead to serious financial problems for patients and their families.

Other unhealthy habits, such as, procrastination, perfectionism, control issues, pathological lying, cheating and other destructive behaviors, can be roadblocks to happiness.

Serious emotional and mental issues, such as, obsessive-compulsive disorders, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety, panic disorder, narcissism and other neurotic or personality disorders can keep people from living a higher-quality life.

You can boost the effectiveness of your life-changing strategy by applying new findings in neuroscience regarding neuroplasticity or brain plasticity.

For many decades, scientists believed that the brain is fixed and immutable; you were stuck with what you were born with and there was not much you could do to change your brain. It was also believed that brain cells died for various reasons as we got older and were never replaced.

Recent studies in neuroplasticity revealed that the brain is “plastic” – it has the lifelong capacity to change its structure and function. The brain can change its biological, chemical and physical properties. It can make new inter-connections for communication and even make new brain cells. Due to neuroplasticity, the brain changes when we learn new knowledge or skill from instruction or experience.

The science of brain plasticity has exciting implications and applications for self-improvement and life transformation. Since the brain can change, it can heal itself after physical, psychological or emotional trauma — it can even repair injury and damage or compensate for disability. We all have the power to change our brains by changing our minds – we can train our brain acquire new behaviors and habits. We all have the power to live a happier, healthier and richer, more meaningful life.

How to Change Your Mind and Change Your Life With Brain Training: What Works and What Doesn’t Work

It’s important to understand what works and what doesn’t work. Most people read a lot and become very knowledgeable about breaking their bad habits as well as living a happier and healthier lifestyle. This is a good thing to do, but it’s not enough.

Some people even go to seminars or workshops to learn how to live a happier and healthier lifestyle. This is good, but it’s still not enough. These activities can keep you busy, but nothing will really happen unless you take action repeatedly and consistently.

Reading about living a happier and healthier lifestyle, going to seminars or workshops and becoming more knowledgeable about it will not help you unless you apply and implement your new knowledge.

There’s overwhelming information about living a healthy lifestyle, but this information can be totally useless if you don’t apply this consistently. Even positive thinking can have limited value. It will take good ideas and practical steps to make things happen. You absolutely must take action repeatedly and consistently.

What really happens to the brain when new knowledge is acquired – and how do you make these changes permanent?

The brain changes every time something new is learned. When this new knowledge is used repeatedly or new skill is practiced repeatedly, the changes in the brain are strengthened.

The changes in the brain can become permanent with repeated practice of new skills or with repeated use of new knowledge. Yes, it’s true! Scientific evidence supports the idea that practice makes perfect.

How does the brain change in response to new knowledge or new skill?

The changes that occur in the brain when learning or performing something new are due to neuroplasticity or brain plasticity.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, neuroscientists started making unexpected discoveries about the previously considered unchanging brain. They found that the brain can change its function and structure when it performed different activities — it “perfected” its neurological circuits until it was better able to handle the task at hand. Neuroscientists started calling this fundamental brain property, “brain plasticity” or “neuroplasticity.”

By applying the scientific findings about neuroplasticity or brain plasticity, some scientists have been able to do the following:

  • Help a deaf person to hear
  • Help a person – blind since birth – to see
  • Help raise IQs and cure people with learning disabilities
  • Help cure people with previously incurable obsessive compulsive disorders and traumas
  • Help people – considered incurable – recover from strokes they suffered decades before
  • Help eighty-year-olds sharpen their memories to function at the same level as when they were fifty-five

The idea that thinking, learning and practicing can change brain function and structure is one of the most important discoveries of the twentieth century.

Like all revolutionary ideas, understanding brain plasticity will have profound effects. Instead of an unchanging brain, studies have shown that children are not always stuck with mental abilities that they’re born with. In addition, damaged brain can re-organize itself and recover from impairment.

The neuroplastic revolution has implications for understanding how addictions, learning, relationships, culture, technology, phobias, disorders, psychotherapies and all forms of training can change the brain.

Understanding brain plasticity also has implications for understanding formation of habits, breaking bad habits and development of new habits. It has applications for self-improvement and life transformation.

For more information about the emerging field of neuroplasticity or brain plasticity, check out, “The Brain That Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge. There are many good books on this subject, but this book is written clearly and provides simple explanation of the science of the brain. The scientific findings are presented in an easy-to-understand manner even for those without a strong science background. It’s extremely fascinating stuff!

Brain plasticity is a good reason why consistently taking action can dramatically increase your chances of breaking bad habits and developing healthy habits. Getting information about new and healthy habits can change your brain. However, dramatic changes will not take place unless you keep practicing your new skills. Without repeated and consistent practice, your new habits will not become strengthened and will not become permanent.

By applying the new findings in brain plasticity, you can have a better chance of breaking your bad habits permanently and improving your life. You can overcome the roadblocks that have kept you from having a better quality of life. Instead of trying and failing repeatedly, you can finally achieve your goals and live a happier, healthier and richer, more satisfying life.

Do you want to live your best life? If you’re willing to change your mind, you can change your life.

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