How It Can Transform Your Life
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2
In my first blog post I stated that I am a Christian. I believe that science can explain how the mechanics of neuroplasticity can alter our thinking but God is the architect of those mechanics. So for me as a Christian, if I truly believe that then wouldn’t it make sense that as Christians we should ask for God’s assistance in the “renewal of our minds”? This is where, for me as a Christian, science and faith intersect. At one time I tried to change my way of thinking by just applying the principles of neuroplasticity, (just positive thinking) but there were always components missing – true contentment, joy and peace. It all become complete and made more sense when I turned to God for assistance and allowed His Will to work in my life.
I ended by first blog by identifying the next topic regarding God’s handiwork – the brain. I want to begin by discussing neuroplasticity. I’m not trying to come across as an expert in this field. I am not a neuroscientist. I just learned the principles of neuroplasticity, then applied them to my life. I love this word and what it means, because it gives me hope. It means I am not stuck with “stinkin’ thinkin'” and old learned negative behaviors. Just because I’ve experienced things I didn’t like in my past, I don’t have to continue on that path. I don’t have to continue to be that person if I don’t want to. I am not doomed to an unhappy, depressed, or unproductive life. And the same goes for you too.
Your brain was marvelously designed. God installed a “built-in-system,” so to speak, to enable you to change, grow and become the person you were created to be, no matter what situation or circumstance you were born into. Some of you may not have been dealt the most optimal hand and have suffered hardships in one form or another. But there is hope.
It was once believed that the brain was a static organ after a certain age – an old dog can’t learn new tricks. Science has found this is NOT true. Your brain changes throughout your lifespan – no matter what your age. Neuroplasticity will not change your eye color or height, but it can change aspects of your personality, abilities, evolve you into a happier and more productive person and so much more. When the bible says we are to renew our minds, (Romans 12:2) we really can on a cellular level. (Who Switched Off My Brain? Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions – Dr. Caroline Leaf). I love science, but it is only discovering what God has already made. I want to always keep that point in the forefront and in perspective. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is just, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8. In other words, think more positive, grateful and loving thoughts on a consistent basis. I realize that sounds easier said than done. True, but that’s where neuroplasticity and faith come in to play. Consistency is the key.
What is Neuroplasticity?
You may have heard that the brain is plastic. You know that it is not “plastic.” It means the brain has the ability to change and is malleable like plastic. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to rewire and create new circuits at any age as the result of input from the environment and our conscious intentions – we can create a new level of mind. This is why what you think, say and do are so important.
“The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45
Is it really possible to change old ingrained habits, learn new things or change the way we think and behave? The answer is a resounding YES. Research has given us insight into how we can change our brains. With advanced technology, science knows the mechanics of how your thinking can affect you and the goings on behind the cellular scene that bond your thoughts into hardwired behaviors that have been passed down from generation to generation. It demonstrates how those nasty little habits are formed (those things about yourself that drive you or your loved ones crazy) or made you into the wonderful person that you are.
Old habits are hard to break, but the key is that the power to break an undesired habit, make a decision to learn something new, or expand your horizons, belongs to you. Whatever, your mission, YOU have to change something you’re doing. The turnaround amounts to giving up unconscious behavior and adopting conscious new patterns to get you out of undesired behavior(s)/thinking. This is called meta-cognition – thinking about what you are thinking about.
Once your mind begins to pay attention, your brain can build new neural pathways to reinforce what you learn. Applying awareness in any form, through such things as resolve, discipline, good intentions, and mindfulness, has the power to create neuroplastic changes. Now things are shaking, moving and evolving in you. The practical dilemma is how to use your strengths, motivation and faith to help yourself remain committed to wellness as a lifetime pattern.
“We are what we repeatedly do – excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle
I hope this has been of some value to you. I know it has been for me. I can feel neuroplastic changes evolving in me, but the changes have been slow, over a long period of time – years. But don’t despair, the rate of change varies from person to person and when it happens, you will be glad you took the effort to evolve your brain. It took time to get you where you are today, so it stands to reason it will take some time to develop new thoughts/behaviors, which in turn will transform your mind, attitude and life. It’s been an uphill journey for me, and one that I am still on. I used to say that I had a good day every now and then. I now can say that I had a bad day every now and then. God is amazing and how He designed us.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce my friend Dan Dendrite who will show up in some of my other blogs. I created him a few years ago when I was still working.
The human brain has approximately 100 billion neurons. They communicate with each other via dendrites creating neural pathways. Each neuron grows dendrites, similar to branches on a tree. The more dendrites the healthier the neuron is and the more connections they can make. Dendrites receive information from other neurons and have the ability to grow and shrink. Learning and engaging in challenging activities stimulates their growth, while stress, diseases, and substance abuse, for example, can cause them to shrink back.
In my next blog I will discuss some of the principles of neuroplasticity that you can apply to efforts in making any changes in your life. In the meanwhile, think about what you are thinking about. If your thoughts/actions don’t line up with your new vision of yourself, change them till they do. Be consistent, persistent and insistent in your resolve.
—-Blessings to you. Peace. Out.