© 0.4 2019

USEFUL SCIENCE

rewire your brain

the science of rewiring your brain and how you can use it to re-orient your life

Ever feel like you’re a victim of your emotions? You don’t have to be with
a bit of practice. In the book titled, The Science of Happiness, author Stefan Klein points out that people are keen to expend energy in efforts to promote their status or career but when it comes to their happiness —an internal gain—they can be ‘oddly stingy’.

 

A famous study on London taxi drivers provided an overwhelming amount of evidence for the theory that says we can actually rewire our brains since they are malleable—this concept is referred to as ‘neuroplasticity’. Brain scans conducted in the study showed that taxi drivers in London were found to have way larger parts of the brain committed to memory (the hippocampus) than the average human being since their job depends on this skill. The drivers had to practice using this part of the brain on a regular basis, so the brain figured out that the region specific to this action had to be bigger and stronger.

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Connections in the brain are the result of thoughts: when we learn something, new connections form. In fact, once you’re done reading this article, you brain will have made new connections. The concept that we can rewire our brains based on what we use our brain for has huge implications. If someone can rewire their brain to devote more of it to memory, it can be suggested that someone can devote more of their brain to the pursuit and maintenance of happiness.

 

The more you think a certain way, positively or negatively, the stronger these thought channels become. As psychologist Tim Bono pointed out: it is possible for discontent to be a habit, just as much as it is possible for happiness to become a habit. However, strong connections which lead to habits only form when thought patterns are repeated. 

 

Therefore, the more you practice positive thinking, the stronger the connections between neurons become and the more likely this action will develop into a habit. The less you think negatively, the weaker these connections become and the easier it will be to kick this vice. However, the fact is that some people are more likely to think one way or another because of their genetic endowment but being mindful of one’s thoughts is the first step towards change. 

 

To summarize, while we cannot change our genetic luck of the draw, we can change how our genes are expressed and therefore our state of happiness depending on the thoughts we practice.

"It is possible for discontent to be a habit, just as much as it is possible for happiness to become a habit."

Key Concepts

Neuroplasticity, Mindfulness