Switch On Your Brain is actually the title of a fascinating book written by Dr. Caroline Leaf, a neuroscientist with more than 20 years of clinical experiences. Since the ’80s, she has intensely studied the brain. Caution: I want to mention, upfront, that she’s a practicing Christian who incorporates her faith and scripture into her practice (which I believe only strengthens her scientific positions). With or without the scripture references, the plethora of brain research over the last 20-plus years is quite convincing.
I’m out of my area of professional expertise when it comes to discussing the brain, but I’ll take that risk. Today, we all experience and observe so many situations that seem hopeless and have the potential to drag us down. I found that Dr. Leaf offers some very practical and worthwhile advice for many of us.
For over 100 years, learned students, brain experts, and conventional wisdom believed that the brain was hardwired, or fixed. However, based on volumes of brain research over the past 20 years, Dr. Leaf and colleagues from prominent medical research institutions have come to recognize that the mind can reprogram the brain. The scientific word describing how the brain changes as a result of mental activity is called neuroplasticity. This means the brain is malleable and adaptable, changing moment by moment, every day. Additionally, the research indicates that DNA changes shape according to our thoughts.
Dr. Leaf would say, “You are not a victim. You can control your reactions. You do have a choice.” She would also say neuroplasticity can operate for us — as well as against us — because whatever we think about the most will grow (this applies to both the positive and negative ends of the spectrum).
Dr. Leaf provides a 21-day detox plan, which I decided to personally apply to a 15-year-old issue in my life. Just the idea that there may be light at the end of the tunnel was encouraging for me. So far, it has actually worked. I don’t want to take the space here to explain it, but I would be happy to share my issue with you if you’re interested.
Most of you who know me will probably say that I’m pretty solid, stable, and fact-based. That being said, if you are, or have for some time, struggled with an issue — even something as debilitating as posttraumatic stress disorder, for example — consider at least taking the time to read Dr. Leaf’s book. I found her life views very uplifting and inspiring, and I hope you do, too.
p.s. In previous posts, I’ve referenced Mindset, by Carol Dweck, who coined the terms “fixed” and “growth” mindsets. Her studies support the position that with the proper instruction/coaching and lots of correct practice (deliberate practice), you can get better. I like both Dr. Leaf and Dweck’s views because they provide hope.