The brain and change

By Melissa Martin

How often do you think about the gray stuff inside your skull?

Brain Facts

The following brain facts will make you go, “Hmmm.” The brain is around 60 percent fat (dry weight). The brain is 73 percent water. “Ahhh.” The brain uses 20 percent of the oxygen and blood in the body. “Ohhh.”

Go to the store and purchase a box of gelatin and make it. Squish the gelatin in your hand. This is the consistency of your brain.

Brain cells are continually forming new connections. It’s called neuroplasticity or “brain plasticity” which happens thousands of times a day. And that gives humans the potential to change. As we experience the world and learn new information, our brains change and grow new connections. So cool! “Your brain contains about 100 billion microscopic cells called neurons—so many it would take you over 3,000 years to count them all. Whenever you dream, laugh, think, see, or move, it’s because tiny chemical and electrical signals are racing between these neurons along billions of tiny neuron highways. Believe it or not, the activity in your brain never stops. Countless messages zip around inside it every second like a supercharged pinball machine. Your neurons create and send more messages than all the phones in the entire world. And while a single neuron generates only a tiny amount of electricity, all your neurons together can generate enough electricity to power a low-wattage bulb.”

So take a closer look at the three pounds of tissue between your ears.

The Thinking and Changing Brain

Thinking and reflecting on concepts that we’ve never considered before can be a catalyst for learning and hence, a method of internal change. As we make meaning out of words and ideas, we experience an opportunity to move in other directions.

However, modifying traditional or sacred beliefs can be uncomfortable and confusing. Revisiting and altering our value system can be chaotic and bewildering. Deeper change is about examining why you believe what you believe. It’s not about changing views for political correctness or popularity. Deeper change involves listening to the diverse opinions of others and validating their right to be different. Step outside of yourself and look at the planet from a distance. You are a slice of a larger pie. And without your slice the pie would not be complete. As you entertain novel thoughts, your brain changes its structure.

The Fantastic Brain

Dr. Daniel Amen wrote a book called Change Your Brain and Change Your Life. “Your brain is the most amazing organ in the universe. It is the organ responsible for learning, strategizing, loving, creating, and behaving,” writes Amen.

Making changes involve the interaction of the brain, the mind, the body, and the environment. Our head could not exist without a body and the environment. Deeper change is about understanding how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors influence each other.

How to Help Your Brain

The research on brain change reports the following as helpful: meditation, reading, listening to music, and spending time outdoors in nature. Like the rest of your body, the brain needs a healthy diet, exercise, and the right amount of sleep for optimal functioning.

Brain Pondering

“Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears,” proclaimed Laird Hamilton. Are you stubborn about any type of change? Do you run away from change or run toward change? Do you fear or endear change? Do you consider change as painful or pleasurable?

Let’s say you are given an opportunity to make changes in your brain. What changes would you make? How would you do it? What would the results look like?

“When I look at the human brain I’m still in awe of it,” declared Ben Carson.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County. Contact her at [email protected]

By Melissa Martin