In working with patients as well as communicating through this website, I have long advocated for incorporating change into your lifestyle by resolving to make small ongoing changes in three areas: health and fitness; activities that involve thinking; and the social area – particularly involving helping others.
I have described the process of making changes in three areas as “the proactive positive explosion” or the “game changer”. Those of you who have followed my advice can easily relate to these names be cause you have seen that this pattern of behavior makes change and growth a part of your definition of your self. Once it is part of your life, there is no going back and unlearning it – just as you can’t unlearn how to walk or speak, so long as your health and functioning is normal.
Part of the reason that change is incorporated into your life under these conditions is the fact that it is rewarding. Once that you become confident that you can change and grow and feel good about it, it removes the inhibitions to learning new ways of thinking and doing.
But you may not be aware of another thing. Your brain can actually change! Research conducted with functional MRI, has demonstrated that brain cellular growth and change can occur throughout the lifespan in response to new learning, and optimists’ brains function differently than the brains of pessimists.
Why do some of your coworkers enjoy their jobs more than others? Why are some busy people able to take on another task with enthusiasm? Why do some people look at challenges and see opportunities where others get overwhelmed? There is good evidence to suggest that their attitudes, their behaviors, and their brains are different.
The good news is that you can join them if you are willing to make a commitment to change and growth – which is really a commitment to being the best self that you can be.
Ron Kaiser, Ph.D.