It’s all in your head: Neuroplasticity and Happiness
We’ve all heard of miraculous stories of human beings who have been able to recover completely after a traumatic injury or experience. Many of these people have gone further than just survival and have thrived and flourished remarkably. One explanation behind these magical outcomes is something known as Neuroplasticity.
Our brains are truly extraordinary and neural pathways can be created or discarded, according to our experiences. The term Neuroplasticity was first used by Polish scientist Jerzy Konorski in 1948 where changes in neuronal structure could be observed, in response to interactions in the environment. Unlike what was previously believed about the brain, it has now been discovered that the brain is dynamic and its architecture can change. It is actually possible to stimulate new circuits within the brain’s neuronal machinery. This “malleability” is the brain’s ability to literally change shape over time, for the better or worse.
People who continuously experience chronic or traumatic stress, or who hold a negative state of mind with feelings such as anger and resentment, shine a “spotlight”, so to speak, on the neuronal pathways, that strengthen these states of consciousness. With training however, scientists are showing that neural pathways in the brain can literally be rewired. By focusing attention or awareness on positive moments and experiences, the neuronal pathways build upon and strengthen positive states of mind. Pathways that regulate emotions, thoughts and reactions can be reprogrammed and recreated to move us away from feelings of fear and anxiety and towards feelings of joy and happiness!
Rick Hanson, bestselling author and psychologist, points out that it is possible to stimulate our neuronal pathways to cultivate positive states of mind, and therefore enhance our wellbeing. People, who consciously practice gratitude, benefit from higher flows of reward-related neurotransmitters like dopamine. Synapses or gaps between neurons become stronger and new synapses form. This is also the case with those who practice mindfulness techniques such as meditation and deep breathing.
In a world where we are experiencing higher levels of stress and chronic diseases from environmental triggers, it is encouraging to know it is possible to preserve and even enhance brain health. We can skillfully stimulate positive mind states and therefore strengthen the pathways for a long-lasting effect like many people regained their happiness through Neuroplasticity. As the famous saying by the Canadian scientist Donald Hebb goes, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.”
Here are 5 ways to rewire your brain towards happiness:
- Keep a Gratitude Journal: acknowledging the positive things and blessings in life reduce inflammation and increase positivity.
- Travel often: exposes the brain to novel stimuli and new environments.
- Learn a new language or a musical instrument: enhances formation of new neural networks.
- Get quality Sleep: encourages learning retention by increasing connections between neurons.
- Fast Intermittently: decreases the risk of neurodegenerative disease, improves cognitive function and synaptic adaptation.
Based in Dubai, the Hundred practices a holistic approach to wellness, which means they focus on how the three main areas of your life – body, mind and soul – are connected and how they can be optimized to improve your overall sense of well-being and happiness, as we experience the magic through Neuroplasticity. The team has been painstakingly curated to truly help our clients feel at home – and at peace. Each and every piece of art at The Hundred Wellness Centre has a purpose and a story behind and it’s a journey to finally finding its home here, and you can read more on the tales of some of the pieces that are dotted around the space by visiting our website, or the next time you visit just ask one of our team based in Dubai! We can help you navigate holistically through all things health, wellness, and movement. Give us a call on +9714 344 7333 today to learn more.