Brain Growth, Happiness and a Healthy Mind

Does it surprise you that the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” has been proven false by current studies in the fields of neuropsychology, neuroscience and healthy aging? Clear evidence from brain imaging studies show that even into advanced age, the cells of the brain are capable of sprouting new connections to other brain cells, creating a more sophisticated – and presumably “wiser“ – brain network. The brain doesn’t seem to stop there. New evidence reveals that the brain actually forms new cells, not just new cell connections. This is important news for the huge numbers of “baby boomers” now moving into older age IF you know how to take advantage of the brain’s potential.

The brain’s capacity to change and adapt (its neuroplastic potential) isn’t automatic or a given. Developing this potential requires specific. Also, practicing these activities has the added benefit of enhancing “happiness” by creating mental resilient and positive outlook on the future. So what are these activities that are so important for good brain health and a greater sense of happiness in life?

•    Identify 3 things each day for which you are grateful.
•    Keep a journal in which you write down one good thing that happens each day.
•    Exercise in moderation daily.
•    Engage in some period of focused meditation or quiet contemplation daily.
•    Perform at least one random act of kindness daily.

Within one month of engaging daily in these five simple actions, structural changes in the brain can be detected. These practices can rewire the brain! Better yet, attending toward the positive side of life becomes a self-sustaining habit that enhances and energizes life itself. Creating more happiness in the world is something that benefits us all. However, there are times when a more basic concern involving brain health and daily functioning (e.g., what to do about memory change with advancing age) needs to be the primary focus. At the Institute for Brain-Behavior Integration (IBBI), we offer a range of services, including comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation services that focus on brain and mind health across the lifespan. If you have questions or concerns about changes that are occurring in your daily functioning or the functioning of a special someone in your life, give us a call and make an appointment (763-546-5797). The potential of the brain and mind is vast, and IBBI is here to help you make the most of that potential.

For your viewing pleasure and to help you learn to increase your happiness at the level of your brain’s neural circuits, we have attached a short video by Shawn Achor, a Harvard-trained educator who provides an enjoyable, humorous and enjoyable talk on the connection between happiness in life and the 5 daily practices described above. 

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