As the new year begins and our warm sunny days continue, for many of us the holidays and our New year’s resolutions are becoming more difficult to keep up. Rather than spend another blog talking about New Year’s resolutions, I thought I would write from another angle – and talk about two aspects to our ability to keep up with our intentions. So let’s talk about our hardware (body/brain) and our software (mind).

I cannot compete with the eloquence of Daniel Amen, psychiatrist and clinical neuroscientist, where he states in his upcoming book Change Your Brain Every Day,

“The brain creates your mind. It is the hardware of your soul. Your brain creates anxiety, worry, or a sense of peace. It stores traumatic events that continue to hurt you long after they’ve stopped, or it processes them for any important lessons to learn. Your brain focuses your attention on relevant material or on meaningless distractions; feels sadness or happiness; creates a healthy and a sick reality; and remembers what’s necessary to make your life better and discards what’s not.”

Even as far back as the 16th Century, Rene Descartes said, “I think; therefore, I am.” (1596-1650). The ability to think, to reason, is the one thing that differentiates us humans from the animal kingdom. We can reflect on our past, imagine what our future can be and plan ways to enable our thoughts to potentially become our reality. Our brilliant brains have developed to such an extent that we are able to remember our past, at times be haunted by it, predict the future, possibly be afraid of it, weigh up the consequences of our actions when making decisions. Our brains have the language of thoughts.

Our thoughts are not spontaneous or random and influence our very biology. They are linked to our emotions in a bidirectional way. Whenever you have a thought, there is a corresponding chemical reaction in your mind and body as a result. This is important to realise because it means that what you think can affect how you feel. And by the same token, if you are feeling poorly, you can change that by changing how you think.

What this means is that if you want to start changing your thoughts, you need to be aware of how, why and what the root cause of some of your thoughts is and also the patterns of thoughts that you have in response to some of your triggers in life. Getting very clear about the triggers of your thoughts will empower you to change your emotions and your health… and ultimately your outcomes.

And this is a good thing – because it means that when you change your thinking, you are having a positive impact on your brain and your body. You are setting up the foundations for new neural pathways that have positive outcomes. Remember, your mind uses your brain, and your brain responds to your mind. Your mind changes your brain. You can choose your actions; your brain doesn’t force your actions.

That piece of hardware in your skull, the brain, is an extremely complex neuroplastic responder and adaptor. Understanding that the mind and the brain are separate entities puts you in the driver seat because it enables you to learn to manage your thoughts and your actions, to choose what to build into your brain and transform what’s already built in.

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