Grow a Brain

Does the expression “Grow a brain!” take you back to the schoolyard?

We all have some funny stories of stupid stuff we (or others) did as teenagers, and how our friends or families reacted. We can blame that on the fact teenagers’ brains are still growing. Turns out we know a lot more about the science of brain development these days, and I find it fascinating.

Now you would have heard the expression “Practice makes perfect”. Obviously, a professional sports person who practices over and over again improves their skills, but repetition also develops neural pathways in our brains.

This is because of Neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself in response to experiences. The brain usually does this because of injury or disease, but researchers from MIT tell us that when humans focus their attention, they can also slowly rewire these pathways intentionally. This is the basis of habits.

A great analogy is a hiking trail in the bush. If the trail is regularly used, it will be a flattened and well-worn path, easy to travel on. If it is rarely used, it will be overgrown and difficult to traverse. Too many of us live on autopilot, traversing the same well-worn paths, but not necessarily the paths that lead to the best destination.

For those who have a growth mindset, and a desire to achieve and be more, there is an option to “grow our brains”, by installing new and empowering habits. Sounds easy, yet for anyone who’s tried “giving up” something, we know it’s not.

The easy stuff is not the rewarding stuff, though luckily for us there are plenty of people who have given us simple hacks for rewiring our brains, which I will explore in upcoming articles.