The Happy Brain

Our brains work much like a muscle. We can rewire the brain like building our muscles via weight training. The more we think the same thoughts over and over, it forms a new thinking pathway. This pathway becomes our belief system, meaning, it becomes the tendency for our thought processes. This means that we can teach and un-teach our brains to become happier.

The brain is plastic. The significance of this fact didn’t dawn on me until I watched this fabulous Tedx Talk on neuroplasticity. If you haven’t seen it, you must watch it here.

I’ve taken a number of psychology classes in university. It has always been a strong interest. I have worked with a clinical cognitive counselor for four years. What was I looking for? What answers did I need from the pursuit of a purposeful, content, “happy” life?

I needed to prove to myself scientifically that no matter what my upbringing was like, no matter how untalented I was once made to feel, no matter what trauma I had faced, that I’d have the capability to transform my life to achieve tremendous results.

I needed to believe. I needed the affirmation. I needed science to tell me that my hypothesis is correct.

And I found that answer. It’s scientific. Some evidence proved to be beyond that. The brain is capable of healing, recovering, and thriving to the point that science alone finds it bewildering to explain.

The brain is a complex, yet predictable organ. It can talk itself into happiness. It can talk itself into believing in another reality. It can conceal memories in order to protect its owner. It’s wired to survive. The brain can also stop us from happiness. If it’s wired to fight or flight, if it’s wired to think in scarcity, the brain will stop us from seeking experiences and opportunities that bring us abundance and contentment. It will avoid pain at all costs, even if the experience is meant to bring us joyful results. Much like training a pet dog, we can train our brain to become the machine that builds the life we desire.

So how?

There are a few great habits, such as meditation and positive affirmation. An important aspect of rewiring our brains is to make sure that we do it consistently.

Another important aspect that I cannot stress the importance enough is to have someone who can help you along the process. Someone who can give us a third person perspective when it’s not so easy to practice “positive thinking” and affirmations. Many people have a great social circle and family members. If you don’t, it’s time to reach out and find people in your community, such as clubs, forums, and join my happiness Facebook support group…

And find yourself a counselor. Someone who is scientific and intuitive who can help you through the process, often a lot better than a family member or friend can. Why? Family and friends often let their own experiences cloud their advice. An experienced counselor has been trained in the workings of the human brain and behavior. They have also seen, heard, experienced… so they are able to give a more objective guidance. Anyone who thinks they can achieve a big feat such as rewiring the brain alone is not being realistic. It’s about time that we stop believing in the term “self-made.” There is no such thing. People who claim to be self-made had great opportunities, a support system, and someone who was able to guide them and mentor them to the right direction. Every self-made person had people who stood by them and offered them opportunities and guidance.

Find a few counselors, and have an intro session to find one that is a good fit for you. This can be a process, as it is often hard to tell who would be a good fit for us in a 30 minutes meeting. This is tricky. I went through many counselors before I found my 4-year long-term. So how do we find a great counselor? That will be another post!