Each and every one of our negative habits, be they thinking habits, behavioral habits, or emotional habits, we can condition ourselves out of by creating new habits through repetition. Not only does this have an effect on who we are and who we become, but it also has an effect on our biology, specifically, our brain and is therefore an effective method of increasing intelligence.
The biological component of repetition of new habits and behaviors is fascinating and inspiring because when we change our thoughts and persistently practice new habits (behaviors or skills), we also retrain our brains. We formulate new neural pathways, make new synaptic connections, and veritably enhance the part of our brains which corresponds to what we are practicing.
Learning a new language enhances the language and memory centers of the brain, while chess would develop centers relating to memory, and problem solving, and so on. But the fact of the matter is this: by choosing to think in new ways we literally transform and improve our brains, and thus our mental faculties.
When we think in new ways, our neurological pathways change. This is significant because it opens the doors to new potential and new abilities within us. These new neural pathways are the biological component of new thinking patterns. Our thoughts once again are shown to influence the physical world in definite ways, and they literally change our biology.
New research is validating the neuroplasticity of our brains, meaning that our brain’s are not hardwired. We do not have a set neuronal structure which is determined at an early age and remains fixed throughout our lives. Instead our brains are constantly changing.
A fascinating idea that was put forth by Rudolph (Rudy) E. Tanzi and Deepak Chopra in their new book Super Brain, is that because our brains are constantly changing, and we can consciously rewire and develop our brains in new ways simply by learning new things, learning must equate with evolution.
Therefore conscious learning is conscious evolution.
Though our brains do not evolve randomly because it is not our brains which choose what to think. We have the ability to choose our own thoughts, and in essence, we as pure consciousness choose what to think, the thought appears, and that manifests itself in our body as neurons firing in a specific pattern.
What this means is that your brain is malleable. It is always changing, and it is you who decides exactly in which way it changes. Your intention to learn something new, to learn a new skill or master a new subject or a language, is what ultimately determines the capabilities of your brain. In another way, it is likely that you are the only one who determines your intelligence, abilities, potential, and creativity based on either the limitations you set for yourself, or the limitations you choose to overcome.
A New Relationship with the Brain
Negative thinking in regards to our memories and our minds, saying the we ‘aren’t smart enough’ or that we have ‘poor memories’ for example, is just a way of conditioning our brains to not be intelligent and not have powerful memories. For one because when we think that way, those thoughts manifest as our biological and neurological reality. Secondly because when we believe in those limitations we don’t put ourselves in the position where we can condition our brains to grow in new ways.
Take language for example. It is ironic that some people say they are ‘bad at languages’ when the majority of people can speak their native tongue just fine. A very small minority are genuinely ‘bad at languages’, whereas the rest of us are not. We simply believe we are bad at languages and therefore haven’t studied them. The combination of our avoidance of them, self-doubt, and our resulting lack of persistence, passion, and desire in our pursuit of new language skills means that we never give ourselves and our brains the opportunity to become good at languages.
But if we take the time to recondition our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions by putting ourselves in new circumstances and adjusting along the way, then we can retrain our brains literally and develop new skills and neural connections which will help us improve at whatever we have decided to do/learn.
Thus we are increasing intelligence in whatever form we are specifically cultivating it.
The biological component of habits I find truly fascinating and inspiring because it displays perfectly that we are not our biology, and that we have no limitations. Our brains develop in whatever way that we choose to develop them with our conscious decision to learn new things, and to think consciously by practicing mindfulness.
The key here is persistence. If you want to learn a new skill but doubt yourself and never try in the first place, of course you will never succeed. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” is a well-known saying it basketball, and it is absolutely true. How can you succeed if you are not willing to give yourself a genuine opportunity to?
How are you going to learn something new and tap into your potential if you do not give your brain the time to form new neural pathways in order to accomplish the tasks you are setting for yourself and your brain?
It doesn’t matter if you fail, just keep on trying. We have to give ourselves time to adjust to new skills and ideas which are literally new ways of thinking. It doesn’t matter if you are learning a language or learning a form in martial arts. Until you have programmed your subconscious to perform these skills it requires conscious thought.
We tend to forget that all that we are able to do now was only acquired through persistent practice and conscious thinking over time. You don’t have to think about walking now, it comes naturally. But at one time you did. At one time you had to focus every ounce of your attention on putting one foot in front of the other while maintaining balance.
But in time you developed the neural pathways in order to do this easily, and with repetition you programmed your subconscious to do this task so naturally and effortlessly that you no longer need to think about it. The thing is, you have the potential to develop your brain and to program your subconscious to do virtually anything at a high level and with this same degree of naturalness and effortlessness if you would train your brain in such a fashion. As Deepak Chopra and Rudy Tanzi said in Super Brain:
“The brain isn’t daunted by its endless tasks. The more you ask it to do, the more it can do.”
Can you be certain that you are unleashing the full power of your consciousness? Or are you trimming your true potential due to some unfounded beliefs about your intelligence and abilities? Can you be absolutely certain that you are tapping into the full potential of your brain?
Attitude, and Your Reaction to Failure
You can literally rewire your brain simply by persistently working to reinvent yourself. This is the key to personal transformation, and it is merely a riveting symptom of personal reinvention that your brain changes as a result. One that provides some definiteness and form to what is usually a mysterious process.
You can overcome every single one of your limitations and turn all of your weaknesses into strengths if only you would disregard the belief that it is impossible to do so, and change your reaction to failure.
There is a man named Arthur Boorman who inspires me greatly. He was a paratrooper whose back and knees were seriously injured after too many jumps in the Gulf War. They took their toll and he couldn’t walk without knee braces and canes. But at 47 years old he decided to change all that and by practicing yoga relentlessly he lost 140 lbs in 10 months, and more importantly, not only could he walk, but he could run again.
His story warms my heart because it displays the true potency of the human spirit to accomplish the impossible. His doctors told him he would never walk again, and even most yoga teachers turned him away because they didn’t think they could help him. And he proved every one of them wrong. He said “just because I can’t do it to-day, doesn’t mean I’m not going to be able to do it some-day.”
And it was because of this attitude that he radically transformed himself.
The most important thing is that we maintain this attitude. As children most of us did not care if we failed at something. We just tried until we got it. What would the world look like if babies got discouraged after falling down a few times and just decided to never walk!
I have found personally that I have applied this attitude to some areas of life and achieved fantastic results, whereas with others I have not applied it with as much determination and thus I have remained stagnant. To counteract this, continually learn new things. Always have something new that you are learning how to do, or be challenging yourself in a couple diverse areas of your life.
For example have a physical challenge where you are learning something new with your body and training your body in some way. Have an intellectual challenge or two such as a new language or simply a book on a new subject you are interested in. And then have some spiritual development/personal mastery goals and intentions such as a daily meditation practice, practicing non-attachment, or tightening up your life.
When we consistently challenge ourselves in new ways and in diverse areas of our lives we train ourselves to be comfortable with change and to enjoy pushing our boundaries in every way as we overcome any and all perceived limitations. This is a desirable state to be in because it creates the conditions for life-long growth and a perpetual expansion of consciousness.
So long as we do what we are passionate about and continue to challenge ourselves in those areas consistently, we will eventually come to realize personal mastery. Both in our chosen craft or pursuit, and in general. Mastery isn’t an achievement, but rather a state where we can do anything. Where we can face any challenge, any fear, any obstacle, and overcome it.
True mastery has nothing to do with any kind of talent or specialized knowledge. It is simply the ability to override lower impulses such as fear and doubt, and to follow our passions and inspirations with enthusiasm, confidence and flexibility.
When we can do this we can achieve anything, for our brains always respond to our attention and to our will. Science has proven that new thoughts, new thinking patterns, new emotional responses, and new skills create new pathways in the brain and thus they make the brain better, more intelligent, and more proficient at doing whatever we have chosen and trained ourselves to do.
The brain is capable of making a quadrillion synapses, which is one million billion synapses, therefore the number of possible neural connections that the brain is capable of making is 10 to the power of one million. Whereas the estimated number of particles in the entire universe is only 10 to the power of 79 (a 10 with 79 zeroes after it). (Super Brain) Can we be certain that we are at the epitome of human development, let alone personal development?
How much more can we get out of this biological computer that we are operating with the right training and attitude? I do not believe that we have any limitations. I am not so much interested in proving that to you, rather, I would like you to prove that to yourself.
“Never underestimate what you can accomplish
when you believe in yourself.”
– Arthur Boorman
About the Author
Brandon West is the creator of Project Global Awakening. A website dedicated to the research of a variety of scientific and spiritual disciplines, and applying that knowledge to help you live an inspired life and change the world. Follow Project Global Awakening on Facebook, and Twitter.
This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.
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