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Harness the Power of Our Amazing Brain

Most of us want to live a happy, healthy life. Who doesn't want health? But wanting to live healthfully is one thing; doing it is quite another. Change can be a tricky process, so the more one knows about how everything in the body is interconnected and how the brain works, the more effective one can be. It has been said, "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react".

It is not just about the food you eat or the exercise you do, although these two behaviors are extremely important. It is also about how you sleep, how you think, how you handle stress and how you feel about the life you're living. If you want to get healthier, you need to focus on all aspects of your lifestyle. One must understand that the brain reacts reflexively against change. One must coax their brain into accepting change by introducing new behaviors gradually. Our brain is incredibly adaptable and fully capable of change and, in fact, changes throughout our life. We can improve on what we are good at and eventually learn to do some of the things we thought were impossible. As we learn new material and practice new behavior, changes occur both functionally and structurally within our brains.

The ever – changing nature of our brain is evident long before birth. The adult human brain contains 100 billion neurons, each neuron connecting to the other neurons, resulting in more than 100 trillion nerve – to– nerve connections. Factors such as depression and chronic stress stimulates production of chemicals such as cortisol that can damage and sometimes even kill neurons. Exercise and mental stimulation, on the other hand, promote production of chemicals such as brain – derived neurotrophic growth hormone that encourage new growth. At any age, we can continue to learn, grow, and improve our skills for living a healthier and happier life.

Although our brains are capable of change. Usually it won't do so without "putting up a bit of a fight". Too rapid change is interpreted as a stressful event by most brains. Our brain will automatically resist a sudden change in behavior or routine, and just knowing this could be a big help when you're trying to switch from not so healthful behavior to a more healthful one. The brain begins to feel more comfortable with new actions once we have repeated the new behavior many times, so start repeating the new action over and over again to be successful. Our brain is very "rule – based" so it is often helpful to build a structure or framework to work within. The challenge is to transition from remaining within the old structure to continuing to perform the new behavior in all sorts of life situations.

You can be successful in initiating and maintaining major behavioral changes by making the changes gradually, one step at a time and repeat the behavior "over and over". The changed behavior should be maintained for at least 12 weeks before the brain accepts it.

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