The Plastic Mind: Awakening Your Transformative Power
You’re plastic, mutable, and transformative. This isn’t a self-help phrase or an advertising slogan. We’re all creating and shaping our brains at every moment of every day. In fact, everything you do and every interaction you have with your environment is translated into a series of chemical reactions in your neural universe.
These reactions produce a series of protein syntheses that favor synapses and, with them, the survival of a greater number of your neurons. Your mind is plastic because you have a brain capable of change and you’re its architect. After all, evolution allowed us, as a species, to develop self-awareness for a specific purpose.
As a matter of fact, we’re the only species who are aware that we can shape and work on ourselves to improve, gain well-being, and achieve our aims. In order to awaken this transformative power, it’s essential to understand the concept of neuroplasticity.
Patients who’ve suffered strokes are an example of the power of brain plasticity. The damaged parts of the brain can find other ways to connect to continue carrying out some previously lost tasks and functions.
The plastic mind
The plastic mind is a mental focus that invests in new learning to ensure flexibility, agility, and well-being. It’s the expression of a brain that can adapt to changes and even heal itself after trauma by compensating for or minimizing the possible consequences.
This concept is a cornerstone within the field of neuroscience. Moreover, its impact is immense. For instance, research conducted by the Pablo de Olavide University in Seville (Spain) highlights that the concept of neuroplasticity goes beyond the scientific field to contribute to the well-being of society.
In fact, the plastic brain allows us to understand the value of learning, cognitive training, and therapies for the treatment of brain injuries and even mental health itself. The brain hardware we’re born with isn’t fixed or immutable, it’s plastic. In other words, it can transform and reconnect in new ways to enhance and recover its functionality.
Although the brain can’t create new neural tissue, it can be wired in other ways to continue transmitting information and create new connections that optimize functions.
How to ignite the transformative power of the plastic brain
Even if you don’t realize it, you’re either giving shape to -or destroying- your plastic mind every day. This optimization or destruction process involves different types of neurons, such as glial and vascular cells. Your life habits orchestrate the extent to which your brain is plastic or whether it has fewer or more abilities when it comes to responding to changes or challenges.
However, although the brain is extremely malleable, there are regions that aren’t so pliable. For instance, suffering a traumatic impact or a neurovascular accident in the areas related to speech or movement will mean certain functions aren’t 100% recoverable. There may be some progress and a certain degree of rehabilitation possible but, at the moment, there are no therapies that achieve complete recovery.
Beyond these situations, training the plastic mind can allow you to optimize your cognitive functions and develop better resistance to several psychological disorders.
Let’s see what processes can ignite that transformative power.
1. Brain stimulation is within your reach
No matter how old you are, it’s always a good idea to optimize your brain functions, and with them, its neuroplasticity. There are infinite tasks that mediate in building new synapses and shaping a more connected brain. Here are some really simple examples:
- Learn a new language.
- Learn to play a musical instrument.
- Read everything that falls into your hands, open your mind to new mental perspectives, and discover new concepts.
- Get started in a new artistic activity like drawing, painting, or dancing.
- Travel. There’s no greater experience for enriching your mind.
2. Night rest is healthy for your brain
Without a good night’s sleep, your brain won’t able to carry out tasks that are essential for its proper functioning, balance, and health. In fact, far from promoting new synapses, you’ll be destroying numerous connections and preventing new learning from taking hold.
Therefore, you should try to sleep between seven and nine hours a day. Try and follow the same routine every night and make sure you disconnect all electronic devices two hours before going to bed.
3. Manage stress properly
You can’t develop a good plastic mind if stress is present in your life on a daily basis. External pressures that exceed your capacities and resources weaken you and place you in a state of constant discomfort. This constant presence of cortisol acts in a vitriolic way for your neurons and brain health.
The first figure to propose the idea that the brain wasn’t as immutable as believed was William James. He suggested it in his book, “The Principles of Psychology” in 1890.
4. The benefits of physical exercise
Sport has a tremendous influence on brain functions. Not only does it reduce the destruction of neurons associated with the passage of time, but regular physical activity favors oxygenation and a supply of nutrients to the brain.
So, look for the activity that suits you best and start moving your body to promote neuroplasticity.
5. The enriching social connection
Loneliness is another horseman of the apocalypse for brain health. After all, we’re social beings who yearn for connection with our equals, and who need to share our thoughts, dreams, and needs.
Few experiences are more stimulating than conversations. When you converse with others, you learn from them and experience the psycho-emotional stimulation so necessary for your existence.
6. Meditation, an enriching channel for your brain
Not everyone manages to adapt or integrate the practice of meditation into their daily routine. However, mindfulness is a resource that, as a study conducted by the University of Naples (Italy) points out, reduces brain degeneration and optimizes neuroplasticity.
7. Psychological therapy
Psychological therapy is an invaluable tool for creating a plastic mind. You may not have experienced therapy, but the purpose of clinical interventions is to help us build more flexible mental approaches, in which we can re-evaluate and detect any irrational and self-defeating thought patterns.
Thinking well allows you to live better. In this regard, science-based psychological therapies have great potential.
“Organic matter, especially nervous tissue, seems to be endowed with an extraordinary degree of plasticity”. The extremely important psychologist, William James, made this important statement in 1890. However, nobody gave any value or truth to it at the time.
As a matter of fact, it’s taken us more than a century to understand that his proposal was true as well as being necessary to improve our quality of life. Anyone can promote the plasticity of their mind. Doing so will have an influence on infinite areas of your existence, those that’ll guarantee your well-being.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Mateos-Aparicio P, Rodríguez-Moreno A. The Impact of Studying Brain Plasticity. Front Cell Neurosci. 2019 Feb 27;13:66. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2019.00066. PMID: 30873009; PMCID: PMC6400842.