Can You Teach an Old Dog New Tricks?

Dogs Clowning AroundWhen I was young, I was taught that our brain develops until the age of 18 and then begins the irreversible process of deterioration. It really bothered me but I wasn’t sure what to do about it.

Last year I discovered that it’s not true. The brain continues to develop throughout life if given a chance. Curiosity, interest and enthusiasm are the key drivers here, combined with radical honesty.

I have often observed that positive change happens very quickly and powerfully when we face reality or face the truth of our life. For example, if you pretend you’re happy and your life is amazing when it’s not, nothing much changes. You can study personal development, say daily affirmations, meditate and do all kinds of other things, but if you’re in denial of your underlying state, the effort is frustratingly limited.

It’s strange, but the moment you admit to yourself and others that you’re unhappy and your life is not how you want it to be, it starts to change. As soon as you open up the gap, life pours into it.

So the first requirement for true development is radical honesty. If you’re dissatisfied with any part of your life don’t pretend everything’s fine. Take the blinkers off and look at what’s really happening.  Whether it’s your body, your relationship or your finances (all areas where we tend to lie to ourselves.) have an honest look at it, warts and all.  The moment you admit to yourself what’s wrong, it starts to change. Nature abhors a vacuum. When the brain identifies something missing it immediately takes action to fill it in.

If you tend to be pessimistic, rather than optimistic, you’ll probably have the opposite problem. For you, nothing is right and you have no problem admitting it to yourself and others. But the same advice holds true.  

Step back and look honestly at the facts. Admit to yourself what’s working well without pretending that everything is wrong.

Honesty is the trigger for positive change and it’s effortless. See it clearly and it immediately improves.

The other way your brain grows is through your interest. The more energy and attention you give to something the more it grows. Brain scientists will say that this is how the brain works. My understanding is that the brain is the result of your energy. Whatever you focus on expands and becomes more and more real.  The brain will grow to reflect that.

So if you want to learn something new it’s never too late. Give it attention, energy, and enthusiasm and it will grow day by day.

 

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