Have you ever admired a trait in someone else and wished that you had it? Have you ever wanted to grow your capacity in life and character but felt stuck in your old ways? There is good news! Neuroscience is proving that you can build new traits in life by changing your brain.
Neuroplasticity is the concept that the brain is not static as we once thought and actually has the capacity to change. The hardwiring of neural pathways exist but they can be rewired to change capacity. The old pattern of thinking was that early childhood experiences created a hardwired brain that stayed static in those pathways forever. The new understanding shows that these pathways can be rewired and new ways of being can be experienced.
A Simple Recipe:
A new understanding of the brain goes more along the lines of “nerves that fire together, wire together.” This means that the more your brain thinks a certain way or does something a certain way the stronger the neural pathway becomes. Repetition builds the skill.
So the simple recipe to create the traits you want in life is to make a commitment and use repetition and persistency to build the skill. The more you do the skill, the more you will wire that trait into your nervous system.
What if it isn’t working?
If you aren’t getting the traits you want, it may be because you are in the wrong “state.”
An even newer version of “nerves that fire together, wire together,” is “Your state creates your trait.” This is a comment Dr. Rick Hanson, author of Hardwiring Happiness, makes and suggests as the way to build traits in life.
A “state” is more complex than mere repetition on the physical level. A state as defined by Neuro Linguistic Programming refers to our mental and physical processes we experience at any moment and includes our emotions.
If we are repeating a skill in an emotional funk we may be wiring for a twisted result, and this may explain why we don’t see traits built despite physical repetition.
The better recipe:
If you want to build a trait in your life, practice getting yourself in a positive and hopeful emotional and mental state and then practice the physical trait you want to build. Remember that according to the latest research you can teach an old dog new tricks, but no one said it would be easy!