The deeper I dive into neuroscience as it applies to our success, the more I realize how much our brains have to do with our moods, behaviors, and actions (or inaction). The good news is that we can change our lives any way we want to. The bad news is, we may be so poorly programmed by now that the light at the end of the tunnel seems sure to be from an oncoming train.
I was recently chatting it up with Noah St. John on my show (listen here) about the role our thoughts play in our success, and Noah said something I’d been thinking about for weeks. He mentioned the idea that even Robin Williams might have made different choices had he a better understanding of how he could have changed his brain. Now, understand I am not denying the reality of “clinically depressed” patients or chemical imbalances in the brain. But let’s go deeper down the bunny hole, shall we?
With the exception of a small number of people (those with severe psychosis, for example), most of our emotion-management is within our control. Now before you start throwing rebuttals at me (and keep in mind, I will throw them right back, all wrapped in magic fairy dust), just hear me out. According to Harvard Medical School studies depression is all about the brain. When the average person says, “oh, it’s a chemical imbalance,” that is plenty true. In fact, the regions of the brain that are usually involved with depression are the amygdala, the thalamus, and the hippocampus. When our brains release neurotransmitters (chemicals), they connect neuron to neuron (nerves, dendrites). This causes electrical impulses that can wire neurons together. This has everything to do with how we feel. In other words, our brain regulates our moods (which then affect our behaviors, actions, and outlooks).
So what does that mean? Well, for starters we have to recognize that all that goobledy gook tells us mainly, we are not destined to be depressed. Sure, some of us are more genetically (or conditionally) disposed to certain responses to external events, but listen up: Babies are not born depressed. And even our friends at the most prestigious medical schools acknowledge that the way we respond and interpret our individual circumstances is precisely what determines HOW the neurotransmitters act and how they will fire and wire together, thus regulate our moods.
When we don’t apply certain practices, then yes, we can lose control; enter the world of “clinical depression.” It’s what makes amazing people like Robin Williams take an early exit. But there are ways this can be prevented. Of course if someone is in deep depression, then an outside hand (therapist, medication, etc.) may be warranted. However, let’s look at what we can do to rewire our brains so that we actually “train” them away from moods that slow us down or behaviors that can destroy us.
I am not a fan of medication. Anti-depressants, as one example, simply force neurotransmitters to fire for ‘fake’ relief. Once the medication stops, the condition returns–sometime worse. Instead, we can learn to rewire our brains for permanent change. As Dr. John B. Arden says in his book, Rewire Your Brain, medication is not the answer when we are completely capable of changing our moods by simply caring for our brains, bodies, and thoughts more effectively.
This why I am such a huge proponent of Medicreation. Or meditation, whatever you want to call it, but here’s the deal: You cannot possible change your brain to react differently to external stimuli when you are constantly absorbed in that stimuli. You must go within and change your brain at an internal level. We can only accomplish this through silence, reflection, and creating NEW neural pathways through our blessed imaginations.
- Here’s a great article on ways to work with depression on the physical and emotional level (click here)
- Dr. Arden’s book (click here) PS he will be my guest next week!
- Additional source: Harvard Medical School (click here)
- You can learn more about your brain on Medicreation (click here)
If you want to learn more about how to manage your mind and emotions, read my latest book which is delivered with humor, but rock-hard science, too. (Click Here)