Dr Ian Lambert, the Principal of The Scots College where my son attends school, recently wrote an article in the school's newsletter which I thought I would reproduce below in italics and share with you. It discusses how our mental thoughts and processes (be they positive or negative) actually change the structure of our brain (even as adults). Indeed, I teach that mindfulness is just as (if not more) important than good nutrition, hydration, sleep, movement, breathing and sunshine. The guiding light for me is the message that hope or positive thoughts change the structure of our brain in a positive and normal direction. How we react to the ever-present stressful events and circumstances of modern life can have an enormous impact on our mental and even physical health. When life throws you a curve ball (or 3) direct your energy into taking positive steps to fix the problem where possible rather than simple stressing about it. Got a bad habit that you want to rid yourself of? (My hand is up!). Take comfort in knowing that you can break that habit by rewiring your brain to act differently the more and more times your react in a more positive and constructive way to the trigger event. Practice make perfect.
"Our brain is neuroplastic - it can change and regrow. By definition, neuroplasticity means the brain is malleable and adaptable, changing moment by moment of every day. It is no longer viewed as a machine that is hardwired early in life, unable to adapt, and wearing out with age. Science is hovering on a precipice as we recognise the responsibility and impact of our thinking and the resultant choices we make, which can have ramifications right down to the ways in which the genes of our bodies express themselves.
Thought changes the structure of matter. As we think, we change the physical nature of the brain. Thoughts are real, physical things that occupy mental real estate. Moment by moment, every day, you are changing the structure of your brain through your thinking. When we hope, it is an activity of the mind that changes the structure of our brain in a positive and normal direction. How we react to the events and circumstances of life can have an enormous impact on our mental and even physical health. As we think, we change the physical nature of the brain. As we consciously direct our thinking, we can wire out toxic patterns of thinking and replace them with healthy thoughts. New thought networks grow.
With greater consistency, scientists talk about and demonstrate - using brain imaging techniques and the evidence of behavioural changes - how people can change their brains with their minds. We can see and measure the activity of the mind through the firing of neurons. Why is this important in education? The fact that the brain is neuroplastic and can actually be changed by the mind gives tangible hope to everyone, no matter what the circumstance. In the book of Luke 6: 45 we are reminded that, "A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart". Similarly, breakthrough neuroscientific research is confirming daily what we instinctively knew all along: What you are thinking every moment of every day becomes a physical reality in your brain and body, which affects your optimal mental and physical health. These thoughts collectively form your attitude, which is your state of mind, and it is your attitude and not your DNA that determines much of the quality of your life. Remember the old saying: "Attitude, not aptitude, determines the altitude". " - Dr Ian Lambert, Principal, The Scots College
On a tangent, a few months back I posted an inspiring piece written by the Director of Curriculum and Staffing at The Scots College about how we can give boys opportunities to be warriors, heroes and kings. You might like to read it here.
Hope you feel a little more inspired, positive and hopeful!