Covid Earthquake
The Covid Earthquake and its Lasting Aftershocks
September 19, 2021
Books that inspire
Books that Inspire Me: #3 The Confidence Course
September 21, 2021

Books that Inspire Me: #2 The Mind and the Brain

This is the second in a series of posts in which I share thoughts on a book that has inspired me over the years. 

I read The Mind and the Brain about 15 years ago. It was one of the first books to explain the science of brain plasticity in a way that the average layperson could begin to understand it. The quote pictured above stopped me in my tracks. I went back and read again, highlighted and underlined it, and dogeared the page.

This quote says that things people like me have been saying for thousands of years – as you think so you become, thoughts create reality, changing self-talk can change your life – have a scientific basis. It’s not just motivational fluff – it is hard and fast scientific fact.I was so excited by this revelation that I called the author.

(Aside: If you read a book that you really like, call the author. You can track down anybody with Google. Here’s what you say: “I read your book and I loved it, and I’m going to buy a copy for everyone I know.” If you say that, I guarantee the author will not hang up on you! And who knows, you might even make a new friend.)

Dr. Schwartz, who is a neuropsychiatrist at UCLA, was very gracious in taking my call. We spoke for almost an hour. I asked him if the concept of changing the wiring of the brain (neuroplasticity) could be analogous to the process of changing the culture of an organization, and we had an interesting conversation about how permanently changing the culture of an organization requires that a critical mass of individuals changing their attitudes and behaviors at work – in other words, rewiring their brains.

I told Dr. Schwartz about a technique we use to help people reprogram negative self-talk by visualizing “the Janitor in Your Attic” erasing the mental graffiti and replacing it with a more positive dialog. I asked if he would be able to use imaging technology to detect physical changes in the brain of someone who made a disciplined practice of doing that.

He told me that he would and went on to explain the science behind it, how “neurons that fire together wire together” and when they stop firing together the connections atrophy. Creating a vivid mental image of a janitor painting over negative self-talk and replacing it with something positive interrupts the old patterns and builds new ones. 

PS: Dr. Schwartz has more recently teamed up with psychiatrist Rebecca Gladding on the book You Are Not Your Brain, which describes their 4-step process for using focused attention to transform negative thinking and change bad habits. This might be a better book to start with if you aren’t as interested in the underlying science as in practical application.

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Everyday Courage

Courage, Perseverance, Resilience, Hop

Everyday Courage for Extraordinary Times features 21 short videos, 12 eBooks, Leader’s Guide and Participant Study Guide. The course is incredibly affordable, easy to implement, tailored to your organization, and absolutely guaranteed to be effective. 
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