People used to believe the brain was fixed.
You were born with innate talent for mathematics, language or art. Training would bring out what’s already there.
They also knew your physical traits, from eye colour to health risks, came from unchangeable biological sources – your genetic code.
Then people learned the brain was fluid… for the first decade or two of life. During this time, it could adapt to its environment. By adulthood, though, the brain locked into place. You could make small changes, but you couldn’t develop whole new talents or ways of thinking.
And don’t forget your DNA. So you could change your brain, kinda, during a short window, then it solidified. At least that’s some flexibility. But you couldn’t change your body much.
Then people discovered neuroplasticity.
At any age, researchers learned, the brain can change. You can change it just by what you do and how you think. Even in your 90s, a healthy brain can learn just about anything.
Never learned a second language? Unless you’re dead, it’s never too late to start.
Patterns that existed your whole life can vanish. Skills you’ve never had can blossom into being.
If only your genetics were as flexible, right? Wouldn’t it be great to ‘learn’ better health, intelligence and happiness on a cellular level?
Well, your DNA isn’t as changeable as your neural networks. And you can’t change the letters making up your genetic code.
But you can change how that code expresses.
Your body uses genes to create proteins. Healthy genes make healthy proteins when and where you need them. Unhealthy genes make damaged proteins, or proteins in the wrong amount, or at the wrong part of your body.
And not all your genes express themselves. That’s how a foot cell grows differently from a heart cell – same genetic code, with different parts activated.
So here’s something of a Zen riddle for you:
If you have a bad gene that’s never expressed, do you have a problem?
Your DNA isn’t your fate. You might be predisposed to this condition or that. And, sure, that might change your chances of getting a disease.
But if the genes that make you predisposed are never expressed, then the condition will never arise.
And what about those genes for stronger health, a sharper mind, a healthier body and more vibrant senses?
What if you could express more of them in the right way?
You are never a finished work. No matter your age, health or circumstances, you can change. Neural networks can rewire in an instant. Genes can activate or become suppressed in milliseconds. With the right conditions – in your mind and outside it – you can literally transform and take on a new life.
What does all this mean?
It means you can build a brain you can be proud of.
Starting right here, right now: