The Anatomy of Hope
Science has proven that Hope is real. The latest research in NeuroScience-the scientific study of the nervous system-found “that your brain is wired to be better. If you give it the right stimulus over a period of time, it changes. So, like I said, this is why we call this, in essence, the science of hope.”
How it works
“When people experience tragedy, sometimes the last thing they want to hear is advice about “keeping their chin up.” How, after all, does a person keep a positive attitude in the face of, say, a debilitating brain injury?
It turns out, however, that the phrase “stay positive” is more than just a cheerful colloquialism. There’s science behind those words—evidence that hopefulness can promote a quicker, fuller recovery.”
Hope is authentic
“How would you like to be better at problem solving, learning a new language, increasing your ability to focus, regaining body function due to a stroke, or recapturing some lost brain function from a brain trauma such as an auto accident? Your mind is very capable of creating these incredible lasting changes in function from neuroplasticity shaping techniques.”
“The term Neuroplasticity is derived from the root words Neuron and Plastic. A neuron refers to the nerve cells in our brain. Each individual neural cell is made up of an axon, dendrites, and is linked to one another by a small space called the synapses. The word plastic means to mold, sculpt, or modify. Neuroplasticity refers to the potential that the brain has to reorganize by creating new neural pathways to adapt, as it needs. Think of the neurological changes being made in the brain as the brain’s way of tuning itself to meet your needs.”
A New Field in Science
“Years ago, really up until about 15, 20 years ago, most scientists thought, “You know what? Your brain, after you turn 23, 24 years old, it’s pretty fixed. It doesn’t change very much.”The fact is, nothing could be further from the truth. You can grow new brain cells, and your brain can actually adapt and change its structure, to take on new tasks, new abilities, and then regain ones that have been lost through injury.”
Hope is different than merely having positive thinking. The latter is passive; it could be a way to cope with your current situation without having the clue or the vision that things can get better, while hope generates a clear vision, a plan of action, to achieve your goals.
“It was believed until recently that the human brain, which consists of around 100 billion neural cells, could not generate new ones(the generation of new neurons is also known as neurogenesis). The old model assumed that each of us was born with a finite number of neural cells and when a cell died no new cell could grow.
This old model of the brain’s inability to regenerate new nerve cells is no longer relevant. It has been proven that certain areas in the brain can generate fresh cells. This new understanding of neural cell generation is an incredible discovery. Another misconception was that the brain had an inability to create new neural pathways.”
Knowledge and accurate information keeps hope real and true. We now know that hope is physically a brain function, part of our system, that if triggered, will generate change and healing.“
What’s the Big Idea?
Your brain is more flexible than we’ve ever thought before. It changes because it is constantly optimizing itself, reorganizing itself by transferring cognitive abilities from one lobe to the other, particularly as you age. After a stroke, for instance, your brain can reorganize itself to move functions to undamaged areas.
And yet, due to the lifestyles we lead we tend to not make full use of our brains.
Dr. Dennis Charney, dean of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, has studied how the brain responds to dramatic changes in peoples’ environments. Charney describes how prisoners of war who were placed in solitary confinement developed unusual cognitive capacities because the only activity they were allowed to do was think. The POWs were essentially exercising their brains.
What can we learn from this?
Charney is using this research to conduct psychological therapies that can improve learning and memory, and solve problems with anxiety and depression.”
It is important to note that hope and faith- that things can get better- is the trigger, the will power, the turn on switch to this Neuroplasticity engine. Treatments, therapy, medical and psychological, medicine, exercises…etc. are the ammunition and the fuel for the healing/change process.
“New studies have shown through the use PET, and MRI brain scanning technology, that new neural cells are generated throughout life as well as new neural pathways. Even the elderly are capable of creating measurable changes in brain organization. These changes are not always easy but can happen through concerted focus on a defect area.”
The key word, the golden word, is persistence. One should keep up the hope, keep this stimulus on and running as long and as far as it needs, in order for the healing or the change process to reach its goal.
“In a more practical sense, we know that physical exercise is good for the brain because it helps create new neurons. Similarly, when we teach an old brain new tricks we know that it will help slow age-related mental decline.”
Hope is real, proven by science, and willpower is the switch (The right stimulus) that triggers this amazing ability to change for the better and correct the defect. It has been proven that our machine has the ability with the right environment, and if we switch the power on by hope and faith that things can get better, and with persistence, things will.
This is how our Maker created us- with this powerful function as an arsenal in the healing and long treatment process in the fight against horrible challenges such as Cancer, depression, trauma, and even aging.
“This is that idea that there’s a truly holistic view that you can take in a human body, without having to feel very alternative about it anymore. Our brains and bodies are inextricably intertwined, and what happens in one, definitively affects the other.”
People of faith
People of faith would tell you that they have known this all along, that prayers, faith, and belief is what triggers and turns this healing process on…now science has proven that it is true. God has created us with this amazing ability, and telling us to use it…only if we had faith.
“One of the things I look at is how the attributes that patients bring to the table—resiliency, spirituality, hope—facilitate recovery,” says Kate Kortte, a neuropsychologist in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “What we’ve found is that maintaining a positive attitude really does help with outcomes and life satisfaction.”
I found this to be a very important subject to discuss and to introduce to my readers. We are all fighting our battles in this life, in different degrees and magnitudes…and my message is simple: instead of getting locked up in a current circumstance, look beyond to the horizon, have a different perspective, and hope and work hard to achieve what you hope for.
Faith told us that it can be done, and now science proved it.
“Without hope, nothing could begin; hope offered a real chance to reach a better end. Hope helps overcome hurdles that we otherwise could not scale, and it moves us forward to a place where healing can occur.” – Jerry Groopman, MD from The Anatomy of Hope
See also my post – A Closer look at Hope