If you stop to think about it, your brain is involved at some point in absolutely every thing you do. Every breath and heart beat. Every smile and tear. Every word and thought. Then, it would stand to reason that a better brain equals a better life.
Your brain running smoothly is probably something you take completely for granted and never give a second thought. For most of our lives, the brain just hums along in the background, like a well-oiled machine, doing it’s thing, making everything else work right….until it doesn’t anymore. Then, believe me, you really notice.
One Man’s Story
In his book, Shadow Summit: One Man, His Diagnosis, and the Road to a Vibrant Life,
Jon Chandonnet tells of being twenty-seven with the brightest future ahead of him. Ready to graduate from MIT with a Master’s degree, he was athletic, ambitious, smart, and strong when a doctor handed him the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.
Ignoring his condition as much as possible for as long as possible, Jon ran marathons, climbed mountains, launched a career in the high pressure software startup industry, and eventually became a husband and father. Instead of pursuing a lifestyle that supported his brain health, it was as if he pushed himself hard enough, Jon could continue to believe there was nothing wrong with him. Jon was determined to live a life, in denial. And he did, for a while, but the MS caught up with him.
After quickly deteriorating to the point where he could barely work or take care of himself, this hard-core left-brainer began to look for answers and alternatives not being offered by traditional medicine. Educating himself and becoming more conscious and intentional, Jon learned about and implemented diet, exercise, emotional, and spiritual practices which allowed him to reverse his symptoms and create the vibrant, authentic life of his dreams.
Similarly, my brain injury, resulting from a pill popping suicide attempt, forced me to make major lifestyle changes, which I could have made earlier under less duress (believe me, it would’ve been much easier!), to recover. Educating myself about neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change structure and function based on behavior and thought, and devising my own rehabilitative therapies while making brain healthy dietary changes and incorporating exercise, yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices, I recovered fully as well.
You can live a busy life dictated by the “shoulds,” trying to achieve the “American Dream” that we’re sold, but it will eventually cost you in one way or the other in the form of mental or physical health. Joseph Campbell said, “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
Words Of Wisdom
What Jon and I learned on our journeys, he sums nicely up on his website:
- I have the power to change my life by changing my thoughts, actions, habits, and desires to live in harmony with my well-being.
- My body is programmed for health. If I clear out the junk, put in the right stuff (food, water, air, thoughts and emotions), exercise and stimulate it—health and well-being prevail.
- My thoughts and actions in the here and now are critical determinants of my reality and my destiny.
- Changing course in life takes courage, strength and endurance, but over time, thought by thought, action by action, inertia can be over-come and a new path forged.