“The man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”
Muhammad Ali, “The Greatest” heavyweight boxer, activist, wordsmith
“I feel I change my mind all the time. And I sort of feel that’s your responsibility as a person, as a human being – to constantly be updating your positions on as many things as possible. And if you don’t contradict yourself on a regular basis, then you’re not thinking.”
Malcolm Gladwell, heavyweight thinker, author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers, wordsmith
I recently got a new Super Ultra-High Definition TV. To fully appreciate the super and ultra picture quality my son and I started watching the BBC nature documentary “Life.” What you quickly learn is that all nature shows follow a basic script. You are introduced to a familiar looking creature or plant doing things that you might expect. A squirrel-like animal climbing a tree. An exotic looking flower looking pretty. Seaweed floating around in the ocean. Then there’s the surprise when they reveal the unexpected feature of that creature or plant. The squirrel can fly! The flower is a carnivore! That’s not seaweed, that’s a camouflaged sea horse! They then go on to explain what this special ability is good for.
Which got me thinking. If you had to describe just one unique feature of the upright- walking, almost hairless, flat foreheaded ape – what would that ability be? What makes the Homo Sapien unique amongst all other organisms on the planet?
Well like how the elephant has a highly adaptable nose that’s used for more than smelling things, or how chameleons have special whip-like tongues used for more than tasting food – for human beings it’s our unique brains that give us: 1) extra mental abilities beyond other animals, and 2) a greater capacity for mental flexibility and agility over time. And just like how a monkey that has a broken tail is not going to fare well in nature, a human that doesn’t know how to best use its brain is also not going to be getting the most out of life.
Getting the Most Out of Your Brain
Two recent movies, Limitless (starring Bradley Cooper) and Lucy (starring Scarlett Johansson), tell different stories based on the same premise – since we only use 10% of our brain capacity, what would happen if we took a drug that would allow us to use all 100%? In the movies, these changes allow the main character to develop supernatural abilities to recognize patterns so accurately as to predict the future, read other people’s thoughts and intentions, perceive everything going on in their environment, and move objects with their mind. Interestingly, except for the last one, through our intuition, empathy, and mindfulness we too can develop these abilities to reach our greater human potential. But instead of taking a special pill, we can do this through certain daily practices.
Like these two fictional stories, there’s two longstanding myths about our brains. The first myth forms the basis of these movies’ plot lines – that we only use 10% of our brain. What is actually true is that we all use 100% of our brain most of the time, not just Bradley Cooper or Scarlett Johansson. The origin of the 10% brain myth dates back as early as 1890, built around the belief that people only use a fraction of their total mental ability. The 10% estimate is ridiculously low compared to what we know regarding how our brains function, but there is some merit in the idea that we don’t use all of our brain’s potential capacity. Potential is the better way to think about it. What is accurate is that we are using the most of our current mental capacity right now, but we have the ability to grow our abilities more. This type of brain growth is achieved through learning. More on that soon.
The second myth is that people are divided into two groups – those that are predominantly logical “left-brained” thinkers or creative “right-brained” feelers. It is true that functions of the human brain are connected to certain regions, some of which are in the left half of the brain, some of which are on the right. For example, our language abilities predominantly reside on the left side of our brain. However, by the time we reach adulthood, the natural and deliberate process of neuronal integration makes so many connections between our brain’s left and right hemispheres that most important mental tasks require the cooperation between the two halves of the brain. As we mature, tasks that were once more “one-sided” become blended, which actually improves these abilities.
For example, thinking more intelligently has less to do with your ability to recall more facts, but rather the ability to hone in on what is relevant through emotionally driven insights and the execution of creative problem solving. To be genuinely more creative, it requires an underlying competency, analytical thinking, and complex reasoning. This type of brain growth is achieved through integration.
Why is this important? Because if we are to grow and reach our greater potential, we need to be grounded in what is true and understand what our best goals are. Trying to use “more” of our brain isn’t really a path that can be achieved because that’s based on false ideas about how our minds work. However, developing existing capacities and getting our current abilities to be more cooperative can lead to a higher level of mental functioning.
So where do we start? Learning how to be more aware and in control of our mental energy – these are goals that are aligned with how our brains really do work, and they can be achieved through the practice of mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
First of all, let’s define it. Mindfulness is a state of heightened attunement towards our own experience, in real time, without distancing ourselves from the experience itself. It’s making observations about our bodies, our feelings, our thoughts without making any judgments. It’s like an awareness of being aware.
It is not a state of Zen-like calm regardless of circumstance. For example, you can be mindful of being emotionally out of control. You can be mindful of having chaotic thoughts in your head. It is not meant to be a relaxation technique either, because sometimes it’s important to stay in an emotionally driven state. It is however a state of greater self-control, even while emotional.
It’s also not attached to any religion or spiritual belief, though one can achieve mindfulness through religious practices such as meditation or prayer. It can be practiced and learned completely independent of spirituality. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the psychologist who popularized mindfulness in the context of psychotherapy says:
“Mindfulness is often spoken of as the heart of Buddhist meditation. It’s not about Buddhism, but about paying attention. That’s what all meditation is, no matter what tradition or particular technique is used.”
The second important feature of mindfulness is that while in this state, we have a greater ability to redirect our own mental energies where we choose, within the broad scope of all our human capacities. These capacities include the unique functions of our prefrontal cortex – the region of the brain most developed in humans. These functions include emotional regulation, impulse control, soothing of fear, self-awareness, empathy, and intuition. We also can tap into our mind’s ability to connect to, regulate, and integrate the more instinctual and emotional parts of our brain, where we have our basic drives and defenses, store subconscious and conscious memories, and where we make snap judgments.
To illustrate that we all already have this ability to be mindful, try this simple exercise to get a sense of what mindfulness feels like for you.
Stop what you are doing for a few minutes and shift all of your attention to the sounds in your environment. Try and notice how you can now hear things that obviously had been there all along, but now sound relatively loud compared to how they had been completely ignored by your perception just moments before. Get a sense of what it feels like to be paying such close attention to one thing only. If you find your mind drifting, try refocusing on just one sound.
Do this for a minute. Really. Set a timer.
Then shift your attention from sounds to your sense of touch. Become aware of how you may be sitting in a chair and how you can feel your own weight. Focus on how you can feel your clothes touching your skin. Your feet touching the ground. Start from the top of your head and move downwards, paying attention to every detail of sensation as you scan your body.
Focus on this for a minute.
Now attune yourself to your internal states – your present mood, your thoughts. Examine them closely. What does it feel like to observe a feeling? How about at thought? Try not to form opinions of your feelings or thoughts. Be curious. Observe.
Do this for a minute.
Lastly, now focus on what it feels like to be in this state of heightened awareness. This is the feeling of being mindful and you just did it.
Two things that we do (and what you just did) when practicing mindfulness are: 1) we become more aware, and 2) we redirect our mental energies to where we choose.
Any practice that allows us to do these two things, whether it be a formal practice of meditation, yoga or Tai Chi, or using a mindfulness app on your phone – will develop mindfulness. Because of how our minds learn – “neurons that fire together, wire together,” it is also helpful for us to prompt ourselves before we practice that our intention is to learn mindfulness. That way, our concept of mindfulness, our capacity to enter a state of heightened awareness, and our ability to redirect our mental energy – all get associated together in our brain.
What does this look like in everyday living? Just like how a weight-training regimen that you do a few times a week will make you generally physically stronger even when you are not in the gym, the same principle applies to a mindfulness regimen. Imagine that you are feeling frustrated with how a conversation is going. A regular practice of mindfulness makes it more probable that you can appropriately enter into such a state “in real life” when needed. Being mindful could then allow you to observe your own emotional state of anger, which was triggered by your unmet need to be understood. You may recognize that as a result of your frustration and aggression, you have not been really listening to the other person and that they have become defensive, which is contributing to the difficulty of your conversation. Paying attention to your body, you may become aware that you’re also feeling irritable because you’re tired. Once you see all these things more clearly, you can then choose to redirect your mental energy to your healthier abilities, such as soothing your own emotions, reaching out with empathy so that both of you feel soothed and connected, using your intuition to choose a more effective way to share your need to be understood, or exercising impulse control to defer your conversation to a later time after you’ve rested.
If this sounds like something that you may find useful in your life, the good news is that we can all learn how to be more mindful, and it won’t require a lifetime of practice before you start to see its benefits.
So give it a try. Download the Headspace app. Listen to Daniel Siegel’s Wheel of Awareness online. Take a free class locally. Remind yourself that you are being mindful before the next time you do yoga. As you do and with more practice, you are literally changing your mind at the level of your neurons.
Nature AND Nurture: It’s Not A Competition
It’s only been in the past 15 years or so, that certain scientific discoveries have changed our minds about how we can change our minds. The now outdated but longstanding belief was that our brains stopped growing at around age 25, and remained essentially unchanged throughout the rest of our lives. Well except in negative ways, such as with injury, drugs, dementia, chronic mental illness, or old age. Fortunately, that’s only half the picture. The part that has been recently discovered is the good part.
Though it is completely true that the developmental phase of our growth ends around our mid-20’s, it’s now understood that our minds continue to grow throughout our whole adulthood, just by a different mechanism – a more deliberate process of growth through learning. Both types of personal growth, developmental and learning, have implications on our mental healthiness. Especially when we are talking about our developmental growth (from conception to the end of our biological adolescence), optimal experiences produce optimal outcomes (see chapter 1 and chapter 7). Less than favorable conditions leave plenty of room for improvement. But we can all continue to grow at any stage in life to overcome what may have worked against us previously.
The first type of personal growth, developmental growth, is driven by biological factors programmed into our DNA interacting with the environment in which we live. This starts at the moment of our conception when we inherit our genes from our parents, 50% from mom and 50% from dad, creating the unique combination that makes up our own individual genetic code. Then, in a highly predictable and consistent fashion, there is a preprogrammed timeline of change that starts with that single-cell zygote dividing into two identical cells…then four, then eight and so on until those cells become two layers of differentiated cell types. This process continues with more differentiation and replication, and the familiar aspects of our human form, both mind and body, start to take shape while in the womb. If the environment in which we develop remains favorable, i.e. mom’s needs are met and therefore this growing human’s needs are met too, then things go as well as expected. If there are problems, in the DNA or the environment, then that’s when complications arise.
The interaction between nature and nurture is already relevant to this stage of life. I remember before my first child was born that in our early visits to the OB, measurements of his length and head size could pinpoint down to the day how far along he was in his development and provided reassurance that he and my wife were doing well. Going into the second trimester, a higher resolution ultrasound examination allowed the doctor to measure his head circumference, femur length, nuchal translucency, and see the chambers of his heart pumping. All would reliably tell us that his body and mind were maturing at the expected pace, again reinforcing that my wife was taking care of his needs by taking care of hers.
This is also true after babies are born where under favorable conditions, now relating to having a secure attachment to caretakers, having physical needs met, and getting reinforcing and validating feedback from the world, healthy children grow at a generally consistent pace from child to child. Instead of indirect and interpretive assessment through ultrasound, we can now interact directly with children and observe their developmental milestones. Some more familiar examples may include being able to walk by the first birthday, being able to use two words by the second, and using the toilet by three.
If we’ve had an environmentally favorable childhood then we would have met our maximum human potential (at least for this stage in life), but if our childhood has been less than perfect, ranging from severe neglect to something more subtle like being a middle child who didn’t quite get the attention that your older or younger siblings got, then some aspects of development (i.e. physical, emotional, social) may be delayed or remain in a state of stagnation or dysfunction. And though none of us can recall the details of the first couple of years of life, it is during this time that we “remember” through a different mechanism (implicit memories stored and coordinated through our amygdala) and these types of memories have huge influence over the development of our brain’s prefrontal lobe functioning.
This is important because it is the functions of our prefrontal cortex that make us uniquely human. Our emotional regulation, impulse control, self-awareness, empathy, moral sense, highest critical thinking, and intuition – all are abilities that originate and are coordinated in this region of the brain. The first two years of life lay the foundation for these lifelong abilities.
These early life experiences also strongly shape the meaningful outcomes for our whole life. The Grant Study, a remarkable 75-year plus ongoing longitudinal study of 268 physically and mentally healthy Harvard college sophomores from the classes of 1939–1944 has shown that “warmth of relationships” (with your mother and father in particular during childhood) predict a whole range of positive outcomes, including happiness, higher future salaries, low levels of anxiety, how much you enjoy your vacations, and your life satisfaction. In the words of the primary investigator, Psychiatrist George Vaillant:
“Warmth of relationships throughout life have the greatest positive impact on life satisfaction.”
He also summarizes the cumulative data by saying:
“Happiness is love. Full stop.”
Attachment Psychology is the field of research that studies how humans respond within relationships throughout the lifespan, with a particular focus on early life experiences with caregivers. Long-term follow up studies in this area have shown positive links with happiness, longevity, physical and mental health when these early life experiences are secure and responsive.
As we continue through our childhood, we take in the world through our senses and through an absorption of the states of those around us. This mechanism of experiential mirroring is not completely understood, but is facilitated by “mirror neurons” which reside in different regions of our brain. If an adult sticks their tongue out at a newborn baby, the baby’s mind creates a map of what neurons were used in the adult’s brain, and then recruits the same circuits in their own brain to replicate the movement, sticking their tongue out for the first time. This is done without words or instructions, but instead with actual mind-reading. Again, how exactly this magical process works is not known, but it absolutely happens and serves as one of the primary mechanisms as to how children learn.
This emphasizes the importance of having positive relationships early in life because children replicate the mental states of those around them and repeat those states in their own mind. This explains why parents who are emotionally regulated and attuned with their children can facilitate the same positive state in their kids, and why emotionally dysregulated parents can cause their kids to feel distress. As adults we still have these mind reading abilities, manifested by our ability to empathize and the seeming contagiousness of other people’s emotions. Early life emotional learning facilitates the development of these skills later in life as well.
If that sounds overwhelming because it suggests that we all need to be perfect before we have children and need to be perfect while in the presence of children, that’s not the case. Because as children, we are way less judgmental about our own thinking and therefore have a mental flexibility that allows us to make ongoing adaptations when things aren’t quite right – without pausing to criticize ourselves (or others) for being wrong.
For example, as a child starts to verbalize words to communicate, they may start off by saying “me go.” Over time, as they get feedback from the outside world, future iterations of the statement get adjusted – “me goed,” or “me went,” or “I goed” eventually becomes “I went.” Again, all learned naturally without instruction or teaching of what is “right.” Without being judgmental, children are more naturally forgiving when things aren’t going quite right. Forgiving of themselves and forgiving of their caregivers. As they form longitudinal memories, it is the larger narrative that shapes their beliefs and understanding, not each incident or iteration.
In practice, when we look at this time in life from a developmental perspective, we the adults can also learn to be less judgmental. In the same way that you wouldn’t feel the need to tell a one-year old taking their first steps that they are “doing it wrong,” there’s many other aspects of normal human development that are just right for their age. “Me goed” is developmentally appropriate for a two year old, it’s only “wrong” for an adult. In terms of doing what they are capable of and for the purpose of the developing ability, in this case language, it’s just right.
This less judgmental perspective also applies when we reflect on our own life, looking at our younger selves. Certain conclusions that were made about the world or ourselves when we were young may have been the best we could do at the time – developmentally appropriate, “just right” for what we knew and were capable of. It’s unfair to expect our younger selves to have had adult perspectives, tools, insights, or motivations. When working with individuals in my practice, sometimes understanding this truth helps a person finally grow past their own negative view of themselves, especially as they too look at the larger narrative of their own life, also seeing the way their life story moves on, not perseverating on what was “wrong” during a certain time. This is also why I encourage us to remember that we’ve all been through a developmental growth period, and recognize the positives and limits of this time in life. This is also a good example of Kristin Neff’s practice of Self-Compassion – being kind, empathetic, and forgiving to yourself, in the same way that you would to another person in the same situation.
Looking at the big picture, it becomes clear that our individual developmental path is a product of what resides in our genes and the environment in which we grow. So rather than nature versus nurture, it’s really nature and nurture. That being said, there’s only one part of this equation that we have influence over. Here’s a clue – we didn’t pick our DNA. This brings us to the other way in which we grow – through learning.
Thankfully, we have the science that tells us convincingly that even though you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, that adage doesn’t reflect the truth about our human capacity for lifelong mental agility. No matter when, we always possess the ability to make ourselves better and healthier – regardless of where our developmental growth has taken us. This is because one of the unique qualities of being human is that we are always adapting and changing our minds through a specific type of process called adult neurogenesis.
Why Neuroplasticity Matters
But before we get there, here’s a few interesting facts about our human brains. Comparative neuroanatomy is a field of study that does what the name implies. It compares the brains of different species for brain size and structure. Even within mammal families, a mouse brain isn’t quite the same as a dolphin brain or an ape brain. Suzana Herculano-Houzel, a researcher from the Institute of Biomedical Science in Rio de Janeiro developed a technique to count the number of neurons relative to brain size and found that with this method, human brains were essentially ape brains. This debunked the idea that human brains were a special type within the animal kingdom. We do have a disproportionately large brain for our body size, but the brain itself is not unique. It’s just a big ape brain. However, as we’ve mentioned previously, the extra size and specialization of function in the larger prefrontal cortex does account for the unique abilities of humans relative to let’s say the world’s smartest chimpanzee. But there’s also another difference – the adaptability of the human brain.
Aida Gomez-Robles, an anthropologist at George Washington University compared the effect of genes on brain size and organization in equal samples of human and chimpanzee brains, about 200 each. Though they found that brain size was highly heritable (related to genes – the nature side of the equation) the organization of the cerebral cortex, especially the areas involved in higher-order cognitive functions, was much less genetically controlled in humans than in the chimps. In other words, the structure of the chimp brains were much more similar to each other, whereas the human brains were more variable other than just the size. That variability suggests that something other than our genes is shaping the human brain.
We also know that compared to other animals, when we are born, our brains are significantly less mature. Back to the nature shows, you’ve seen how a just born calf can be running within minutes of being born. My son took a year to learn to walk and few more to learn to run.
This observed variability, coupled with the fact that we are born mentally immature, and knowing how early life experiences predict longlong development – we can conclude that our brain development is much more influenced by our experiences – the nurture side of the same equation. So for human beings, it is still nurture and nature, but it’s more accurately:
nurture > nature
So how does this mental adaptability work? Through a process called neuroplasticity. From a neuroscientist’s perspective neuroplasticity isn’t a new thing. It’s just a term to describe the dynamic everyday processes that relate to how the cells of the brain adapt and function.
“Neurons that fire together, wire together. Neurons that fire apart, wire apart.”
However, when we think of neuroplasticity not as a term but as an idea, it’s kind of a big deal. Because the idea is that we can all change for the better, and neuroplasticity supports this truth. But why did this old concept suddenly become relevant now?
For decades in Medicine and research, there’s been observations that after injury or through a deliberate training process, new emerging brain functions can be learned. When someone becomes blind later in life, adjacent areas of the brain can occupy the space previously attributed to the visual cortex, allowing other senses to actually become better. Kind of like how a growing company leases the recently vacated office space next door to expand their business. Also, people who have had strokes and have lost certain functions can learn alternative brain routes to access again previous skills and regain some of their abilities. Kind of like how your GPS reroutes you to take the surface streets when there’s an accident on the freeway.
This process of learning and relearning was believed to be mediated by forming new connections between existing undamaged neurons – like building a new road connecting two nearby towns. The reason that this was assumed was because it was once believed that we didn’t make any more new neurons after a certain age. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s that research demonstrated that this old belief about brain development, that the neurons we had in our 20’s were the ones we kept until we died, was incorrect.
What various studies showed was that new neurons were always still growing in the adult brain, even in the elderly. Over time as old neurons “died” they could be replaced by new ones, and under certain conditions the growth of new neurons could outpace the death of old ones. This was the discovery of a kind of neuroplasticity – adult neurogenesis.
Adult neurogenesis is different than developmental neurogenesis – the process where neurons are formed from stem cells, which starts in the womb. Adult neurogenesis describes the lifelong process of new neurons forming, most significantly in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for forming and storing memories. Compared to other mammals, we also know that for humans, part of our hippocampus has a much higher rate of turnover, implying that humans are uniquely able to remodel our memories, which in turn affects our capacity for lifelong learning and the flexibility of beliefs. This was the new truth that reshaped our understanding of the importance of neuroplasticity in human beings and its potential applications.
In terms of timing, this discovery came alongside technological developments in brain imaging that could more easily measure not just structure (like MRI and CT scans) but also function (like SPECT, fMRI, or PET scans). Another factor is that neuroscience is now less tied to Medicine, which has a limited perspective focusing primarily on the treatment and prevention of illness. Instead, researchers are just as likely to collaborate across the disciplines of the “hard” sciences with the social sciences, and have asked more questions about the rest of the scope of human experience – not just what happens when we are ill, but also addressing the normal, healthy, and thriving.
With this converging research and broadened perspective, what is now different is the belief that not only can we build new connecting “roads,” but new “neighborhoods.” The possibilities are much more open-ended.
Could we rebuild parts of our brain that were previously destroyed by disease, like in Alzheimer’s or stroke?
Could we tear an old house down to the studs and rebuild it bigger and better than before – like changing longstanding core beliefs by creating more accurate and authentic ones?
If we could grow new neurons, could we make ourselves smarter, becoming an expert at something without needing a baseline talent for it, or increase our capacity to experience happiness?
So far the newer post-adult-neurogenesis research has validated that the answer to all of these questions is “yes we can.”
Because neuroplasticity is “just” the plain old normal everyday process of brain change for everyone, the application of this idea is universal – that anyone can change their brain at any time.
When we are young or when we are old.
When our brains are diseased.
When we are just average to still become exceptional.
When we are already exceptional to become the best.
The neuroscientists’ perspective that neuroplasticity is nothing special is actually part of the power of this idea. We don’t have to be special in order to change our brains.
With disease, the changes are modest. But if we are not impaired by illness, changes are actually expected. With or without intention, our brains are changing anyways. Change is normal. It’s not only the possibility of change but the inevitability of change.
This idea of the guarantee of change has opened up areas of new scientific inquiry that we are still in the midst of answering:
What are the factors that promote more brain change and growth? Challenges. Learning. A Growth Mindset. Mindfulness.
How can we influence these factors? Mindfulness again. Meditation. Exercise. Grit.
How do we facilitate better learning? Curiosity. Internal motivation. Emotion. Creativity. Deliberate practice. Application.
Where in the real world can we practice and apply these ideas? In Medicine. In psychotherapy. In education. In parenting. In marriage. In business. In life. Anywhere that needs improvement.
Can these new changes become permanent? Absolutely because that’s what neuroplasticity is – real brain change.
The Brain is Able, Is the Mind Willing?
So here’s the real value of neuroplasticity. It provides the grounded truth about our flexible and dynamic mental life that allows us to reliably believe that we can all change. This is actually not the concept of neuroplasticity, but the principle of Growth Mindset coined by psychologist Carol Dweck, who has researched the effects of “fixed” vs. “growth” mindsets. A Fixed Mindset is one that believes certain things are the way that they are and can’t be changed. A Growth Mindset believes in the truth that we’ve established here – we can change things.
For example, this can be applied to our beliefs about intelligence, attractiveness, or even “luck.” Some people say that those characteristics are things that you are born with. That’s a fixed mindset. Others, would say that those are qualities that can be developed. That’s a growth mindset. Turns our that research demonstrates that IQ, attractiveness, and “luck” are all in fact improvable.
In addition, not only is a growth mindset more truthful, it is also more beneficial. In many studies in diverse groups of people Dweck has shown that fixed mindsets are associated with less risk taking, lower self image, lower resiliency, and worsening performance when faced with challenges. Growth mindsets are associated with improvements in performance after being challenged, greater effort and grit, and more positive self belief. We can see how the former reinforces stagnation, and the latter opens up more and more opportunities to learn and grow.
“I can’t do it because…” – Fixed Mindset
“I can’t do it yet.” – Growth Mindset
Teacher turned psychology researcher Angela Lee Duckworth has become an expert on grit:
a trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective
Her research has found in multiple groups that it is this quality, more than anything else that determines high levels of competency and achievement. This applies in highly competitive situations to predict who ultimately is the best of the best (like in the National Spelling Bee or West Point graduates) or in very challenging situations such as who is likely to graduate from a low income high school. Interestingly, do you know what other research Angela Lee Duckworth references as being a key to developing grit? Carol Dweck’s research on growth mindsets, which is based on the science of neuroplasticty. So three truths, neuroplasticity, growth mindset, and grit – neatly integrated.
Between the science that says our brain continue to grow and change, and the practice of mindfulness that shows us that we have the capacity to manage our thoughts and feelings in real time, there’s reasons to believe that we have the ability to change our minds. All of it is important to understand, because it’s the belief that you can change that allows us to change the most.