Neuroplasticity is a relatively new scientific discovery that proves the human brain has incredible potential to grow and become pliable. Neuroscientist Joe Dispenza asserts that the brain can become a map to the future if you program it with the right software. Reprogramming your brain is essential for unlocking a life of happiness. Repetition and rehearsing—essentially meditating—is underrated in today's fast-paced society, but even the Bible speaks on the importance of our thought lives, saying,
"Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night" (Joshua 1:8a, NIV).
For thousands of years, humans have had access to an ancient recipe for confidence, peace, and harmony with God, their Maker. He holds the recipe for a successful life in his Word, and even modern science proves that time, meditation, and positive thinking can transform a person's entire reality/opportunities. No book holds more positive truths than the Bible. Even if we dwell on positive situations, mottos, or outcomes, our brains—which are actually muscles that were built to learn through repetition—will literally change. Our neural connections double every time we learn and rehearse something new.
Because overwhelming scientific studies and evidence have proven time and again that our thought lives greatly influence our physical outcomes, it's important to cultivate mental toughness. In the Netflix documentary "Heal," one man describes his path to recovering from a nearly fatal back injury. He claimed that he would imagine his spinal cord healing and mending on its own, every day for 3 hours at a time. After a few weeks, he was beginning to walk in his therapy sessions. Eventually he could walk—and even train—again, despite the Doctor's belief that he would never walk again.
Though parts of his story may have been exaggerated, they do describe neuroscientists' beliefs about the potential power of the brain. Even patients with fatal diagnoses have been known to recover and enter remission (in part) because of their unaffected optimism, which provides them with the conviction to stay hopeful and pursue health. By teaching yourself to remain positive no matter what your environment may look like, you can cultivate the mental toughness necessary to deal with anything life throws at you.
"What do you mean, 'If I can'?" Jesus asked. "Anything is possible if a person believes" (Mark 9:23, NLT).
The creator of Shatter Expectations has been a volleyball and mental health coach for many years, and he knows that mental toughness is the ability to stay positive and optimistic no matter what happens. As an example, he recently shared Emmy's story with me. She was a very insecure freshman in high school when she realized that in order to change her personal reality (her life), she had to focus on developing her personality. If she wanted to achieve her goal of playing volleyball in college, she had to grow her confidence.
With the help of a mental toughness coach, she started installing very meaningful habits in her life. One ground-breaking tool for her was journaling. She outlined her feelings and thoughts. By putting them on paper, she felt that she had more freedom to act instead of react in everyday situations.
Another valuable skill that helped her transform her reality was the ability to reframe situations. When something negative happened she would only find the positive in the situation and essentially leave her focus there. By focusing on only good things (which the Bible also talks about extensively), she no longer carried negative baggage with her. With hard work and self-discipline, she saw great changes in her life as her self-confidence simultaneously grew.
As Emmy's senior year of high school approached, she was more confident than ever! However, she didn't make her coveted spot on the varsity volleyball team. She often thought,
"How am I ever going to play in college if I'm not even a starter my senior year?"
Staying true to herself, Emmy soon reframed her disappointment and once again chose to see the good side of things. She resolved in her mind to become a mentor to the younger volleyball player that took her spot on the team.
Emmy did eventually have an amazing influence on the younger player as she spoke into her life, but Emmy never started. Through the entire journey, Emmy stayed very positive and journaled all her disappointments. Soon her once out-of-reach, seemingly impossible dream became a reality! Emmy's very act of mentoring and staying positive attracted a college coach who believed in recruiting character over talent. Emmy's attitude enabled her to pursue her dream of playing college volleyball.
Emmy recently graduated from University and was a volleyball starter all 4 years! She is currently a performance and setter coach at Ballistic Volleyball Club in Colorado.
In the next Shatter Expectations article, we'll dive deeper into effective journaling and reframing techniques, as well as other easy applications to help you transform your life, just like Emmy.