Neuroplasticity And Love | The Strongest Drivers Of Change
Most of the time, we tend to speak of intelligence as intellectual ability. Intelligence is often referred to as IQ, referencing mental strength. It means having a fast, well-optimized brain. It means being able to gather and organize information quickly to make decisions at a rapid pace. But in this article, I’m going to argue that IQ is just a sub-skill, hierarchically inferior to neuroplasticity, and that there is a far greater strength: the power of the brain to reshape and reorganize itself.
In todays society, IQ is one of the top traits we measure and select for. We want smart, efficient workers, able to achieve complex goals. They should be fast, effective, like machines, able to make calculated decisions to reach societal and organizational goals. These kinds of workers are meant to be highly specialized experts of a specific domain.
The idea of IQ has been challenged. Some argue that we should instead select for EQ – emotional intelligence. Those on the side of emotional intelligence request emotionally skilled workers, stress resilient, cooperative, and empathetic to the needs of an organization. Organizations that speak of emotional intelligence often talk of the value of coaching, teamwork, and prioritize the mental health and well being of their coworkers.
I’m going to argue that, first, intelligence, and experts, are admirable. We shouldn’t discourage ability or hard work.
Secondly, yes, we need emotional intelligence, and we should value people that are empathetic, emotionally resilient, and in good mental health.
But most importantly, I’m going to argue that we need neuroplasticity, and with that, people who have highly plastic, flexible brains.
Why We Need Neuroplasticity
Neuroplasticity is a pretty groundbreaking thing. It allows you to literally change your script or thinking completely on its head. It means being able to completely overcome a trauma, and to rebuild a completely new way of life.
It means learning to live and adapt to a completely new country or culture, or to be able to completely change your career.
This kind of mental flexibility is highly useful in a world such as ours, where things are constantly, and quickly, changing and evolving.
I’ve found that most of the rules and norms we live and abide by today are outdated and could be changed or improved in some ways.
I’ve found that, through neuroplasticity, we’re able to completely change things we don’t like about ourselves, while continuing to hold on to and love other parts of ourselves.
Most of us get educations, and then end up working in a completely different field, and perhaps, after 5-10 years, we get promoted, or move on, and end up somewhere else entirely. Todays workforce is highly mobile – constantly shifting, and many of us are travelers, and end up living in a different city than where we were born.
Create A Support System For Neuroplasticity
The most important thing to develop neuroplasticity is to develop a strong emotional support system. Why?
It’s been found that people who are stressed, anxious, preoccupied, struggle the most with neuroplasticity. Being in a constant rush, being overworked, not having time to work out or engage in physical fitness, lack of time spent in nature, relaxing, and lack of play are highly detrimental to developing a plastic brain.
While a person with a high IQ might have the brain and processing power to stay afloat even in high-stress situations, able to think on their feet, solve problems, and survive difficult scenarios, it’s the emotionally intelligent person who is able to survive long-term. The emotionally intelligent person will recognize that they’re angry, sad, or tired, and will be able to find strategies to manage their feelings. A part of this is being able to take breaks, have open and vulnerable conversations with others, and to find healthy outlets for their feelings, such as art, music, or play.
We think we can postpone our emotional health and well-being, and focus on work indefinitely. We think there’s no long term cost to stress. We think we can rush, and go faster, and faster, but that there’s no consequences to that. But ofcourse, there are invisible costs. Most of all, to our emotional well being, and long term, to our ability to reshape our brain and develop new scripts, and a new way of life.
The result is we end up feeling stuck in a gradually more impossible situation. We work harder and harder, but feel like things are getting out of hand. Life is moving faster. Demands are higher. And we’re still just us. Many drive themselves to burnout, and many companies build a habit of changing out their entire workforce in 1-3 year timeframes.
A Solution To The Neuroplasticity Equation
Still, there are people who are able to break out of these toxic patterns. While emotional intelligence can help you manage stress and emotions more effectively, the fundamental structure which drives neuroplasticity and self-transformation, is love.
Over the time of my life, I have come to realize that everything good about me, everything I’ve achieved in my life, is because of my love and appreciation of other people. I have my friends, family, and countless inspiring role models to thank for who I have become today. People constantly inspire me to think in different directions, to try out new hobbies, and to learn new skills. Love has gotten me to travel countries, learn new languages, and has driven massive change in my life, many times over. I have love to thank for who I am today.
The relationship between love and neuroplasticity is strong. Studies have found that few experiences drive as massive of a transformation of your brain structure and chemistry as falling in love with another person. But love extends above just romantic love, and also refers to our feelings about where we live, where we work, and what we do. If we love what we do, our relationship to this environment is far more healthy, and we adapt our brain and skillsets, to fit in with this complex environment, in whatever way we can. If we don’t love what we do, we resist change and put up walls between ourselves and the outside world.
Work together with other people, befriend your coworkers, and try to maintain strong and healthy relationships to family if possible, or find other people in your life with whom you can share meals, cook, and talk with on a daily basis. Access to friendship and community is the foundation of neuroplasticity. It doesn’t mean that you change who you are, it means, you change how you, as an individual, relate to the outside world. People are social beings. That means that your art is as much a reflection of you as your feelings about the outside world. Similarly, while you have your own unique skillsets, your relationship to the outer world will change how you manifest and display this skillset. In what way can you be useful to the world? The desire for people to contribute to the community is the strongest driving force of all of humanity.
Not convinced? Try asking someone for directions. They’ll be so eager to stop and help you. Even if they don’t know the answer, they’ll do their best to make an educated guess. Because they so, so, want to be helpful.