Dr. Marian Diamond, a neuroscientist, overturned long-held beliefs by proving through research that environmental factors can change the brain and that the brain can be developed over a lifetime. Before her research began in the mid-1960s the established belief was that the brain cannot “grow” and be enhanced to “grow” through environmental experiences. Spending some time researching Dr. Diamond and her work is well worth one’s time. Dr. Diamond recently passed away at the age of 90; she taught at the university level well into her 80s.
Though oversimplified, she discovered the “plasticity” capacity of the brain, which means one can change, heal, develop, and grow throughout a lifetime. She established/discovered five ways one can enhance brain health, which easily translates to life health. A person enhances one’s life through nutrition, exercise, newness, challenge, and love.
Nutrition and exercise are rudimentary forms of self-care that feed the whole organism. Newness means stepping beyond the routines we establish and see-explore-learn about more than one already knows well. That means everything from hiking in the Grand Canyon to exploring forms of architecture. Challenge means allowing one’s self to risk stepping into territories of experience and learning that can entail frustration and reward. Challenge can be as simple as puzzles and as complicated as acquiring a PhD. And love, which she stated that she could not prove exactly, means to extend beyond one’s own control and safety into the lives of others. Love enhances life health through relational connection and expanded compassion.
She offered scientific proof that we are relational creatures, and we grow through extending ourselves into relational experiences with our selves and others. We are social creatures who grow and enhance our own and others wellbeing by participating in creation and by participating in creating.