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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Retraining Your Brain Toward Greater Freedom

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Feb 23rd 2012

brain lighting upCan you imagine paying attention for something consistently for a period of time that it starts to color the way you see the world? This is exactly what started happening to a number of people years ago in Australia after playing the game Tetris for prolonged periods of time. Kids and adults began seeing things in daily life in the form of Tetris shapes and seeing how they fit together. It actually shaped the automatic way they saw the world. Why is this critical to your life?

We spend an enormous amount of unintentional attention on all kinds of things in daily life out of habit. What we practice and repeat in life starts to become automatic and colors the way we think and behave in the world. 

How about the amount of attention we give to worrying or rehashing past life events? Is it possible that we start adopting a worried or depressed lens as a habit and view all areas of life through this lens?

How about the new findings that we can change our brain architecture throughout the course of our lifespan by paying attention in a particular way (Neuroplasticity). Can the Tetris Effect actually reshape our brains and is this in the direction of helping us or hindering us?

It’s time to put on the conductor’s hat and take the wheel of this train we call our mind. We can notice when our minds are circling the bad neighborhoods and choose to take another road. If we want the Tetris Effect to work for us we have to understand the first rule, lots of interest, practice and repetition.

So what if today you practiced looking for the Good in people? What if today you practiced looking for the Good in yourself?

This isn’t an effort to ignore the difficulties in life, you’ll be plenty aware of those still not to worry. This is in an effort to use the Tetris Effect to help us in our lives.

In the beginning you might begin seeing subtle results and then over time, they’ll become a bit more apparent.  Who knows, maybe you’re even changing your brain for good! This is the deeper effect of training your mind to see the spaces in your daily life between stimulus and response wherein lies the power to choose our response and find possibilities, opportunities and a sense of freedom we never knew was there. This is what I call The Now Effect and psychology, neuroscience and ancient wisdom show us how it can change the rest of our lives. 

Start looking for the spaces where you can become present and get back in touch with choice. Ask yourself, what’s most important for me to be paying attention to right now?

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from. 


Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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