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Yes, You Can Teach an Old New Tricks!

Generational Poverty

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks is a common phrase that means it is challenging if not impossible to teach a person something new, usually because that person has been doings a certain way for so long that they’re stubborn to learn how to do it differently. But we know a lot of old sayings are wrong – this one included.

Neuroscience through studies discovered that the human brain has the ability to modify and change itself according to experience or environment. This phenomenon is known as Neuroplasticity. Neuro means neuron or nerve cells in our brain or nervous system. Plastic means changeable or modifiable. It means “that we see with our brain, not with our eyes.” Now we know that we are not at the mercy of the genetically predetermined brain make up, we can alter our brain structure and function by our positive and optimistic thinking. Previously it was thought that the brain was fixed and hard-wired, and that the teen years and mid-twenties were final stages of brain development. Now, new research in the field of neuroscience shows that the brain is malleable and is plastic in nature. If it could be rewired according to our behavior towards our environment, then we can adapt and make new adaptive changes in our brain by adjusting ourselves in better environments and social situations. By learning new skills, we make new connections in our memories and new ways of doing things.

On the other hand, foods such as blueberries, green tea, dark chocolate, vegetables, fish, fruits and nuts, enhances the building up of new neural connections in the brain, making it flourish. With the discovery of neuroplasticity, we can now understand that the brain is capable of more flexibility and must reject the notion that you can’t teach at old dog new tricks. We now know that our brain never ceases to respond to new skills and our environmental stimulus; it is learning from birth and continues until we die. The plasticity of the brain increases when we challenge our brain with new things, beliefs and ways of doing things differently.

How to safeguard your plastic mind from negative attitudes in society:

As we are the product of our environment, the association with negative people tends to make us think negatively; close contact with petty individuals develops petty habits in us. Companionship and association with people with bid ideas raises the level of our thinking. Close contact with ambitious people gives us ambition; your personality, ambitions, present status in life, is largely the result of your psychological environment. The person you will be next year, in five years, ten years, or twenty, will depend on your future environment. You change over months and years, but how you’ll change depends upon your chosen environment.

Veli Ndaba is a NeuroEngineering Leadership Effect Speaker and Trainer, Brain Coach and Author of four books (You Are Born to Win, Your Dream is Calling You and SWITCH ON! And Set Your Soul On Fire!) and Newspaper Columnist. To book him to speak at your next event or to help you and your team unleash your greatness, contact him on, or +27 83 304 9773