Friday, December 30, 2011

Choice - It's Really All You Have

This one's for the teens:
What is the one thing in this world that is ever truly yours? Your choice.  Choices define who you are and what you will become.  Good choices lead to opportunities while bad ones can trap you in an endless downward spiral.  I'm not telling you anything you don't already know; saying 'make better choices' is easy.  The execution can be a bit more difficult.

Some important bits of information to keep in mind when presented with a choice:

Don't let your still-developing brain
make you a zombie!
Photo by Daniel Hollister
For many years scientists thought that the human brain fully matured by three years of age, but more recent research has shown that the prefrontal cortex hits another stage of development sometime between puberty and the early 20s.  After this "growth spurt" the brain undergoes a process called "pruning" which is when neural connections (synapses) linking various parts of the brain are grown, removed and altered to make the brain function as a whole.  This process is also the time when synapses that aren't utilized are allowed to wither (i.e. use it or lose it).
What does this mean?
The prefrontal cortex controls such things as decision making, behavior control and problem solving.  As people with yet-to-fully-mature brains [ZOMBIES!] teens need to be aware of their own bodies and that they can't always depend on their first response to be the best one.  Now, having a teen brain does NOT mean you have an excuse to make poor choices - it just means that you need to STOP AND THINK about your choices and why you are making your decision.  Teens can make good decisions - it just sometimes takes them a bit more time to do it.

Bottom Line: When presented with an important decision take your time to consider your options and the effects of your choices.  Don't make decisions when running on an emotional high or low - allow yourself to calm down.  Your choices stay with you for a long time make sure you can live with the results. Need to talk to someone? Click here.

More Brain Stuff: