Life can change in a moment. What does this mean? Maybe this brings to mind the event of surviving a car accident or some other close brush with death. People might never be the same after such a traumatic and fearful experience. As a neuroscientist, I look at this as an example of how quickly our brains can permanently change in response to a single event. What else might cause someone to refer back to where their life “changed in a moment.” It could be as subtle as a grade school teacher uttering the compliment, “Billy, you are a really smart kid.” Nobody would be surprised to hear that Billy’s mood and life thereafter were quickly and permanently changed. When someone has taken a hallucinogen, the effects are dramatic and long lasting. People who have been treated with a single hallucinogenic experience have reported it was the most profound positive influence they’ve ever experienced. Many described it as their most significant life experience, even when asked a year later. There are also the famous “mirror box” sessions with subjects suffering from chronic phantom pain in missing limb. Dr. Ramachandran demonstrated that some subjects who placed their intact arm in a mirror box that gave them the perception of seeing their missing limb intact and moving, immediately went pain free in their phantom missing limb for the first time in years. So, single events or experiences can quickly and effectively alter the brain and our mental experience. In other words, your life can in fact be changed in a moment.
So why don’t more people take advantage of this fact? Don’t we all want the quick fix? Yet most approaches we take today to fix our health our long term approaches, months of therapy, chronic pill popping, or invasive dangerous surgeries. It doesn’t make any sense. It has been shown in numerous contexts that the brain has proven ability to change significantly in a very short period of time, with the effect lasting months to years. Yet this just keeps getting ignored by individuals seeking self-help fixes, therapists, doctors, and scientists? Why hasn’t there been a massive health movement, a massive research movement, a massive pop culture phenomenon?