Each section of neuroscientist and corporate coach Nicole Vignola’s Rewire: Break the Cycle, Alter Your Thoughts and Create Lasting Change is titled with phrases that will sound familiar to readers bent on self-improvement: “Ditch the Negative,” “Shift Your Narrative,” “Boost the Positive.”

While those imperatives may not be new, the author’s explanations of how one might actually achieve those goals—via understanding and taking advantage of the brain’s neuroplasticity—feel remarkably fresh, thanks to her knowledgeable, approachable voice and gift for making the complex clear.

An edifying mix of scientific research, personal anecdotes and real-world examples of rewiring done right provide aha moments galore as Rewire leads readers on a path toward change. Herself a reformed “stressy messy,” Vignola explains that we ignore the fundamental interplay between physical and mental health at our peril (or at least frequent frustration): “The brain is your hardware, and the memories, thoughts, habits and behaviors within it are the software.” For example, someone who’s not eating properly or getting good sleep will run on “low-power mode,” making it especially difficult to overcome negative self-talk, a tendency toward rumination and other long-held habits.

Similarly, while social media is vital to Vignola’s coaching practice and educational endeavors, it’s become a serious energy drain for so many—and a brain without ample rest or space to daydream isn’t receptive to rewiring. “Imagine you were on a treadmill for eight hours a day . . . and then in your lunch break you move on to the stationary bike . . . you’re not actually taking a break,” which stymies “brain energy renewal.” However, planned “strategic breaks” shore up the overworked brain; exercise releases myokines, which “aid in alleviating depressive symptoms, improving anxiety,” and more; and visualization techniques boost adaptability, as exemplified by Olympian Michael Phelps.

Vignola firmly believes that once armed with a deeper understanding of how the brain works, even non-Olympians are capable of effecting positive and lasting change. In Rewire she provides a “neuroscientific toolkit” rife with practical strategies and tips, data and experience to back them up, and an unwaveringly supportive refrain: “You can, if you so wish, create yourself. Whoever you want to be.”

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