Marie McLeod: The Neuroscience of Personal Growth | Doing Well #50

In this episode, host Lu Ngo is joined by Marie McLeod, Director of Wellbeing Innovation at Thrive Ability

The episode features Marie McLeod, the director of well-being innovation and a positive psychotherapist, discussing the neuroscience of personal growth. The podcast also touches upon the concept of positive psychology and its practical application in promoting well-being.

Meet Marie McLeod

Marie McLeod is the Director of Wellbeing Innovation at Thrive Ability. She is also the presenter in the acclaimed documentary “How to Thrive.” In the documentary, Marie guides and supports 7 participants who are facing mental health challenges on a transformative journey toward well-being.

Marie’s coaching style is characterized by a unique blend of straightforwardness and compassion, allowing her to address the core issues effectively. She possesses extensive knowledge of the science of well-being, which she combines with her practical experience accumulated over the years.

Through her award-winning programs, Marie has facilitated tangible and life-changing transformations for individuals and organizations alike. She holds qualifications in social work, positive psychology, and adult education. 

About the episode

During the podcast, Marie emphasizes that human brains have a natural inclination towards negativity bias and hedonic adaptation. These tendencies can hinder personal growth if not properly understood. However, she highlights the concept of neuroplasticity, which demonstrates that human brains have the ability to rewire themselves and form new neural connections throughout people’s lives.

Marie also talks about the “How to Thrive” documentary that followed the journeys of 7 individuals who were dealing with various challenges, including grief, eating disorders, and depression. The participants embarked on a wilderness retreat and simultaneously engaged in a six-week online program based on the Beacon framework.

Here are some key ways individuals can develop personal growth based on Marie’s discussion on the neuroscience of personal growth:

First, it’s important for individuals to understand their brains. One concept to be familiar with is negativity bias, which refers to human’s tendency to pay more attention to negative experiences and thoughts. This natural tendency can hinder personal growth.

Another concept is hedonic adaptation, where individuals quickly adapt to positive experiences and seek out new ones. Individuals can overcome these tendencies and focus on personal growth by understanding them. For example, one can learn to override impulsive behaviors through substitution behaviors that align with their growth goals.

Setting intentional goals is another important step. Individuals can identify the areas in their lives that they want to improve and set clear, actionable goals for themselves. It’s not just about dreaming big; it’s about consistently working towards those goals with grit and perseverance.

A simple practice individuals can try is writing down three good things that happened to them each day. It could be something as small as a nice conversation or a beautiful sunset. Reflecting on why these experiences were positive helps rewire the brain to focus on the positive. 

Other notable suggestions from Marie: 

  • Build a supportive network: Surround yourself with a supportive group of individuals, often referred to as a “thrive tribe.” These are people who can engage in activities with you, provide encouragement, and hold you accountable to your personal growth goals. Recognize that growth is often more effective and enjoyable when done in collaboration with others.
  • Utilize the Beacon Framework: Have you heard of the Beacon Framework? It’s a holistic approach to personal well-being and growth. It focuses on six areas: belonging, engagement, accountability, compassion, optimism, and physical health. By paying attention to these aspects of life, individuals can create a balanced and fulfilling personal growth journey.
  • Focus on strengths and realistic change: Direct your attention and efforts towards leveraging your strengths and areas in which you have a realistic opportunity to change. Rather than fixating on weaknesses or factors beyond your control, concentrate on areas where you can make tangible progress.

In conclusion

This episode, featuring Marie McLeod, provides valuable insights into the neuroscience of personal growth and how it can be applied in individuals’ lives. People can embark on a transformative journey toward well-being and personal development by understanding the brain, adopting a growth mindset, setting goals, building support networks, and cultivating positive habits.

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