I recently attended a conference featuring Daniel Siegel, MD, one of the founders of the field of interpersonal neurobiology. One of the topics of discussion was a review of the neurological changes in the adolescent brain and the four extraordinary features that emerge as a result. Dr. Siegel believes these qualities are the ESSENCE of cultivating vitality and maintaining optimal brain health throughout the lifespan. As you read, ask yourself if these factors are still present in your life:
ES: Adolescents have an Emotional Spark which is the source of their tremendous passion about life. No doubt, at an extreme, this spark can also show up as moodiness and intense emotionality.
SE: The natural drive toward Social Engagement leads teens to turn more toward their peers. Although they may be vulnerable to peer pressure, adolescents also deeply understand the centrality of supportive relationships to our well-being.
N: Teens seek Novelty which allows for more courageous exploration of the world. The downside, of course, is the risk to personal safety that sometimes comes with being in unfamiliar territory.
CE: The Creative Exploration of adolescence allows for innovation and pushing against the status quo. When your mind can imagine possibility, true change is more likely to happen. Too much challenging of the status quo can, however, be stressful.
To learn more about the adolescent brain and it’s potential, I highly recommend Daniel Siegel’s insightful book, Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain.