, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 390–394 | Cite as

Neuroplasticity and the Unknown Limits of the Possible

  • Jon Kabat-ZinnEmail author

The difficult we do today. The impossible takes a little longer.

Motto of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

I like to think that, rather than reflecting an arrogant, militaristic, macho attitude saturated with hubris, this motto of the army’s corps of engineers reflects the potential power of a truly open mind and a can-do attitude, a willingness to tackle situations that our old conditioned habits of mind may label as impossible way too prematurely. Many times, even in our own personal experience, our minds have surely thought something or other to be impossible that was later shown to be possible and that contributed in some way to our well-being or edification.

Let’s not forget that crossing the ocean was once thought to be impossible. Flying was once thought to be impossible. Ending apartheid and instituting democracy in South Africa without a terrible race war was once thought to be impossible.

As Emily Dickinson put it:

I dwell in Possibility—

A fairer House than Prose—



Copyright information

© Jon Kabat-Zinn 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for MindfulnessUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA

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