The road to success [or a better life] is always under construction.Lily Tomlin [and me]
As you probably know, I never tire of learning about the power of our minds. Sometimes I’ll read or hear something and it sends chills down my spine. Good chills. It’s like a feeling of excitement that what you just learned has helped you tap into something better, something life-changing, something miraculous.
So… this is going to be my first post for a year long series:
Miracles Every Day
I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this, but I read a book a while back called Switch on Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health, by Dr. Caroline Leaf. She has interesting thoughts not only on how our brains work, but on how bits of biblical text actually correlate with the way that they work.
It is truly fascinating, but I have to confess that I never did the worksheets. I always do that. I’ll read a great self-help book where the back half of the book has all of the questions, planners, guides, exercises, etc., and I’ll stop right there. I just wanted to hear how the damn thing works, not actually DO the work. Ha!
The bottom line: It’s about how repeating positive thoughts can build new pathways in our brains, and how cutting out negative thoughts will begin to shut down the old pathways we’ve constructed over our lifetime—with negative or unhealthy thinking, false beliefs, etc.
Talk on how repetitive thoughts (or even activities) create pathways in our brain is not new, I just had a harder time grasping it—scientifically—until I read her book.
Here’s the deal though. As passionate as I am about “the mind,” I am a terrible student when it comes to physiology. Don’t ask me why, but I can’t seem to memorize the names of human body parts and their functions!
When I read things relating to neuroscience—about specific regions of the brain, for example, or neurons, neurotransmitters, receptors, and so on—my mind begins to fog up and I begin to look like a deer in the headlights. That being said, when I try to imagine how it all works I see something like this…
But… recently, I found the best analogy ever:
*Imagine you have crash landed in the jungle. There are thick branches and vines everywhere, as far as you can see. You are thirsty, and you hear running water in the distance, to the right of your mangled plane. You search for the easiest way to get there, but all you can see is this thick vegetation and it’s the same in every direction. You stay where you are because you are afraid. But your thirst finally overcomes your fear, and you strike out for the creek.
When you do this, you make a pathway. It is not much and it will not last, but it is there. By passing through the jungle once, you have made a pathway of least resistance. As you head back, you take that pathway again because it’s now the easiest way. As you go through this repeatedly, you make more of a pathway until in time you have a nice smooth trail. Now, every time you go to the creek you take the easiest way. That is how the brain works and that is how learning takes place.*
Now, this may not explain what is inside the brain, but as far as how repetitive thoughts, habits, and pathways work… I think it’s absolutely perfect. I love the visual!
I guess the point here is that human beings are amazing and complex beings, with minds that are capable of doing things that we haven’t even dreamed of yet.
That being said, the power of the human mind is a miracle. No doubt about it.
The featured image is a fun composite piece that I made for the post. The road to happiness, for sure. After a conversation I had earlier, I’m going to “try” to work on some tips for Photoshop, so my goal is to come back another day and use this piece to show how to make a simple composite piece. I’m no expert, but I think I have some tricks up my sleeve.
That’s about all for now. Thanks for reading!
Many complain of their looks, but none of their brains.Proverb
*Source: Robert R. Perkinson, Chemical Dependency Counseling