Search Blog

Dec 9, 2012

Mental Calisthenics

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.”
~The Apostle Paul

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I am working on some character renovations. Whenever starting such a project, I find the passage above a good place to start.
My college degree is a Bachelor of Science in the study of Psychology. While being far from as knowledgeable as some of my colleagues who went on to become clinicians or have their own practices, I did get the opportunity to learn some fascinating things about how the human mind works.
I’ve jested before about a cognitive theory from the 1960s that suggested depressed people were so because they had depressed thoughts. At the time, I laughed at what I deemed cyclical logic. However, over the next summer session, I was enrolled in Physiological Psychology. In this class, many myths about the human brain were dispelled. I discovered that brain cells are not forever dead, but moreover that neurons and the physical patterns in the brain grow and weaken based on “exercise.”
Suddenly, this silly cyclical logic made sense. The more dark thoughts one has, the more he or she is strengthening that pattern of thought. The same is true for beautiful thoughts. Further, once these patterns are strong, it is easier to have them – whichever side of the decadent fence they may be.
So, there is real merit in the words of the Apostle Paul. How I practice is how I will play – even within my own thoughts.
However, what has always troubled me about this is how to avoid an unrealistic attitude of wearing rose-tinted glasses while practicing this. A new study from Case Western Reserve discovered that it is extremely difficult for our brains to function in a logical fashion and a compassionate fashion simultaneously. Thus, my concern is not truly unfounded.
This is something I will explore as I journey through my character work in the near future.

No comments:

Post a Comment