Mind Over Matter – It Matters
The church that I attend is rather large. It has four services every Sunday, plus it oversees a satellite campus in Pasadena. Consequently, it’s hard for attendees to know each other – there are just too many people. There have been various attempts at creating more familiarity within the congregation with varying levels of success.
Currently the church is presenting a series called “Once Upon A Time” that brings together some stories from the church’s members to illustrate their different gifts/skills, how God is using them and what challenges they’re facing, particularly in their faith. Not only do these presentations introduce us to the people whom we sit next to every week, it also introduces us to the struggles they are trying to overcome. On Sunday, a local pediatrician told us about his journey.
Dr. Brad shared with us the emotional side of his practice, which was poignant, but perhaps more importantly he shared a little about the biology of the brain. He explained that the brain doesn’t stop growing until around the age of 24 (commenting that perhaps this explains the many poor choices college kids make). However, people continue to learn new things after 24. To accommodate and encourage the brain’s expansion, some nerves are metaphorically “trimmed away,” sort of like a tree or bush is trimmed of the branches that are undersized to allow the expansion of the healthier branches. This would explain, for example, why someone who practices piano everyday for years will grow into a concert-level pianist but may not be the most proficient writer. The area of the brain that controls piano playing has been honed, given the attention it needs, to perfect that skill.
He used that example to illustrate that what we invest our thoughts in today will affect our futures. Are we constantly griping and being negative? Are we expecting a rain cloud rather than a rainbow? Or instead are we attempting to look at the bright side of things, of seeing the positive? Do we tell ourselves that we’ve gotten through worse and can overcome this, too?
The consistent way that we respond to stimuli will build up and strengthen certain areas of our brain, leaving those that are underused to be trimmed away. So, how do we train ourselves to build up those areas that will determine for us a future that is positive?
This question sparked a conversation I had with a couple after the service. We pondered the balancing act of dealing with the negative things thrown at us while maintaining a positive attitude. Yesterday, I was shown an example of how to do this.
I was at Vons and one of the store managers was outside stacking cases of water, a heavy job. I asked her what she did to deserve the task of performing “grunt work.” She answered that she considered it a chance to work out.
Attitude adjustment in action.
Dr. Brad’s presentation also touched on some theological tenets that I have trouble reconciling. For example, when is it time to “let go and let God” or remember that “God helps those who helps themselves”? To be frank, I have no clue as to that answer, but it doesn’t seem to me that it should be so elusive.
I was deeply touched by Dr. Brad’s presentation. I think it was because he voiced the same concerns that I face with owning my own business and coping with the challenges that business owners must meet. Sometimes I feel that no one understands the worries I have. Perhaps that was the real take-away from his presentation: we all are worried about something, but how we deal with these concerns – consistently – will determine the future of our lives.