I’m on vacation right now which gives me time to do more reading than normal. It makes me think I need to either take more vacations, or prioritize my time better so that I can read more when I’m not on vacation. I like the first option better, but I like to eat, too.
I’m reading an amazing book by Norman Doidge, M.D. called The Brain That Changes Itself. It tells some incredible stories of the “plasticity” of the brain. That means your brain is like Play-Doh. It’s moldable. It’s changeable. It’s adaptable. It makes and revises it’s brain maps.
The brain is NOT like a mechanical computer/machine that only stores information. Yet it works with the information it receives. Sometimes that information is accurate and sometimes it’s not.
The brain can adapt more than we’ve thought possible to situations of paralysis, phantom limb pain, OCD, etc. Unsuspectingly, it “learns” some of these conditions and can be helped through processes of unlearning and relearning.
The brain is constantly changing to adapt to the experiences and information it receives. You really need to buy the book and learn what is being done with stroke patients, paralyzed patients, and many other conditions that were thought to be “unchangeable” when damage was experienced to a part of the brain.
But there’s another reason why I’m writing this blog post.
Separate from the rejuvenating capacities of the brain, this book touches on how the imagination can cause the brain to change.
When used for good and in a way that the brain can process information for reprogramming, your imagination can help you to make major improvements. But like many things have been created for good – like dynamite, and the splitting of the atom – when used for purposes other than the good for which they were designed, the imagination can bring fear, shame, and harm to others.
If you focus on what is good and right, you will find what is good and right. If you place your focus on what is negative and wrong, you will find what is negative and wrong. Your brain can accept only what you give it.
So if you surround yourself with positive, life-enhancing attitudes and opportunities, imagining the unlimited possibilities ahead, your brain will rise to the challenge and do amazing things. If you focus on the things you fear and the negative that could potentially happen in the world, your brain will respond to the threat that you see in your mind.
I relate this to peace in life. If all you listen to at work, on the radio, or on television is negativity that is always bringing up the things you fear most…loss of things that are important to you (which is often your material possessions or the freedom to hold onto possessions), you’ll never keep your peace.
People who have no peace live in fear. They are always guarding something. Their stuff. Their traditions. Their religion. The truths they learned when they were children. They live in a state of unpeace – distress, fear, emotional upset – because of what they feed their brain. It molds itself to what it receives.
On the other hand, when you focus on the good, the opportunities to bring positive change into the world, into the lives of others, peace is so much easier to find and experience.
Habits are learned behaviors. The brain learns to continue them. Fortunately, it can be taught to form new habits – with intentional effort. And with repetition, the new habit has to become stronger than the old for it to become easier. This isn’t new. What’s new is the information that the brain is actually rewiring itself, overcoming old synapses and forming new ones.
If it’s your habit to turn on a radio show or television show that is based on negativity and is designed to arouse your anger and fear, you have the choice to relearn a pattern that will bring peace into your mind rather than anger or fear. It’s pretty simple.
I’m amazed at the almost unbelievable things I learned in this book about the brain. Why doesn’t the media show us the incredible good that research is finding – and how it can lead us to greater good and peace in the world?
I relate this to religion. If you are focused on the evil in the world, you’re going to find it. If you are focused on the wrong that everyone else is doing, you’re going to find it. If you constantly fear someone’s going to take some of what you’ve work hard to accumulate, you’ll live in fear and worry. It’s going to make you angry.
Anger and peace do not coexist. Fear and peace do not coexist. Peace cannot exist alongside fear or anger.
Anger arises when you fear losing control. Yet most fear is imagined.
All fear of God is imagined. Anger in God is imagined.
Fear of God comes from people who fear losing control of your behavior or your beliefs.
Look around you right now. Is something threatening the peace God wants for you in this very moment? Do you have warmth (or air conditioning)? Do you have food for your next meal? Are you safe? The kingdom of peace (God) is now. You can only experience peace (God) in this moment, and this moment is what matters.
So experience peace and the kingdom right now.
Don’t wait until all the conditions are “right” – things that you’ve conditioned your brain to think need to be in place before you can relax. Peace is only found in the now.
Don’t wait until you die to experience the kingdom. Imagine that it is here and you will find it.
Develop a new habit. Rewire your brain.
Turn away from those who want to make you angry. Turn away from those who want to make you fearful. Not only are they stealing your peace, but you are easier to control and manipulate when you are not in your right mind.
You can teach the brain to fear. You can teach the brain to hate. You can teach the brain to love. I suppose it depends on which verses of the Bible you choose to proclaim.
You are only in your “right” mind – objective, rational, reasonable – when you have peace of mind.
If you imagine that you can be at peace, content, without fear, you can have peace now. I’ll guarantee that little you hear from Republicans or Democrats will lead you to peace. You have to seek it yourself.
The only one who can remove fear and anger from your life is you.
+ + +
I didn’t realize what the brain was doing when I spent so much time imagining God the Father was revealing his true nature – Ultimate Goodness and Love – in and through Jesus. There is no fear in love.
My theology about God changed – my brain physically adapted as I placed my trust in the revelation that came through Jesus.
Now, when anyone proclaims that God does bad things, evil things, or is even capable of the immature imaginations of the human mind – I recognize they are taking God’s name and nature in vain.
And that’s why I had to write my book 30 Days to Loving God with All Your Heart. Some of you know that I released it under another title name seven months ago. But I don’t think I chose the right title.
So I made some very slight adjustments and the new ebook is now available through Amazon for $2.99.
However, if you wait until Aug. 12 & 13, it will be FREE for download to any device that has a Kindle app. If you got the original version (O Taste and See), delete it and get the new one. Or go ahead and learn to love God with all your heart using the old one. The content is the same.
Develop new habits. Use your imagination to rewire your brain.
God is good — all the time.
And that’s the gospel’s truth.