Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Beautiful. Your mind is a beautiful, intricately designed work of art running constantly and harmoniously synchronised with every other system in your entire body. It has the power to control every action and reaction that you have; it controls every emotion you feel, express or repress; your brain regulates your blood pressure and breathing, keeping you alive, and all of this is done with no effort by us. These are a few simple functions that we all recognise as being a part of our daily lives, but probably forget exist. Along with these actions and being the central “machine” or processing system that drives our bodies and keeps us alive, our brain allows us to consciously take control of it for advanced tasks, while it maintains the more menial duties deemed not important enough for constant conscious awareness. This is really illusory control as not many people realise that our brain is so powerful, so advanced and so “smart” that it is capable of overriding this “complete conscious control” that we believe we have over ourselves at any point it feels necessary. If our lives are in danger, or there is a threat to the brain itself, it can shut down all systems and there is not a damn thing we can do about it.

There are more positive things as well, though. Possibly you could pass it off as the placebo effect, and that is completely plausible. I prefer to think of it more in terms of mind over matter. When I hear “placebo” I think “placating” or someone just given something to shut them up, and I know that may be inaccurate, but that’s what I think. It sounds to me that the effect is happening more by accident and that people are producing results not really by trying all that hard but more by happenstance. They are relatively the same idea, I’m just being picky on semantics when I say “mind over matter” because, to me, that phrase seems like it would require a fair amount of effort and certainly more effort than people having random results in a drug trial. Regardless, both are amazing examples of the mind’s ability to produce an almost magical result out of thin air based on your own pure belief in something; simply by thinking something will happen to you or visualising yourself getting better or having a certain side effect from a drug, those things actually, physically manifest themselves. It’s crazy. Another phenomenon is the “phantom limb syndrome” where amputees still have feelings in their severed limbs, such as a sensation in their hands; burning fingers, itchy palms, when they have actually lost their arm completely. Again, the brain and nervous system are getting crossed wires and mixed signals producing strange results.

This is where psychology comes into play. I take it a step further and use positive thinking as much as I can in my daily life, even if I’m not feeling the best, to keep a “good vibe” going for myself. I start with myself so I feel generally happy. Once I feel okay and happy, not negative or upset about anything, I can project those kinds of feelings outward. Usually if you’re feeling terrible on the inside, it shows everywhere on the outside: your face looks sullen and downtrodden; your posture is sulking and slumped; you walk slower and maybe shuffle a little; have a bit of a grumpy voice, not much smiling; those sorts of things. All of that body language is subconsciously picked up by every single person you walk past or interact with all along the way in your entire day whether they want to absorb that information or not. On the other hand, having a positive demeanour will make you appear all of the opposite traits I’ve just described, and project a positive, happy image to everyone. People obviously will pick this up as well and it will affect them in a positive instead of negative way, like in the first example. People will generally seem nicer, easier to get along with and talk to and even easier to “manipulate”.

It sounds bad since the word manipulation is always associated with negative connotations, but really it isn’t. Essentially what you’re doing is allowing people to act in ways that are more favourable towards you rather than ways that are more negative, simply by projecting a more positive image. If you come storming into somebody’s office with a pissed off face, the person in there is already going to be taken aback and on the defensive and less likely going to respond to you in the way you want, say if it’s to proofread a report you’ve written or approve a day off request. It’s not getting people to do your evil bidding; you’re just trying to get good things happening to good people, namely you.

Probably by this point, if you’re still reading, you may think this sounds a lot like that book or movie or television spot you may have seen called “The Secret”. It may sound like that now, but when I started to write this that was not my intention. If you watch the whole video for The Secret, they really go too far with it and get pretty fantastical with their ideas saying you can visualise yourself into a million dollars within a year and a new car, just THINK yourself into it and it will happen. I’m not Tom Cruise or some crazy Scientologist or fad-fanatic like that, I just love my badass brain and everyone’s brains and brains in general. BRAIIINNS. Ok I’m also not a skin-eating zombie either. I’m fascinated by the human brain and I’ve had a few extremely unique experiences with my own, both good and bad, that have really opened my eyes. I have always been a positive person even though I have been through hell and back (which, in my life, is the understatement of the century) and still kept up my positivity. I have never changed much in terms of my outlook except when I watched the movie or documentary for The Secret. Most of what I saw I was pretty sceptical about, to be quite honest. It sounded like preachy weirdo infomercial type stuff like the Q-Ray ionising bracelet. One thing that resonated with me and that I was able to take from watching it (I always try to find the good in everything as well) was that they did have a main focus and message in the movie, which was basically what I had been doing all along just with a minor change. That was to have a positive outlook on things, but also visualise good things happening to you and picture what you want TO happen to you, picture all of the positive things you want out of life and form mental images for your goals and so forth. But the important thing they said to do which a lot of us, including myself, probably don’t do is to make sure not to focus on things that we don’t want to happen. For example, hoping you don’t get sick, hoping you don’t get fired from your job, hoping your relationship doesn’t fail and so on. That type of thinking is basically just negativity and will put you down anyway even if you’re trying to think the opposite.

I honestly tried these things, these techniques and keeping negative thoughts out and positive ones in. I said to my grandparents before I moved to Toronto “Don’t worry Grandma I’ll be fine. I’ll have a new job and a girlfriend by spring, just you wait, you’ll see.” The funny thing is, I didn’t even try extremely hard to make either of those things happen either. Yes, I put myself in positions where I allowed those things to happen, where it would be possible, but I didn’t say in my head “I am going shopping for a girlfriend” or “ok today I am getting a job NOW”. I just went about my days, applied for jobs as I saw them and talked to people and yes, it’s February and now I have a new job and a girlfriend much ahead of schedule and I couldn’t be happier. I’m not saying I magically willed anything to happen, because who knows. All I know for sure is that positivity projected comes back in a positive way, and you can use that to make things beautiful.

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