For a number of years, I have been fascinated by neuroscience and how it applies to our daily lives. In particular, I’m interested in the connection between the brain and how habits and faith are formed.
It wasn’t that long ago that scientists believed that once the brain was fully developed, it became fixed and didn’t change. We now know that the brain is more plastic and neural pathways are capable of being reshaped. Neuroscientists talk about neuroplasticity — the brain’s ability to fashion new circuits.
Without getting into the weeds (or the neurons), the bottom line is this: we aren’t bound to following old habits and patterns. Through intentional effort and with practice, we can overwrite old maps and create better, healthier ways of thinking.
Which brings me to the idea of mindshare.
Our minds have limited square footage and we need to be vigilant about what we allow to become a mental roommates. While we can’t always control what gets into our minds, we do have control over what we allow to stay there.
Researchers have found that negative thoughts and experiences carry more mental weight than positive ones. That’s why you find it hard to shake off a negative encounter. It might creep back hours after the actual conversation has ended. In fact, it might even reappear several days later.
All it takes for our mental space to become crowded is one or two negative thoughts. If not dealt with in a proper way, negative thoughts and experiences don’t magically shrink over time. Quite the opposite — they tend to grow, leaving less room for our positive roommates to occupy.
Not everyone owns a timeshare, but everyone has a mindshare.
At any given time, we have multiple roommates. Some are just passing through, others linger, and a few become squatters.
Here’s the good news: you can evict unwanted squatters.
It takes efforts to learn and practice new ways of thinking, but it can be done. Old habits and patterns can be replaced with better ones. If you stick with it, you’ll have a new set roommates.