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  • Bob Ginsberg

You Are What You Think

    I am always looking for diversions that will settle my chatter mind and allow me to focus. I often play word games on my phone, with Scrabble and Wordle being my favorites. However, I recently added an app for a game that I played as a child, as do many children today. It has different names, but the game consists of two pictures and the task is to spot the differences between the two photos. I’m good at it, but as you keep advancing to higher and higher levels, spotting the subtleties gets increasingly difficult. The photo components also get increasingly small, and my eyesight becomes the challenge.


     After playing this game for several weeks, I now find that on my morning walks I look at the various houses that I pass and try to spot differences in the symmetry of the windows, landscaping, roof lines, etc. It seems to be quite absurd. However, it reminded me how our brains are malleable and constantly form new circuitry and patterns of thinking. Practitioners of cognitive behavior therapy have long known this, as they recognize that changing the way that people think about things can result in profound improvements to their emotional, physical, and mental health. For example, in bereavement work, if one can change the way that they think about death, there is usually an improvement in their grief. Changing such thought patterns might occur by learning about evidence suggesting that our consciousness survives physical death, or by having a personal experience that cannot be explained by physical means. Clinical studies published in peer reviewed journals have shown that those who believe that their deceased loved one still exists in some form, do better than those who believe that life is forever extinguished with physical death.


     We are all our thoughts, and not our bodies. We often hear the expression “changing our minds,” usually referring to the specific decisions that we make. If we can manage to make these changes from a broader perspective, breaking away from ways of thinking that seem permanent but are anything but, we can lead fuller and more meaningful lives.

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