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  • One of the paradoxes of trying to understand our minds is that, at particular moments,

  • we need to acknowledge that what passes through them - the ideas we entertain and the moods

  • were in - may have very little to do with the workings of these minds themselves.

  • It may - for example - suddenly seem as though we have a new and very specific take on the

  • world: we are sure that we should leave our job, say goodbye to our partner and never

  • see our ungrateful children again.

  • Or we may feel that we have come to a resolute new political certainty: that society is totally

  • corrupt and human nature inherently selfish.

  • And yet, with hindsight, we may realise that these ideas were not necessarily logical or

  • true, they were just emanations of a hard-to-notice detail: that we had missed out on four hours

  • of sleep the night before or hadn’t drunk anything since early morning.

  • Much that we think about - though it seems to be rationally founded - stems in essence

  • from the ups and downs of the complicated bodily envelope were entwined with.

  • Our thoughts can predominantly be the result of what we had for lunch, what time we went

  • to bed, when we last sat on the toilet and how our blood sugar level is doing.

  • This can sound hugely insulting.

  • Surely we are wiser and cleverer than to be knocked off course by a sugary drink or a

  • poor night.

  • But we would be even wiser to follow, in this regard, the instincts of all good parents

  • of young children.

  • When they see their toddler swiftly turning furious, tetchy and jealous, they know that

  • they are not witnessing an inexplicable character transformation in their formerly pleasant

  • charges.

  • They look at their watch, make their excuses and hurry upstairs to put the young one to

  • bed for an hour.

  • The mind will return to its usual state soon enough; it just cannot hope to do so while

  • supported by a flagging body that’s done three hours of energetic cartwheels or ball

  • games with the neighbour’s cocker spaniel.

  • We should understand ourselves in similar terms.

  • When we are filled with tragic thoughts, we should remember that there are always dark

  • perspectives we might adopt.

  • When we do so therefore, it isn’t necessarily because our minds have uncovered new and solid

  • reasons to despair, it’s just that we lack the energy to bat away our fears and stay

  • on the side of life and hope.

  • We say ‘I’m having bad thoughts and I’m exhausted’; we should learn to say ‘I’m

  • having bad thoughts because I’m exhausted.’

  • We shouldn’t protest that there are ways of thinking that are primarily the outcome

  • of having eaten too many chocolates and of not having been out of the house all day - and

  • others that are the outcome of a brisk swim and a handful of dried cranberries.

  • To know ourselves never means knowing just our minds; it means tracking the decisive

  • ways in which these minds are daily manipulated by our bodies and should, before we listen

  • to them any further, be put down for a nap or sent on a long walk around

  • the park.

One of the paradoxes of trying to understand our minds is that, at particular moments,

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B1 wiser exhausted outcome human nature necessarily neighbour

Why It Might Be Your Body - Not Your Mind

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    Summer posted on 2022/03/24
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