Thursday, May 10, 2012

You are what you eat, you become what you think ....

We've all heard the saying, "You are what you eat." In essence, what you put into your body is what your body will use in the construction and replacement of its cells, hormones and neurotransmitters. Quite literally then you are composed of the very food you consume. It is logical then to say a body constructed of junk food and low nutrition will be inferior to a body constructed from wholesome food in the correct quantities. And consider that most cells in your body will be completely replaced within 7-10 years, so do you want a body built from Twinkies and soda or whole grains, fruits and vegetables? The former will be less able to adapt to daily life stresses and will be more susceptible to sickness and disease.

However, equally true and important is the mental axiom that you become what you most often think about. Scientific studies have shown that repetitive thoughts actually create chemical and physical changes in the brain. Specifically, neural connections are made that change the shape and function of the brain. An analogy could then be made that negative thoughts are like junk food and positive thoughts are like nutritious food. If your spending more time processing negative thoughts than positive ones the resulting neural connections and neurochemistry will be that of an unhealthily stressed brain. Of course it is almost impossible not to have some negative thoughts, but we should try as best we can to replace our thoughts of hatred, guilt, and frustration with compassion, forgiveness, and humor.

Taken together, choosing a healthy diet, exercise, and replacing negative thoughts with positive, productive ones will help us to achieve our optimal physical and mental health.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Who are you writing for?

A woman's naked breast---The context of a subject can have a very dramatic impact on the audience's interpretation. For instance, is this naked breast being fondled by a man in a pornographic film, or is it being suckled on by an infant? In the former context the breast could be considered lewd and sinful, whereas in the latter context it is the complete opposite--wholesome and nurturing.

I will never forget being on an Employee Activity Committee and sitting in a room deciding on what movie to show at the Company Halloween party. The two movies that were being discussed were Scary Movie or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The decision was made to show the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But the reason for the decision is what shocked me and demonstrated to me an awareness of the messed up cultural norms of our society. Scary Movie was not allowed to be shown because there was a scene in which a virgin man finally had sex and a visual joke was made exaggerating his ejaculation. Ok, fine I can understand how that might offend people of more religious or conservative views. But explain to me how these same people shouldn't be more offended by showing a guy in a wheel chair get his legs, arms and head chainsawed off!  The former is making a joke about a natural body function in a situation between two consulting adults. In the latter a handicapped person is being brutally murdered.

The point I am trying to make here is this: While it is true that as a writer you must consider your audience and how they will interpret the context of your subject matter, you should also realize that there is no accounting for the priorities and values of all, and so you must write what you feel you must write, not what others want you to write. Sure there will be a number of people you may offend, but there will be an equal amount of people who respect you for it. And most importantly, in the end we must be true to ourselves.