How Your Brain Bends You Constantly Towards Evil (and How to Stop It)

evil -- create an evil human being

Credit: Lenore Edman. Flickr.com. Creative Commons.

There is a part of you that simply feels things, but has no capacity at all for language, or any other abstract ideas such as time, grace, love, truth, or justice. That part of you, the seat of your emotions in the brain, the part of you that just feels, is called the limbic system.

That explains why, when someone hurts you and then apologizes, you may genuinely forgive them and yet the pain may linger for quite some time. Your limbic brain doesn’t understand right and wrong, or apologies — all abstract ideas — it just feels. So it takes time for the feelings to subside. While that time passes, most people (especially religious ones), beat themselves up for not genuinely forgiving.

The takeaway here: There’s literally nothing you can do about it. It just takes time.

There is another part of your brain (this is called the “triune brain” theory, by the way), even more primitive, called the lizard brain. The lizard brain controls more or less automatic things like your heartbeat, digestion, swallowing, etc. This is located in the brain stem. The “fight or flight” mechanism is located here.

The stem is the most basic part of the brain. It is wrapped in the limbic brain, and then the neocortex (the part that evolved most recently) is on the outside.

Why does any of this matter?

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I need you!

I’m taking a blogging class, and my instructor suggested the following:

If I had to leave you with a final thought it would be to separate your blog from your personal life and think of it as its own unique entity that has a very defined audience. Anything that doesn’t serve that defined audience, probably doesn’t belong on the blog if your goals are to serve that audience as best as you can and to grow your blog as largely as possible with as much engagement as possible.

Maybe you could try sending a survey to your current list and asking for feedback on what they enjoy reading the most on your blog and why to see if they can help you narrow things in a bit.

That’s what this page is for. I need you to help me zero in on the purpose of this blog. That means I need you to tell me why you read it, what kinds of posts you care most and least about, and a few other things that will help me make this blog a success for a bigger and bigger audience.

Will you help me by taking my 7-question survey?

I would be eternally grateful!

Upcoming Posts, 6/5/2014

I’ll do this from time to time, give you an idea of some things I’m thinking of writing about. As always, I hope to hear from you on things you’d like to see posts on. Feel free to post in the Comments section under this post, or drop me a note using the Contact Me button at the top of this page.

  • Why I’m Not Self-Publishing My Book
  • Why All Progress on My Book is Now Delayed Until February
  • How to Post a Comment on My Blog and Get Notified When Others Comment Back
  • How to Subscribe to My Email List
  • Why I Just Signed the Charter for Compassion and You Should Too
  • Why “Pray About It” is Often the Worst Advice You Will Ever Get

I may post on some of these but not all of them, or move in other directions completely, but this is what I’m pondering at the moment.

My Rant Fulla Everything!

man holding his own face -- my rant fulla everything

123rf.com

From my Facebook account, posted there today:

What the heck, I’m deleting my account soon anyway, I might as well really say what’s on my mind. I’m struggling lately with the loose way we’re using language and how it has us in such a mess.

1. Not everything is beautiful. What’s with the tendency we have today to want to call everything beautiful? (Actually, I think that’s a liberal-hipster thing.) When a person loses 500 lbs., the sagging skin on her (or his) tummy is not beautiful. While it is admirable, even beautiful, that he/she worked so hard, while they are probably more disciplined than most people, while their accomplishment cannot be celebrated highly enough, the sagging skin itself is pretty ugly IMO, and I think most would agree. We don’t have to say everything is “beautiful.” If everything is beautiful, nothing is. I realize that in certain spiritual and metaphysical ways of thinking, everything truly IS beautiful, and I totally subscribe to that, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

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Suffering That Hurts vs. Suffering That Helps

suffering that hurts -- suffering that helps -- man alone suffering

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My original post on this topic concluded with these lines:

Both living in truth and living in falsehood bring suffering.

In my next post, I’ll talk about why the suffering that truth brings is better.

Have you ever had a terrible, miserable, horrible, awful experience that, when it’s over, you look back on it and say, “That was beyond horrible– but I wouldn’t trade it for anything”?

Most people have.

Severe illness of yourself or illness/death of a loved one.

A major business/financial failure.

A divorce.

To live is to have horrible experiences, to go through stuff that really, really sucks.

It sucks away your passion.

It sucks away your enthusiasm and joy.

For a while, it sucks away a lot of what you have always recognized as your life.

But when you look back on those experiences and know you wouldn’t trade them for anything, that’s because they were redemptive. Something good came out of them. You know you’re better for all the suffering you did.

You’re better. Or stronger. Or wiser. Or more compassionate. Or deeper. Or gentler. Or more humble, or calm, or patient, or honest.

You’re just better.

Often suffering isn’t in our control, but sometimes it is.

And anytime you  have a choice in the matter, always choose redemptive suffering over non-redemptive suffering.

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