Be careful what you put into your mind

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”~ Plato

Of all the things that effect us as humans, I think that music is the most powerful and reflective of ourselves. Not only can music change the way we act–it’s also like a mirror, revealing what is already in our minds. Music has for thousands of years been used to motivate troops in war, charge up athletic teams for sporting events and calm the wounded soul.

Music is power. And we must always be careful with power.

I’m sure you can look back at times in your life when you wanted to listen to music that agreed with how you felt inside. When we are depressed, we listen to depressing music; when inspired, we listen to uplifting tunes. This can be a trap though, and can keep us on negative life-tracks.

More and more I realize the existence of feedback loops in our minds and bodies. Studies have proved that the act of smiling can make us feel joy. The feedback loop is reversed. So it is with music and anything else we put into our minds. We can choose to edify ourselves or tear ourselves down. I fully believe too that we can make ourselves dumber and or smarter. Some of the younger troops I work with think I’m smart. I think that virtually anyone can be “smart”, at least in the way my comrades use the term. Why? Because, using the feedback loop idea,  I decided to be intelligent. I told myself that I was going to build my mind on my free time, and I prayed for wisdom. I told myself I would become a good writer. I’ll let others decide how good I am, but I can tell you that after my decision, and after writing in my journal about it, I became much better and I think I’ve gotten better every single day since. My powers of reasoning have improved too.

Nowhere is the effect of music so evident as in our children. Most music now is very negative and dark, and by exposing our kids to its mind-altering effects, we’re setting some of them up for failure. The cognitive model of psycho-therapy proves this. We are what we think… And the more often we think a certain way, the more difficult it can be to change that thinking, and thus our results in life–positive or negative. I feel sad when I hear young kids listening to music advocating violence or hyper-sexuality. I think they’re in for a struggle. We’ve done harm to our society by allowing this, and the greed of the music industry stomps out any consideration of right and wrong.

Obviously, literature and television can have serious effects too. I’ve pretty much stopped watching television, finding most of its subjects inane or damaging to my well being. I do watch sports and the news, but that’s about it. There has in the past, been certain books that I had to put down before finishing because I found them affecting me in ways I didn’t want them to.

Like most things, changing the way we think is a process. That process moves slowly and only with a full-spectrum attack on all of the things that hold us back. Negative thoughts, dwelling on aspects of our past that hurt us, outside influences such as music or television that destroy our potential–all of these must be dealt with and it’s a daily effort.

Recently, a study revealed that antidepressants are no more effective than sugar pills for all but the most severely depressed. http://www.thestar.com/living/article/307058 This confirms what I’ve believed about the subject for some time. We cannot remove the effects of our choices when it comes to how our minds function. At this point it seems, even modern medicine cannot catapult us over the hard work needed to get our thinking right…

If we want to be happier, smarter or physically stronger, then begin with what you may have thought was the end. Be happier, smarter and stronger. Remember–feedback loops.


2 Responses to “Be careful what you put into your mind”

  1. 1 Mike Rozos
    October 14, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    Well, there you go.

    That really is the meat of it.

    Have you ever wondered how I stay in a good mood? I will myself into a good mood. And amazingly, it works!

    I escaped from depression when I was in the Army. It was an easy process. I woke up one morning and saw it was a shitty day. Then I paused and said, “Wait a second.”

    “I’m in Germany, I’m totally in control of my day and my future, and I’m doing better than 75% of people in this world.”

    “I am having a great day!”

    Ever since then I have been able to control how good/bad my day has been.

    It might sound stupid.

    But it works.

  2. October 16, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    Plato would agree with you. In the Republic he argues for banning certain types of poetry because of its corrupting influence on the soul.

    This view makes sense-what we think about shapes our mind, much like adding substances to water. If what we drink is poisoned, then we become poisoned.

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