Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Our Brain Garden

I have always found it interesting how our brains work and how much different people are from one another. I recently came up with an analogy which helps me understand this a little better and is consistent with recent research.

Imagine our brains, or our minds if you will, as a garden. The garden can be anything. It can be beautiful with lots of flowers or rich with vegetables of all kinds. When we are born our brains are basically an empty lot. God has fertilized the soil and planted some seeds. Each person has received different amounts of fertilizer or intelligence, and a different variety of seeds. We might call the seeds gifts, or talents.

Soon there are little sprouts here and there and the seeds begin to grow in the fertile ground. It takes until about age five or six before the bare soil is covered with vegetation. That is when we are first able to do complex problem solving. That is why we generally start children in school and this age because this is when they are first able to understand more complex ideas such as math and spelling. Of course this varies from person to person because we are all different with varying amounts and varieties of “seeds” and “fertilizer” in our brain.

As we reach adolescence, the brain blossoms like a garden on a warm day after a spring rain. That is why teenagers think they know it all, because they know so much more than they did just a few years before. The truth is, at that point our brains are just an overgrown mess, with weeds and unruly growth everywhere you look, like a neglected garden. This goes a long way toward explaining teenage behavior.

We then start a life-long process of tending the garden. We can selectively pull up weeds, nurture the plants we like, and trim or prune to our heart’s desire; literally – what out heart desires.

We are still dealing with the seeds that God planted all those years ago, and we are limited to the richness of the soil, our basic intelligence. But for the most part, the amount of care and attention we put into tending the garden is what counts the most in the long term.

Tending the garden that is our brain looks like reading, education, the friends we have, the music we listen to, what television programs we watch, everything that goes into out head.

Because what we think about determines what we do and how we act; what we choose to nurture and what we choose to ignore or let die, determines our life. We can have a fruitful garden, a beautiful garden, a beautiful fruitful garden, or it can be a mess our whole lives.

Our lives will most likely be smoother if we identify the seeds that we have early on and work and tend them accordingly. In other words, understand our giftedness and follow up with education and work that best suits our giftedness. But no matter what, just paying attention to how we feed our head, how we tend the garden that is our mind, will decide the ultimate outcome of our lives.