My good friend Sav Sandhu does some amazing work on fitness and wellbeing with high level executives and traders in the city. His regular videos on LinkedIn take fascinating and inspiring perspectives on maintaining the body as a key element in our wellbeing – plus he takes these perspectives from a strong, maintained and integrated mind-body approach. In his latest video he asks, “What is good nutrition?” and he outlines 4 key principles to help you with your nutrition even if you’ve tried every diet under the sun.
Which got me thinking along the lines … so, what is good “mental nutrition.”
Food for Thought
Essentially, nutrition is defined as ‘the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.’
Nutrition for the Mind, therefore, might be the process of providing or obtaining the mental “food” necessary for mental health and mental growth.
Now, as an emergent descriptor or label, mental “food” is an interesting subject!
So, I’d invite you to walk a way down this path merely to see what we might pick up along the way.
Our Relationship with our Thinking is a key aspect with regards to food for thought, rather in the same way that our relationship with our eating is a key aspect with regards to our bodily nutrition.
The acronym GIGO was well known in computer science as being “Garbage In Garbage Out,” meaning that if the input data is incorrect or invalid then the output will be incorrect.
And so, in bodily terms, eating bad, or incorrect food will lead to poor outcomes – and may even lead to our being invalid!
In thought terms however, it relates to how we process – how we ‘digest’ – the thoughts we select from the stream of thought energy flowing through our lives.
Thought energy just flows past via our consciousness, and the moment we notice, latch on to, select particles of that energy as it flows through, then the particles morph into OUR thoughts.
So, then commences the Relationship we have with our Thinking.
There are criteria at play, with each and every one of us, that help us what to select from the stream of thought energy. And the WHAT that we select are filtered for us by our Beliefs and Values, Our Memories, Our past Experience.
Our brain functions, in terms of our perceptive apparatus, are driven to provide the rest of the mind-body some predictions as to WHAT IS HAPPENING. **
In the simplest of terms, at a certain time of day when we see the sun approaching the horizon coupled with a drop of temperature, we run this sensual data past our experience and memory and get a close match which the brain predicts as SUNSET. At this point, a number of other responses take place to add into the next required prediction. And the process continues in a similar way across our every thought process from sensual to cognitive.
Likewise, in a more complex way, if we are about to attend a meeting and we see that a rather surly, argumentative and uncooperative colleague is there, we’ll run this data input past our experience and memory and get some predictive filtering that leads our mind-body to responses of a different kind!
Both of these examples above are part of our Relationship with our Thinking.
Both are based upon predictions of filtered data, with the filters put in place by our Beliefs and Values, Our Memories, Our past Experience.
Both of these examples are Food for Thought. Yet – if we want to have a different experience from both the sunset but particularly the meeting, then we just have to change the Food.
And the change of Mind Food would be to bring something more mentally nutritious to our filtering criteria – by altering our Beliefs and Values, Our Memories, Our past Experience.
This is exactly the same if we want to give our body better outcomes from our next month’s meals. Changing the food for things more nutritious will help our physical wellbeing on all levels.
Changing our Minds
There is a perspective on the nature of reality that is underpinned by the Three Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought.** It is known as the Inside-Out perspective, and I would describe it as being good nutrition for the Mind.
Part of our ability to understand the Inside-Out nature of reality, is to have an open mind. With an open mind we can acknowledge that our Beliefs and Values, Our Memories, Our past Experience, are not ever set in stone in quite the way that we might imagine. And that, as a consequence, we can change our view of the world – by changing the filters that we use on our raw data input.
In practical terms for example, this would mean that our colleague – who was previously labelled as surly, argumentative and uncooperative – is now seen as just a colleague. We have removed the emotional portion of his labelling – but only for as long as we keep our judgements of him at bay. For it is our judgements of him that led to our labelling of him before – and it will be our present and future judgements of him that lead to labelling changes in the future. And that will be for good OR bad in equal measure.
For, as with all judgements, it is our THINKING that makes it so!
Good Mind Nutrition
So, good Mind Nutrition is about allowing our minds to be open to accepting change.
It is about understanding that our Beliefs and Values, Our Memories, Our past Experience, are a vital filtering component of our predictive and perceptive apparatus, AND yet are never set in stone.
It is about understanding that our Beliefs and Values, Our Memories, Our past Experience contain emotional elements that are there to enrich, flag up, be noticed. **
These emotional elements can be adjusted, enhanced, discarded at any time and we are not ever “at the mercy of them” unless we choose to be so.
It is about understanding that whilst it is common for our predictive brain to be directed towards noticing sameness, that we do have the facility to direct our perceptions towards difference as well.
We make up our experience on a moment-to-moment, day-by-day basis through the way we harness the power of thought – through the relationship we have with our thinking. If we believe our thinking and our thought processes, then the product will be our reality.
Whether you blush easily, feel the cold more than others, stammer, freak out at spiders, hate being ignored, don’t go too near to the edge, like to be in control, get scared going to the dentist, and so on ad infinitum, it is all perceived through a thought process of one form or another.
This is why if believe you can – you can
And if you believe you can’t – you can’t
And it is the open-ness of your mind that maintains or changes everything.
It is ALL food for thought. And you can decide what you put on your plate!