Monday, April 05, 2010

A More Balanced Diet for the Brain

I've always been a big reader.  (I mean I read a great deal, not that I myself am big, though I am.  Be nice, now!) And, beyond what I'd guess to be at least a couple thousand murder mysteries, I've tended towards nonfiction rather than fiction as a matter of personal preference. 

I've noticed that over the last year or so that I've all but abandoned long-form non-fiction (books and essays) in favor of Twitter and blogs.  There's nothing wrong with either of these: they feed my life and my brain in different ways.  Twitter's great for establishing and maintaining distance friendships, offering and receiving emotional support, and (especially in my case) thrusting feeble witticisms upon people with enough problems already.  Blogs are great for many things.  But neither Twitter nor blogs are especially good at presenting a lot of information in an organized way or exploring ideas in depth.  Sure, there are bloggers that deal in complex issues, but then individual entries often become longer than I really want to read off a screen.  (I understand that this is in part a generational thing.)

The other night, I picked up a book of essays by Malcolm Gladwell, the New Yorker writer who's authored such bestsellers as The Tipping Point and Blink.  The first piece I read was a profile of infomercial king Ron Popiel, and the second was about an expert investor with some very uncommon ideas.  This was all very satisfying, and I realized that I really need to feed my brain a more balanced diet by not leaving out longer pieces.  

How does this relate to diabetes and making healthy changes?  For me, it's a very direct connection.  I'm happiest when my brain is active, and reading a book that fits my interest of the moment or coming across something fun 'n' funky helps me make that happen.  (One of the most enjoyable things I've ever read was a book titled "Sayonara, Michaelangelo" about the restoration of the ceiling of the Sistene chapel...and the financing of the restoration by a Japanese television network...and the nature of artistic genius...and the history of Christianity in Japan...and a whole bunch of other stuff.  That's fun 'n' funky, don't you think?)

Making changes is tough, and those of us who are doing that need lots of support.  Part of that support comes from family and friends, but part of it comes from taking time for the activities that bring us pleasure and even joy.  For me, that can often be found in the pages of a good book: for you, it might be knitting, or scuba diving, or studying New Testament Greek, or making birdhouses.  I believe that these activities - whatever it is that works for you - bring us stress relief but also helps answer the "big whys" - why we should pass on that doughnut, why we should walk another few blocks, or why we should keep a better blood sugar log.

What brings you joy?

1 comment:

  1. This is an interesting question. I think that what brings me joy is a moving target (maybe that's true for all of us?).

    Part of the trouble is identifying WHAT the current joy-bringing thing is, AND peacefully letting go of what used to bring joy. I think I tend to hang on to an activity or thing too long, trying to hang on to the joy that has moved!


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T Minus Two by Bob Pedersen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.