It’s always a good idea to remind oneself of the positive side of having MS. There are a few posts about the topic in this blog, here and here for example, not to mention references sprinkled throughout my years of posts. (I’m very big on gratitude.)
One of the upsides is the free seminars (free food included, of course) offered by MS organizations and the pharmaceutical companies. There was an excellent breakfast meeting last month where I heard an eye-opening bit of information. The speaker was a physical therapist who has had good success helping people with MS regain lost function, especially with walking. Her treatments leverage the power of neuroplasticity¹ to reprogram the brain to improve function. That, in itself, was worth the price of admission. (OK, the admission was free; it’s just an expression.)
But she said something that had even greater implications for life in general, above and beyond MS therapy, as important as that is. For her therapy to be effective, it’s critically important that the exercises are done correctly. The number of reps and duration are of less importance than correct form. If the exercises are done wrong, our brains will think the wrong way is the right way.
The reason for this, she told her rapt audience, was (to paraphrase):
The brain doesn’t know right from wrong. It determines what is “right” merely by what we repeat.
Simply put, we rewire our brains through repetitive actions. If I continually scratch myself in some unseemly location, that becomes “good” to my brain. If we regularly speak contemptuously of minorities, we program our brains to be bigoted. On the other hand, if we follow the advice of Jesus and make a habit of loving one another through our actions we just might become loving people and make our communities better places.
I thought this was a brilliant new idea. It turns out, however, that philosopher Will Durant, summarizing the thoughts of Aristotle, expressed a similar idea, saying:
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.
So, we are what we do. The question becomes, What do I do? What do you do? It has long term consequences for you and the people around you.
Something to think about. (I’m very big on thinking.)
¹ If you have MS, it’s in your best interest to look into the research on neuroplasticity. Google “MS and neuroplasticity” and you’ll find a wealth of helpful information, some theoretical and some practical.