Saturday, April 16, 2016

Brain Games

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." Isaiah 26:3

The boys and I like to watch Brain Games, an interesting show about how the brain works. The show uses experiments and even illusions to illustrate how our brain can be tricked and manipulated.  We recently watched an episode on Risk.  It was fascinating to realize how risky decisions are made.  One experiment involved trusting an illusionist with your phone over a fish bowl. It turns out a lot of risky decisions are driven by curiosity. 

The final experiment involved two teams that were told to pump up some balloons. For each pump of air into the balloon they would earn money for their team.  The first five pumps paid $5 per pump, the second five pumps paid $10 each, the next five pumps paid $25 each, and the next five paid $50 per pump.  Both teams were given the same set up but before the contest they watched two different short videos.    As I watched the two teams, I wondered about the videos the teams watched - was it a lecture on the resiliency of balloons,  the dangers of gambling, or videos of other people blowing up the balloons.  What do you think the videos were about?

When the red team stepped up to pump, each team member pumped to the point their balloon  popped. One woman on the red team pumped her balloon until she had $425 but she still continued till it popped. When the blue team stepped up not a single member popped their balloons.  At the end of the experiment, we had a chance to watch the videos. The red team watched clips that were fast and furious explosions, fighting, and violent video games. The blue team watched a video of calming scenes like mountain creek,  blue skies, ocean waves gently lapping a beach, and a serene sunset.   I was blown away by this.  The videos seemingly had no relationship between what they were doing but the content of the video affected their decisions. 

What each team focused on affected their choices and their  response to a stressful situation. New research touts the benefits of meditation. Buddhists and Hindus seem to be the experts on meditation - but this is not a new concept to people who read the Bible. Over 3,300 years ago, the benefits of meditation we spelled out to Joshua and the people of Israel as they were entering the Promised Land. This was 800 years before Buddha was born and 700 years before the development of classical Hinduism.

Joshua 1:8 says, "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."

Thirteen hundred years later, Paul wrote to the Philippians on what they should think about- "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians 4:8


Our thoughts have power, they can influence our behavior and our choices.  Why do you think we are supposed to meditate on God's Word?

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