Laughing at the Dog
My daughter, for example, laughs every time the dog walks in the room. I never got it but that laugh is infectious and I found myself joining in. After a while I started to see the silly waddle of the dog and understood her perspective a little more. Now I see the dog and it tickles me too. By allowing myself to laugh along I’ve remoulded my perspective to see the world in a better way. This isn’t just a baby buddha moment, emptying yourself of your ideas and letting others flow in, it’s scientifically known too.
The human brain has a level of plasticity which allows it to form connections anew. The more an action is repeated, the easier the pathway is formed in the brain so it can fire again. That means that by trying a new perspective, and repeating it, a person can reprogram their brains to more easily respond to joy, for example. By laughing at the dog I eventually responded to the pup with a happy reaction automatically.
This lesson carries on into psychology too. Douglas Kenrick in his book The Rational Animal, suggests the mind is modular. This idea explains that certain areas of life are dealt with by particular sections of the mind. So in each situation that part of the brain takes over, be it sex, fighting, reading, eating, socialising, whatever. But since the way the situation is seen is then filtered differently – through that part of the mind – the situation will be interpreted from that perspective. What might be a calm social situation could be taken as hostile if the fight part of the mind is activated by a certain comment from someone that’s interpreted as hostile, even if it wasn’t intended that way. By remaining calm, detached and positive, that social interaction could be dealt with by the loving part of the brain and go well, but let the defensive department take over and it will be experienced in a completely different way.