Healthy Patterns

The brain loves to find patterns, specifically symmetry. It’s proven that symmetrical faces are found more attractive. Artists continually look for balance in shape, patterns, color, and contrast. We are drawn in by exactly similar and paralleling objects. Our brain gravitates toward symmetry because the pattern is easily recognized and understood. The brain is primed to recognize signs of order in the "accidental" chaos, and to follow a pattern to make sense of the world. Really, that’s all we are trying to do every day, right - make sense of the world?

The natural function of the brain, in order for survival, has always been to find the pattern that helps us navigate our surroundings best. Yet we live in an unbalanced, unsymmetrical culture. How do we make sense of the world we live in? Since our mind has control over the brain, we have the ability to push past the repetition of symmetry and actually regulate what is good for us.

Our innate nature is on the right track, we look for patterns. Considering we have the power to think, feel, and choose, we must engage the world around us to find patterns that may not be symmetrical, but are producing good. What things in your life produce patience, goodness, kindness, self-control? There are things that come easily, that bring us comfort yet are not good for us. We also know that sometimes the most difficult aspects of life are the parts that bring us the greatest health and joy.  

Here are three tips for making sense of your world and identifying healthy patterns:

  1. Work backwards in decision making

Many of us try to make the best decision for the present moment we are in, and sometimes that’s the best we can do in our given circumstances. But next time you are faced with a big decision, really think about the end result and what would be the best outcome. Think, also, past any material decision and think on a mental/emotional level. What personal characteristics do you want to cultivate through this decision? Do you want to have more patience? More kindness? Once you decide to work backwards and evaluate how your decisions will either enforce or compromise that final goal.

  1. Pay attention to your habits

Have you ever wondered if the problem with your overscheduled, chaotic, restless lifestyle is you?! Healthy self-awareness is very helpful when cultivating patterns that result in health and joy. Next time you’re disappointed in an outcome, think about what habits you have that contributed to this disappointment. Now, this can get ugly quickly, so please remember you are only responsible for you and not the actions of others. Also keep in mind that you require grace. Wanting to change a habit doesn’t mean you are a broken person. It simply means you are human - a human who is willing to take care of themselves and make a better life.

  1. Give yourself permission to step out of the chaos

We are surrounded by patterns and chaos. While our brain tries to make sense of it all, it’s really beneficial to offer yourself a break from the constant analysis. Anytime you feel ‘brain fog’ - that fuzzy feeling you get when you can’t really think straight - that’s a sign you need to step out of the chaos. Get some good sleep, retreat to a favorite place, or get out in nature (as much untouched by humanity as possible). Giving yourself this kind of break allows your brain to restock its chemical supply and recharge, ready for further pattern recognition.