In the Harbor or at Sea?

This past week we discussed several perspectives of psychological thought in my introductory psychology classes, and a couple of students wanted to know my favorite.  “I like them all,” I replied to their inquiries. I truly do, for they all offer insight into the mysteries of human thought and behavior. However, this morning I must admit that I’m leaning towards the cognitive school of thought, the one that concentrates on memory, perception, dreams, daydreams, problem solving, and thoughts.

One reason I like this perspective is that while we might not always have immediate access to a therapist or medication, we always have our minds with us. Granted, sometimes we don’t think as clearly as we need to. Sometimes our emotions, state of fatigue, or just plain fuzzy thinking can really do a number on us. Still, I agree with Shakespeare who said, “There’s nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” My husband who doesn’t care one iota about psychology will often quip something like, “It’s all between your ears, Hon,” when he realizes that I’m in a tizzy about something. The point of all that is to say that if we can better control our thoughts, then we can better control our worlds.

I’ve been reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, and I think one reason I’m enjoying it so much is because of the funny and insightful way that she describes the psychological and spiritual nature of her opinions and experiences. While in India (her travels take her to Italy, India, and Indonesia), she realizes how ultra important it is for a person to choose and control her own thoughts. In fact, she states that a person who can’t control her thoughts is “in deep trouble forever.”

When Gilbert began saying, “I will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore,” her mind latched onto the word “harbor,” and she began thinking about how it could be both a noun and a verb. While we think of a harbor as a safe place, a haven, and a refuge, sometimes we might let ships into our harbors (minds) that are negative and hurtful. Ships, like thoughts, can bring disease, death, despair, plague, doubt, and so forth. Who needs that? Her intention (mine too) is to stop the entry of any negative thoughts into the harbor of her mind. In addition, she and I plan to eliminate thoughts we might be currently harboring that have the potential for harm.

 We want peaceful harbors, peaceful minds. At least I do. Don’t you? Is there something we need to send back out to sea today? If so, then our harbors will have room to accommodate ships bearing treasures, the good stuff


Author: jayne bowers

*married with children, stepchildren, grandchildren, in-laws, ex-laws, and a host of other family members and fabulous friends *semi-retired psychology instructor at two community colleges *writer

2 thoughts on “In the Harbor or at Sea?”

  1. Thanks! By the way, Gilbert’s book is SO GOOD. I underlined sentences throughout it to use both in my classes and in my own thinking. The problem I have with “mind over matter” is that sometimes I’m not even aware of what I’m thinking! Does that make sense?

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