Turning broccoli into my favourite food through the power of positive thinking – Active Learning
Initial Question: Can positive thinking overpower fears/dislikes to affect an outcome?
My idea for my active learning was to spend an hour with the things I hate most in the world, but instead of just despising every moment and waiting for the experience to be over, I would re-train my mind to view my dislikes as my new favourite things. I wanted to see if I could change my physical experience through mere power of thought. I was also very curious to see whether my brain would have the capacity to just forget about the negative knowledge that it already contained if I replaced the fear/disgust/hatred with more positive thoughts. My reading had led me to believe that my thinking power and/or willpower would be stronger than the knowledge I already had, and I was excited to test the theory. I knew I needed to pick something that would be very hard for me to face, and my first idea was EMU FARM. Emus are the scariest thing in the entire world to me, but apparently Port Moody has a shortage of them, so I had to move on to the second best (worst?). Well, the second & third best: Broccoli and country music. If I could learn to love those two things, I could learn to love anything.
Before I took on the terrifying challenge of one uninterrupted hour of miniature evil trees and yeehaws, I laid out a few questions for myself to contemplate along the way.
- Do I find myself liking the things that I originally thought I hated?
- What methods did I attempt to use to make myself enjoy them?
- Was I able to completely ignore how I originally felt about my dislikes (in other words: disregard the negative knowledge that I already had)?
- Do I feel that my thoughts about broccoli and country music have been permanently altered? Or have I only changed my short-term view?
- If the power of positive thinking changed how I feel about my dislikes/fears in this situation, do I think that it could work on a larger scale? (Ex. help with mental health, grades, work life etc)
In preparation for my big Epistemological experience, I went on Spotify and cautiously, slowly typed in the word “country”, letter by letter. “New”, “Hot” country, to be specific, because you can’t really get worse than Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line, and I wanted to make this as painful as possible for myself. The abundance of rusty trucks and 40-year old white men sent shivers down my spine, and I almost turned back, but I decided I had to go through with it in the name of Philosophy. After preparing the music, I went into the kitchen and chopped up the head of broccoli into bite-sized chunks, and then took the plate to the computer and sat down. I gave myself 5 minutes to try to get rid of my negative view of these two things, and then it was go time.
The broccoli was cut, the lights were dimmed, and 83 popular country tracks were sitting in front of me, about to be played. I was ready.
I’m not proud to admit that by around seven minutes in, I was swaying along to Sam Hunt. Honestly, I don’t even know why I hated country music so much in the first place. It’s kind of feel-good music. When I erased the negative thoughts that I’ve just gone along with and assumed I possessed for the majority of my life, I was able to take on a fresh view, and that view was something I really never expected to see. Letting go of my prior knowledge (I don’t even think it can really be called “knowledge”) was a vulnerable yet extremely interesting experience for me.
The broccoli was a bit of a different story. (I know, misleading title.) I couldn’t force myself to LOVE it, but eating the whole plate of it definitely was not as bad as I thought it would be, and I got through it easily, with absolutely no gagging. The intriguing thing about my contact with the broccoli was that I could feel myself slowly liking it less and less as I got less and less focused on trying not to hate it. I think that happened because I was still allowing myself to acknowledge the vegetable as something that I had a personal opinion about.
Now, to answer the questions I laid out for myself.
- Country music: Yes. Broccoli: Meh.
- I mainly tried to pretend that I had never eaten broccoli or heard country before. I wanted to remove any bias my brain had already developed against these two things and give myself a fresh, unsoiled perspective. While I was cutting up the broccoli, I got myself into the zone by inspecting it (sniffing it, feeling its texture), as well as talking aloud to it and contemplating its positives, like how pretty of a colour it was. With the music, I thought about how nice and peaceful some of the song titles sounded, like “Somewhere on a Beach” and “Lawn Chair Lazy”. Trying to see the good in my former dislikes really helped.
- Country Music: Yes. How easy it was to “get into it” surprised me. It still isn’t my favourite genre of music but I can see its appeal. Broccoli: Not really. I’ll admit that I was looking forward to getting the taste out of my mouth.
- I think that my view of country music had been permanently altered, and I think that my opinion of broccoli has definitely improved for the long-term. I will be much more agreeable when my mom makes it for dinner now, that’s for sure.
- Yes. I can see how quieting your conscious mind and trying to alter the tone in which your mind thinks about issues would be helpful and beneficial. A fresh perspective can be surprisingly healing, at least from my experience. I don’t want to speak for anyone with mental health issues as someone with no big problems, but from what I’ve seen, even just telling yourself that everything will be okay and repeating it over & over in your head like a mantra can help things get better. Not to be cheesy, but I think that positive thinking can really impact your life.