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You are not a toaster

Toasters are designed to heat bread. No matter how much a toaster may yearn, it will never microwave a cup of soup. A toaster will never become something other than a toaster. You, on the other hand, cannot help but becoming something new. You are not a toaster.

It is clear that you are not the same person that you were 10 years ago. You don’t look or feel the same. Your thoughts about people, goals, and relationships have all changed. Your DNA has stayed the same but the individual genes which are active changes based on your diet and activities. Your cells die and get replaced. It’s likely that every single atom in your body has been replaced over the last 10 years.

Your body changes slowly but you brain is changing rapidly. Your brain is constantly making new connections between neurons and trimming old, lesser used, connections. The two minutes you spend reading this essay may cause changes in your brain wiring. If you stop reading right here, the thing you do instead might cause changes in your brain. Your brain is going to change based on today’s experiences. You cannot avoid becoming someone new but you can influence who you are becoming.

Our brains do a great job of convincing us that we are the same person as we were a yesterday but it’s not true. The changes are subtle and not obvious until they have accumulated over time. Most of us allow external forces to shape who we are while holding onto the idea that we are unchangeable. A few of us are aware that we will change and set a goal of who we want to become. We can be blown off course but we correct and keep becoming the person we want to be.

You cannot avoid negative experiences and it’s the negative experiences which tend to push us in the directions where we do not want to grow. The one thing that is under your control is how you allow experiences to shape you. It takes mindful practice to learn to experience the highs and lows of life and only allow the desired experiences to shape who you are becoming. None of us are perfect at it but, as your brain rewires from practice, it gets easier and easier.

I choose to become a kind person.