Ever since I learned to cook, I’ve always found the process of cooking kind of relaxing. I could compare it to what one might feel while running: your body’s on full alert and in full motion but your brain gets a chance to disconnect itself for a little bit and do some major shuffling and re-shelving of ideas. You get a chance to look at your actions, no matter the past, present or future, and employ objective rather than subjective judgment.
One of the things I have missed the most while living in the dorms was having my own kitchen. Before college, kitchen was a place to which I could come exhausted from school and work and troubled with the day’s interactions but from which in a matter of an hour I could leave refreshed. And it had nothing to do with food at all. Perhaps my rather conservative upbringing has influenced me more than I realize, but the times I’ve felt clear-headed and impartial enough to make the most important decisions had something to do with me cleaning, sorting, and cooking things, and, in some cases, running long distances. All of these activities made me busy just enough to think in terms of facts and logic but not deep enough to think about feelings, so in a way, this prevented emotions from interfering with my decision-making.
What if, on some subconscious level, mechanical-type physical activity encourages not just any stress-free thinking but a specific mental process that corresponds directly to a certain task at hand, which, in case with cleaning the house, for example, would unintentionally be cleaning our mind of unnecessary and irrelevant factors, so to speak? If this were true, then it would make sense that the process of sorting physical items would lead us to sort ideas into categories in our heads, therefore making conclusions easier to reach. Cooking food could be envisioned as a process of putting together right amounts of ingredients to create a dish to serve one’s tastes – relating to how we take into account as many factors as possible when reaching resolutions and compromises. Distance-running, on the other hand, would be responsible for our mind’s ability to not only carefully select routes but also develop patience and endurance when having come across obstacles and rough patches in life through which there is no other choice but to “run through”. Though the connections drawn above are only hypothetical, I can’t help but wonder how much of the physical activity we think we complete with a certain degree of automaticity, such as walking, driving, folding laundry or putting on make-up, might have more influence on our minds than we realize?