Cause & Effect

I’ve heard that people who own their own homes commit fewer crimes, proportionally, than people who don’t own homes. But what causes what? If owning a home reduces your propensity to commit crimes, then perhaps we should promote home ownership as a way to reduce crime. On the other hand, it may be that people who don’t commit crimes are more likely to accumulate the resources needed to buy a home.
So, does home ownership promote good conduct? Or does good conduct lead to home ownership?
When two variables are associated, it’s often very difficult to tease out which one is the cause and which one is the effect. It’s a thought I often keep in mind when I consider my MS.
Before I was diagnosed, I generally thought of my brain as being in control of my body. My brain was the cause; my body was the effect. But lately, I’ve been wondering, if the brain and body are all part of the same system, shouldn’t communication flow both ways? Perhaps then, my body can send signals to my brain that can teach it to work around those nasty little lesions.
My most annoying symptom is a loss of sensation on the right side of my body. (As luck would have it, that’s my dominant side.) So I try to stimulate the right side of my body in various ways. I have a studded massage ball that I like to roll on and under my foot. I rub my hand and foot against various uneven surfaces to stimulate the nerves. I tap on the right side of my head. I also try to do more things with my left hand to create new mental connections or remap old ones.
I also practice balance exercises to teach my brain to form new connections in—and perhaps a new conception of—my body. I can’t say if I’ve changed my brain or not, but my balance has improved significantly and that, in turn, has bolstered my confidence. That’s a pretty good outcome even if I’m not doing anything to directly affect my lesions.
I’ve also learned that a smile can be both a cause and an effect. I used to think that a good mood caused me to smile. Now I also realize that a smile can create a good mood. Since depression often accompanies MS, I find that this is a very useful discovery. If I can just force myself to smile, I can often chase the blues away, at least temporarily.
That’s a very good effect from a very simple cause.
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The National MS Society