In his newest book, “After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters,” Anglican bishop and biblical scholar N. T. Wright advises his readers not to cheat on their tax returns. Because that deceitful act may very well carve a neural pathway inside the brain that makes it easier to cheat on other things or people.
But the reverse is also true: that the decision to grin and bear a conversation with a boring neighbor on the train–to try ever so painfully to remain patient–also leaves a pathway in the brain that facilitates patience the next time you are confronted with an obnoxious, the-armrest-is-mine train mate.
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