Researchers at the University of Notre Dame* discovered a while back that the process of walking through a doorway causes us to forget things. As both the technical summary and a Scientific American article suggest (see links to both, below), our minds sort of “re-set” when we enter a new room, discarding temporarily-stored information from the previous room.
The good news is that we now have an excuse for forgetting what we were looking for when we go to the next room. Knowing this, I’ve found that making a special effort to remember what I need to do before I go through a doorway can help. A mnemonic, or a conscious decision to hold onto a thought as I pass through a doorway, has allowed me to retain ideas more effectively (although still not always). Just being prepared – knowing what challenges we’re about to face – can sometimes be all we need to overcome a problem that used to frustrate us (that is, before we understood it).
Take a look at these two verses from the book of Philippians:
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4 NASB
Do we enter new places – whether school, work, church, the store, or just the living room – with the express goal of benefiting others? Are we ready to be humble, and to think of others as more important than us?
I mean, do we literally walk into a room prepared to seek out the well-being of anyone (or everyone) who is already there? Given the research cited above, we might be able to claim that we “just forgot”. However, for me, I admit that sometimes the people in the next room aren’t really those that I want to think are more important than me. Depending on the audience, I may be tempted to be selfish, to be prideful, or to be boastful. And, I regret to say that – depending on the day, the room, and the people in the room – I am not only tempted to be like those negative things, sometimes I actually live it out.
The next few verses from Philippians drive the point home from the previous passage:
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
Philippians 2:5-7 NASB
Jesus made the ultimate transition – not just from one room to the next, but from glorious Heaven to a fallen Earth. Being born as a baby, and growing up in a complex culture, perhaps He could have claimed that He forgot His true nature during the transition. But, He didn’t forget and He didn’t make excuses. Instead, He became the example of righteous humility. He yielded not just to the limitations of being a human being, but even yielded to death – the punishment placed on creation for mankind’s sins…sins that Jesus never shared in.
Are we prepared to serve those we meet when we walk into a room (or when we pick up the phone, open up a chat session, or start a text message)? It may be easy to forget when we experience a change of scenery. But, with a little preparation, we can learn to be like Jesus. And, when we practice being like Him, and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit within us, no “event boundary” (as the research study called it) will change our goal of treating others like He did.
Need a little boost to prepare for your next encounter with other people? See Ephesians 4:1-3. See also:
- Forget Valentine’s Day – How About Loving Our Neighbors?
- Do the Simple Things
- Heroic Words
- Redeeming the time
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.
- In case you were wondering, Notre Dame was not my alma mater. I visited their campus one time while passing through South Bend, though – it was a nice place!