Choosing Perspective Over External Conditions part 1
The problem with our world today is not that people believe in things that are bad. The problem with our world today is that most people don’t know what they believe in. Most people today cannot really explain their own behaviors and actions, making them highly susceptible to group thinking, to emotional influence, and making them easily impressed or convinced. People tend to live very reactively. An attitude that benefits them in one situation they will discard if it doesn’t help them later. People are more full of excuses than values or virtues. Living blindly, the walking dead, the unawakened, these are all terms that ancient philosophers and spiritual groups used to describe people who lived in this way. This is the source of our societal problems today.
I am writing to you from a quiet mountain town in central Argentina. This place is my home now after a life in the U.S.A. I am presenting this article as an introduction. The process I will describe was created by me to find my own peace with life. Please do not accept anything I say wholesale without question. Use your innate thinking abilities to see which parts if any will work for you. This is an article series which will covered over the coming weeks. Although I painstakingly created this process through trial and error I have realized now that almost anything I can say to you now has already been said by others before me. I will use new words and angles of explanation but for the most part this is not a new idea.
I came across the TCR when I read one of the greatest quotes of our time. It stated simply: “the point is to be a living example of whatever truth it is you believe in.” – Derrick Boze. This quote embodies both the problem and the solution our society currently faces. I will explain briefly in this article the simple way that a person can find and truly live by values that they choose themselves.
Most people will argue fervently and insistently that they do have good reasons for their actions. As I will explain through this series everyone ultimately acts because of what they value. The question is have you chosen your values or not? I do not see many people who actually know what they value in life nor can they explain their values in much detail. The most common reasons people give for behaviors are: I like it, it feels good, I want it. These are the answers given by people who have not chosen their values. They are dominated by their instincts and their emotional reactions. As I will explain it is fine to want things and feel good, but if you do not consciously know what it is you want to feel then you do not control yourself, your desires control you. I will explain how to develop your own values using your own logic so you may choose your own way of life and embody whatever truth it is that you believe in.
The Roots of Humanity
Our society has had it rough. Biologically humans are at a difficult stage in evolution. This is because we have animal bodies and animal instincts but we also have developed rational choice and logic. This means that everyone has default instincts which are the same as in nature, to survive and reproduce. However we are blessed with the ability to choose what we live for. This means that we can choose to act on an impulse or not.
The difficult stage we are in is that people do not know that they have a choice. Most people tend to believe in their emotions very strongly. If they do not realize they have a choice in what they value they will never try to determine their values. They will not know that they have a choice in their opinions because those are closely linked with the inner state or feeling that I call a value. Nor will they know that these opinions greatly influence how they feel and how they live. To take control and responsibility for your emotions and thoughts is the ultimate power. In fact this is the only power anyone truly has and cannot lose. This is the next step in the evolution of humanity.
The development of the human body follows many patterns seen in other species. For example every human fetus goes through stages where it develops traits seen in aquatic, reptile, and bird species. This also follows in the development of the brain. In the first years of life the emotional and instinctive parts of the brain develop. Several structures of the brain are actually named after other species because of the remarkable similarity. There is the Limbic system where emotions are generated, this is sometimes referred to in psychology as the reptilian brain. There is also the olfactory system which was once named after a brain center found in rats. The human brain eventually finalizes its growth around the age of 25 when the reasoning centers of the brain finally develop fully.
The last part of the brain to develop is the frontal cortex which is where reasoning and logical processes take place. In people who have damage to their frontal cortex they have a much harder time with self-control and lowering anger and fear responses. Their impulses tend to control their behavior. The majority of us don’t have damage to the frontal cortex, we just haven’t learned how to use it yet. The knowledge of this neurology is good enough that in a remarkable decision by the supreme court no minor can be given the death penalty. They cited this knowledge of brain development as critical in their decision.
To the credit of humanity, this part of the brain is very new, not very strong compared with the older structures of the brain and emotional reaction always comes faster and more powerfully than logic and reason. This is true at a neurological level in how the brain is built. In addition if you become fully capable of reasoning at the age of 25 you have already had 25 years to develop all sorts of emotional issues, beliefs, and behaviors that were based on emotional reactions or your environment as a child. These are not conscious choices. I believe these challenges are unique to each individual and while we cannot choose which ones we get, we can choose what we do with them. This means as an adult, after your brain is at its full potential, you must begin questioning your own perspective to discover whether your opinions are valid or not. I found this process to be healing and empowering.
We start out just like every other animal and when we become adults we gain full control to live how we choose. Even though emotions come more quickly than reason the brain can adapt and change based on how it is used. You can alter the structures of your brain just by using it differently. This adaptive feature of the brain is just like the adaptations of muscles to exercise. Most people do not know this and they continue their whole lives with basically the same behaviors, habits, and beliefs as they had when they were children. If a person does this it is always because they do not know there is another way. They do not know that they have a choice, regardless of what they say. The question for you should be if you believe there is any better way for you to live.
Is there anything you would live for? Is there some attitude, some virtue, some way of life that you believe is what you want to live and embody? A better way to ask this question is: how do you feel about yourself? If there is anything you can find in you that you want to change the process I will describe in coming articles will help you, and it’s free.