There is a clear explanation for this manner of thinking that focuses on the negative. The older animal segments of our brain were designed to survive in a hostile, savage environment where one had to be continuously alert for life-threatening events. A good part of life was eat or be eaten. Anticipating danger and being constantly prepared to make an emergency virtually automatic response was a valued survival skill. Laughter in such an environment had little survival value. Perhaps this is why animals are not known for their sense of humor, and I’m told that our primitive ancestors weren’t at all familiar with laughter.
In the partially civilized world we have created now, life-threatening situations at any corner are rare; our ancestors faced danger at every corner! We reasonably expect that whatever endeavor we plan for the day, we will not encounter an immediate confrontation with a life-threatening danger. Real emergencies are relatively rare in most recent human society. We have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of recreation, humor, and laughter. Yet, our biology, our older brain, has been prewired to deal with the world remaining on “red alert,” ready to secrete chemicals and arouse nerves and keep our muscles tense for emergency fight or flight action. The automatic, prewired instinctive programs that govern our thinking, feelings, and actions that were once necessary and adaptive have become less helpful. In some cases they are harmful - we see common examples such as road rage and crimes of passion. The most common cause of muscle pain is slight but prolonged tension causing headache, jaw pain, neck and back ache, etc. Common sense wisdom makes us aware that there are better ways to process information that replaces what our preprogrammed dictators would have us do.
After Dr. Mead’s talk, the mental health workers decided there was no word in our language that adequately represented processing of information to positive outcomes. They created a new word which I would like us to share and use in our journey to Mental Wealth. That invented word is stren. A stren is defined as any word, concept, experience, or wisdom that strengthens our productive thinking. The closest concept to stren in our language would be knowledge that our freedom organ can use to strengthen our use of wisdom. Think of strens as the muscle of our intelligent freedom organ; they bias the actions we, as masters of our self, design to lead to preferred outcomes. Strens are the common sense knowledge that we provide our freedom organ to produce its most constructive products.
The way we think influences the way we feel and the way we act. We become powerful creators because of our ability to assign interpretations with meaning to the data our senses provide us. We are unique among life on earth by the degree to which we progressively increase our interpretive power. That strength can be directed to constructive or destructive outcomes. We teach ourselves to more consistently create constructive outcomes as we add wisdom to strength.