Today’s wisdom introduces a new word-switch – stren. A stren is defined as any word, concept, experience, or wisdom that strengthens our productive thinking. Once explained, you will understand that strens are the mental wiring our freedom organ uses to create a newer way of thinking. Strens are the means we become mental wealth millionaires and create a joyous meaningful life experience. They are the wisdoms we require to bring about constructive outcomes including world peace.
In a prior wisdom tip, I demonstrated an easy way to visualize the three masters who each seek to direct our life’s experience. I showed you a light control with three switches, and asked you to imagine that the first switch turns on the wiring of instinct, the second turns on the wiring of tradition, and the third switch turns on the last-to-be-created self-mastery wiring that we ourselves design. Today’s wisdom will help you understand how we strengthen self-mastery and lessen our dependence on dictators. The earliest two controllers of our destiny, nature and nurture, are dictators! They prescribe the thinking, feelings, and actions that comply with their demands when we have little or no power to resist. The labels nature and nurture, fate and circumstance, and instinct and tradition are related in that they each identify the forces that control our early life’s experience; they each would have us continue to serve them throughout our life. The third controller of our life’s experience is our own freed will power, what we label self-mastery.
Here is the story of how the word-switch stren had to be created to turn on constructive thinking when no word already in our language could be found. Some years ago, the famous anthropologist Margaret Mead spoke before a group of mental health workers. She told them our thinking is restricted by our language. She explained that our language is the source of many of our problems. We have assigned meanings to words and symbols that bias our thinking to focus on the negative aspects of information. We innately anticipate the harmful possibilities of our life experience to the neglect of the positive. Here are some examples:
Worry is a single word that means anticipating the most negative aspect of a situation. Is there a single word concept that anticipates the most positive aspect of a situation? The closest such word I’ve found is optimize. [“Hope” is close but lacks the equivalent energy “worry” expresses.] It is relatively common to hear or know of someone who says, “I have been worrying.” How often have you heard someone say, “I spent the night optimizing”?
When most people are asked to give a talk before an audience, or get on an airplane, is their thinking more likely to be preoccupied with the anticipated positive or negative outcomes? My experience is that most people think of the worst possible outcomes and rarely emphasize the positive outcomes. Our natural tendency is to exaggerate the negative possible outcomes that create what we identify as anxiety rather than the more likely positive outcomes.
We have heard or used such words as setback and putdown. How often do we hear the words set-forward and pull-up that focus on elevating ourselves to higher levels of function? The word “resentment” would seem to literally mean re-experiencing a feeling or a sentiment which could be positive or negative (think “re-sentiment”). In actual usage, resentment has come to mean a reoccurring feeling of distress due to a real or imagined injustice by a person, act, or situation.
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.
Like muscle that grows stronger with the addition of more individual strands of muscle fiber, our creative power grows as we increase our understanding of cause-and-effect relationships, what we call knowledge. Strens are the building blocks of mental strength. Each new stren or bit of knowledge we discover makes us a more powerful creator. Strens are especially productive when they work together in unison.
By adding the trigger word stren to our vocabulary, we inspire our freedom organ to continue to add the wisdoms that strengthen our newer way of constructive thinking. Mental Wealth millionaires continuously enrich themselves with new strens. An important reminder: our power as creators can be directed to constructive AND destructive outcomes! Power directed by our earliest masters, instinct and tradition, commonly includes harmful action. Power directed by the common sense wisdom of our intelligent freedom organ is our means to consistently direct our creative power to our preferred outcomes. Each new wisdom presented will be one more stren to create a newer way of thinking, to become a Mental Wealth millionaire and a force for world peace.