Welcome to stren #94, Learning Starts with Labeling. Humankind is distinguished from all other life by our ability to attach meaning to labels – more than our ability to stand erect, the oppositional thumb, or any other attribute. Labels enable us to grasp concepts and manipulate them within our imagination to discover knowledge of cause and effect. We imitate the creative force that establishes order in our universe. We discover, store, share, pass forward, and grow knowledge to make ourselves the undisputed ruler on earth. The power of interpretation that makes us “king of the beasts” is also our source of humanity. Words are our tools to create the world of our highest aspirations, to make us our own worst enemy and source of self-annihilation, or anything in between. This stren explains the power of labels to make ourselves creators of our destiny.
Humankind appeared one to two million years ago when our intelligent cerebral cortex began evolving more rapidly than any other organ – it is now three times the size it was then. Modern man, Homo sapiens sapiens, the species with a brain “that knows it knows,” emerged about 150,000 years ago, but our more recent ancestors are credited with introducing sophisticated language within the last 50,000 years. We are constantly creating new labels. The Concise Oxford English Dictionary releases a list of new words for each edition, adding 400 this year. We require new labels to precisely apply our growing knowledge, for example – antibiotic, clone, astronaut, and phrases such as nuclear option, designer baby, and E-reader. The sixth edition of the dictionary, published in 1976, included the phrase “switched on” which I will discuss.
Words are the means by which we free our will power from those “others” that we call by such labels as fate and circumstance, nature and nurture, instinct and tradition. Words empower our cerebral cortex to become a self programmer and master of our destiny. The cortex, or “freedom organ” can create an elaborate mental “second signaling system” to influence our physical “primary signaling system.” By assigning meaning to symbols, we mentally manage our thinking, feelings, and actions to a degree that dwarfs all other species. The greater the accuracy and expanse of labels, the more power we have to influence our life experience.
The role of definitions is explained here:
Definitions make clear and unambiguous the meanings of the terms we use. Precise conscientiously followed definitions ... make our reasoning more exact and our communication more successful. Unless its meaning is clearly understood, no statement can be empirically verified nor logically validated by reference to any other statement. ... clarity of meaning can be achieved only through the most scrupulous efforts to specify these meanings in carefully formulated definitions. ... inferences to causal antecedents or to future consequences, to subjective processes that can be directly experienced by only one subject or to unconscious factors (in the dynamic Freudian sense) ... must be brought out into the open ... and not left concealed ... where they create endless confusions. Definitions ... do not limit our intellectual freedom to say anything we mean, but are, rather, the logical instruments by which alone what we mean can be said, and this intellectual freedom become, accordingly, a positive condition of self-expression and successful communication.
Accurate labels are the basis of effective communication. They are essential for research and discovery of knowledge, and strengthen our accuracy in thinking. Words expand our awareness of history and vision to foresee the future. They enable us to engage in effective cognitive rehearsal or no trial learning in which we mentally practice solutions to predictable problems before taking action; this is the basis of prevention.
The unbridled power of our second signaling system is servant to our animal brain for nearly two decades before our cerebral cortex is fully physically mature and can self-program to override what instinct and tradition make of us. The labels first acquired by our intelligent cortex are designed to serve whatever fate and circumstance provide. The way we think is restricted to the action pathways laid out by authorities over which we have limited control. Master instinct and master nurture dictate what we are and what we are to become until we acquire the mental strength to rebel from what is, and initiate what we choose to become.
The animal portion of our brain has been successful in preserving species by trial and error “survival of the fittest” action paths that have become highly refined over hundreds of millions of years. Instinct lacks the language and labels needed to solve problems using common sense wisdom. It divides the world into two categories: safe and dangerous. The animal brain is hardwired to preserve us at the expense of not us. “Us” is our self, our family or tribe. With humankind’s introduction of symbols, “us” can include our nation, our religion, ethnic and political affiliation, etc. “Us” defines “not us.” The animal brain we each inherit is preprogrammed to distort reality into two extreme either/or categories. Because our animal brain dominates our intelligent cerebral cortex through our immature years, our labels are biased to express the two category perspective inherent in survival of the fittest thinking. The documents that record our history are a series of the harmful confrontations between opposing sides.
Trial and error solutions, proven effective for yesterday’s problems, are inflexible. Self-deception results from words hardwired to meanings that are no longer appropriate. Labels that divide the world into opposing categories that worked in a primitive savage environment become maladaptive when applied to our (partly) civilized current world, one that poses new dangers quite unlike those that confronted our ancestors. Labels that call forth harmful confrontation to establish dominance simultaneously “turn off” collaboration for mutual benefit. Common sense knowledge allows us to recognize that two-category thinking is the basis of bigotry, prejudice, destructive aggression, and war. However, until we make common sense common, our habitual two-category thinking and destructive aggression will persist.
Our mental self is gradually “born,” unlike our dramatic physical birth, as we learn to engage in “reflective” thinking – skill in thinking about our thoughts and what we think, i.e. “self consciousness.” As we attain a sophisticated level of reflective thinking we are able to free our will from other masters to become our own person. We strengthen our self-mastery as we acquire a newer way of thinking (ANWOT). Understanding this ANWOT process of freeing our will power from other masters is critical to attaining self-mastery. Now we can elaborate on the importance of word-switches.
Words acquire their power by the meanings assigned to them. Some words are more powerful than others. For example, mother, cancer, gold, evil, lesbian are more likely laden with emotion, determined by one’s upbringing, when compared to words like stone and a nonsense word like fefm. Words show allegiance to the master who programs their meaning. They serve as “triggers” to release the emotional energy they represent. The first trigger words we acquire express the perspective of instinct. A second set of trigger words is aligned to the views of our nurturers. The third set of trigger words are those original symbols our cerebral cortex creates when our will power is sufficiently free from the domination of our first masters. These are the labels supported by common sense that enable us to become our own person, i.e. self-mastery.
Let’s distinguish the symbols that trigger the original action paths of self-mastery from the trigger words of other masters by creating the new phrase, “word-switches.” Thus, word-switches identify those specialized trigger words that “turn on” newer, original self-initiated action pathways created by applying common sense to current technology to solve new problems. Word-switches “turn off” the hardwired solutions that were effective at managing yesterday’s problems using yesterday’s knowledge. Word-switches are the mental tools we create to elevate humanity. They express the wisdom of our intelligent freed will. As we increase our glossary of word-switches, we create a newer way of thinking (ANWOT) which corresponds to Einstein’s proposed solution to imminent human catastrophe. ANWOT is the means by which we “switch off” our preprogrammed two-category survival of the fittest worldview and “switch on” the common sense wisdoms that recognize the value of cooperation and cooperation for mutual gain. Our survival requires that we teach ourselves the word-switches that direct power for our mutual benefit.
Our first labels, created to serve our animal brain, must be simple and readily turn on action that expresses the survival of the fittest perspective appropriate for a world divided into safe or dangerous. The safe or dangerous categories seen by our animal brain become labeled “good or evil” by our nurturers. The insightful Jun Togo has labeled this first way of thinking “good and evil addiction.” Our initial vocabulary biases our interpretations of reality through such dichotomous labels as “right/wrong,” “angel/devil,” “master/slave,” “friend/foe,” etc. The distortion of reality by good and evil addiction is the major source of bigotry, prejudice, destructive aggression, war, and the imminent threat of self-annihilation. As long as we hold onto the labels that trigger animal brain behavior, the divisions prevalent throughout history will persist, escalate, and soon create unimaginable human catastrophe.
Here are examples of the simple word-switches that upgrade our thinking:
- “I could” is substituted for “I should” – descriptive words stimulate original thinking; prescriptive words require obedience to another master.
- “I allow” is substituted for “you make me” – personal responsibility is substituted for our natural predisposition to blame.
- “What will make things better for me and you, for now and the future?” is substituted for “My way, the only way” – problem solving for mutual gain is substituted for destructive aggression to assert dominance.
- “Pull-up” is substituted for “putdown” – help instead of harm is turned on. Our language lacks words in common usage such as pull-up; this is an example of the need to create new words to express common sense wisdom
- Most important: “Both...and” is substituted for “either/or” – this powerful word-switch recognizes the positives and negatives within all parties instead of dividing the world into “all good (us)” or “all evil (them).”
Here is the “pay off” value of this stren. As we become consciously aware of our self-deception, we position ourselves to take corrective action. When our intelligent cerebral cortex is able to engage in reflective thinking, we can process data applying common sense to knowledge of cause and effect. Our will, freed from instinct and tradition, may invent newer labels that more accurately reflect reality. The process of substituting labels that “switch on” common sense for the established labels that trigger hardwired action pathway is quite simple. The self-deception that we are using common sense when we remain addicted to “good or evil” thinking is the greater obstacle we must overcome.
Common sense is universal! It is available to every individual’s freedom organ regardless of political, religious, ethnic, or other prior programming. As we create new word-switches to replace the trigger words established by instinct and the traditions of our nurturers, we sharpen our perspective. Through the wisdom of common sense, we will realize that as multiple tribes acquire ultimate destructive power, cooperation and collaboration for mutual gain must replace survival by harmful confrontation if we wish to survive and thrive.
This stren will have served its purpose if you become aware of the importance of creating new word-switches that free your thinking from uncritical obedience to the authority of “other” masters. We require common sense thinking using current knowledge to solve new problems. However there is much more to learn. The 100+ strens of this newer way of thinking curriculum are actually a series of word-switches to create mental wealth (a new word-switch). Mental wealth is the collection of wisdoms by which we make our wishes and prayers our reality. We make ourselves Mental Wealth millionaires by accumulating the common sense wisdoms that make us masters and powerful creators of our life’s experience. The creation of word-switches that accurately reflect cause and effect is our means to acquire mental wealth.
The accumulation and wise use of symbols to create a joyous meaningful life is more important than material wealth. Individuals who have physical wealth, good looks, high intelligence, and connections are well represented among those who are unhappy, depressed, and commit suicide. Mental wealth millionaires, including those limited in the material “goodies” to which most aspire, enjoy themselves and live with enthusiasm; even lacking in good health, they still maintain a fulfilling life. What makes the difference? Mentally wealthy people assume responsibility for their well-being by their use of language. They create symbols and manipulate them in their imagination. They replace the trigger words that turn on instinct and tradition with word-switches that reflect common sense solutions to current problems. They become powerful creators of their own life experience through this newer way of thinking (ANWOT).
The hardwired action pathways of our animal brain were created for survival in a hostile environment where danger lurked at any turn with little or no notice. This is why we have such an automatic “red alert” emergency response. Anticipating the worst danger and having a hair triggered fight/flight response had great survival value. Do you see why the labels of our early language bias us towards worry and negative anticipation? The predisposition to see the empty part of the glass, the hole more than the donut, and harbor suspicion towards our neighbor is a biological given. If you were lucky, your parents and role models were able to overcome their biology, but most of us have role models who emphasize our limits more than our strengths, creating a negative image of ourselves and the world. Our formal education tends to emphasize our mistakes, and we are made aware of our weaknesses without equal consideration to our strengths. Negativity is normal! If you are already energetically pursuing life’s wonders, you are exceptional.
Mental Wealth millionaires endorse themselves to sustain their own self worth. Freed from dependency on others, they apply common sense knowledge to transform stress energy into chronic problem-solving enthusiasm. ANWOT focuses on the positive to unite people rather than the differences that separate us. Common sense directs us to appreciate what we have. No other earth creature has the advanced freedom organ we possess, which allows us to claim our will power to attain self-mastery. Whereas the animal brain is elaborately hardwired to survive in familiar circumstances, our cortical brain has the power of interpretation using symbols to flexibly manipulate data. We create new solutions to new issues using new knowledge.
Animals and humans are slaves to their preprogrammed trial and error action pathways. Humankind is equipped with a super intelligent organ than we can educate to think using common sense, and thereby free our will to take charge of our destiny. The great news is that the wisdoms that create mental wealth can be identified, easily taught, and readily learned. They don’t require more than the most basic material needs that most individuals already possess.
In a world of seven billion people, there are millions who have made it to the positive side. These are the Mental Wealth millionaire role models to teach us, and quite unlike physically wealthy individuals, they love giving away their wisdoms. Their wealth is embodied in their newer way of thinking, and you are more than welcome to come aboard. Here is what you can do to take control of your life: Learn to think like Mental Wealth millionaires! Teach yourself the simple labels that create a newer way of thinking (ANWOT). Here’s the curriculum. Take the course and you’ll love the results.
The ANWOT course consists of a series of labels or word-switches that call forth common sense wisdom. Each word-switch is linked to a wisdom that others have shown work. Each wisdom grows your mental wealth. Collect enough wisdoms, connect them as you would a puzzle, and you will become a Mental Wealth millionaire. If you have already shut your energy factory down with such learned trigger words as “I can’t,” “why bother” “it’s too much trouble,” “I don’t deserve ...”, the simple word-switch “I think I can; I will” provides the small spark needed to switch your energy back to “on”. It is the first step to challenging the hopeless/helpless attitude that keeps us stuck.
The ingredients to teach your self ANWOT are abundantly available; they don’t require money, unusual intelligence, good looks, connections, or even good health. They include the will to try (“I think I can.”), work, patience, direction, and risk-taking. The components of forever free Educational Community curriculum are:
- Emotional self endorsement (stren #2) and secondary endorsement (stren #20) are the two most powerful word-switches to make us our own best friend; these, along with additional self-endorsement techniques, change us from a love junkie addicted to others’ approval to a love giver.
- The three mind-freeing, life-changing, world-saving word-switches that enable us to become our own person (strens #7, #9-11).
- The labels that identify the eight choices available to our will to direct action – those that work and those that consistently cause trouble (strens #35-44).
- The wisdom collection gladly shared by Mental Wealth millionaires for our benefit.
- The universal values that virtually every religion, philosopher, and common sense thinker arrives at independently, for example, The Golden Rule.
Ten minutes of study every other day of the 100+ wisdoms in this collection will make a dramatic difference in your life’s satisfaction. Strens #100 and #101 are basic and advanced glossaries of word-switches. Simply familiarizing yourself with this collection of labels and their meanings will be very insightful. The following stren, #95, explains how anyone may create a joyous, meaningful life experience through the wise use of their second signaling system.
Have tons of mental wealth.
1 The Role of Definitions in Psychiatry, John R. Reid, PhD. (Professor of Philosophy, Stanford University), and Jacob E. Finesinger, MD., (Professor of Psychiatry, University of Maryland); Am J Psychiatry 109:413-420, December 1952.
2 An introduction to “trigger words” and “word-switches” is provided in stren #5.
3 Good and Evil Addiction, e-book, by Jun Togo; http://www.peace-picturebook.org/GoodEvil/index.html
4 Strens #41 and #86 explain the learned helpless/hopeless response that sustains our dependence on authority when we are fully capable of problem solving using common sense wisdom.
5 By signing in to our forever free web site at www.anwot.org you receive one of our 100+ wisdom tips delivered to your computer every other day.