Archive for December, 2011
[Note: always subject to updating]
This stren consists of terms used throughout the Educational Community content – including the 100+ collection of strens, two books, letters, the Mini-course, the Peace Quiz, and everything available on our forever free web site. The Glossary explains words and concepts to make your learning easier, faster, and more satisfying. Some of the terms will be new to you; others are familiar words used in new and unexpected ways. Stren #101 provides a more comprehensive overview of the important ANWOT concepts, and will enable you to create a unified picture of our mission as human becomings.
A newer way of thinking (ANWOT): Einstein’s proposed solution to prevent human catastrophe and promote world peace – the process of learning to apply common sense wisdom to solve today’s problems using current knowledge.
Animal brain: the six segments of the brain that automatically regulate our behavior, i.e. our thinking, feelings, and actions. These segments include what we call the medulla, pituitary, pons, pineal body, cerebellum, and thalamus. The seventh segment, the cerebral cortex, that distinguishes us as from animals is discussed below. Because the segments are so interconnected, there are alternative classifications of the segments that comprise our older brain.
ANWOT building blocks to attain self-mastery:
- the ingredients: faith (Yes, I can…), work, patience, direction, risk taking
- the language of ANWOT: the seven mind-freeing, life-changing, world-saving word-switches
- the mental freedom control panel (MFCP): the eight choices available to our will to take or modify our actions
- strens: the collection of wisdoms that adds strength to manage life’s challenges
our value system: the assumptions and beliefs that influence our thinking, feelings, and actions
Assumptive world/Religion: beliefs based on faith that influence our thinking, feelings, and actions.
Asymptotic growth of power: An asymptote is a curve that draws increasingly nearer to a line without ever touching it. The chart below shows the acceleration of the power of knowledge in shorter and shorter periods of time. Notice that the sudden, dramatic upturn in power is occurring NOW, within our time.
Board of Directors: the “Capitol” where representatives of nature, nurture, and our self accept or reject the ideas to be transformed into action. The composition of the Board changes throughout our lifetime, especially at puberty.
Both … and logical thinking: the way of processing information that considers the best solution for all parties in a conflict. Focusing on similarities, both … and thinking promotes tolerance, cooperation, constructive problem-solving, and win/win cooperation.
Common sense wisdom: applying universal common sense logic to current knowledge to solve today’s problems. Common sense wisdom is our means to consistently direct our power to constructive outcomes and prevent the expression of those trial-and-error wisdoms that have lost their effectiveness or have become dangerous when faced with today’s problems.
The test of common sense wisdom: people with different geographic, religious, ethnic, and political backgrounds come to similar insights based on logical thinking. Common sense is by definition “common.” It is universal.
Cognitive rehearsal/”no-trial” learning: mentally working through issues, considering short and long term outcomes before taking action – the means to prevention.
Consciousness: the private mental “virtual” reality created within our cerebral cortex, or freedom organ.
Creation: the orderly process of change from one state to another, usually more sophisticated state. Every effect has a cause. Logic suggests there was a first cause or “uncaused cause” that set creation in motion whose mystery is beyond our present intelligence to understand.
Creator: one who causes something to exist (dictionary definition). One who applies intelligence to knowledge to bring something into existence that has not previously been present in nature. Only humankind is endowed to introduce a mental creation into the physical or conceptual reality: a sufficiently intelligent organ, the cerebral cortex, that can create original concepts; and the mysterious force we call will power to bring them from imagination into physical existence.
Dictator: any source of prescribed demands. Instinct and tradition are our first dictators. Later in life we become servant to fate, circumstance, and human dictators. Acquiring knowledge and wisdom is our means to free our self from dictators.
Doomsday Clock: a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe; it was created and is monitored by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist’s Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel Laureates.
Either/or dichotomous thinking: our older animal brain’s way of processing information into two opposing categories: right/wrong, good/bad or evil, us/them, safe/dangerous, win/lose, etc. Focusing on differences, dichotomous thinking is a major cause of bigotry, prejudice, intolerance, destructive aggression, and win/lose confrontation.
Endogenous: dictators whose source of “wiring” is our biology, such as instinct. The innate automatic regulation of our thinking, feelings, and actions. (see also “mentogenous”)
Exogenous: dictators whose source is external, such as our nurturers, culture, tradition, fate, and circumstance. Exogenous “wiring” includes the traditional beliefs and action patterns we acquire from our nurturers. (see also “mentogenous”)
Fate and circumstance: the first dictators who direct our life experience, nature and nurture (also known as instinct and tradition).
Freedom: Self-mastery is the power to create alternatives and choose among them. Physical freedom is self-direction of one’s muscles; mental freedom is the process of becoming master of our self. The work of our mature cerebral cortex, our freedom organ, is to free our will power from the control of dictators.
Freedom organ: our cerebral cortex, the latest part of our brain to develop. It is the source of our intelligence to discover knowledge and apply imagination and will power to create new alternatives. Our freedom organ provides us the opportunity to change ourselves and the world, making us unique among life on earth. We join fate and circumstance to determine who we are and what we will become.
Freed will: the mysterious power we acquire through our mature freedom organ to assume responsibility for our own thinking, feelings, and actions. The process of becoming self-programmers of the way we think.
Global citizenship (see Local citizenship): recognition of oneself as a member of an interrelated community of like mind; the commitment to contribute to the well-being of the community of humanity in addition to local loyalties. Tolerance for diversity is a learned skill that modifies our early need for local affiliation to a “superior” tribe.
God: a being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe (dictionary definition); the first or uncaused cause of all that exists. I refrain from using God because through tradition it has become a powerful trigger word with such diverse meanings that it is often a source of conflict. I personally believe those contradictions are mostly of our own doing, often inspired by animal brain instinctive “either/or” thinking. The less biased word-switch, our creator, turns on our shared commonalities and limits the non-productive conflict. Therefore, I prefer the word-switch our creator to God as a temporary wise step to diminish the foolish destructive conflict we perpetuate through tradition.
Human being(s): the prevalent misleading trigger word that implies that we are static, dependent individuals.
Humane becoming(s): an invented trigger word that enlightens us that we are not static, but a dynamic work in progress. We have a purpose and mission to elevate ourselves to become the civilized, humane species we can now envision.
Interpretive power: We make ourselves creators through our power of interpretation! Our freedom organ uses symbols to create a private “virtual” mental reality of ideas and concepts, using symbols, and assigns meaning, ideas, and concepts to the data our senses provide. Using imagination, it rearranges the concepts to create new mental alternatives not previously present in the common reality we share. It then chooses from among the alternatives and applies the mysterious power we call will to introduce our private conceptual reality into the physical reality we share in common.
Our interpretations influence our thinking, feelings, and actions. Our work in progress (WIP) is to modify our interpretations as we expand our knowledge, and to increase our freedom from instinct and tradition to become more powerful creators.
Knowledge: the enlightenment of an intelligent mind to the universal orderly rules of cause-and-effect. Knowledge is the basis of science and philosophy, and we become increasingly powerful creators as we expand our knowledge. Our generation is accelerating the growth of knowledge in every direction like the burst of light from exploding fireworks.
Instinct: the trial-and-error wisdoms that are preprogrammed into our biology to automatically direct our destiny. Instinct is pre-wired to be active upon our birth.
Intelligence: the ability to acquire and apply logic to knowledge to become a powerful creator. Only humankind has sufficient ability to use words, make interpretations, and pass them forward to continuously expand our knowledge and wisdom.
Local citizenship (see Global citizenship): loyalty to a circumscribed tribe such as family, team, religion, country, ideology, etc. The innate need to identify with like-minded supporters and often relegate non-members to inferior status.
Love/Forgiveness: the creation of energy, using our highest mental function, that is directed to the well-being of some other and/or one’s self. Forgiveness is the highest form of love.
Mental Cancer: the self-serving belief that “I, us, our tribe’s way deserves superiority” AND “not I, not us, or not my tribe are deserving of punishment, even murder if they don’t conform.” Our tribe deserves to rule the human race! Its source is usually to be found in the survival of the fittest perspective of our older animal brain.
Mental Cancer antidote: The common sense belief that “I, we, our tribe is an important part of a larger system. We best serve ourselves by contributing to the well-being of our global community.” This newer way of thinking antidote is the creation of our mature freedom organ once we equip it with knowledge and wisdom.
Mental/Spiritual Freedom: without restraint; liberty from slavery, oppression, incarceration; choice; free will; immunity from the arbitrary exercise of authority. Mental freedom is the goal of ANWOT; “pursuing our own good in our own way” J.S. Mill. Becoming a powerful creator does not of itself provide freedom; our creative power may remain under the direction of instinct and tradition until we teach ourselves a newer way of thinking.
Mental Wealth millionaire: a super-mature individual who has acquired sufficient wisdoms to consistently make their life joyous and meaningful. The same mental skills that make us Mental Wealth millionaires are those that create the newer way of thinking Einstein told us we require to survive and thrive.
Mentogenous(an invented word because our language has no word to complement Endogenous and Exogenous): the self-programmed “wiring” designed by the self-conscious portion of our mind; the creativity initiated by our freed will power and originated in our freedom organ.
Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny (ORP):
Ontogeny: the growth and development of an individual in form and function from a single cell to its mature level of complexity.
Phylogeny: the creative process beginning with the evolutionary history of a species, beginning as all life begins, as a single undifferentiated cell.
Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny (ORP): An organism progresses to its highest level of function by entering and then graduating from each of the less sophisticated preceding levels of development. ORP provides us a valuable map of where we came from, the direction we are headed, and what alternative paths we might choose to reach our preferred destination faster, easier, and with greater accuracy.
Operating system: the means our mind uses to process information to action outcomes.
Our Creator [also referred to by trigger words such as "God," "nature," "the 'first' or 'uncaused' cause"]: the yet-unknowable force that has set creation in motion. Throughout history we have modified our view of our creator: we have progressed from superstition, worship of multiple idols, and harmful rituals, to the current common belief that our creator is a force that deals with all equally and is itself a work-in-progress.
My personal belief is that our creator has provided humankind with a freedom organ that provides us the opportunity and responsibility to become a part of the creative process. We can elevate ourselves; we can cause our extinction; we can bring about anything in between. Whether you share my belief or maintain a different one, I urge each person to focus on our shared interests so that all humanity will benefit.
Power: a force to initiate change; the energy source to create and to destroy.
Problem-solving sentence: “What is most likely to make things better for us and them, for now and the future?” Contrast this with problem-solving sentence of our animal brain, “My way, the only way.”
Reflective thinking: the skill to think about our thoughts; consciousness of our consciousness. The source of what we call “free will.” The power to see our self in a mirror enables us to make a quantum leap in our creative power. Reflective thinking = self-consciousness + imagination.
Second signaling system: the power of mental interpretation using symbols to modify our primary physical signaling system.
Self: the trigger word that identifies us as unique in the world, often used in combination with another word to recognize our special powers, such as self-mastery, self-consciousness.
Self-consciousness: reflective thinking to interpret our thoughts and what we think; thinking about our thinking; becoming conscious of our consciousness; the source of mental freedom.
Self-mastery: our work-in-progress to elevate ourselves to become humane individuals. Most people attain significant self-mastery in their late twenties or early thirties. Some require more time while others remain dependent throughout their lifetime.
- First signaling system: the mindless biologic nerves and chemicals that directly turn on action as designated by nature, nurture, or initiated by our freedom organ (cerebral cortex); the final common pathway.
- Second signaling system: the power of interpretation using symbols to modify our first signaling system; the mature use of imagination to become godlike creators
- Self-mastery signaling system (a variation of the second signaling system): the use of imagination to express common sense wisdom to attain super-maturity and contribute as a citizen to the well-being of our global community.
Stages of development: Immature -> Mature -> Super-mature
- Immature:incomplete physical and mental development; directed by instinct and nurture
- Mature:the process of becoming a creator with power for constructive and destructive action; increasing self-consciousness; transition from dependency to self-mastery
- Super-mature: the process of adding a newer way of common sense thinking to consistently direct the power of knowledge and wisdom to constructive outcomes.
Stren (an invented word): any word, concept, idea, wisdom, and experience that strengthens our well-being.
Stupidity: mindlessly trying to solve today’s problems using yesterday’s solutions.
Three masters who direct our thinking, feelings, and actions:
- Nature: our first master, usually characterized as “instinct”
- Nurture: our second master, also characterized as “habit,” and when passed on to future generations is referred to as “tradition.”
- Self-mastery(also referred to as mental freedom, thought control, becoming our own person, and super-maturity): The last-to-develop director of our life experience as we equip our freedom organ with sophisticated language and a newer way of thinking; the use of interpretation to free our self from dictators and assume responsibility for our life’s experience.
Tradition: the predetermined patterns of behavior created by our ancestors from trial-and-error wisdom and the common sense use of then-current knowledge. Traditions are passed forward from generation to generation regardless of their appropriateness to current circumstances. Tradition becomes our dominant master until we acquire sufficient common sense wisdom to upgrade what instinct and tradition make of us.
Trial-and-error wisdom: Our creator produces infinite variations of life to adapt to the changing environment. Those adaptive to fate and circumstance survive while the others become extinct. About 95% or more of the species ever to have lived have become extinct. Those adaptive trial-and-error methods that have survived 3 ½ billion years of life on earth are passed on to future generations through genetic inheritance and tradition. Trial-and-error wisdom is the preferred method of problem-solving of our older brain. These mindless wisdoms provide reliable solutions to yesterday’s issues and those that remain unchanged, but they are poorly equipped to problem-solve new issues.
Tribe: any collection of individuals focused around a common interest, goal, or way of thinking. A tribe can be a family, religious community, political party, or nation, to name just a few examples. One common characteristic of tribes is an insular “us vs. them” way of thinking.
Trigger word(see also Word-switch): a word, phrase, symbol, or gesture that turns on energy (usually an interpretation charged with meaning) to activate a specific pathway and its action outcome. Our means to promote a newer way of thinking and mental freedom is adding new trigger words and word-switches to our existing language as we acquire more wisdom.
Weapons of Ultimate Destruction (WUD): any weapons, including nuclear and biological weapons, capable of causing widespread devastation to human society and the natural world with a single use.
Will power: the mental energy we create to turn on action. Three masters compete to control our will power – nature (instinct), nurture (tradition), and our self.
Wiring patterns/”hardwired”: pre-programmed actions patterns, usually those present through instinct and inscribed by our nurturers.
Wisdom: the direction of knowledge to constructive outcomes;
the common sense use of good judgment to adapt, survive, and thrive when faced with new challenges to our well-being. Our mature freedom organ applies the intelligent use of logic to knowledge to create new solutions to current and anticipated challenges. We preserve and enrich our well-being as we increase our wisdoms, i.e. become Mental Wealth millionaires.
Word-switch (see also Trigger word): a symbol, usually a word or phrase, that substitutes a newer action pathway and destination for an established one by replacing the established trigger-word. Imagine that you are the controller of the railroad track switches. An oncoming train will follow its current course to the predetermined destination. However, by making one simple change at a single point, you can change both the path and the outcome.
Work-in-progress (WIP): The progressive change from simple and primitive to complex and sophisticated that is characteristic of all creation; the intentional action by a creator to modify the present level of complexity and sophistication. Our human WIP appears to include freeing our selves from the dictatorship of fate and circumstance so we can acquire the self-mastery to join them in determining who we are and what we are to become.
- Our individual work-in-progress is to teach our self the wisdoms that create mental freedom.
Our collective work-in-progress is to acquire the humane, civilized skills we preach, such as forgiveness, love, kindness, mercy, and compassion. Our freedom organ, properly educated, empowers humankind to change the world into a civilized utopia.
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Welcome to stren #99, Know Your Self – the wisdom of wisdoms. This stren offers the clearest vision of what I believe to be the quickest, most direct and certain journey to a joyous, purposeful life experience. It is my attempt to lay out the road map that has worked for me so that I can pass forward the highest gift – the gift of giving. The wisdoms we acquire one by one empower us to create newer links to our well-being and offer them to those we love. The preceding 98 strens are each links to this most important payoff insight – a road map to self-understanding. This stren offers a comprehensive theory of human behavior and a universal answer to the questions that have preoccupied me. My lifetime of problem-solving passion has focused on three questions:
- How do some individuals lacking life’s benefits create a joyous, purposeful life; while others with material wealth, fame, good looks, super intelligence, connections, and other prized goodies excel in unhappiness, depression, and even suicide?
- Why is there so much destructive confrontation and war when peace makes so much sense?
Can we identify the skills that elevate us to the humane species which we are capable of becoming, and make them standard in our education?
Know Thyself is not original; many others have come to the same conclusion (see Addendum). Self-understanding has been regarded by our wisest teachers as our means to enlightenment. My contribution is organizing the wisdom of many teachers into an easily taught, readily learned, forever free curriculum, convenient to anyone, anyplace, anytime.
This search for truth has led me through a path of discovery to limited insights, each urging me on to the next with a promise of being a connecting link to the distant goal. Each link could not be added without first acquiring the wisdoms preceding it. Answers were initially simple and of small consequence, but grew in sophistication and value with evolving complexity. Now that I am nearing the end of my path (I am now 75), I can reflect on those wisdoms that best answer the three questions. Foremost, I have discovered that the advanced solution is not only the same for each of the three questions I posed, it also answers questions others are passionate to solve. Multiple paths converge to a point foretold by visionaries throughout history. Knowledge of one’s self is a preferred path to answer the great mysteries. Knowledge applied with common sense and emotion is the substance of mental wealth! This stren is your road map to make yourself a Mental Wealth millionaire (MWM) and world peace leader.
A MWM is an individual who has acquired sufficient wisdoms to create a joyous, purposeful life experience regardless of what fate and circumstance have prescribed. MWM’s enrich themselves by what they offer to others and contribute to global well-being. Unlike physical wealth millionaires who too often are takers, MWM’s love giving and creating more MWM’s. Each wisdom we acquire brings us a step closer to becoming a MWM. My passion is to unite one million MWM’s to become world peace teachers to our population of seven billion. Most people wish or pray for a safer, gentler world but take no action to bring it about. The ANWOT curriculum explains why we have war, why we fail to unite to prevent it, and what collective action we must create to prevent catastrophe.
We have become our worst enemy because of the way we think. Our animal brain, when equipped with intelligence, directs our unprecedented power towards dominating any competition to our tribe through destructive confrontation. Survival of the fittest instinct demands that we acquire the material and symbolic indicators of superiority – physical wealth, titles, fame, connections, and the promise of a rewarded afterlife. To the degree our animal brain rules our cerebral cortex, our dominant education will favor uncritical obedience to tradition. We have made intelligence our greatest enemy; it is about to slay us. We act believing we know what we know, when we are more servants to instinct and tradition than master of common sense wisdom. Our survival now depends on recognizing our greatest problem, our self-deception.
Truly knowing ourselves requires that we first educate our cerebral cortex with a newer way of thinking (ANWOT). During our formative first decades our cortical brain is too immature and undeveloped to dominate instinct and tradition (nature and nurture, fate and circumstance). The either/or two-category distorted thinking we all first learn that divides the world into opposing categories is the root cause of bigotry, prejudice, and harmful confrontation. Creative problem solving directed by common sense wisdom, prevention, spirituality, values, morality, and the mutual benefits of cooperation and collaboration are beyond the limits of our early thinking capability. The drive toward competition and war that marks our history will persist until we unleash our rapidly growing arsenal of biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons that offer no second chance. That tipping point is imminent unless we recognize the urgency to teach ourselves ANWOT. The challenge in knowing our self is to make conscious the self-deception that falsely concludes “My way or my tribe’s way is the only way.” Common sense would substitute “What works for me AND you, for now AND the future?”
What if we could eliminate nukes? It’s not enough. Experts tell us biological WUD are the most likely threat. What if we eliminated all weapons, but exhaust our water supply? Won’t chaos still return? Because we are removed from the sights, sounds, and smells of death we already ignore millions of starving people. We fail to take preventive action because we remain oblivious until it is too late. There no second chance! This is why we must confront the root cause of destructive confrontation – the way we think. When Einstein realized the power of E=mc2, he told us we must teach ourselves a newer way of thinking (ANWOT) if we choose to prevent human catastrophe. ANWOT enables us to reflect on ourselves and realize our self- deception. We are part of the problem until we act on the solution. We need to know our self.
The newer way of thinking curriculum to become a MWM is roughly the equivalent of a 3 credit college course; it can be mastered in 6 to10 months. Internet technology makes ANWOT available forever free to anyone, anywhere, anytime. If you have not already signed in at www.anwot.org to automatically receive one of the 100+ insights every other day, do so now. We can’t make it any easier. The content may also be directly viewed or downloaded.
The discovery of the greatest truths is the addition of insight to insight. There is no limit, and the more insights we collect, the more likely we are to become a MWM. Here is a roadmap of the strens (mental strengths or insights) that create mental wealth and MWM’s, each of which is described within the ANWOT curriculum:
- The first step is to switch on our creative energy, which for so many has been turned off. Substitute “Yes, I think I can” for “I can’t,” “It’s too hard,” “Why bother?” and related learned helpless/hopeless words.
- The five ingredients required are abundantly available: Faith in yourself (Yes, I think I can), work, patience, direction, and risk taking – the willingness to let go of the ways that no longer work. Physical wealth, unusual intelligence, good looks, fame, and connections are not necessary. Good health and luck are helpful but not required, as so many have proven.
There are five components of ANWOT:
- Self-endorsement: The two most powerful are emotional self-endorsement and secondary endorsement strens that enable anyone to become their own best friend.
- The Mind-freeing, Life-changing, World-saving word-switches to free our will from fate and circumstance and create self-mastery. Essential are regularly substituting (1) could for should, (2) I allow for they make me, and (3) both…and for either/or.
- The eight choices available to our will: Consistent use of the problem-solving sentence and self-endorsement will cause the harmful choices to atrophy from disuse – blaming out, blaming in, avoidance, worry, the helpless/hopeless response and the
- The wisdoms proven by others to work: Collected from the giants who precede us, and those of our own discovery to create out-of-the-box solutions to today’s problems.
- Universal Values arrived at through common sense by religious and secular groups, including the golden rule, love yourself so you can love your neighbor, and the serenity prayer.
- Self-endorsement: The two most powerful are emotional self-endorsement and secondary endorsement strens that enable anyone to become their own best friend.
The power of symbols, including words (ideas), musical notes, religious symbols (cross, crescent, 5-pointed star), numbers/letters, (mathematics), and flags (patriotism/allegiance to country or team).
- Trigger words and word-switches: The specific symbols that allow us to grasp ideas and emotional energy.
- Recognizing our three masters and the influence of each: nature/nurture/self-mastery.
- The importance of personal responsibility, and the process to assume it.
- Changing needs from immaturity to maturity to super-maturity; becoming one’s own person.
- The two sentences that determine our fate: (1) My way, the only way! or (2) What will work for me and you, for now and the future?
- Adding global priorities to local priorities.
- Understanding the creative process.
- Life’s enthusiasms and endeavors.
- Cultivating positive addictions: habits of daily living.
- Stressing commonalities (positives) over our differences (shortcomings). Note that focusing on differences is innate!
- Attaining and sustaining an
attitude of gratitude.
- Education in common sense thinking to elevate us to the humane skills: such as love, forgiveness, kindness, mercy, and compassion.
- Teaching resilience: a natural skill curtailed by learned helpless/hopelessness.
- Learning the satisfaction of giving.
- The role of prevention (ANWOT); no-trial learning, cognitive rehearsal.
- “Calm” skills: anger management.
- Managing injustice: The world is not always fair.
- Your turn to create and add new wisdoms.
I am confident that you have the same passion to benefit your loved ones that inspires me to popularize ANWOT. If you are not already a MWM, I urge you to do the course and join Einstein’s peace army that can and must succeed. I wish you tons of mental wealth!
Addendum: History of Know Thyself
Know Thyself was inscribed in golden letters at the entrance of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi (circa 7th century to 373 BCE). From that time, Apollo’s imperative was heralded as the means to self-knowledge and self-realization. The Temple was the meeting place of the wise men and religious leaders of many persuasions. It survived until 390 AD when Emperor Theodosius I ordered its destruction in the name of Christianity to halt Paganism. Know Thyself has been attributed to Greek sages, and to contemporary scholars and religious leaders since. It is widely acknowledged in the world’s sacred traditions to express inner wisdom and be a prescriptive cure for mankind’s ills.
Socrates taught Know Thyself – the unexamined life is not worth living. In Plato’s Phaedrus dialogue, he explains why his wise teacher “has no time for mythology or other far flung topics.” Socrates says, “But I have no leisure for them at all; and the reason, my friend, is this: I am not yet able, as the Delphic inscription has it, to know myself; so it seems to me ridiculous, when I do not yet know that, to investigate irrelevant things. …To be curious about that which is not my concern, while I am still in ignorance of my own self, would be ridiculous.” The Suda, a tenth century encyclopedia of Greek knowledge, says: “the proverb is applied to those whose boasts exceed what they are,” and that “know thyself” is a warning to pay no attention to the opinion of the multitude.
Additional references from the web site Christian Chat:
” ‘Yoga or union with the divine is to know your self. Your true self. All religions point out to one goal. To know your self. Yoga is not just a mere exercise or fun club as most people would think.’
Jesus Christ: ‘Know thyself’
Prophet Mohamed: ‘The one knows himself, knows his Lord’
Lao Tse: ‘The one who knows others is wise, the one who knows himself is enlightened’ ”
While the phrase “know thyself” is not found in the canonical New Testament, it is implied in references. In John 14:17: “Even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither does it know him; but you know him, for he dwells with you, and shall be in you.” Paul affirmed likewise: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16). Similarly, Luke 17:20-21: “And when the Pharisees demanded to know when the kingdom of God should come, Jesus answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with visible signs: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.’ “
The following are extracts from Know Thyself: Man in Evolution, by W. T. S. Thackara:
Luke‘s second meaning — “the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” — is mystically expressed in the Gospel of Thomas (113) … Jesus said, “If those who lead you say to you, ‘See, the Kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father. — Saying 3
… The savior said, “Brother Thomas while you have time in the world, listen to me, and I will reveal to you the things you have pondered in your mind. Now since it has been said that you are my twin and true companion, examine yourself, and learn who you are, in what way you exist and how you will come to be. Since you will be called my brother, it is not fitting that you be ignorant of yourself. And I know that you have understood because you had already understood that I am the knowledge of the truth. So while you accompany me, although you are uncomprehending, you have in fact already come to know, and you will be called ‘the one who knows himself.’ For he who has not known himself has known nothing, but he who has known himself has at the same time already achieved knowledge about the depth of the All” [italics added]. — II.138.5-19, in The Nag Hammadi Library in English, p. 201
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Welcome to stren #98, Corporate Survival and the Brain. This stren explains why we have individual and corporate greed, the tipping point predicted to bring about global catastrophe, and what corporate leadership in particular can do to prevent it. The very same dynamics that led 250 world experts to warn us of human catastrophe before the end of 2013 can help us understand the confrontation of the public with corporate greed. Know thyself has been heralded through the ages as the cure for humankind’s ills, and the very same forces that direct human behavior are applicable to corporate behavior. A simple understanding of our brain provides is the best means to prevent harmful confrontation.
Group, political, and societal policy are concepts that exist in individual minds. The collective wills of individuals determine the rules that create our fate for good or ill. The three controllers of our will – nature, nurture, and self-mastery – have distinct perspectives. Unlike animals who are servant to nature and nurture; we are uniquely privileged by the ability to discover knowledge and apply common sense wisdom to become master of our self. Einstein told us the one solution to prevent human catastrophe: we must teach ourselves a newer way of thinking. The major obstacle is our own self-deception. We erroneously believe we are using common sense when we are in fact servants to the authority of nature and our nurturers. We are guided more by the animal portion of our brain than the cerebral cortex that is our source of humanity. Common sense is not yet common; surviving and thriving requires that we make it so. Our corporations have the power to make a difference once awakened to the danger.
A simplified understanding of the brain is sufficient to understand the problem. The animal brain and the animal portion of the human brain represent the prewired behavior patterns that have effectively worked in savage environments for hundreds of millions of years. The intelligent cerebral cortex that distinguishes us from animals is our tool to create language, acquire knowledge of cause and effect, interpretation, and imagination. Common sense wisdom is the basis of values, ethics, morality and civilization. The more knowledge we acquire, the more we become godlike creators. Given that there are more scientists alive today than all of history and new technology to rapidly share information, our constructive power is accelerating to quantum speed like an asymptotic curve. One image showing asymptotic growth of power provides startling insight:
An asymptote is a curve that draws increasingly nearer to a line without ever touching it. Let’s now look at an asymptotic curve and assign meaning that turns on the immense power of knowledge:
The horizontal line represents time and the vertical line indicates increase in human knowledge. Knowledge of cause-and-effect relationships is the means by which we increase our power to influence our self and all that is about us. The curve in this simple chart illustrates that we have grown knowledge very slowly until the introduction of the scientific method. The timeline could begin with the first life on earth, 3½ billion years ago; or with the appearance of intelligent humans circa 150,000 years ago; or our ancestor’s invention of sophisticated language, which inspired a quantum leap in the growth of civilization some 50,000 years ago. Wherever you begin the timeline, the observation remains the same: the line representing knowledge was almost flat until the development of the scientific method about 300 years ago. The further back we go, the flatter the line, indicating the growth of knowledge was virtually imperceptible. Our ancestors were intelligent but they had limited knowledge. Notice that the dramatic upturn of the curve representing increased power that comes with knowledge began very close to the end of the chart. We dramatically increase our power in shorter and shorter periods. The introduction and proliferation of weapons with ultimate destructive power is occurring NOW during our very own instant in historical time! The tipping point – do or die – is here but we fail to realize the danger.
As we make ourselves increasingly powerful creators through the asymptotic growth of knowledge, we change the world in other ways. For example, the increases in our population and in our prison populations grow in an asymptotic pattern similar to our frenzied growth of power. Meanwhile, we have barely changed our way of thinking. We fail to recognize the consequences of creating constructive and destructive change in such rapidly diminishing periods of time. The purpose of this stren is to make ourselves aware so we can take urgent preventive action.
Estimated size of human population from 10,000 BCE–2000 CE.
USA incarceration timeline
The most imminent problem is that we deceive ourselves into thinking we are using common sense wisdom when we are still dominated by our animal brain. Only conscious awareness of our erroneous assumption will enable us to change. Einstein told us the solution – we must teach ourselves a newer way of thinking. We know how to proceed to succeed once we waken ourselves to the urgency to make common sense common.
What does our animal brain want?
We are compelled by instinct to obey the dictum “survival of the fittest.” We are programmed to fight at any cost to achieve dominance, and for flight to escape danger. One sentence best sums up the perspective of instinct: “My way, the only way.” The animal brain, like all dictators, rules through authority. It is reluctant to give up power to common sense wisdom and will resist any attempt to do so. Because our cortex is not fully mature until about age 18, its intelligence is servant to the rule of the animal brain. Instinct was once satisfied with “enough,” but now equipped with language and the meaning of “infinity,” becomes motivated by greed. It is easy to deceive ourselves that we are noble in our cause when our goal is quite self-serving.
What does the common sense portion of our human brain, our cerebral cortex, want?
Wisdom recognizes that the world has changed. Insight by insight, we expand our knowledge to promote or destroy the larger system, like the various organs that comprise our body or a cancer. Cooperation and collaboration for mutual gain must replace dominating by the use of harmful confrontation to demonstrate superiority. The sudden proliferation of weapons of ultimate destruction (WUD) in everyone’s arsenal has reversed “survival of the fittest” to “destruction of the fittest.” Win-lose outcomes turn into lose-lose outcomes. Most people wish or pray for peace but fail to unite in effective action because we remain servant to instinct and tradition.
What do people want?
We begin life wanting what our instinct demands and what our nurturers teach us to want. The dominant wants in contemporary society include the symbols of power to dominate: money, a good image, titles, fame, approval, and if not granted immortality at least a promise of a good hereafter. The perspective of our animal brain will persist until we educate our cerebral cortex in a newer way of thinking driven by common sense wisdom more than authority.
What do our corporations want?
Like most people who say they want well being for all (Love thy neighbor), corporations adhere to the traditions of the animal brain. Some do so consciously while others remain seduced by the false illusion that they are doing the right thing. Corporations want employees who are loyal, work in a team effort to support their mission, who take pride in their creativity and experience the joy of doing something that contributes to the well-being of their local AND global community. They want to create a brand and image that the public respects, that will encourage use of their product. But these goals will not be realized while the animal brain remains CEO of the corporate mind.
During President Eisenhower’s farewell address, January 17, 1961, he used the term military-industrial complex to refer to the growing political and financial relationships between legislators, the armed forces, and the industrial sector. Political contributions, lobbying to support beneficial legislation, and approval for government spending increased with WWII and subsequently the Cold War. 46.5% of the total world military spending in 2009 was spent by the United States. Corporations grow bigger and more powerful as individual businesses disappear. The potential for corporations to express power for good or ill continues to expand. Their economic, political, and spiritual influence on the community has grown to endanger personal liberties and independent enterprise throughout the country. In 1956, sociologist C. Wright Mills claimed in his book The Power Elite that a class of military, business, and political leaders, driven by mutual interests, were the real leaders of the state, and were effectively beyond democratic control. The power of corporations to influence our society has immense bearing on global well-being or its lack. Self-serving motives and both personal and political corruption is widespread. Knowledgeable people power is required to direct corporate actions to constructive outcomes.
Corporate leadership is a growing source of power, needs to recognize it, and acquire the knowledge to use it wisely. Winning by domination is no longer adaptable to survival. Cooperation and cooperation for mutual gain must replace survival of the fittest by “beating” and competing at any cost. Leaders who want to sustain a social consciousness that promotes global well-being in addition to local prosperity will also want the best education on how to accomplish these goals. The disconnect between what people want and what people do is the source of our current crisis. A newer way of thinking (ANWOT) that makes common sense common is required.
What can corporate leadership do?
- First and foremost – become informed. Create education in the skills of ANWOT for corporate leadership. Uncover self-deception to replace corporate greed with good deeds through newer out-of-the-box solutions that fulfill community responsibility. Common sense wisdom leads to higher purposes.
- Provide in-service education to offer the newer way of thinking skills. Morale-building creates loyal employees who are happier, energetic, loyal, and take pride in their productivity. Years ago, as a member and on two occasions the chairperson of the National Institute of Mental Health substance abuse review committee, I had the opportunity to monitor grant recipients around the country. Programs where the staff had high morale had best results; the method of treatment was less important. The same observation held true in developing employee assistance programs within corporations. Stressed employees are links that weaken the whole chain. Staff happiness and satisfaction contributes to corporate productivity and well-being. Examples have been set: Zappos has created a “happiness officer” position, and Ben and Jerry’s values service to community and employee satisfaction above making money. Whatever the corporate mission, high morale correlates with effectiveness and success.
- Corporate image is one of the best forms of promoting customer loyalty. Admiring customers are the most effective marketers. Offering education in ANWOT to the broader population can be effected with little effort and limited use of resources because email lists and other links to the community are already established. Loyal customers are already receptive to corporate offerings. Education that promotes well-being is likely to go viral and help popularize corporate brand names.
Linking with nonprofit corporations that are already dedicated and recognized as bearers of well-being is popular, but more attention to such partnerships will have huge payoffs. Terrorists are effective because they unite their followers into action. A small band of dictators creates great power by organizing their followers while giants suffer harm because they emphasize “beating” competition more than collaborating for multiple benefits. Corporations working together can offer continuity and contiguity that will be unstoppable.
Einstein’s solution, ANWOT, is the most likely way to increase well-being, cohesiveness, friendliness, and inner and global peace. The skills that detoxify anxiety and fear diminish our fight or flight instinct. The five component skills of a newer way of thinking are easy to teach and to learn: (1) self-endorsement, (2) mental freedom from instinct and tradition, (3) wise use of our will power, (4) the collection of wisdoms proven by others to work, and (5) the universal values discovered by multiple independent tribes. “Graduate” education in the skills that create a joyous, meaningful life experience, i.e. those lacking in our current mandated schooling, can be most effective within the context of the workplace.
Unlike many worthwhile missions, education in ANWOT does not require money. The curriculum can be offered free to everyone via the Internet, within the work environment, at one’s preferred time, at home or a convenient place of study. The global well-being universally sought in our wishes and prayers requires sufficient individuals who will unite to unleash of the pent up energy imprisoned within the global population. Give Einstein’s solution a try and become one who will teach many.
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Welcome to stren #97, Habits of Daily Living. For most people, “addiction” is a bad habit, something to get rid of. This stren addresses habits and addictions that are worthy to cultivate, that will greatly enhance the quality of your life.
Habit: a constant and often unconscious inclination to perform some act acquired through its frequent repetition
Addiction: a step beyond habit – giving oneself over habitually or compulsively, to be controlled
Dependence: requiring support, subordinate to someone or something needed or greatly desired; being influenced or controlled
Physical dependence: includes biological changes that demand some physical agent to return the physical and mental aberration to a normal state
“Addiction” commonly means we acquire a habit so powerful that it wants to be repeated; and it occurs automatically, with little or no effort, and with such force that it requires great will power to resist. Sometimes it includes physical effects. The alcohol addict may experience irritability, shaking, see imaginary things, have convulsions, and even die. The heroin addict who fails to supply his acquired drug habit experiences muscle and intestinal cramps, nausea, diarrhea, restlessness, and sometimes spontaneous unpleasant orgasm which is described as “draining” and weakening. The addict may notice little or no physical response but have severe mental and/or behavioral effects such as cravings, preoccupation with specific thoughts, and/or performance of specific acts. Consider what occurs with the gambler, smoker, coffee abuser, the “food-aholic,” the praying of the “religious addict,” the guilt and/or resentment of the “blamer,” the perfectionist, and the more gender-stereotyped “addictions,” such as preoccupation with sports, or the “appearance addict” whose discomfort grows with their perceived need for makeup, a regular visit to the hairdresser, and concern about their body’s size and shape. I recall one woman who was so constantly convinced that her teeth were ugly (they were actually quite perfect) that she persistently worried and refused to smile in public. Habits, and their more demanding relatives, addictions, have powerful physical, mental, and behavioral components.
Addictions and habits need not be negative! Indeed, they can be beneficial, even life-saving. Consider one simple acquired habit: looking both ways before crossing the street. It protects our life and warns us with a bit of discomfort should we fail to exercise this action. Positive addictions enhance our well-being and often prevent us from acting in a nonproductive manner.
Positive addictions are very important. Because they occur and reoccur relatively automatically with little or no effort, they spare our energy for new activity, new enthusiasms. Positive addictions ensure the consistent regulation of our mental and behavior actions just as our heart and liver manage our physical well-being. Here is a critical insight: Most habits and addictions are within our power to create! Once established, they remain faithful to their purpose. Wouldn’t you like to have an assistant, who will quite merrily work on your behalf, for your health, happiness, and well-being, with little or no demand for payment? Wow! Is there much else that compares to such a good deal? Wouldn’t it be worth the initial effort to establish such faithful assistants? Wisely answer “yes” and please read on.
Positive addictions are so useful that I have identified some of the ones I consider most worthy of cultivation. Each is readily teachable and learnable, as explained in the preceding strens, and directions are widely available. You already have many positive addictions. Can you name them? Accurate labels bring a specific habit to consciousness and make it easier to cultivate that specific habit. Could you imagine the fantastic benefits that we experience when we create many such “servants” to support us? I have prepared this list for your consideration. Why not cultivate the ones you like that you presently lack?
Faith that your efforts count: the belief that you can become responsible for yourself.
The process of taking charge of our life’s experience, what has been called “becoming our own person,” begins with the faith that what we do does matter. Absent this belief, there is a tendency towards apathy and/or to blame “others” for not providing what we can do for our self. Science does not bridge the leap to faith. However, the mere observation that many others, including those with the most severe limitations, can make their life fulfilling is one inspiration to acquire the required faith to start with the premise, “Yes, I can! I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” Recall the marvelous child’s story, The Little Engine that Could.
- Self-endorsement: skill in habitually conversing with our self as one best friend would with another. Just as we have a minimum daily requirement (MDR) for vitamins and physical nourishment, we have a MDR for mental endorsement. As adults, we don’t expect others to support us, feed us, clean us, attend to our bowel needs; yet, we commonly neglect to teach ourselves to regularly provide our MDR of mental and emotional endorsement. Multiple self-endorsement skills are offered in earlier strens and may be found elsewhere.
- Loving, friendship: by filling our needs through self-endorsement, we “spill over” love and share with others. Love is a willing “gift” that is offered without strings or demands of “repayment.” Giving to get is too often an act leading to disappointment. The act of giving of ourselves, what we have created, is inherently self-satisfying. In cultivating meaningful relationships, we also expand the opportunity for our personal growth and knowledge that comes with sharing. Consider stren #57, Love Creation, and related strens there indicated.
Chronic enthusiasm: the habitual use of our energy for rewarding action.
Whatever the goal, success is most likely when pursued with chronic enthusiasm. People who consistently feel good and do good generate enthusiasm by rewarding themselves for working towards a desired goal.
- Belonging: Just as we consist of many internal organs that make us whole, we are each a part of a greater community. Developing the habit of doing good in addition to feeling good sustains the harmony we attain through our communal interest.
Wisdom: the constructive application of abstract thinking, reason, probability, and the knowledge acquired through the past and current experience of “others.” An addiction to seeking wisdom is the key ingredient to enhance the well-being of ourselves and our community. Too often, the will power we acquire with self-mastery is harmful when applied without wise direction.
Self-mastery + ANWOT + wisdom Þ peace-of-mind, peace-for-humankind
- Work: the application of our energy to attain a desired goal. Work enables us to fulfill our needs and wants. It can be very fulfilling to experience “a good tired.” We are not inherently lazy; we willingly work hard when we foresee a productive outcome. Freud concluded the two human endeavors that make for a satisfying life are “lieben und arbeiten,” to love and be industrious. What a marvelous combination when we learn to love our work!
- ANWOT: acquiring the words, ideas, and assumptions of the new way of thinking (ANWOT) compatible with becoming one’s own person. The “native” language we acquire through repetition, when our mind is undeveloped and our body is immature, addicts us to a childlike manner of thinking, and thereby feeling and acting. It shapes our thinking to have unrealistic expectations from others, overdo blame and guilt, and remain dependent on the prescriptive and either/or two category processing of information that sustains the prejudices of our upbringing. ANWOT is the substitution of newer words and concepts that promote rational problem-solving above reaction and action through instinct and habit. Our early manner of thinking emphasizes trial-and-error learning from mistakes and role-modeling. ANWOT emphasizes prevention, “no-trial learning” through forethought and rational mental processing of alternatives before action is taken. Most people are unaware of the degree we remain mentally addicted to the perspectives of our genes and nurturers.
- Life style, nutrition, and exercise: promoting the habits of daily living that grow and maintain our physical well-being. The skills regarding specific life styles are now widely promoted as their benefits are increasingly understood. Acquiring ANWOT strengthens our will power to more regularly do what we understand to be in our best long-term interests.
- Mental growth, education: Addicting ourselves to the chronic pursuit of practical knowledge and its beneficial application throughout our life, and especially in our later years when our physical resources are declining. Habitually exercising our mind is just as important, if not more so than the measures we take to promote our physical health.
- Risk-taking: the willingness to let go of established patterns to make way for newer, more appropriate and effective ones. We cling onto what has worked in the past, even when we recognize that it is no longer effective or appropriate. Necessarily, “old friends” die and sometimes it is our task to aid in their passing. Risk-taking is a frightening ingredient of change, yet it is essential to grow from immaturity to maturity to super-maturity. I like the analogy provided by Gail Sheehy in Passages: like the crustacean, we must allow ourselves to become vulnerable as the old shell is shed to make room for our new place in life.
- Optimism: anticipating the positive outcomes of our participation in life’s activities. The use of forethought, fantasy, and mental creation of positive possibilities enhances our energy and directs it to constructive use. It is the opposite of “worry,” or dwelling on the worst unlikely outcome of our life experiences. Too often we waste our energy in worry, creating unnecessary anxiety, phobias, and the like, when we would be wiser to “optimize.” When we’re objectively processing the data of our life’s experience, optimizing can be very productive and certainly a better choice than worry when we do stray from reality.
- Know our assumptions (world view, religion): recognizing the beliefs and values, based on faith upon which we base our actions. Was this Socrates’ wisdom in stating, “The unexamined life is not worth living”? Science provides facts; it does not instruct us in values and morality. Our moral life is largely the outcome of faith in our assumptions and beliefs, and our religion. We commonly become “addicted” to our values and religion early in our life, based on the authority of our nurturers. Our morality, expressed in our actions, is primarily composed of assumptions supported by faith! In this sense, every person is “religious.” Our religious values, habitually expressed day-by-day, support (or detract from) harmony within, and harmony (or its lack) in the world around us. Habitual reflection and growing awareness of our assumptions, our beliefs, our prejudices (“pre-judgments”), and our “religion,” are habits worth cultivating.
- Patience: the ability to delay satisfaction by mentally gratifying our self now to attain greater benefits (or avoid pain) later. We are all born wanting what we want “now!” on getting it “faster!” We are initially addicted to impulse, to “sell our soul” without forethought until we acquire effective means of thinking. Patience is one of the more difficult addictions to acquire; unfortunately there is no “crash course.” It is acquired gradually but surely with skill in self-endorsement.
- An attitude of gratitude: acquiring the skill to habitually appreciate what we have attained, what we have available to us now, and what we may attain in the future creates a state of mind that leads us to feel good and do good. Too often we take for granted the plenty we already have. Alcoholics Anonymous is a staunch advocate of this important habit.
The three “success” skills: accurate empathy, unconditional positive regard, and congruence. Research and observation show that these qualities routinely lead to successful outcomes in both individuals and programs that exhibit them.
- accurate empathy: the ability to empathetically experience the perspective of the “other” and convey that we understand (not necessarily agree)
- unconditional positive regard: experiencing and conveying respect and concern for the well-being of the “other” (if not necessarily their ideas and/or actions)
- congruence: being consistent and reliably conveying the above, not so one day and quite different the next.
- accurate empathy: the ability to empathetically experience the perspective of the “other” and convey that we understand (not necessarily agree)
- Music, song, dance, movement: rhythm and engaging the symbols of music may enrich our mind, provide entertainment, influence our mood, invigorate thinking, and promote cooperation and mutual understanding through shared participation. The physical benefits are evident. Enriching activity tends to “squeeze out” negative preoccupation. Such activity is readily and in most cases freely available, irrespective of status, and usually harmless to others.
- Hobbies: in addition to the pleasure innate in their pursuit, the acquisition of chronic enthusiasms promotes and sustains our vigor. David Starr Jordan, first president of Stanford University, wrote a book extolling the desirability of acquiring multiple interests in our youth, more than we can possibly fulfill, so that they can sustain us when we have difficulty generating new enthusiasms.
- The “reasonable best” measure of self-endorsement: given our limited time and energy, habitually complimenting ourselves when we do what we reasonably can. We frequently don’t succeed in our goals, often due to circumstances beyond our control. Commonly, we have other more important priorities; and of course because we are human, we are certain to make many mistakes. Perfectionists make themselves unnecessarily miserable due to their unreasonable expectations. Notice the “reasonable best” measure is an “input measure” that is within our control, unlike the “outcome measure” more commonly and unwisely used to judge oneself.
- The Magical Sentence: “What is most likely to work for me and you, for now and the future?” Dealing with life’s challenges using rational problem-solving is usually more productive than the automatic responses we acquire through instinct and/or habit. This powerful sentence promotes the mental “habit” of no-trial learning through reason in dealing with life’s challenges. Teaching ourselves to habitually guide our actions by this sentence is most likely to promote wise and beneficial outcomes to our actions. While not “magic,” it works so well, it seems like it is.
Actively and regularly experiencing sexual gratification: Addiction to sexual pleasure is nearly universal. Sexual activity has many positive and negative aspects. My assumptions around its positive addictive qualities are clearly open to alternative opinion.
Sexual activity is generally considered our most pleasurable natural physical experience. Sex is paramount because survival of the species depends on it. Animals seem chemically “required” to risk their lives to perform the rituals of reproduction. While we are also powerfully driven, we do have a choice. Instinct, pleasure, curiosity, culture, parental and/or other social interests powerfully motivate sexual activity. Sexual gratification brings both discharge of “sexual tension” and intense pleasure. Sexual tension builds up with thoughts of re-experiencing pleasure, and cyclic interest is established.
- Sexual interest occurs throughout the majority of our life. Sexual activity intensifies at puberty when nature’s biological clock begins to tick. It does so through many decades until aging brings a gradual decline in performance, and sometimes in interest. This may be due to the direct “wearing out” of our sex-related biology, or the indirect effects of other physical and psychological changes.
- Sexual tension is 100% satisfiable. Self-satisfaction is readily available, free of charge, regardless of status, race, religion, creed, etc. It is not harmful to oneself and need not involve anyone else. Physically, our sexual organs are receptors of physical stimulation; they receive information irrespective of the source and transmit it to pleasure centers in the brain. Thus, sexual gratification is available at one’s will, without involving anyone else. It has been said that the only time you can be certain of the sincerity of your partner is when it is yourself.
- Studies indicate that people regularly experiencing sexual gratification enjoy greater well-being and longevity.
- Sexual activity with a partner commonly fosters related positive experiences: social sharing, intimacy, companionship, love, cooperation, and procreation.
Suppression of sexual gratification commonly leads to deviant forms of expression
that may be harmful.
Humans are “interpretive” creatures. What has been said above about the positive aspects of sexual addiction may be reversed by one’s personal assumptive views, or cultural and religious beliefs. Sexual activity can be a source of significant harm when unwisely expressed. There are clearly consequences that can turn a positive addiction into a negative one. Appropriate, honest information and preparation increase one’s likelihood of making sexual pleasure a positive addiction. Knowledge is only recently exceeding the role of raw emotion as appropriate sex education is more widely available.
What positive addictions do you have? Are there some you’d like to develop? What would you add (or subtract) from my list? You can readily enhance and add to your positive addictions. What are you willing to do about positive addictions that you might want for yourself?
RECOGNIZE, PRACTICE, AND ENJOY YOUR POSITIVE ADDICTIONS
Let’s reverse the process. Can you identify current habits where harm exceeds benefits … especially those most common? It is more difficult to “extinguish” an established habit than it is to create a new one. However, there is very good news. By creating a more preferable competing behavior that we regularly repeat, we may not even have to directly address the negative habit; it will weaken and atrophy from disuse. Here are some prominent ones that you might consider:
- Blaming: This is the most common and dangerous “addiction” because it is prewired in each of us to automatically lash out when we experience frustration. It is the fight part of the fight or flight instinct. Harmful aggression, physical and symbolic, is apt to get us into trouble locally, globally, and collectively. The rage response is a common reason our prisons remain full.
- Guilt: This learned habit is unique to humankind, because it is so linked to the use of sophisticated language and morality. Putdowns support hurting oneself, apathy, and depression. The same energy would better be directed to problem-solving.
- Avoidance: Like blaming, avoidance is a prewired “addiction,” but it expresses the flight part of our innate fight or flight behavior. Avoidance has many new forms of expression in modernity such as substance abuse, procrastination, and withdrawal, to name a few.
- Hopelessness/helplessness: This learned “give up” behavior is perhaps the most dangerous because it shuts down our energy factory leaving us dependent on authority, even though common sense wisdom could provide the creative actions that are in our best interest. For example, it is the main reason we fail to unite to unleash the pent up energy for world peace that would be unstoppable.
- Worry: To “what if” and anticipate the worst, to see the hole rather than the donut, the empty rather than the full part of the glass is a modern expression of the prewired habit once required to anticipate danger in a savage environment.
- Physical maladies: The extreme reflex physiological changes of a sustained stressing event account for the “psychosomatic” disorders that affect virtually every organ system; additionally, the head, neck, and back pains related to sustained muscle tension are examples of our prewired mind/body connection. We neglect the learned habits that can prevent these problems, such as progressive relaxation (my favorite), meditation, yoga, self-endorsement skills, on and on.
- Impatience: We are born addicted to the motto “I want what I want when I want it.” Creativity and skills require putting off immediate gratification for longer term gain. Patience, which is among the most important habits we can acquire, is neglected in our standard education.
- Dependence on approval: During the first decades of our life, through our need for support and approval we become “love junkies,” addicted to other’s approval for our self worth even though we have acquired more than we need to assume responsibility for our own self-worth.
- Self-putdowns: Demeaning and negative self-talk is a habit learned when we make unrealistic expectations and fall short of our goal. Much creativity is lost to the world because the mistakes required to get back on the correct path are labeled “failures,” lead to self-denigration, and often abandonment of problem-solving action.
Your specific harmful habits: Once you label a harmful habit, you position yourself to seek the competing behavior(s) that will direct your energy to more positive outcomes.
Others have found the way. Find those others and learn from their success. This collection of wisdoms is one source among many of newer ways of thinking gladly shared by successful individuals so others can benefit.
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The process of creative thought; what it is, how it comes about, and how it can be used to best advantage.
Welcome to stren #96, The Creative Process, the means we may determine our destiny.
What is creativity? We can begin with some dictionary definitions:
create: .To cause to exist; bring into being; originate. .To give rise to; bring about; produce.
creation: an original act of human invention or imagination.
Creation (capital C): God’s primal act of bringing the world into existence
procreate: To beget (offspring); reproduce.
procreative: capable of reproducing; procreative instinct: directed to procreation.
The creative force that has caused you and me to exist, which people label with such names as nature, fate, and God, has determined that procreation, i.e. reproducing and nourishing our progeny to reproductive maturity, is the most important behavior in life. Pleasure and aggression centers located in the animal brain and the animal portion of our human brain compel us to engage in sexual intercourse, even at the peril of our life. Orgasm is our most intensive natural pleasure.
However, only our kind can rebel from nature’s commands and determine our own goals. We have been gifted with a freedom organ, our cerebral cortex, with sufficient intelligence to discover our creator’s universal rules of cause-and-effect. Knowledge allows us to self-program our behavior. We bring physical, mental, and spiritual reality into being, and introduce these creations into a world where they have never existed. Through the power of interpretation and imagination, we make ourselves creators and destroyers. We increase our power by the degree we invent symbols to discover, store, share, grow, and pass knowledge forward. No other creature has such freedom to rule its self and influence the design of the universe we call “home.” We can educate our freedom organ to create paths original to nature.
Our power to create and destroy is not only unprecedented, it is accelerating so rapidly that our generation has reached a tipping point. Suddenly we surpass fate and circumstance in determining our destiny. Our generation may choose to create a joyous, purposeful life in an ideal world, bring about our annihilation, or any degree in between. We are making ourselves simultaneously our best friend and our worst enemy. Heaven and hell, the perception of two extremes, is the creation of our own doing. The greater our power, the greater the rewards for wise choices, and the greater the punishment for stupid ones. We are discovering that intelligence directed by our animal brain will result in the use of our weapons of ultimate destruction whereas the use of common sense wisdom can redirect the energy of our animal brain to preferred outcomes. Like it or not, we have assumed the responsibility to manage our life experience and the destiny our world. The value of our creativity and its danger both grow as we educate our freedom organ with symbols to think using knowledge of cause-and-effect.
Popularizing a newer way of thinking (ANWOT) that equips our freedom organ with common sense wisdom is our most important creative task. Our destiny is influenced by some combination of the hardwired directions of instinct and tradition and the common sense wisdom of our freedom organ’s will power. ANWOT is our means to selectively choose where we can allow our growing power to be directed by instinct and tradition, and when we must intervene with common sense wisdom in order to survive and thrive. We currently apply our creative power both wisely and stupidly. Our success in surviving and thriving require an understanding of our creative process.
Creativity can be taught! We can learn to consistently direct our power using common sense wisdom, and we must, because our most informed experts tell us our intelligence will soon lead to our extinction. We can solve our most difficult problems if we follow the road map that creative people have laid out for us by their pain and frustrations.
What if we could learn the fastest, safest, surest path to creativity from the world’s most successful people? How much easier is any journey when a map is provided, especially one which reveals a superhighway created to accommodate the high volume of wisdom proven to work? We have such map. I believe one of the world’s best was created by Eliot Dole Hutchinson for his doctorate thesis at Harvard University. His questionnaire to about 250 of the world’s most creative leaders, “scientists, artists, authors, musicians, and just ordinary folk,” and an extensive review of literature are the reasons I have invited him as a “guest lecturer.” All page-numbered quotes in the section below refer to Hutchinson’s thesis.
Creativity is the application of knowledge of cause and effect to solve problems. We discover universal truth as we reveal the orderliness of nature. Logic, i.e. common sense, is the chief tool. Reasoning is at a maximum; random trial and error effort is at a minimum. Insight leads to insight. One idea is incorporated into a set of ideas, and the sets of ideas lead to a higher level of problem to be solved. “Elements are put together like bricks in a wall, each space being determined by the location and size of the preceding block.” p.12 Systematic reasoning is essential to solve complex problems. Once an insight is born through systematic reasoning, then trial and error application may be introduced to demonstrate the validity of the new truth. Whatever the field of endeavor, be it art, music, science, or religion, the process of discovery is fraught with uncertainty and stress. The creative process is cumulative and compounding, leading to more advanced challenges for discovery. The most successful creators welcome challenge with emotional reserve and intellectual objectivity.
Hutchinson’s comprehensive study consistently identified four stages of the creative process: Preparation; Frustration; Achievement; and Verification.
All major creative breakthroughs are supported by years of effort and acquiring technical skills. Perspiration is more important than inspiration.
The direction may begin vague and attain focus over time. Logic, systematic planning, intelligence, prior knowledge, work, and accuracy precede an important discovery. Common sense precedes insight, only then to be followed by trial-and-error false starts, verification, and widespread application. Wisdom is added to wisdom to encompass a more comprehensive insight, but that is not enough. Direct results seldom come from sustained effort and inclination. An undirected linkage of these elements must occur that wildly and effortlessly bursts into consciousness, the moment of insight described in stage three. It is best to keep multiple problems alive because the random events that spring insight into consciousness is more likely when multiple solutions are pursued than if one’s interest is too narrow.
When the energy to fulfill a drive for immediate satisfaction is blocked, frustration intensifies to create neurotic behavior and sustained physical tension. Creativity leads to a series of temporary frustrations during which uncharacteristic thinking and action is common – sleeplessness, daydreaming, depression, and exhaustion. Defeat may be temporarily admitted, other activities pursued, and preoccupation to lessen the stress and preserve emotional balance. The stress may continue “until a re-education has built up a whole new way of acting and thinking, so here the act of creation is not fully accomplished until the ideas contained in the insight are secured for consciousness in some objectified form – written down, made explicit in memory, and at length evaluated.” p. 113
Sustained stress may cause irreparable damage, such as destroying the partially created act, or even self-destruction – intentional or accidental suicide. Even without personal experience, we can imagine the effect of waves of perceived failure, feelings of inadequacy, shame, and hopelessness. The most competent are overcome by frustration. Rodin put hammer to a statue; Tchaikovsky tore up and burned valuable score sheets; and Shelley hid manuscripts so that no one would discover them. Rest and relaxation alleviate discomfort and may be required for the moment of insight. Erudition, unrelieved industry, and accuracy are not enough. There must be a spontaneous reorganization of knowledge more than an addition of an insight, that is rather an interpretation of stored elements – “one not only creates something; he becomes something as well.” p.115
Most people have more than enough intelligence to become powerful creators, but lack the emotional resilience to sustain the regular frustrations involved in the creative process. Children and successful creators repeatedly fall down and pick themselves up. Mistakes are not failures; they are necessary steps to redirect us to the path of progress. “Error” may be a poorly chosen and discouraging word as indicated by Edison when asked how he could continue with so many failures: “… all I have ever tackled and solved have been done by hard logical thinking…. I speak without exaggeration when I say that I have constructed three thousand different theories in connection with the electric light, each one of them reasonable and apparently likely to be true. Yet in two cases only did my experiments prove the truth of my theory.” p.15 Edison didn’t have any “failures;” he continued to discover what didn’t work. False starts are seen as clearing the way for alternative possibilities to reach the goal. An author noted, “Personally I feel compelled to keep up my futile attempts. … I like to be compelled to keep up these efforts … When the right idea appears, I forget everything and work like a slave.”p.51
It is helpful to understand that creativity means introducing what is not already part of establishment thinking. New ideas or knowledge that contradicts present culture is often met with scorn, shunning, and even severe physical punishment. The temperament to face the external stresses posed by established culture are clearly seen in proponents of “radical” ideas such as Christ, Galileo, Darwin, Freud, De Chardin, Lincoln, Gandhi, and so on. Freud observed that new ideas pass through three stages: first rejected by the establishment, later declared possibly of value but simply a modification of the standard, and thirdly heralded as the establishment’s own worthy product. Additionally, in every field that invites creative thinking, one often has to deal with jealous colleagues whose self-interests will suppress even the most brilliant achievement as “worthless.” Such injustice is enough to induce aberrant behavior in all but the most composed creators. Isolation and loneliness may be a high cost of creativity that some will be unwilling to accept.
My own struggle with creativity focuses on several related solutions: why some unlikely people are happy and fulfilled, while those seemingly endowed with every benefit confess their unhappiness and worse? Why do we continue to make war when peace makes so much more sense? Given rampant world misery, what is the answer to the universal wishes and prayers for peace prominent in our collective mind? Each insight starts with an idea, and may require a week or more of collecting ideas, frustration, stop signs, and then a rush to the computer to record one more paragraphs. For me this stress cycle still persists in spite of a lifetime of preparation as a student of the mind and my privileged opportunity to share the insights of thousands through my professional career.
The genuine frustration that comes with a creative mind may be understood in part from our biology. Creativity is a continued push for progress against a seemingly unmovable obstacle.
Our innate response when we are confronted with a problem to be solved is the production of “red alert” energy to fight or run. Our ancestors were regularly faced with life-threatening danger and, lacking agriculture, had to kill to eat. The “fight or flight” instinct confronts and quickly resolves the stressful situation and the red alert state returns to normal. In civilized society, fighting is punished (except in war) and technology makes physical flight ineffective. Frustration energy is labeled as anger or anxiety, but nature’s cue to fight or run is prohibited. New “mechanisms” are introduced to manage frustration, such as blaming, procrastination, and substance abuse, to name a few. The emotional pain of red alert is not resolved but continues at a sustained level of pink alert leading to mild or severe symptoms. Thoughts of the problem and wishes to be at work are negated by many of the stress-relieving behaviors.
Evidence from two other sources explains why the deliberate escape from problem solving is regularly described as essential during the frustration stage. Post-traumatic stress syndrome, a common result of war, is seen as an overload of anxiety without opportunity for relief. Studies on prisoners of war who succumb to brainwashing to renounce their country and ideals concluded that any mind under sufficient stress can be twisted to take on an abnormal persona.
3. Achievement: the moment of insight
The culmination of the buildup of frustration is the moment of insight. A community of experience documents that the period of tremendous ambition, threatened failure with accompanying neurotic symptoms, and abandonment into irrelevant matters to preserve sanity ends with almost hallucinatory vivid resolution, success, and release into an emotional and mental orgasm. Smaller insights may first lead to an “Aha” or “Eureka” experience but a jelling of insight to insights to solve the greater struggles of our life is a bombastic experience.
At the moment of insight “one is not only astonished at their number, not only startled by the vividness and ease of their appearance, but also largely at a loss to capture them.” p.134 The rapid flood of ideas occurs at unpredictable times and places. There is exaltation, exhilaration, disappearance of neurotic symptoms, and a sense of elevation to a new level of competence. Hutchinson reiterates that the unannounced conscious interpretation that creates something also causes a transformation in the creator. p.115
The data collected during the period of preparation is largely stored in verbal imagery and is brought to consciousness in the medium of language. The most common expression of insight is expressed in (often new) words which link the conscious mind with the data stored and hidden from awareness. Though words are most popular medium, other means of expression are available – the musician, the artist, the dancer express visual and kinesthetic forms of creative expression difficult to capture by words. Yet, words are the most popular means to willfully encourage the insightful rearrangement of stored data. They are our best way to intentionally summon to consciousness the stored emotions that lead to insight. This is why a newer way of thinking (ANWOT) emphasizes that creation of updated labels, word-switches, linked to common sense problem solving.
Solutions burst suddenly “out of the blue” when insight is least expected. Poems, musical themes, art and architecture, essays, scientific and mathematical problems, often share complete solutions at the “quick as a flash” moment of insight after multiple unsuccessful attempts. Preparation ends with a sudden illumination and release of tension in a period without deliberation. Creators best express their own experience:
Tchaikovsky: “I forget everything and behave like a mad man. Everything within me starts pulsing and quivering; hardly have I begun the sketch, than one thought follows another. In the midst of the magic process it frequently happens that some interruption wakes me from my state.” p.134
An inventor: “It is usually startling for it has no connection with what I am doing. Immediately the idea fills my mind forcing everything else out. I am amazed at the apparent simplicity of it.” p.118
An English scientist: “Any ideas that matter usually arise when I have time to think, i.e. in bed during the three to ten minutes before I sleep, in a train, while driving a car, or on a holiday. …
The best moments are those, I find, in which I let the imaginative thought become a game.” p. 116
Aldous Huxley: “Smoking and walking about, calm restlessness, without taking the mind too far away from the main thought, helps.” p.117
Wordsworth: The association of the moment of insight linked to a state of relaxation was described as “emotion recollected in tranquility.” p.159
Will Durant re writing history: “I spend a good deal of time making notes and gathering materials. … the notes for one chapter are classified under an outline that usually contains some six hundred headings … I am never inspired by a big idea; ideas form in me very slowly, if at all.” p.15
Beethoven: “…became, as it were, transformed. He no longer belonged properly to himself, being wholly possessed by the idea.” p.136
Dr. Banesh Hoffmann, Oxford mathematician: “While reading an unrelated book, I picked up some scraps of paper and straightway, without realizing that there was any difficulty in the problem, I wrote out the solution with hardly a pause. I knew somehow or other that something had solved itself at the back of my mind, but had no idea of the solution until my pencil almost automatically wrote it out.” p. 21
A housewife trying to alter a dress: “I had worked futilely for a half-day. Considerably discouraged, I rolled up the work and put it away, sick at heart because I needed the dress for an affair the next day. That night after two or three hours sleep I suddenly awakened, the plan of adjustment of my dress as clear in that moment as if I had seen it actually finished before me.” p.26
Bertrand Russell, a good summary: “In all the creative work that I have done, what has come first is a problem, a puzzle involving discomfort. Then comes concentrated voluntary application entailing great effort. After this, a period without conscious thought, and finally a solution brings with it the complete plan of a book.”p.19
Hutchinson found that whatever the creative undertaking, the moment of insight is likely to occur in three favored situations: “… during or just after periods of rest and relaxation; in periods characterized by a slight mental abstraction or dissociation which in itself furnishes a momentary relaxation; during periods of light physical activity, usually of a more or less repetitive and automatic character, which give relief from the insistent tensions involved.” p.120
My passion in the journey to create a universal, comprehensive, and easily understood explanation of human behavior has been most relieved while relaxing in a hot tub on a balcony just off my bedroom. Although I logically attribute any insight to my preparation, a lifetime of learning from many of the world’s greatest teachers, and the opportunity to share the creative insights of thousands of patients, the breakthrough moments seem to appear on my mental screen like an email from some unknown sender. I have had fantasies that the hot tub is a mini-Mt. Sinai and I am a Moses waiting for the next wisdom I am to dutifully record and pass forward.
We have yet to learn how to predict when the moment of creative insight occurs. It is often not limited to a single insight but relates to a whole system of issues. One cannot say, “I’m going to arrange to have an inspiration at 9 a.m.” During the rush, most report it is best to “let them come,” sometimes waiting for the point to be clear.
Many creative people speak about the relationship of creativity to dreams or use of drugs, most commonly coffee (caffeine) and smoking (nicotine). Abundant examples substantiate that “stimulants do at times release genius, contributing as much to its birth as to its decay.” p.129 Alcohol has been said to selectively dull the anxiety that inhibits our emotional brain, allowing for a temporary synthesis of animal brain and cortex to create a more productive collaboration of intellect and emotions. What is clear is that the declared insights produced through daydreaming and use of substances lack confirmation when the extensive prior hard work of preparation is lacking. The musician’s “creative masterpiece” from a moment of intoxicated divine insight is declared worthless by objective observers and even by its creator in sober moments. The use of substances, especially coffee and tobacco in moderation, is within the limits of propriety when paired with the appropriate preparation.
Some problems are so difficult and beyond solving that we would wisely invest our energy in the more basic pieces that eventually lead to the desired payoff. The greater danger is declaring a difficult problem unsolvable when collaborative effort is the most productive approach. I believe the use of weapons with ultimate destructive power, the most imminent danger we face, will be prevented if we can get over the learned hopeless/helpless attitude. Unleashing the creative energy for peace currently pent up in people’s minds throughout the world, we will be unstoppable if we unite in collective action!
Discovery does not stand alone. Common sense ideas discovered in a moment of insight must be tested by trial-and-error applications to determine their realistic social value; overstatements are more the rule rather than the exception. Communicating a creative insight to its judge and jury so that they can understand it is systematic work that may be regarded as dull and uninspiring. Demonstrating the truth of one’s claim requires time, during which enthusiasm commonly diminishes or fades away to other endeavors. Insight follows a series of insights linked in a chain that begs moving on to the next link; verification pales beside the fire that burns in the creator’s mind to follow discovery with discovery. Finishing an effort leads to restless inactivity and a self-imposed challenge to push knowledge forward.
Additional phenomena may cause the verification step to fall short. Establishment’s resistance to new ideas can be punishing. The greater the originality from standard beliefs, the greater the resistance. Without confidence and a brave spirit, as the excitement fades over time, one’s energy to verify may be exhausted as does the willingness to become the subject of criticism. The perfectionism required for most leaps in knowledge causes many creators to reexamine and demean their insight as not meeting their unrealistic standard; the imperfections must first be corrected or the project may be abandoned.
It is more difficult to get recognition for creativity at home than abroad because vested interests in the local environment create an atmosphere of negativity. Even though I had completed medical training from prestigious schools offering the latest in medical knowledge, at home I was still the kid who could not be trusted like the real doctor. Traveling beyond local areas to learn from critical evaluation and obtain acceptance is usually more productive.
Emotions in Creation
The power of emotion inspires us to seek and repeat the moment of insight even if the inspired creation fails to meet the test of common sense. The value of the insight may only be appreciated by the subject, or a circumscribed group of believers. Common sense yields to passion for the untested or unprovable belief. Disagreement or opposition from the larger community may be disregarded or even become the basis of harmful confrontation to force acceptance on the basis of authority.
When a creative intension goes unsolved for months or years with prolonged frustration, perhaps abandonment, and then sudden effortless insight appears, the revelation often seems to be mistakenly unrelated to past experience. The subject concludes the source must other than one’s self – a supernatural being offering universal truth – and their role is simply to record or share the insight as one’s duty. The automatism is a sign of divine (or evil) intervention. Prophets, advisors, and mystics feel that their absolute “insights” are so true and authoritative they could not be their own. The emotional relief observed in confession, chanting, and repentance is commonly regarded as divine. Spiritual ideologies based on a “leap of faith” are often dogmatically pursued while common sense reasoning that challenges the veracity of the insight is ignored.
As one example among many, in 1896 Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, wrote, “The works I have written on Christian Science contain absolute truth….I was a scribe under orders, and who can restrain from transcribing what God indites?” p.172 Such resolute conclusions are not only found in most religions but also in secular ideologies such as those decreed by Hitler, Khrushchev, Mao and dictators throughout history.
I have personally seen individuals who profess that their discovery of a universal truth, revealed while under the influence of a hallucinatory drug, must be shared with the world – “I have discovered that a dog is a bitch!” The musician who claims a breakthrough in his art is apt to recant his claims when reviewing the results or getting critical feedback when in a drug-free state. These individuals usually lack the difficult stage of preparation.
The power of emotion is evident through the prolonged stressful anticipation of the moment of insight. Hutchinson identifies three basic sources of the emotion that beckons our pursuit of creativity:
- Matured interest (what I consider to be fate and circumstance): Once we follow a path, vocational or recreational (sports, stamp collecting), we become tuned in to data present on our early path. Enthusiasm is pursued and grows with greater objectivity and rationality.
Frustration as a source of emotional life: We are driven to solve problems by our basic needs. The innate biology that energizes us to solve problems is well known. “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Our animal brain is prewired to seek whatever provides pleasure and reduces discomfort. The emotions that demand we solve problems sustain a cycle of discomfort, leading to creativity to resolve the problem, only to be followed by more of the same.
- Emotional release in insight: “Joy, zest, gratification, enthusiasm, and even rapture and elation replace the disruptive emotions of the period of frustration.” p.155 A basic observation is that behavior that is rewarded is repeated. The moments of insight that follow frustration addict us to pleasure, be it symbolic such as fame or money, or physical such as orgasm or the taste of our favorite food. Creative puzzle solving is as much a way of life as it is an act of production. It is an antidote to the flat uniformity and spiceless mediocrity of daily life.
Thus, some combination of interest, frustration, and pleasure, which are within our control, contribute to the spontaneous reorganization of data that make us creators.
With respect to age, most important advances in knowledge occur between the ages of 20 and 50, although there are many notable exceptions. Youth has more pressing needs whereas seniority favors habitual procedures. Through the years we tend to find comfort in less consequential things; the pursuit of usefulness and quantity may take precedence over originality.
We are indebted to Professor Hutchinson for his painstaking verification of each of the four stages of the creative process and the excerpts of statements by the most notable thinkers. Education can increase creativity! Encouraging self-expression, imagination, dreaming, and exploring deeper emotion, independent thinking, productive relaxation methods to manage frustration, the need for “mistakes,” healthy rebelliousness, discipline, and so on are specific ways to promote creativity. We need no reminders of the various ways our current methods of education, emphasizing uncritical acceptance of authority, inhibits creativity.
As a psychiatrist with a lifetime of professional experience, I have no doubt that a prior understanding of the normal stresses creativity encounters will prevent much of the negative effects and support the creativity that otherwise is lost to humanity. Knowledge of the normality of frustration and a proper rest and relaxation regimen makes insight more effective and satisfying. p.114 We can strengthen the natural resilience we inherit to move up and onward instead of the learned helpless/hopeless give up behavior we learn through restrictive education. Preventive education promises significant rewards.
Consider these hints to be more successful at creativity:
- Become familiar with the creative process; this and other roadmaps are available.
- Increase motivation for the goal. Anticipate the satisfactions of achievement.
- Define the problem and the goal as clearly as possible.
- Write down ideas to solve the problem and try to make them explicit.
- Resolve not to be discouraged by mistakes, but instead to learn from them.
- Watch for compulsive investment that creates stress symptoms such as irritability, depression, and physical symptoms, and prepare to include rest and relaxation.
- Consider the views of objective colleagues to determine if your task is overwhelming.
- Find alone times to isolate yourself from distractions and temper this with dialogue of your ideas with persons felt to be honest and reasonably objective.
- Be prepared for prolonged frustration and uncertainty before the rush of insight. Know that once we get over the learned helpless/hopeless belief, we are capable of managing the struggle.
- The self-endorsement strens #1, 2, and 16-24 provided in this ANWOT series of wisdom tips will strengthen your resilience to the frustration that holds back creativity.
This stren will have served its purpose if it helps release your creativity to make the world a happier, safer place.
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