Today’s stren, #32, considers the process by which we transform ourselves from victim of fate and circumstance into the wise creator of a joyous life experience. In stren #31, I introduced the new word, “mentogenous,” to recognize the source of our critical third phase of development – when we have the opportunity to assume personal responsibility for who we are and create what we are to become. The existing words “endogenous” and “exogenous” limit our thinking to the first and second phases of our life cycle. The mentogenous third phase of development, self-mastery, begins as our cerebral cortex attains sufficient physical, mental, and emotional maturity to free our will power from instinct, tradition, and human dictators, i.e. our endogenous and exogenous controllers. We assume personal responsibility by selectively identifying the predetermined action patterns that no longer work, creating original common sense solutions using current knowledge, and then substituting the new solution for the established action. Humankind, individually and collectively, is a work-in-process. As we apply new knowledge to make ourselves increasingly powerful creators and destroyers of our future, we must teach ourselves a newer “out of the box” way of thinking if we choose to continue to have a future.
In today’s stren, I want to convey an important second benefit of creating the word-switch “mentogenous.” During our years of immaturity, the trigger words that comprise our native language are strongly biased to turn on the action pathways created by endogenous and exogenous sources, primarily instinct and the traditions of our nurturers. The perspective of instinct and tradition, like the perspective of human dictators, leads to processing information into two either/or categories. This “dichotomous” way of thinking divides the world into two opposing sides. Bigotry, prejudice, win/lose confrontation, and war can be explained as getting stuck in the hard-wired either/or way of thinking we all first acquire. Self-mastery requires redirecting our established either/or thinking to more accurate both...and processing of information. This newer way of thinking takes considerable mental initiative because our early two-category thinking becomes automatic and effortless through repetition.
For most individuals, the soft-wired problem-solving mentogenous action pathways inspired by common sense are not fully developed until our late 20’s or early 30’s. It is important to recognize that we commonly acquire the constructive AND destructive power of knowledge before we acquire sufficient common sense wisdom to consistently direct our actions to beneficial outcomes. We remain guided by instinct and tradition’s either/or action pathways until we actively upgrade our mentogenous creative skills with both...and common sense thinking. Recall that both...and thinking makes us aware of our similarities. Collaboration for the mutual benefit of all tribes is critical for our survival in an era where we are making weapons with ultimate destructive power commonplace. Either/or thinking emphasizes our differences; it sustains the inherited “red alert” fight or flight instant reaction pathway that was critical for our ancestors to survive in a primitive environment.
As we strengthen our mentogenous action pathways using common sense wisdom, we empower ourselves to substitute “both...and” processing of information for the “either/or” way of thinking that has become tradition through our immature years. Most of us require decades of education before becoming sufficiently mentally equipped to wisely master our power. Our transition from immature “either/or” to “both...and” thinking progresses slowly with each common sense wisdom we add to our knowledge. The newer common sense problem-solving frees us from the immature thinking that prejudges what is “good” in the world and denigrates all else as “evil” or “bad.” The mentogenous-inspired “on the fly” logical thinking of our matured freedom organ is our means to replace the innate either/or thinking dominant in every native language. Given today’s weapons, we must popularize the both...and thinking that consistently directs new knowledge to constructive outcomes.
The following analogy will create a more accurate image of how instinct, tradition, and self-mastery, i.e. the three masters of our action pathways, work together. These masters of the way we think have a both...and relationship, not an either/or relationship:
Imagine starting with a few ounces of pure coffee. Now alter the pure coffee by slowly adding milk. As you continue to pour, you will be creating an infinite number of alternative combinations. The milk progressively changes the coffee to coffee milk until you have milk with a bit of coffee. We could then add sugar, a third ingredient to further modify our mixture. This process is similar to our life beginnings when nature stood out as our director. Our nurturers gradually added new action pathways faithful to their perspective. The more they programmed us with their traditions, the less dominant instinct became. As our freedom organ matures and becomes equipped to design its own action pathways, we may add a third set of mentogenous action pathways without removing the first two. Self-mastery may become the dominant but not the exclusive controller of the way we think. Our thinking will continue to be guided by a combination of instinct and tradition and self-mastery.
The three influencers of our thinking gradually shift from domination by our inherited instinct to the traditions commanded by our nurturers, and then to the self-initiated “out-of-the-box” newer way of thinking we design. The three phases progress from endogenous to a combination of endogenous and exogenous controllers, and then, some combination of endogenous, exogenous, and mentogenous controllers. Humankind is unique in that we can add a third self-mastery phase as we attain maturity. The progression goes from immaturity to maturity to super maturity as follows:
In Phase 1: endogenous or inherited behaviors dominate
In Phase 2: exogenous or acquired behaviors are added to our endogenous
In Phase 3: mentogenous or self-initiated out-of-the-box thinking is
added to our endogenous and exogenous programming
[*bold = the preferred dominant force as we progress from immaturity to super-maturity]
nature ⇒ nature + nurture ⇒ nature/nurture + self-mastery
instinct ⇒ instinct + tradition ⇒ instinct + tradition + mental freedom
Note that our thinking, feelings, and actions are not the product of endogenous or exogenous or mentogenous forces; they are some combination of these powerful controllers, i.e. instinct, tradition, and self-mastery. We can expect that the hard-wired either/or thinking pathways that lead to action designed by endogenous and exogenous dictators, primarily instinct and tradition, will continue to dominate our way of thinking. We make the both...and, common sense newer way of thinking dominant only when we educate first ourselves and then our population with sufficient mentogenous common sense wisdom.
Upon birth, nature’s endogenous design rules supreme; our action patterns are relatively pure. Nurturers begin their exogenous wiring after birth, until tradition gradually comes to dominate instinct (nature). As our cortex matures, it adds a third set of mentogenous action pathways, which originate from our intelligent cerebral cortex. Endogenous, exogenous, and mentogenous pathways, i.e. what we inherit, what others prescribe, and what we initiate, persist throughout our life. It is their nature to compete with one another for dominance, often leading to harmful consequences. Once mature, our intelligent cerebral cortex may persuade this Board of Directors to cooperate instead of compete. Collaboration is the source of our amazing accomplishments. Cooperation and collaboration is strengthened as we substitute both...and common sense management of knowledge for our early either/or two category way of thinking.
Educating ourselves to switch off our early either/or way of thinking and switch on mature both...and thinking is such a basic wisdom that I re-emphasize it in this stren. I urge you to review the need to upgrade dichotomous thinking with both...and thinking until you “get it.” Strengthening our both...and, common sense processing of information will make a huge step towards peace of mind and peace in the world.
A Bonus Summary of A Newer Way of Thinking
Let’s review the insights that make it easier to update our way of thinking for maturity and super-maturity:
In stren #3 we recognized that three masters design our life’s experience – nature, nurture, and self-mastery. Master Nature is represented by instinct. Master Nurture is indicated by tradition, the thinking pathways external sources wire into our brain after birth. Self-mastery is the process of becoming our own person by applying common sense wisdom to influence our own destiny.
I explained that we inherit the first master, the instinct that nature has preprogrammed into every newborn. For our first decades of life, we passively acquire the traditions determined by our nurturers. Traditions usually include our language; a set of local allegiances such as our immediate family, tribe, nationality, and religion; our sexual identify, customs, and even how we think. As the cerebral cortex matures, the last portion of our brain to do so, we may learn to engage in advanced thinking using sophisticated language. Common sense wisdom allows us to participate in designing our own destiny.
Stren #4 explained the power of interpretation. We are unique among life on earth by the degree we acquire knowledge to make ourselves powerful creators. We create symbols, usually words, to mentally transform knowledge of the common world into our private reality. We make interpretations and assign them meaning to generate energy, and use imagination to design new combinations. We then apply the mysterious force we call will power to introduce original phenomena into the common world which was not provided by nature or nurture.
We become powerful creators by discovering the universal cause-and-effect rules that we call science. When our ancestors created language 50,000 years ago, they provided us with the power to acquire, store, share, and pass knowledge forward to successive generations. Over the years we have become so powerful that we now rule earth. We determine who shall live and who shall become extinct. If we continue to act stupidly, we shall create our own extinction. Our current urgent work-in-progress is teaching ourselves to solve problems created by the power of knowledge. We do so using common sense wisdom to replace the hardwired mindless authority of instinct and tradition. We will not survive if we don’t get ourselves unstuck from the endogenous and exogenous dictators that first program our action pathways.
In stren #5 we learned that specific words turn on specific action pathways. We created the labels “trigger words” and “word-switches.” We made them powerful concepts by the meanings assigned to them. A trigger word is a signal we use to turn on an established action pathway. A word-switch is a signal that substitutes a newer action pathway for one previously established. In general, trigger words turn on hardwired solutions that were effective for yesterday’s problems. Word-switches apply common sense wisdom based on current knowledge to introduce more effective solutions to today’s issues. They also selectively switch off the hard-wired automatic outdated solutions that worked in the past but have become ineffective or dangerous when applied to new knowledge. We continue to elevate ourselves above our ancestors as we add new word-switches that redirect established action pathways to newer ones, leading to preferred outcomes.
In stren #6 we introduced the invented word “stren” to signal any word, concept, wisdom, or experience that strengthens mentogenous problem-solving thinking. We recognized that our vocabulary is biased with trigger words that dictate that we follow the action pathways designed by nature and our nurturers to solve yesterday’s problems, many of which favor destructive confrontation. We learned that we must continue to expand our language with a glossary of new word-switches that signal our intelligent freedom organ to apply today’s knowledge and wisdom to create solutions effective for today’s issues.
In stren #31, we added the word-switch “mentogenous” to provide a clear signal that wisdom and will power can assume dominance over instinct and tradition’s hardwired action pathways. The new word-switch “mentogenous” complements the established trigger words “endogenous” and “exogenous.”
Upon our birth, exogenous forces both add to and modify the endogenous action pathways hardwired into our biology during nature’s 9 months creative process. We mimic our nurturers like parrots. We are molded like putty in their hands. What we are made to become through the process of maturing is largely influenced by exogenous forces, notably our nurturers, fate and circumstance. We may acquire the mentogenous ability, i.e. self-mastery, to resist instinct and tradition as we slowly acquire the mental skills that transform us from the helpless dependent crybabies we are at birth. Knowledge is our means to increasingly participate as creators of our own destiny and rulers of the world.
Today’s stren (#32) will strengthen our progress in substituting mature both...and thinking for the immature, either/or two-category “dichotomous” thinking demanded by instinct and tradition to comply with their pre-determined action pathways. We remain vulnerable to human dictators until we acquire the skills of self-mastery and assume responsibility for our own life’s experience.
Stren #33 will introduce the word-switch “super-maturity” to emphasize that we have a mission to elevate ourselves with the humane qualities to which we aspire. Our work-in-progress will succeed if we continue to add to the glossary of word-switches that upgrade our thinking to direct the power of new knowledge with common sense wisdom.