To satisfy a lack in our language, in stren #31 I created the new word-switch mentogenous to direct our thinking to the essential source of power we rely on to assume responsibility for our life’s experience, our mature cerebral cortex or “freedom organ.” We have the word endogenous to label the biology and instinct we inherit, and the word exogenous to identify the external forces that determine our life’s experience. We have no complimentary word that directs our thinking to our source of personal responsibility. Mentogenous serves us by recognizing that the prized self-mastery and mental freedom we seek from fate and circumstance, from nature and our nurturers, is an active process of our own doing.
Today’s stren, #33, introduces another important word-switch, super-maturity, to recognize that we have a stage of development beyond immaturity and maturity. The label super-maturity serves us by directing our attention to our most important work-in-progress, teaching ourselves the civilized, humane qualities we profess but have only partially succeeded in attaining.
Learning starts with labeling! Accurate labels are the handles by which we grasp concepts. Concepts turn on meaning, release energy, and incite action. We have a mission to elevate ourselves beyond “maturity.” Adding the word-switch “super-maturity” enables us to think more accurately by distinguishing three progressive stages of our life cycle. Our present language constrains our thinking by distinguishing only two stages, immaturity and maturity. Surviving and thriving require that we recognize and strengthen the third super-maturity stage of our development.
Our early ancestors were intelligent but, like all other life, their knowledge was quite limited. Only humankind has been gifted with a significantly sophisticated freedom organ, the cerebral cortex, that lets us initiate a super-mature stage of our life cycle. We acquire, store, share, and pass knowledge forward to make ourselves increasingly powerful creators. Within the last hundred years, we have acquired so much power from knowledge that we rule all life on earth. We now even influence the fate of earth itself. We have made ourselves responsible for which species shall be allowed to live and which will become extinct. We apply our power of knowledge to influence our own destiny. In doing so, we override fate and circumstance. We have made our own extinction possible by the push of a button, a single person’s word, or even a mechanical error. We are rapidly making this power available to multiple tribes and individuals. Our generation has created a race between Utopia and Armageddon, and the outcome may well be determined by super-maturity or its lack.
Consider the three stages of humankind’s progression through our life cycle:
Immaturity --> Maturity --> Super-maturity
Stage 1: Immaturity is greatest at birth when we are helpless, dependent, self-centered crybabies. For approximately 9 months from the time egg and sperm meet, our biology and genes are programmed by a creative force we call by such names as nature,fate, and instinct. The actual design of what we are extends back billions of years. We are in awe when we recognize the complexity of our organ systems. This may be why some attribute the marvel of our creation to a force commonly labeled “God.” Whether you prefer nature, fate, God, or some other term, we can agree that we each begin life servant to the programming prewired within our biology and genes.
Stage 2: Maturity is a process of acquiring sufficient knowledge and discipline to transform our self from helpless dependency to become a powerful creator. Our nurturers, culture, and circumstance, i.e. exogenous forces, add their influence to our inherited endogenous biology and genes. For simplicity, I label the product of the inherited and acquired forces that make us what we are instinct and tradition. As we acquire knowledge and strengthen our skill in common sense thinking, we create a third master of our life’s experience that is of most interest to us, self-mastery.
Throughout our immaturity, we are prone to obey the hardwired commands of instinct and tradition. As our freedom organ attains maturity, we increasingly (but never completely) empower ourselves to overrule instinct and tradition and direct our own destiny. It is critical to understand that we usually become powerful creators before we acquire significant mental freedom from instinct and tradition. Our power remains servant to the either/or two category thinking that supports bigotry, prejudice, win/lose confrontation, and harmful aggression until we teach ourselves to direct our power with common sense wisdom.
Maturity is characterized by the ability to delay instinct and tradition’s demand for immediate emotional gratification. Patience is required so that our intellect can acquire common sense knowledge. Knowledge of cause-and-effect added to intelligence is our means of making ourselves powerful creators and assuming self-mastery.
Physical, mental, and emotional maturity progress at different rates. We passively reach physical maturity as it slowly unfolds according to nature’s plan. Our cerebral cortex, what I call our freedom organ, is our source of mental maturity. It takes about 18 years for our cerebral cortex to attain full physical maturity, longer than any other organ. The process of attaining mental maturity is more complex than attaining physical maturity. Becoming our own person, what we call self-mastery, requires actively freeing our cerebral cortex from domination by instinct and tradition. We do so by teaching ourselves common sense thinking. Evaluating what our early dictators have made of us and then challenging their authority is a difficult task. Studies of adult development indicate most individuals don’t reach their peak of mental freedom from instinct and tradition until their late 20’s or early 30’s. Development of emotional maturity depends on some combination of physical and mental maturity.
Stage 3: Super-maturity is the self-taught skill of recognizing when instinct, tradition, and self-mastery become maladaptive, thereby inspiring us to create better solutions. We become super-mature as we collect the common sense wisdoms that enable us to consistently direct the power of our knowledge to constructive outcomes. Mature individuals, lacking super-maturity, direct their newfound creative will power to both constructive AND destructive outcomes. With unprecedented power, they are as likely to create Armageddon as Utopia. Our most important work-in-progress is to popularize super-maturity to consistently direct our knowledge to constructive outcomes.
Maturity and super-maturity are both acquired skills. We have an advantage if our nurturers and mentors provided us with a liberating education that emphasized common sense wisdom. World events and my own observations indicate that nurturers are more likely to demand that we remain faithful to the same traditions that they were taught by their nurturers, even when common sense wisdom would suggest otherwise. Even with an advantaged upbringing, most super-mature skills are self-taught, learned by seeking the wisdoms (strens) proven by others to direct the power of knowledge to constructive outcomes. The wisdoms that make us Mental Wealth millionaires are abundantly available to anyone who is willing to teach themselves patience and engage in the satisfying work of self-enlightenment. I know of no better way to popularize super-maturity to those who are disadvantaged and less receptive to education than first making ourselves and those closest to us Mental Wealth millionaires. Creating a domino effect is the most certain means to reach and teach the global population super-maturity.
I hope you get the power of this stren: With maturity, we become powerful creators. Maturity isn’t enough. Our new weapons of ultimate destruction are so powerful that we can no longer tolerate their consequences; they offer no second chance. We must replace cure with prevention. We require super-maturity to selectively redirect those hardwired directions of instinct and tradition that favor destructive action. Super-maturity is the advanced state of our work-in-progress to elevate ourselves to the civilized, humane qualities we aspire to achieve.
Super-mature individuals understand we are a part of a larger system whose well-being depends on the contributions of its members. Each of the organs that comprise our body must make its specialized contribution to the total system to preserve its own well-being. On the other hand, cancer cells take but do not contribute to the whole. Cancer cells seal their own demise when they cause the larger system to fail. Until we popularize super-maturity, we remain a cancer cell in the system. We will continue to divide the world into us or not us, and advocate that our tribe “win” irrespective of the consequences to the other side. We will continue to excessively pursue material wealth and our physical health and appearance while we neglect Mental Wealth, i.e. those wisdoms most certain to lead to a joyous, meaningful life experience.
We presently lack enough super-mature individuals to support our global well-being. Most people remain primarily invested in local priorities to the neglect of the larger system. As technology shrinks our world and makes everyone our neighbor, we have an urgent need to add global allegiance to our local allegiances. One reason we lack super-maturity is that our language does not have a simple word-switch that clearly turns on the understanding, meaning, and thereby the energy required for appropriate action. So let’s now create the word-switch “super-maturity” to inspire the newer way of thinking. Let’s chooseto survive and thrive in this new age of weapons of ultimate destruction.