So, here we are, teeter-tottering between remaining servant to past masters and forging ahead into unexplored pathways. If we choose to move forward, what tools shall we prepare to equip us for the journey? This is a seminal issue we’ll now consider. I proposed the following:
1. Resilience: We need to know that we have the ability to pick ourselves up when we fall down, when progress encounters adversity. Resilience is the antidote for the hopeless/helpless mental response that shuts down our energy. We strengthen our resilience by creating values that make life meaningful, that give us a motive to outwit adversity.
2. Chronic enthusiasm: Our freed will requires a consistent source of energy. We need to know the means available to us to turn on energy; so, let’s review the ways to mobilize our energy-producing factory to supply an abundance of what we need. Our most efficient way is by creating symbols and assigning them meaning that inspires action. A special ability of our cortex is to create high energy symbols that serve as signals to switch on preferred action paths. I label these high energy symbols “word-switches” because they direct energy to new paths while turning off pre-established pathways. Our freed will can use symbols to trigger chemical and physical changes in our body. For example, thinking about biting into a lemon may produce a response similar to actually biting into one. Someone shouting “fire” in a theater may set off an emergency response even more pronounced than an actual encounter with a fire. By recognizing our power to create symbols, link them with meaning, and use them as signals to incite action, we make the range of enthusiasms endless. The issue then becomes, “What enthusiasms do we prefer to value?”
3. A value map: Once our freed will is strong and resilient and is clear on the process of creating energy, we can focus on the selective creation of values. What new enthusiasms shall I invest my energy into? What enthusiasms already provided by instinct and my nurturers are important to keep, and which would I be wise to replace? Most important, as I become a powerful creator, what new directions will best lead to a joyous, meaningful life?
Let’s look about us and ask, what are the most popular enthusiasms? Which are most constructive? Which do I prefer? I observe that seeking love, making money, watching T.V., eating good food, and raising children are high priorities. In general, men invest in sports, sex, and competition; whereas women devote more energy to their superficial appearance, pleasing men, love, and domestic interests. However, the stereotyped differences between the sexes are diminishing. Indeed, the fluidity with which we modify our values and enthusiasms is itself quite striking. What is important to a child changes with maturity and education. It is also apparent that some valued enthusiasms are constructive while others are not. While many pray for others, some prey on others. Most people expend their energy in ways that contribute to the well-being of the world, while some endeavors, like cancer cells, take and contribute little or nothing constructive.
While I find it very interesting to see the number and variety of enthusiasms in which people invest their energy, I am most interested in which enthusiasms, have the biggest payoff. What priorities are wisest to select when investing my energy? When I turn to the advice of the world’s scholars, religious leaders, and philosophers who invest their energies in discovering the art of living, there is surprising unanimity of opinion: The most universally constructive endeavor is LOVE, giving something of yourself to benefit someone or something. Therein is the kernel of wisdom I attempt to convey in this stren, to prepare you for the coming strens on love and love creation.