You’re the architect…

shutterstock120664477If you have attained nirvana, achieved bodhisattva status, or are comfortable within the framework of your own existence, you can probably skip this one amigos.

As the Western calendar year draws to a close, it is a common practice to make planned improvements to our lives. Whether aspiring to a new physical ideal, smoking cessation, or seeking a career change, we identify some facet of our life that causes some consternation and seek modification.  Thus, our “resolutions” are born.  As our consciousness expands beyond the paternal gentleman in the sky, most of these changes are made from the perspective of self improvement, versus the old good/evil dichotomy that formerly underpinned the need for change in oneself.  Ergo, you want to be an improved expression of yourself, as opposed to, you are a “bad” person and want to avoid the ledger in heaven being etched with a demerit.  (A guilty conscience is better suited regarding being silent about the government committing a Sandy Hook type massacre of Afghan and Pakistani children on a monthly basis via its illegal drone war).

For the majority of us who have not developed an inherent samurai mindset, such resolutions are often quickly abandoned, forgotten and may resurface as the earth rounds 3rd base next year.  The futility of this tiresome process inevitably leads to despondency and we resolve not to make any resolutions. The “Screw it, I’m letting the chips fall where they will” sentiment.  Trust me, I know this quite well.  However, accomplishing any change is possible if we grasp a basic understanding about ourselves.

Consider an infant child that has ONLY played with fluffy cotton toys. If this child is presented with a rubber ball, it is impossible for he or she to determine that the ball bounces unless the ball falls to the floor or an adult displays this property to the child.  Thus, only by experience does the child learn that the ball possesses this ability to bounce.  Whether awareness that touching a hot stove burns or a warm embrace comforts, we learn via experience.  Some being pleasurable and others not so much.  Extend this reasoning to other aspects of your life and the inevitable conclusion is that our behavior is learned.  While Locke’s tabula rasa may not be correct since Chomsky’s language experiments displayed that the human brain is hardwired with a language template, you are not born with preconceived conceptions of the world.  As you encounter stimuli, your conscious apparatus conducts an analysis of every experience and places it along a continuum of favorable to unfavorable.  The resulting position determines the likelihood of an act’s occurrence.  As you grow, these memories are accumulated and your behavior is shaped.  In short via experimental learning, we aim to seek pleasure and avoid pain.

Of course, this is an overly simplistic model as motivation levels, need hierarchy and genetic traits are excluded from the analysis.  An individual whose early motivations are rewarded is more likely to remain motivated compared to one whose efforts are unsuccessful.  This however buttresses the claim that behavior results from reinforcement or is learned.  Genetics and need hierarchy are somewhat more complicated to analyze.  That being said however, there is no genetic trait that predetermines the type and quantity of food we consume or that precludes us from beginning a new career.

Well, what then of genetics?  Research conducted by the Canadian scientist Dr. Gabor Mate has shown that there are epigentic effects to the evolution of DNA.  DNA’s evolution is dependent upon the environment in which it evolves.  Sounds reasonable to extend this conclusion to facilitate improvement in our own lives. Say for example we would like to be fit, it may help our cause to surround ourselves with like minded people and begin to live and think in a similar fashion. I think the same principle would also apply to success. Try it and see how it works in your own life.

If we consider that everything we do is acquired from learning, any new desired behavior must also be learned, or un-learned depending upon the case at bar.  Be it exercise and wellness, self-assertion, consideration for others or whatever floats your boat, self-betterment is within the purview of your control.  Past failures are no indicator of future success.  Remember, the body has not evolved to accumulate 20 pounds within a three day period so equivalent loss in such a time frame is highly unlikely.  Start small and remain focused.  There is no limit to the human imagination and improvement in one sphere of life will usually overflow into others.  Happy Resolving!

One love,

HJ

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About H3nry J3kyll
Vincit omnia veritas (using an obscure Latin heraldry motto makes one seem kinda learned and distinguished).

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