What if someone said something to you that would
completely turn your life around in an instant?
In writing my book “Taming Life – Happiness Is Not a Myth” I first start with discussing the fact that if we are not happy, then by default we must have some kind of a problem. But what is a problem? This will differ from person to person and it will have varying degrees of hold over us.
The reason something is a problem for me and not for you is because I see life from a different perspective than you do. And vice versa. The reason this happens is because you and I have very different belief systems and because our belief systems are different, we perceive events differently, which causes us to infer different interpretations of said events. When we infer different interpretations we develop different attitudes and it is with these attitudes that we interact with society.
But why do we differ in this? How does that happen? If you and I are witnessing the same events, if we are experiencing the same experience, how can we form a different attitude about it? Very simply put, the reason you and I react differently to the same situation is because your belief systems and my belief systems are very different. You were taught one thing and I was taught a different thing. Not only that, we have also had different life experiences that have added to our own, unique belief systems so we perceive and infer a different picture from the same event.
Belief systems are the rules by which we live and run our lives. They are the programs that we run in our minds that tell us how to absorb, interpret and interact with life. Belief systems are programed into us by parents, relatives, siblings, teachers, religion, government, advertising, the media etc. In essence, everything we see, hear, smell, taste and touch is recorded in our mind as an experience. These experiences then become the benchmarks by which we interact with situations the next time we find ourselves in the same situation.
Some belief systems are deliberately and specifically taught to us and others we pick up along the way. The ones that are taught to us are loaded because they are often taught to us in a particular way that will lead us to arrive at a specific conclusion every time. The ones we pick up along the way are also loaded because they are based on what we already know. Our beliefs are our personal rules for living and we go through life living by these belief systems often never really questioning them.
In fact, we most often defend our belief systems believing that they are absolutely correct, and often we believe that they are the only and best way to proceed. Even if they’re not. Even if they cause us pain. We are like the Terminator. We are programed to single-mindedly perform in a particular way and we do so every time. Even at our own expense. And we do so subconsciously.
The Malignant Nature of Thoughts
Our interactions with life cause us to think and feel emotions. Thoughts and emotions are a physical, electrical and biochemical result of what we are perceiving from our reality. Thoughts are electrical pulses that travel through our neurons (brain cells). Neurons communicate with each other by receiving a chemical signal from other neurons. It then transmits an electrical impulse down through its stem to release specific chemicals. These chemicals are dictated by the nature of the electrical pulse, which is dictated by the nature of the thought that provokes the neuron into action. This happens beyond ridiculously fast and it happens from before we are born until the day we expire. It never stops while we are among the living.
As we have thoughts, our neurons communicate with each other forming what is called neural nets. These are our habitual thought patterns. When we have thoughts, our brain responds in a way equal to our thoughts and emotions. Our brain gears itself into action and sends messages to the rest of our body to prompt us into action. When things are going well for us this is a good thing, but when they are not going well for us this is a bad thing.
Our thoughts have the ability to heal our bodies or to destroy us, and it’s a frightening thing to realise that these thoughts happen on a subconscious level. In a negative state of mind our brain initiates a cascading sequence of events that produces stressors in our biochemistry. These stressors greatly reduce, an even shut down, among other things, our immune system and our digestive system, not to mention our ability to heal and regenerate.
Because our body is a biochemical meat bag, we are always subject to the chemicals that float around in our body, and because we are talking about chemicals, then we are talking about the potentiality of becoming addicted to these chemicals. You might think that we cannot become addicted to our own internal chemicals but we do and scientists have a name for this, it’s called Homeostasis.
Whether you are naturally an angry or depressive person, or naturally a very calm and peaceful person, you have your own unique chemical balance in your body, your homeostasis. Your body is used to functioning within this chemical balance, good or bad, so if you do anything that will change that chemical balance in any way, your body will do everything in its power to communicate back to the brain that the balance is out of whack, and your brain will do anything in its power to bring your homeostasis back to the levels your body is used to. Even if those levels are harmful and malignant. This is what is known as the body mind. Because your body dictates what the mind should do (think), in order for the body to be happy, even if the body’s version of happy is to be in a constant state of anger, fear, depression or stress. (Addiction).
It’s not all doom and gloom though.
These things happen on a subconscious level but we are not governed by our subconscious mind if we don’t want to. What separates us from most other animals is that our cerebral cortex, specifically our frontal cortex is more powerful than any other part of our brain. The frontal cortex is the bit of brain that sits behind our forehead. This is otherwise known as the big boss, or the CEO and even as the executive brain because it is the ultimate boss of what happens in our brain, our mind and body.
As much as our day to day activities happen on a kind of automated and subconscious way, we always have the power to take control of our thoughts and therefore of the neural, as well as biochemical activities in our systems. Nothing is set in stone. Nothing is one way and no other way. If we focus our attention, we can manage and direct our own thought processes. You don’t have to be a 30 year veteran, practicing Buddhist monk to take control of your thought processes. In fact, you do it all the time, we all do, we just don’t realise it.
You can think about what is and keep focusing on that, but understand that if you don’t like what is, and what is is what you constantly focus your attention on, then you will get more of what is because that is where your conscious attention is focused on. On the other hand, if you temporarily focus your attention on a problem, just long enough to ascertain what the right course of action should be to fix the problem, and to set the right wheels in motion, then if you redirect your attention to something that feels good to you, at this point you have taken control of your thoughts and therefore to the goings on in your entire physical system. Including your state of mind, mood and even health.
If you pay attention to your thoughts, if you become an observer of yourself, if you question your thought patterns, you will be surprised to see what you see. There is stuff going on in your mind and body that you can’t even begin to imagine, but none of it is set in stone. You can change everything and you can do it in an instant. You just need to make up your mind to do so without fear and with strength and courage.