Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Power to Change


You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.[1]
– Dr Seuss

I can change.

These three words express one of the greatest powers you, I, and everyone else possess as human beings. This remarkable human endowment fundamentally separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Unlike a dog, a bird, a fish, or an ant, you and I possess cerebral capacities that empower us to think and behave in ways that rise above our natural desires and inclinations.

So what are some of humanity’s natural inclinations and desires?


Food,
     Drink,
          Sleep,
               Sex,
                    Sociality,
                         Variety,
                              Idleness,  
                                   Power,
                                         Popularity,
                                            Gain,
                                                 Defiance,
                                                      Rebellion,
                                                           Revenge,
                                                                Superiority
                                                                     Artificially induced “Highs,”
                                                                          Escaping reality,
And…

You get the picture.

I know; it’s kind of pathetic, but let’s face it: our base natures are programmed to operate under the same basic program as animals, meaning:

If it feels good, do it.

If someone crosses you, seek revenge, and

When others disagree with you, shun them from the herd.

Sometimes it is good—and quite necessary—to engage in natural desires and inclinations. Other times, it is wiser, and certainly more mature, to discipline, regulate, and in some cases, deny them entirely.

Not all natural inclinations are potentially bad. Some natural inclinations—like the natural instinct of a parent to love and care for one’s child—are thoroughly good. Nevertheless, it is usually true that nobler characteristics, such as courage, compassion, and patience, typically do not occur naturally in our minds and hearts; we usually have to pay a price in time and effort to practice and develop them until they do feel natural.

What are some of the nobler characteristics?

Humility,
     Discipline
          Perseverence,
               Honesty,       
                    Integrity,
               Hard Work
          Patience,
     Courage,
Self-discipline
     Self-control
          Moderation,
               Tolerance,
                     Compassion,
               Forgiveness,
          Cleanliness,
     Magnanimity,
Empathy,
     Emotional Intelligence,
          Et cetera.

If you want to change; if you seek liberation from self-defeating inclinations that may presently have a stranglehold on your life and relationships – you can. If, on the other hand, you do not want to change, you have the liberty to remain as you are. This book was written to help you help yourself—but only if you want to change and are willing to work very hard to pay whatever price change demands.

What a privilege it is to be a member of the most advanced species on the planet—the only species capable of authentic, personal change. This book outlines a pathway to exercising this unique, personal power to transcend destructive desires and inclinations that, given free rein, could potentially ruin you and the relationships you hold dear.

FACTS VS. FEELINGS


Typically, the exercise of noble characteristics does not feel natural. You must pay a price in time, effort, and self-sacrifice to practice them until they do. The miracle of being human is that you possess the power to align your desires with deeply held values, goals, and beliefs—even when they may deviate significantly from whatever natural predilections you were born with.

Unlike animals, YOU have an existentially advanced brain that allows you to reason and rationalize cerebrally. Animals can feel and respond to situations according to natural instinct, but they cannot think strategically on the same level a human can. This means that you—unlike an animal—are not predetermined to act merely according to how you feel; you can transcend natural feelings to respond in deference to facts and goals. This is good news because no matter how meaningful feelings may be, facts must usually trump feelings to some degree in the attainment of any targeted objective.

This is not to say that feelings don’t matter; they do—a great deal. In fact, I believe our ultimate purpose as human beings is to experience authentic feelings of joy (not to be confused with the mere sensation of pleasure). Without feelings, life would be insipid and meaningless. But without the guidance of facts, feelings alone may influence you to engage in behaviors that carry dangerous long-term consequences, which, in turn, produce undesirable feelings.

Facts do not exist to squelch or deny feelings, but to empower your will to control them, thereby channeling their powerful energy into productive means of achievement and happiness. The surest way to maximize positive feelings in the long run is to control and regulate your behavior in the short-run. Facts must influence feelings if feelings are to flourish to their full potential. Therefore, the willingness to sacrifice what you want now for what you want most is the essence of character.


SAL Mantra


The willingness to sacrifice what you want now upon the altar of what you want most is the essence of wisdom & character.

Note: This is the first of 13 SAL Mantras to come. Freedom Focused recommends you commit them to memory as a means of empowering your mind with helpful reminders of the material in this book.




[1] Geisel, T. (1990). Oh, the Places You’ll Go!  New York: Random House. 

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