Thy Will Be Done
Around 70 thousand years ago, something happened to the brains of our ancestors that would change the course of our species forever. Perhaps a genetic mutation or divine intervention? This event, known as the cognitive revolution, caused our brains to do something that no other organism on the planet could do until that point and has not been able to do 70 thousand years later. This ability is something that we take for granted; however, it is part of the very fabric that makes us human. This ability is the notion that we, as humans, believe in and decide to believe in things that are not physically real and are in our imagination. This belief in concepts and ideas is the cornerstone of our existence as humans, and is the reason why we dominate the planet, both technologically and societally. Believing in such things as our countries, the financial systems, our legal systems; all these things do not physically exist and we cannot necessarily see them, but our very existence and order depends on them. In fact, we sometimes tend to make things more real than they truly are, for example giving human names to hurricanes and storms; in fact giving them life, even though they are nothing more than planetary events caused by temperature changes, atmospheric pressures, and other naturally occurring phenomena. Believing in concepts and laws is part of what psychologists call, higher level thinking. Embedded in this concept of higher level thinking is the ability of humans, unlike any other animal on the planet, to have free will that often times may even go against the very genetic code that brought us to where we are today.
Human Behaviors: Your Will Defines You
Very few animals on the planet exhibit the level of emotional connectedness that we humans exhibit. We are connected technologically by world networks that broadcast the latest news in real time. We receive instant messages from far away relatives and friends, letting us know in intricate detail the feelings and actions that are being manifested in the moment that they are experienced. Is this technology the byproduct of our emotional connections? Or is it the technology that has brought us closer together? I believe that the former is true. We have always been more emotionally and cognitively in tune with each other. It’s what makes us human and both a blessing and a curse. Our ability to choose a more positive approach, even in the face of a negative shower defines us as humans. We have the ability to behave and energize both ourselves and those around us during dire situations, and with the proper training we can even overcome some of the most dangerous and stressful situations that may even threaten our own lives and those around us.
Bad Things Defined
I remember shortly after my father died, my mother read the book When Bad Things Happen to Good People. After my time in the military, and countless analysis of performances during missions, I realized that the definitions of good and bad are left up to the interpretations of those who define the terms. Furthermore, if you study Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Cognitive Re-Training, you begin to understand that no single event in your life is inherently good or bad; everything is a learning experience to build your character and help others who have not experienced what you have experienced. If you approach life with this paradigm, you feel effective, happy, and empowered and are less likely to fall prey to depression and feelings of being overwhelmed by the trials and tribulations of life.
Our Decisions Define Who We Are
In the end, we are the sum total of all the decisions that we have made in our lives. Our free will drives the decisions that we make or do not make. Even not making a decision is a decision. I learned this early on in my military career when learning how to survive an ambush. Not making a decision in the critical fatal funnel of an ambush was a decision, a decision that would likely get everyone, including myself, killed. Making decisions based on knowledge, experience and training defines who we are today and sets the stage on who we will become tomorrow. When something happens in your life that causes you stress, view it as an opportunity to rise to the occasion and define who you will become in the event. Your actions during those situations will not only define you in the present moment, but will define you as part of your legacy.
Tune into your free will this week. Identify certain events in your life that bring your stress and see how you can use them as learning experiences instead of having them control you. What steps can you take to accomplish this mission? How can you view your situation as a learning experience to help others in the future? Understand that when you view your life through this lens, you elevate your own tragedy into something that not only gives you meaning, but may even potentially help someone else in some future predicament.
“Lean into it!”