SOS Book (Chapter 3.4) Better understanding the SECOND KEY to SUCCESS
We seek situations that are beneficial and provide a state of comfort or well-being. We learn to avoid situations that cause pain or suffering. Even our individual quest for personal development & higher consciousness is driven by a search for a greater positive state. We might call this higher positive state ‘permanent happiness’. But how do we get there?
OUR ‘INNER PERCEPTION’ OR ‘POINT OF VIEW’ IS CENTRAL TO OUR LIFE’S QUEST.
To succeed on our life quest, we need to realize this is predominantly an inner journey. We alone are responsible for this. No one else can do it for us! But how do we do this? This requires a further discussion of the ‘Second Key’ that we first introduced in Chapter 3.2
REVIEWING THE SECOND KEY:
BY OBSERVING OUR THOUGHTS WE CAN CHOOSE TO CHANGE OUR THINKING. THIS CHANGES OUR BEHAVIOR AND OUR LIFE.
This second key invites us to utilize our intelligence & wisdom. Humans can recognize their own thought patterns. They can observe & generally understand their own thinking. This separates us from other animals and other primates.
To simply observe & assess our thinking, we don’t need to know all the psychology, or the neuroscience involved. We don’t all need to study neural networks, neurotransmitters or control mechanisms.
THIS IS HOW WE DEVELOP HIGHER ORDER WISDOM & RAISE OUR LEVEL OF CONSCIOUSNESS.
We can simply OBSERVE & UNDERSTAND even quite complex or abstract patterns of thinking.
We can APPRECIATE THE QUALITY OF OUR THOUGHTS & FEELINGS – it’s a uniquely human trait.
We can then CHOOSE NEW THOUGHTS and even override established patterns or habits.
THE HUMAN CORTEX ENABLES HIGHER ORDER OR ‘EXECUTIVE’ FUNCTION.
Man’s increased cortical brain capacity is the scientific reason for this higher order ability to assess our thoughts. This cortex is our so-called ‘intelligent brain’. This modulates the lower order or ‘primitive’ brain which includes the emotion-based limbic system.
This then leads to subsequent changes in our behavior. Thus, by directing our thoughts, we can change our actions & behavior.
ESTABLISHED PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOR BECOME OUR HABITS.
In this simple way, we can change our life and our world around us. Simply by changing our thinking –within our mind – we enable this external change.
WE CAN ALSO SIGNIFICANTLY CHANGE HOW WE PERCEIVE THINGS.
We can modify our interpretation of an object, an event or a relationship. We can even choose a totally new perspective - a new way of viewing events or life and what it means to us!
It does however take considerable energy to change a pattern of thinking that’s become well established. This is because large neural pathways & structural networks have already formed in the brain from habitual use. Despite this, neuronal rewiring can still be achieved with enough perseverance & effort.
FULFILLING OUR INDIVIDUAL POTENTIAL STARTS WITH DIRECTING OUR THOUGHTS.
We can change our own thoughts, supervise the changes, and even monitor the outcome! In computer terminology we are ‘re-programming’ the software of our brain’s computer. But in doing so, we additionally re-sculpting our brain’s physical neural networks as well.
WE ARE UPGRADING BOTH THE HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE OF THE BRAIN.
What a sophisticated programming & engineering feat! Yet we are easily capable of doing all this all by ourselves, once we understand this simple process. Even more amazing is that we can simply direct all this using our thoughts.
WE CAN BUILD NEW NEURONAL NETWORKS & PATHWAYS.
The scientific support for this is as follows. Research shows that neuronal connections & pathways are in a constant state of flux. So new connections in the brain can occur rapidly.
In addition, certain regions of the brain can be trained to increase their activity & function. For example, meditation training of only a few weeks can upgrade functioning in the left pre-frontal lobe of the cortex. This is an area involved in happiness and provides positive inputs to other parts of the brain.
WE CAN ‘TIP THE BALANCE’ TOWARDS MORE POSITIVE THOUGHTS & EMOTIONS BY MEDITATING.
Meditation similarly diminishes activity in the right pre-frontal lobe, which predominates in negative perceptions. This phenomenon has been objectively confirmed using functional MRI scanners and real time PET scanners. One such study showed this effect was marked in Buddhist monks who had practiced long term compassion-based meditation.
But do we have the correct motivation to achieve all this? This is discussed in Chapter 3.5 of this ‘SOS Book’.