July 31, 2014

Questioning Free Will

Human figure on background, with an heart and a brain on two matFor years there has raged an argument on college campuses across the globe. Since the subconscious appears to make over 90% of our choices, is there really any such thing as free will? The fact is, ever since the pioneering work of Benjamin Libet and his observation of cortical evoked potentials, particularly the P300 wave, scientists have known that the conscious mind is the tail being wagged by the subconscious. In other words, and the hard data bears this conclusion out, the conscious mind makes up reasons for why we do what we do out of an inherent need to understand the world. The conscious mind is busy confabulating reasons for everything while the subconscious is activating our choices.

Well then, if this is true, how is it that we can say we ever truly invoke free will, and if we do, when? I have addressed this issue on many occasions with scholars and derived this conclusion. What is in your mind is the source from which the subconscious makes its decisions. An fMRI technician watching your brain activity while you make a choice can actually know what you will decide 6 to 10 seconds before you know what you will choose. So somewhat analogous to a computer, the subconscious makes its calculations based on what is in your subconscious. As such, all of those negative thoughts and beliefs, all of your defense strategies, avoidance tactics, compensations and so forth enter into the calculation. Given this, it’s easy to understand why it’s so important to control what goes into your mind.

In my book, “Choices and Illusions,” this subject is taken apart in detail and many steps are offered to correct it. However, for our focus today, consciously choosing what you put into your mind is of the utmost importance. Taking in all the negativity that media can offer is therefore ill advised. You really don’t need to hear about sickness commercials or watch “get-even” violence or hear about your deficiency because you don’t have this product or that. Just remember, when you fly off the handle because someone cuts you off in traffic or in some other way infuriates you, ask yourself, what is in my programming that causes this?

In the classic movie, 2001 a Space Odyssey, it was Al’s programming that caused his behavior. Our own bio-computer can and often does sabotage our best intentions. So here are a few practical things that science has shown us will turn this all around for you.

1. Mindfulness training will allow you to become aware and change your negative programming.

2. Affirmations and subliminal programming will facilitate changing the way you talk to yourself.

3. Making it a habit to wake up and say thank you while you put a big smile on your face will bathe your body in endorphins and put an optimistic outlook on your day.

4. Singing for 10 minutes releases stress and buoys you up with a flurry of endorphins.

5. Make an effort to present your best positive self and you will build likeability. This leads to a community (including all of the service personnel that you deal with in the grocery store, bank, restaurant and so forth) and the sense of belonging, which in turn leads to a long, healthy life.

Remember, if you are to have any free will, it will come as a result of what you have chosen to put into your bio-computer upon which the calculations will be made. Change the content form GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) and you will change the outcome!

Thanks for the read,