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What Matters
When Alone


What Matters (January 1996)

We tend to be easily tolerant of the processes involved in learning for the young and acknowledge that in order for their learning to take place, repetition is a natural requirement. However, in seeking to enhance and change our own lives and to make more of them, often we expect instant results. Changing our values in life to reflect more, is a matter of demonstrating our commitment to those values - not just once, but over and over again.

It's rather interesting to imagine ourselves at the moment of dying and to analyze just what is important in our lives at that time, what really matters? Through such an exercise we are easily able to recognize what is important and what is not, what matters and what doesn't. We can identify all of those things that may become forgotten in daily life, but that at the moment of death naturally categorize themselves into clear groupings. An exercise like this can be just a bit of fun, however, the real value of the exercise is in gaining conscious knowledge of what is important within daily life - as we are living it.

Any exercise can be enlightening, but unless we are conscious of the lesson within the
context of life itself, its message is useless. The ideal is to make such inspiration lasting, so that its impact reaches far beyond the struggles of daily life, far beyond what seems to be true, to allow it to act as a shining beacon - tempting us toward the light. Now as difficult as it may seem to attain, such powerful inspiration is possible. It's all a matter of value and of persistence.

Understanding the processes of learning can help to more clearly define what is required. We know that when a baby is learning, it is creating and strengthening new pathways within the brain that allow learning to be remembered and to become permanent so that the implications of what is learned can influence its responses to other events.

In a similar way, when we seek to make change in our lives, we once again create new pathways that then prepare fertile ground for new responses and new opportunities for experience previously not possible. Viewed in this way it brings new clarity to the process of decision making and explains why decisions must be made time and time again to become solidly representative of change. Just as a baby must learn new concepts over and over, repeatedly testing the things that it learns, so too do we, when we seek to make change in our lives.

If a small child discovers that banging two objects together makes noise, once is simply not enough to satisfy the requirement to retain this important information. We will observe the child bang the two objects together many times, over and over in the same way. And when the learning has become ingrained, the objects will then be used in a different way to exercise the principles of the learned concept, but in new variations. Perhaps they will then be banged together in an alternative way, once again, over and over, until that information has been absorbed and the pathways strengthened. That learning will then be applied in all sorts of situations many times throughout the day and the next day and so on. All of the variables tried will add to the learning and solidify its meaning.

This is a process of some length, yet do we hear the child moaning at how long it is taking to absorb, process and use this information? Do we hear the child agonize over the repetitive nature of the learning? Not at all, in fact the child revels in repetition. Every repetition is a new chance to express the learning and to delight in it. The tolerance of the parent for this kind of repetition is usually exhausted long before that of the child.

And this, in essence, can help to illustrate clearly that the processes of learning throughout our life undergo very little change and that when we learn anything new, practice makes perfect.

It is unreasonable to expect that one realization will forever change our lives. Used in the context of the child, it would be unthinkable for a child to be shown something once and to expect the child to have learned the concept. Learning bears a
natural requirement for repetition. We learn by repetition, and we learn by practice and the more we do something the more natural it becomes. The more we make a decision, the more it becomes a natural response.

Look at this example in a 'negative' context; say in terms of child learning to create an identity. The child may observe many options in the course of a day for ways of being and doing. The options that it is most interested in, then become the focus of practice and of repetition. A child formulating identity must repeat the affectation over and over again. Once is not enough to influence the character of the child. Identity aspects are usually subject to much trial and error, much learning as a direct result of repeated use. And so it is reasonable then, to expect that if we seek to instigate some new and positive change in our lives, the new and positive way of being must be reinforced. Our brains and the other parts of ourselves that recognize what we want, must be given a strong and intent message about the proposed change, for that change to become natural to us.

And so, if we come back to what matters and what does not matter in life, we must recognize that a lot of 'repeated learning' has occurred in these areas in order for these judgments to become powerful.

In order for 'things that don't matter' to assume the inflated value that they do in our lives, we must repeat the judgments of value over and over, in order that they seem to come naturally. In a similar way, the lack of value for the 'things that really matter' also must be practiced over and over, in order that the lack of value evolves into a solid reality. If we wish to change this balance of values, all that is required is conscious decision making over and over, until new brain pathways are created and strengthened enough to prompt different responses. One decision alone will not provide the impetus required to have the sort of impact needed to create permanent change.

When something is repeated, a pattern is recognized and a pattern, in the case of a brain pathway, usually suggests that something is important, and therefore desirable. Understanding how we learn and communicate with ourselves and how we convert that learning into action can make all the difference in terms of easing the way towards the enhancement of our lives.

It is possible to see that without a conscious awareness of how we are and what we do, whatever we have reinforced most will become the normal response, positive or otherwise. If we seek to change our responses in life and to begin recognizing what really matters and distinguishing this from what doesn't, we must bring awareness to our experiences and in doing so, we will achieve the perceptive ability required to be able to instigate change and then to reinforce it.

Wayfarer International, Copyright © John & Melody Anderson, 1996 - 1999. All rights reserved.

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When Alone (August 1996)

The presence of and interaction with, other people in our lives provides us with the opportunity to gain perspective.

Much of what characterizes and defines the life of an individual is dependent on what that individual thinks about, feels and experiences when alone or by themselves. This is primarily because this is often the time when impressions are formed and solidified - impressions that shape the individual's life. When we are interacting with others, generally we are testing, proving, strengthening or contradicting those impressions we have already formed. Although obviously, our life is very much influenced by our relationships with others, individuals who are especially inclined to spend a lot of time thinking, rely heavily on those impressions and decisions formed during this time alone.

This is essentially because when the individual is alone, reality has minimal influence on the perceptions that the individual chooses to entertain. Reality plays a minor, if any, role in affecting the thoughts and feelings of the individual when alone. At these times the individual enjoys more opportunity to give credence to
any fabrication they choose, no matter how far from the truth. This can prove to be quite a problem, for the more an individual indulges in this kind of process, the easier it becomes to give credibility to distorted perceptions and the more power these perceptions have when that individual then goes out into the world and relates with others. The impressions and distortions then begin to impose themselves on reality.

It is clearly quite essential then, to understand more about the processes that occur when one is alone and how these processes affect the rest of one's life. To promote a constant attitude of curiosity would be an immensely helpful process for the wayfarer and if genuine, will lead to many useful realizations.

Wayfarer International, Copyright © John & Melody Anderson, 1996 - 1999. All rights reserved.

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Why? (August 1996)

Questioning our own motives is at the heart of the process of self-realization. Recognizing that we don't know can be even more important as it naturally implies a requirement to find out.

It can be very important to question everything we do in life with a plea of "why?" While this may not seem to be terribly important in the scheme of our lives, it is a question that often goes unvoiced. Very often the reasons for the things we do only seem to be implied. They are implied through justification and through certainty and yet if we really examine them, it seems to be a glaring omission that we do not ask 'why' more often. We become accustomed to living life on assumptions. So much so, that the thought to ask 'why' not only seems ludicrous, but usually does not even enter the realm of options. Yet, to an inquiring individual, the application of the question 'why' would seem to be very important as a tool for self-realization.

In applying 'why' to ones life, it is important not only to apply it to those things that puzzle, but it is even more important to apply it to those things that do
not puzzle. For it is here that the most rewards are to be gained. Anyone can ask 'why' in a situation where there are no answers. It is less common however, to ask 'why' of a situation where there seems to be no requirement for such a question, or indeed an answer. To ask 'why' in any situation, where the answers seem obvious, could be the most significant thing anyone could do.

Wayfarer International, Copyright © John & Melody Anderson, 1996 - 2002. All rights reserved.

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