“What is Decided in the Head is Done”

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

One of my recent posts, “The Art of the Good Conversation”, tacked on to this idea of Agents vs. Objects; when we view people as objects, we treat them as if they are the result of something instead of as if they have the power to cause the something. When we allow for people to be agents, we are able to  step back and observe how quickly intrinsic motivation replaces extrinsic, and how much better the job is done.

Too often we treat ourselves like objects, too, especially dealing with the power of the mind.

The mind to me is fascinating; the imagination, the self-talk, the “metaphysics” of it all…none of it is tangible or physically observable. Yet it is something humanity shares in common while at the same time being entirely and completely individualized.

We assume that we can’t change our mind, our mind changes us. We view the mind as the fundamental level of our being, the level that changes everything and nothing is below it to change it.

Here, let me diagram this assumption in a better way:

If I wanted to learn German and become smarter, this is the process I would take. First, my mind chooses that I want to learn German. So my mind directs me to selecting a German audiobook. Then physical Josie takes over, and she physically inserts the disc into her car CD player for the drive home. Then brain Josie listens and interprets the German speaking and learns new vocabulary and grammatical structures.

So in this example, the mind is the agent. The mind is the fundamental basis of change. There exists nothing before the mind, the mind starts it all.

But we are more than a mind. We are a soul, too. So where does that come in to play? If we treat the mind as the sole Agent, the big capital “A”, then does that objectify ourselves? If the definition of an “Object” in the scheme of Agent vs. Object is a being that is a result of something, rather than a cause of something, we are a result of our mind and therefore we begin to view ourselves as the object.

If I chose to view myself as an Agent, a “causer” of change, then the situation would be diagrammed this way:

I am going to decide that I want to learn German. My inner being, my soul/mind/metaphysical combination (whatever you would like to refer to it as) decides that I want to learn. So therefore, because I am motivated from that level, I chose my outputs. My mind is going to work on convincing myself that learning German is worth sacrificing time and worth the effort. My physical being is going to work on securing the tangible objects needed to learn a language. My brain is going to work on plasticity and interpreting.

Perhaps this a slightly confusing idea. I hope that you get it, because there really is a difference between the two, and success is far more likely when approaching goals with the second perspective.

Ultimately, what I’m getting at, is that what is decided in the head is done. This plays around with Deepak Chopra’s idea of Epigenetics, where our genes are not actually set at birth. Instead, they are a series of “on and off” switches attached to a massive amount of possible genes, and nurture and nature take turns activating some genes and deactivating others.

Chopra goes further to claim that not only are our genes not set for us, but they are able to be set by us. Fundamentally: what if our own nurture plays into the influence of nurture vs. nature on our genes? And therefore we are indeed a small master of our own gene expressions?

This kind of nurture begins with awareness. If I had the goal of becoming less selfish, first I would draw awareness to my selfish tendencies. I have a greater chance of overcoming selfishness if I don’t just ignore those instances where I express selfishness. I need to be hyperaware of my fault in this area, so as to establish a routine of trying to avoid emitting selfishness. Perhaps consciously working to replace selfish tendencies with selflessness. And in this way, my own nurturing of my tendencies will provide an influence on my gene expression (selfishness).

The genes to which epigenetics refers to transforming are not the ones such as eye color, height, hair color, skin tone, etc…those gene expressions are indeed fixed at birth. The genes that can be “turn on” and “deactivated” are the ones such as how we think, how we react, our patience levels, certain levels of intelligence, attitude, etc.

I believe that this also applies to any kinds of change. If I want to change my gene expression of only knowing fluently one language to incorporating German fluency into the mix, then I would nurture that gene of language learning. I would do this by drawing awareness to it and then consciously working to activate it.

And thus, what is decided in the head is done.

I hope this sparks something, some motivation and encouragement for change.

Peace and Blessings as always,



“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in 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.” Dr. Seuss





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