Experience determines who we are

DNA provides the foundation, but what we experience, do and think determines what we become.

How our brain is connected determines what we become, our connections are determined by our experiences, thoughts and actions.

How our brain is connected determines what we become, our connections are determined by our experiences, thoughts and actions.

As a result of my interests in history, business and sustainability I study the human mind.  I ask in the matter of sustainability why humanity appears blind, suicidal or stupid in its pursuit of belief or behaviour that causes misery, hardship and self-destruction.  If I understand how the human mind works I may be effective in influencing change in a positive sustainable direction.  I gather my information on the human mind by watching my mind closely, and how others think or behave. I read, I get feedback, I experiment, I learn through trial and error, slowly piecing together the complicated jigsaw of the human mind.

I like to read up on case studies of experiments or individual stories that might shine light on the human mind.  I observe that through stroke, dementia or accident parts of the human brain is damaged, and this damage has an impact on how an individual thinks, behaves and experience themselves.  What we are it appears is locked into the brain cells of our head, how they connect and communicate.

It is easy to reduce humanity to a piece of mechanical meat if one is not careful.  I believe humanity has spirit, that the body, especially the brain, is no more than a receiver/transmitter of the spirit into this world; if the receiver/transmitter is damaged then the spirit won’t get through but the spirit is not impaired, only the body is.  Thus I can break the human brain down into a mechanical system without impacting my spiritual philosophy.

Our DNA provides the foundation upon which our mind is built, but environment will determine what is built on the foundation. In my town of Colchester the Romans built a strong foundation, upon which a great temple was constructed to Emperor Claudius.  Today something different exists at the location of what was the Temple of Claudius, a castle.  The foundations of the temple remains, what is built on top of the foundations and how it is used is different from century to century: castle, jail, folly, quarry, museum and so on.  Two genetically the same twins can share a common DNA foundation, but as they progress through life their inputs will determine two radically different brain structures, and thus systems of belief and behaviour between them.

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9 responses to “Experience determines who we are

  1. A thoughtful post, Alex. Clever analogy to Temple of Claudius/Colchester Castle. (I lived in Colchester for 30 years and know it well!) Also interested in your conclusions about dementia. My mum recently died, having had this condition for several years. I often pondered how her spirit and mind were connected. Your ideas make a lot of sense. I also noted, having watched her gasping for breath in her final hours and then seeing how markedly different her body looked in death, that what was missing – quite definitely – after death was the tremendous SPIRIT that was present in her up to that moment.

    I too am fascinated by the human mind and have a particular interest in the autistic mind. I think it has much to teach us. You may be interested to read my post on it http://janstoneblog.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/autistic-by-any-other-name/ and particularly the link on there to the remarkable Ted talk by Jill Bolte Taylor on how the mind works.

    • It is great to meet another blogger with a former connection to Colchester.

      I read both your insightful blog article on dementia in relation to your mother and the one on the autistic mind. I was especially interested in your quote attributed to Temple Grandin that without the asperger mind no stone spears would have been produced.

      The human mind is a strange mysterious world when you travel into it. There is a wonderful saying carved at the Temple of Apollo at the Delphi: “Know Thyself”

  2. I agree Alex, what we experience and think of those experiences definitely determine our path (combined with DNA). I sort of wish it didn’t in my case, I’m not sure that’s a great mixture but in many cases it’s beneficial. Anyway, I looked for a direct email on your blog to no avail. If you’d like to read my next post, feel free to mail me at writer of pure [at] gmail [dot] com for the password which I will keep for future password protected posts. Changed it from being ‘private,’ too many problems….

  3. i enjoy your posts immensely. you have a way with words that i can only dream of. even thought my thoughts are very similar to yours, i was never good with expressing myself this clearly. your posts give me that “yes! exactly so!” feeling. thank you! i look forward to reading more 🙂

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