003 – Free Will and Increasing Choice

This episode explores:

  • the definition of free will
  • will demonstrate how one may have drastically less free will than they expected due to what research is showing us in regards to physical impediments
  • and show how emotional fitness can greatly increase your choices/free will in life.

These concepts have supported my movement from retributive to restorative beliefs with myself and others. As other people make this shift, I believe the amount of peace and wellbeing in one’s life grows exponentially.

 

Introduction

  • Free Will – the ability to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded
  • I used to believe strongly in Free Will a decade ago, thinking most people including myself had little restrictions on their ability to choose whatever path or response to a event that they wanted, this has drastically shifted with my exploration of psychological theory and research. www.SamHarris.org.
  • Some possible impediments in choosing one’s actions can include: genetics, epigenetics, environment, beliefs from others close to you, cultural aggressions, trauma, and health, including gut health and inflammation
  • The following will explore the above factors, their impact on free will, and how to work on one’s emotional fitness to increase one’s choice

Genetics Impact on Free Will

  • Our genes are doing their best to protect us, though we have a rapidly evolving world, what served to protect us 800,000 years ago verses 1,000 years ago didn’t likely change that much
  • Sensitivity/Anger Gene
  • Openness/Anxiety Gene
    • Study on how Genes and Early Environment affect Openness verses Anxiety: Grazioplene, R. G., DeYoung, C. G., Rogosch, F. A., & Cicchetti, D. (2013). A novel differential susceptibility gene: CHRNA4 and moderation of the effect of maltreatment on child personality. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines, 54(8), 872–880. http://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12031

 

Epigenetics

  • Helpful Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Epigenetic_mechanisms.jpg
  • Possibly trauma from 3 generations can affect epigenetics
  • The tightening of the genes can prohib beneficial/protective genes from being able to express themselves
  • Physical and Emotional Trauma impact epigenetics, quickening response times, this was a benefit in times of danger and war, now when in less danger, how can I let my system know that it’s safe to unwind
  • Warring tribe verses Peace Tribe
  • Natural Blueprint in your system to return to the best place for you, when removal of impediments.

 

Environment

  • Beliefs from Family of Origin
  • Experiences During Childhood
  • Beliefs/Experiences from Religion, Culture, Ethnicity, Neighborhoods, or Other Organizations
  • Amount of Affection, Stability, and Trust in Family
  • Level of Safety in the Environment for the Individual, Impacts of Aggressions and Microaggressions

 

Trauma

  • Small and large events
  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Psychological
      • Michael P. Hengartner, Lisa J. Cohen, Stephanie Rodgers, Mario Müller, Wulf Rössler, and Vladeta Ajdacic-Gross (2015). Association Between Childhood Maltreatment and Normal Adult Personality Traits: Exploration of an Understudied Field. Journal of Personality Disorders: Vol. 29, No. 1, pp. 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1521/pedi_2014_28_143

 

Neural Pathways

  • Neuroplasticity
    • Mindfulness practices have the potential to improve attention, cognitive functioning, self-control in emotion, immune function, and well-being, while decreasing stress response. Mindfulness practices may induce neuroplasticity.
      • Hölzel, B.K., Carmody, J., Vangel, M., Congleton, C., Yerramsetti, S.M., Gard, T., and Lazar, S.W. (2011).
        Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging
        191, 36–43.

 

Gut Health

  • “Gut microbes can produce hormones and neurotransmitters that are identical to those produced by humans.”
  • “Gut bacteria directly stimulate afferent neurons of the enteric nervous system to send signals to the brain via the vagus nerve.”
  • “Through these varied mechanisms, gut microbes shape the architecture of sleep and stress reactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.”
  • “They influence memory, mood, and cognition and are clinically and therapeutically relevant to a range of disorders, including alcoholism, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and restless legs syndrome.”
  • Evrensel, A., & Ceylan, M. E. (2015). The Gut-Brain Axis: The Missing Link in Depression. Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience, 13(3), 239–244. http://doi.org/10.9758/cpn.2015.13.3.239

 

Inflammation

  • Imaging the Role of Inflammation in Mood and Anxiety-related Disorders. Jennifer C. Felger*. Current Neuropharmacology (2018) 16: 533. https://doi.org/10.2174/1570159X15666171123201142

 

Health

  • Hunger/Satiety Spectrum
  • Pain/Comfort
  • Tired/Rested
  • Hormone Balance

 

Impacts on Free Will When Viewing This on Others

  • I believe that each person is doing the best that they can in each and every moment, based on what’s impeded their free will, that their choice has narrowed down and their best action they had access to was what they did
  • Realization can allow us to see that unless a person takes action to change, they are likely to do the same thing again
  • It still means we are allowed to protect ourselves and set boundaries and consequences, we don’t say “oh, they are doing their best, it’s okay” if it’s not okay with you
  • Deep knowing that I would have done the same as they did if I had their genetics and history.
    • Personally this releases me of judgment of the other person, and allows me to evaluate if I want to offer restorative services and if so, what would that look like.
  • As a society, how can we support restorative services?

 

Impacts on Free Will When Viewing This on Ourselves

  • Release expectation of change until we’ve started working on the core issue
  • Knowing that you have done the best you could in the past, and to use this as data to decide how you want to work on yourself moving forward
  • It’s data for our starting points.
    • Personal example fear of heights

 

Weekly Invitation

  • Importance of questioning what we used to believe and is it still true
    • Petter Attia (https://peterattiamd.com/podcast/) frequently asks his guests what did you strongly believe in 5 years ago that you no longer believe, science is ever growing and changing
    • Dinner party question
  • What belief did you believe in the past that you no longer hold today? Think or journal about this, then share it with a friend, and ask them the same.

 

Comments

  • In the comments section, please share what was the most important idea you took away from this podcast?