Autism Treatment Center of America®

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Happiness Is A Choice

Chapter II Continued

Our Beliefs Create Our World Picture, Which We Then Transmit to Others.

As individuals, each of us becomes a force within a shared field of ideas and visions. Two powerful aspects of our interactions can be discerned easily. First, we can acknowledge ourselves as receivers. We see, we hear, we smell, we taste, we touch and we consume and digest beliefs. Much like a television set, we receive a variety of signals. But now we can recognize our authority over the tuner or channel changer and ask ourselves what messages we want to invite into our homes and our minds. We are not talking about censorship or putting blinders on; we are speaking of exercising more consciously our right to determine the types of inspirations we want to bring into our lives.

In addition to receiving, we transmit our ideas and visions. As transmitters, we can be seen as similar to a television or broadcasting station. Our lives become beacons, communicating the attitudes we assume, the beliefs we create and the actions we take. We become more than role models; we seed the field of human experience with our perspectives and deeds.

A thirty-year-old mother, who had arranged private, individual sessions for herself and for her child at our learning center, asked in agony why her adolescent son would actually lift his hand to her and threaten bodily assault. When questioned gently and without judgments, the boy explained his action quite openly. Since his mother hit him and his sister to express her disapproval, he similarly used the threat of force to express his resistance to her.

Parents ask many questions about the perplexing behavior of their children. "Why does she complain all the time?" "Why does he shout angrily when he doesn't get his way?" "How come my child seems so ungrateful?" Although children learn from the media, friends and their own experiences, often the lessons learned at home have the most impact. We can use the behaviors of those around us to stimulate questions about our own transmissions. Do we complain? Do we shout? Do we fail to express gratitude? Our answers tell us not only what we teach those around us but also what we put into the human collective and reinforce for others as well as ourselves.

Our beliefs and attitudes not only bubble to the surface in our feelings and behaviors but also are apparently transmitted on subtle levels as well. Once, when working with a nonverbal special child, we introduced a volunteer into the room as an observer. The child withdrew almost immediately from participating with her regular teacher and scurried across the room, clearly putting distance between herself and this new arrival. When the volunteer left, the child rejoined her teacher and participated easily and joyfully once again. Later, when I questioned the young man about his experience as an observer, he admitted feeling exceedingly uncomfortable and judgmental of the little girl's wild head movements and hand flapping.

We have noticed over and over again that nonverbal children rely on their ability to pick up attitude "transmissions" even when the initiator camouflages his or her discomforts with smiles. They know. They have a capacity, akin to radar, to pick up non-visible signals. Words, even actions, do not distract them from getting a quick "fix" on a person's level of comfort. We all have that same capacity, but, unlike the special child, we have not maximized our skill. Many times, as verbal people, we focus on words alone. Yet on other occasions, we do "read" between the lines and take in data communicated less overtly.

The power of our beliefs and visions shape the character of our personal realities and impact on others around us. Recent scientific studies suggest that the "reach" of belief transmissions might go beyond anything we have ever imagined.

A contemporary biologist has noted a community of shared information among species, which he calls morphogenetic fields. Essentially, his unfolding theory suggests that species, even groups of species, share an invisible and intangible communications field which can be observed and tested.

Early experimental efforts to teach rats to move through mazes yielded some startling results. The first group of rats performed endless trial-and-error rituals before finding their way through the maze. They succeeded at the task only with great difficulty. The second group of rats appeared somewhat more proficient. Subsequent experiments with genetically unrelated groups of rats, who had never before seen such mazes moved through the mazes as if they had been pre-trained. Somehow training some members of the species impacted on the abilities of all the others.

In other research, a group of behaviorists took pigeons, believed to be quite uneducable, and tried a behavioral approach to teach them to peck on lighted panels in what became known as the Skinner box. Initially, it took a long teaching period to train the pigeons to just begin the pecking. Researchers find that pigeons now peck at lighted panels easily and quickly. Some people claim now that anyone could go to any city in the world, coax a pigeon into a Skinner box, and, in short order, perhaps only minutes, teach the creature to peck on lighted panels - a humorous suggestion about an outrageous yet testable reality. Teach one or more of a species and all the members begin to learn the lesson.

The implications escalate when we ask if our transmissions are confined to species within the animal kingdom. In 1966, one of the foremost experts on polygraph machines (lie detectors) tried a unique experiment. One morning, in his office, rather than hooking his lie detector to a person, he attached the electrodes to the palmlike leaves of a plant. His initial printout from the plant matched similar ones he had recorded when testing people at rest. He knew an individual under stress, frightened or agitated, would cause changes in the meter readings of the polygraph. Could he produce a similar response from plants?

He proceeded to water the plant to see if there was a measurable impact on the polygraph. There was no significant difference. Perhaps the analogy he hoped to demonstrate had no basis, he thought. However, he decided to escalate the experiment and precipitate stress by introducing a hot cup of coffee and dipping the leaves of the plant into the scalding liquid. Again, the reading did not register any significant change. He fantasized about what act he could perform to trigger a response in the plant if that was, indeed, possible. He considered finding matches and actually burning the leaves. As he rose from the chair to execute his idea, he noticed the readout on the polygraph moving frenetically. In subsequent experiments, he demonstrated repeatedly that his violent visualizations affected the foliage and plant life around him.

We could conclude from these studies that all living things communicate with each other through intelligence or morphogenetic fields. The implications are staggering. What each of us learns has the potential of becoming a message to all humankind and, perhaps, to all other life forms as well. Each life has profound significance.

A new question now arises. If we want to be happy and support a universe that nurtures such an endeavor, what data would we want to feed into the human collective? What would we want to engender and reinforce? What gifts of awareness, what deeds, would we want to give our children, our friends, our lovers, our parents, our community, humankind, the animals, the plants, even the rocks?

Whatever we put into the river will mix in the current and bounce back to us. If just one of us changes our beliefs and teaches happiness and love, then that attitude or information goes into the connective tissue of the community and enhances the aptitude for happiness of the entire human group.

People spend years, even lifetimes, rummaging through old memories and philosophies accumulated throughout the centuries in the pursuit of happiness or the promised land (where people are happy, loving and peaceful). The answer lies not behind us. We have to look forward toward a new vision that we can create - not merely in our lifetime, but right now!

Happiness Is A Choice