Dear Dr. Guterson - your video last week talked about ‘returning’ to your true self, meaning your soul. Does this mean that we cannot change? A: What a great question! Actually, change and growth is what life is all about. Years ago, when I was a History teacher, on the first day of school I would write the following on the blackboard: “Human nature, basically, stays the same.” Now that I am older, I realize the potential flaws in that statement. Yes, we have our temperament and yes, we have our DNA and yes, we have the nurturing that we were given in our early years. And yes, we have our unique pure soul. These are all templates. They are who we are - BUT how they express themselves is up to us. Our actions in life are our choice. We can learn from our (inevitable) mistakes. We can refine our character. The beauty of being a human being, unlike all other creations, is that we have free will. A great example of this is the story of Jill Bolte Taylor. She was a Harvard neuroscientist who, in 1996, suffered a massive stroke that destroyed the functioning of the left side of her brain. At that point she could have given up, she could have thrown in the towel, but she did not. Not for a second. No, instead she exercised her brain daily for the next eight years and ultimately was able to train the right side of her brain and recover all her faculties. (see her book, “My Stroke of Insight”). We need not be prisoners of our templates. We can change the architecture of our brain. We can change our emotions, our actions, our character. Your question is good because yes, we do have a soul, a soul that is the bedrock of our true self. But how we EXPRESS our soul is up to us. And this is our greatest freedom. Learning from Jill Bolte Taylor, we should never ever give up. We should never believe that we cannot be more giving, more confident, more understanding, more forgiving. No pill on earth can make this happen. It takes courage. It takes tenacity.
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