Everyone who’s ever learned a skill, whether it’s driving a car or tying a shoe, knows that things that require effort today become automatic tomorrow with enough practice. They’re automatic because your brain has tuned and pruned itself to make different predictions that launch different actions. As a consequence, you experience yourself and the world around you differently. That is a form of free will, or at least something we can arguably call free will. We can choose what we expose ourselves to. My point here is that you might not be able to change your behavior in the heat of the moment, but there’s a good chance you can change your predictions before the heat of the moment. With practice, you can make some automatic behaviors more likely than others and have more control over your future actions and experiences than you might think. I don’t know about you, but I find this message hopeful, even though, as you might suspect, this extra bit of control comes with some fine print. More control also means more responsibility. If your brain doesn’t merely react to the world but actively predicts the world and even sculpts its own wiring, then who bears responsibility when you behave badly? You do. Now, when I say responsibility, I’m not saying people are to blame for the tragedies in their lives or the hardships they experience as a result. We can’t choose everything that we’re exposed to. I’m also not saying that people with depression, anxiety, or other serious illnesses are to blame for their suffering. I’m saying something else: Sometimes we’re responsible for things not because they’re our fault, but because we’re the only ones who can change them. As the owner of a predicting brain, you have more control over your actions and experiences than you might think and more responsibility than you might want. But if you embrace this responsibility, think about the possibilities. What might your life be like? What kind of person might you become? 

Your Brain Is Not for Thinking
You Have One Brain (Not Three)
Your Brain Is a Network
Little Brains Wire Themselves to Their World
Your Brain Predicts (Almost) Everything You Do
Your Brain Secretly Works with Other Brains
Brains Make More than One Kind of Mind
Our Brains Can Create Reality

[Dat ik meer controle heb over mijn experiences dan ik denk maakt angst zo angstaanjagend. Ik genereer angst. Alles verandert in een spijker voor de hamer in mijn brein. Het is alsof ik enkel mijn favoriete slag wil slaan in tennis: backhand. Het filmpje zegt dat ik automatisme moet voorkomen, ik moet iets nieuws leren, iets nieuws doen, iets op een andere manier doen, de linkerkant van mijn lichaam activeren, wil ik een ander neurologisch netwerk aanleggen in mijn brein. ‘This is too big,’ zegt de teacher. ‘That’s when I realised: I need a prayer life.’]