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Gutsy vs. Brainy

Updated on August 11, 2017
ValKaras profile image

Val is a life-long student of psycho-philosophy of living, and a devoted practitioner of many techniques enhancing personal evolution.

WHERE to Dive Is up to Brains  -  WHETHER to Dive Is up to Guts
WHERE to Dive Is up to Brains - WHETHER to Dive Is up to Guts

Why the Name "Gutsiness"?

During my qigong meditation called "Small Universe" my attention is visiting and revisiting in a circular motion twelve energy points in my body. Among them are six lower ones that one way or another supply energy in what here in the west would be called "gutsiness". In particular, and probably the most important is the one in our solar plexus.

Solar plexus "chakra" is said to be responsible for energizing our will power, decisiveness, courage, character, integrity, and persistence. Now, aside of this eastern "energy anatomy" which includes chakras and energy meridians, our western anatomy is also telling us about this big network of nerves located in the area of our solar plexus, but also all over our abdomen.

Apparently, our "guts" are producing more of the "feel good" neurotransmitter serotonin and some others than our brain. The whole digestive system is not only called the "second brain", but is also the site of over eighty percent of our immune system. That should give us a hint how important it is for us, while not merely being a "processing food and crap producing mechanism".

So, when we talk about gutsiness, we mean this very vital part of our physiology that is not merely intestines and digestive organs, but so much more than that. Just remember how much in our emotionality we correctly attribute to our heart, which appears to be merely a blood pump. Even in our everyday expressions we often mention "gut feelings" - so let this little introduction take us to those practical aspects of our gutsiness in life.

Some Successes Remind of Zirconia
Some Successes Remind of Zirconia

Not Everything that Glitters Is a Diamond

It has been established for a fact that education and talent by themselves are not enough in the equation of success in life. Indeed, the world is full of smart and talented folks who never achieved anything beyond mediocre results in their lives. The missing link is that propelling force of gutsiness.

Now, in the relativity of everything, success may mean many things to many different people, and what may look like an obvious success could be a major deception. Mainly due to those standard parameters of successfulness prevailing in our materialistically oriented society, we see it in amassing a lot of money, in fame, and power of a sort.

However, let's think about it for a moment. Would we really call "successful" a multimillionaire dude who is on drugs and alcohol, in a bad health, with a dysfunctional marriage, spending most of the day miserable between his two fixes? After all, some of our movie celebrities are giving us an ample opportunity to revise our definition of "success".

In many of those cases, what started as a strong gutsy drive which secured them a stardom somehow lost its "voltage" in the process of being pampered by life, with no initiative left but to maintain the status quo.

Our Body Won't Take Our Money to Let Us Do That
Our Body Won't Take Our Money to Let Us Do That

A Star among those Free Blessings

It has been said - and I adopted it as my life's motto that "the best of life is free". Yes, money is great, but it can't buy you those most valuable things like health, happiness, love, and peace of mind. There are multi-millionaires who would probably give all of their material possessions for regaining health.

O.K., let's include some humor in all this by giving a chance to a hypothetical comedian to debunk the value of my motto of the best in live being "free". Like he would probably say it: 1) health is not free but very expensive these days; 2) happiness can be attained easily, as long as you have enough money for drugs and alcohol; 3) after you pay for hooker's love, you can have all peace of mind you ever needed. because a wife would cost you much more.

While I like humor just as much as the next dude, I am quite serious about seeing those blessings as free. And now we can add gutsiness to them. In all those many stories of rags-to-riches it was gutsiness as the crucial factor which led those ambitions to culminate into a huge success. Some brilliant and gutsy individuals didn't even possess a technical know-how, but surrounded themselves with those who did. It's truly amazing what sheer will power can do.

"Every Long Journey Starts with a First Step"  -  the One that's Taken, not merely Thought About
"Every Long Journey Starts with a First Step" - the One that's Taken, not merely Thought About

Ignition Spark of Activating Ambition

Indeed, from the smallest to the most complex aspects of being effective in life - whether of professional or private nature - it is brain that may do the "steering", but it's guts that "press on gas pedal".

However, let us not see it as a matter of "superiority" between these two mental forces, but rather as a priority, since it's the guts that are usually neglected and need more attention. Even those religious folks should be reminded how "faith without deeds is dead", and "road to hell is paved by good intentions".

At this point it's good to think of all those highly talented individuals gifted with, let's say a fabulous singing voice, who keep being told how they are "better than many of those on radio" - but don't have guts to sing for anyone but family and friends. Or those who have some brilliant business ideas which they keep for themselves for a lack of drive that would give life to their low voltage secret dream.

Another good example would be those who may stay single all their life for a fear of commitment that's crippling every good opportunity. And finally, let us think of ourselves and all those missed chances in life that will stay in our "regret memory account" as the most unforgivable.

That's how It usually Starts  -  by Nobody Telling Us It's O.K. to Play and Win
That's how It usually Starts - by Nobody Telling Us It's O.K. to Play and Win

Guts Setting Personal Limits

It's amazing how our low voltage guts are setting all those limitations in our brains telling them "what we can afford to think of as doable" - while the rest is considered as a sheer "blind optimism", or "wishful thinking", forever staying at its phase of a dormant potential.

Moreover, many of those ideas don't even reach our awareness, being dismissed as "ridiculous" somewhere at an unconscious level. Whenever you see an introvert enjoying a high gear action movie, it could be a sign of an unconscious cry for a more gutsy self-expression.

Now, here follows my personal story from the way back in my childhood when I could have experienced the power of gutsiness for the first time - or it only stayed memorized as such, pushing all earlier ones in its shadow.

Hidden in there We Had Our Feast
Hidden in there We Had Our Feast

Hard Times Giving a Birth to Gutsiness

In some parts of the post-war (WW2) Europe there was a big scarcity of fresh foods, and many people survived on anything edible. My own folks were bringing home powdered milk, eggs, and canned cheese from those Red Cross centers for protein. Times were hard for everyone, and don't bother asking what we had for dessert - unless you have a box of Kleenexes at hand.

We lived at the outskirts of the city, and several of our resourceful neighbors got the permission from the local authorities to plant their vegetables on a temporarily borrowed piece of land. It was a sizeable area covered with corn, peas, yellow beans, potatoes - but also with those that could be eaten without cooking. In other words, a tantalizing temptation for a group of us little rascals who craved them in our limited diet.

So that's where we would hide in high cornstalks and help ourselves with those red, juicy tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and radishes, having brought some salt from home. However, it was not without a danger involved because of that huge and mean neighbor who watched his veggies from the balcony like a hawk, probably looking for any moving cornstalks.

In more than one occasion he was chasing us with his wide belt, and those caught had some lies to tell their parents about their red marks on legs. Telling the truth was out of question, because then we would have got additionally punished for stealing and for "upsetting the good neighbor".

Nothing but Our Guts Can Convince Us that We Are Going to Be All Right
Nothing but Our Guts Can Convince Us that We Are Going to Be All Right

Daring in Making

It was in one of such occasions that we were again running like scared rabbits in front of the old, bad giant with his belt, and I had a simple option of either crying and peeing in my pants, or something else. I still don't know what in me opted for "something else" in that moment and allowed me to actually think.

But there it was - at the edge of the cornfield a curving trail was stretching from our home buildings all the way to a meadow where we would frequently go to play soccer; and if I could get to that path without disturbing any cornstalks...

It worked. As I found myself on that trail I started walking towards our chaser - whistling something and kicking a pebble. Soon he showed up on the veering trail, and I politely said "Good morning". He bought my bluff, thinking that I was coming from that meadow, not being a part of little thieves - why else would I have dared to walk towards him instead of running for my life.

It stayed as one of my dear memories of childhood where a gutsiness in making was triumphing over brain - not mine but that neighbor's.

Some Gutsy People Forget to Use Brains
Some Gutsy People Forget to Use Brains

No Contest between Daring and Thinking

It's worth emphasizing that there is no competition for importance between brains and guts within the hierarchy of our mental forces. Being a little bunch of daring and hungry little rascals didn't turn any of us into future criminals, but it did turn up the voltage in our gutsiness to be used for more dignifying ventures in life.

However, not every story ends up that way, and some kids learn early in life that it takes gutsiness to get things easy way - and continue betting on that card, which makes penitentiaries crowded as they are.

"All guts no brains" could be the title of their biographies, which actually reminds me of two funny cases in the TV series "The Dumbest Criminals". In one of them, an "Einstein" threw a brick onto the window of a jewelry store - the brick bounced off and knocked him out unconscious.

Another smart ass robbing a store of its goodies allowed the storekeeper to call home "to let the family know that he was going to be late for dinner". Cops got the call and the brainiac had an ample time in jail to figure out what went wrong with his plan.

Whatever Makes Us Feel more Alive  -  Makes Us more Gutsy
Whatever Makes Us Feel more Alive - Makes Us more Gutsy

Let Us Do Something about It

Everything presented so far could serve as a reminder about our possible need to pay more attention to the role of our neglected gutsiness in life, and stop wondering why life doesn't work despite our smartness.

To consciously increase the voltage of our solar plexus energy, we might as well work on those activities which make us feel more alive, like laughing, which massages our diaphragm with that network of nerves called the "second brain".

Also any light exercise, even walking will do. Moving is the word. Breathing properly by raising tummy at every inhalation instead of chest, and making it regular can give us a new sense of calm and being energized. Remember how our breathing gets shallow and irregular, or even stops when we are tense or scared.

On a mental level we should exercise our will by putting more intent and less hesitation into everything we do. With time, that eventually turns into a wonderful habit of living consciously, not turned on automatic pilot and merely letting life happen to us.

So, let us shift some of the weight of life from brains to guts, for then even our brains will work more efficiently for us, as they get a signal from guts that it's O.K. to "want".


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    • ValKaras profile image

      Vladimir Karas 21 months ago from Canada

      Alex - Thank you for leaving a nice comment. I guess, we should not really care about such people who measure success by money(alone).

    • AlexK2009 profile image

      AlexK2009 21 months ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      You are right that it is the overall pattern of your life defines whether you are a success or not: and our culture these days defines success entirely in terms of money and power

      I understand abdominal breathing does have many benefits and think i will try to turn it into a habit.

      Nice article.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 22 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      I deal with people everyday who are truly missing out on the joy of life because they don't realize that the best things in life are free. I do understand that most have to be enlightened to this understanding and it usually comes from some difficult circumstance one encountered. Still, it makes me sad to see people searching for peace and never understand peace comes from a choice that you make. This was truly an enjoyable read.

    • ValKaras profile image

      Vladimir Karas 22 months ago from Canada

      Always Exploring - It's quite rewarding to read your comment, and I am happy you liked the hub. Yes, without some level of a gutsy drive we would all be a bunch of passive observers of life happening to us. Have a great day. - Val

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 22 months ago from Southern Illinois

      This was an enjoyable read from start to finish. It takes guts to live in this world. Your experience as a child was clever and sweet. I am happy to share this. Thank you..

    • ValKaras profile image

      Vladimir Karas 22 months ago from Canada

      Hello Allen, my old buddy - good to see you so early in the morning. It's O.K., don't rush starting your "engine", you are retired and your own boss, just like myself, and it's a privilege of us seniors to take it easy. However, in that respect I am a little odd kind, because I never have that in-between period from sleep to fully awake. You wake me up in the middle of the night and ask me anything that I could normally answer when awaken, and in that instant I'll blurt it out without hesitation.

      And then, on the other hand I may go through the day relaxed, like a cat, ready for anything, but relaxed when nothing is expected from me.

      Well, you had that watermelon back in the past as your trophy of gutsiness, and it was as good as any start to do something that brain might not approve of itself. Have yourself a great day my friend, and thank you for all kind words. - Val

    • ValKaras profile image

      Vladimir Karas 22 months ago from Canada

      Hello, Stella - It's great to see you again among my commenters, and I am happy you liked my hub. Well, I would say in this respect everybody's life inventory would have memories about such moments when a more decisive step would have made a big difference. So often we keep all those good intentions somewhere on the periphery of our minds, not allowing them to get expressed for a lack of a boost from guts. I guess, that's partially why so many of us take a deep sigh with that old mantra - "We are only humans". - Have a great day, Stella. - Val

    • ValKaras profile image

      Vladimir Karas 22 months ago from Canada

      Rachel - I am happy to hear that you liked my hub. As you may have realized long time ago - to some people gutsiness may come as a blessing almost overnight, whereas to some others it may take some baby steps at first, until they get the real "feel of it". We are all born with it, and - not that I wish anybody such extreme experiences, but there are situations that would make a hero out of any shy person. That would be a proof that we all have got it - we just have to practice bringing it out. Have yourself a fabulous day, my new friend. - Val

    • Aliswell profile image

      Aliswell 22 months ago from Iowa

      Good Morning Val, I always find your words of excellence to ring even more true to my somewhat-still in the somewhat dream world- state of receptivity of early, early morning Iowaness!!

      Stealth and hunger served you well throughout your youth of extreme hardships, and I feel those days and experiences forged your mind and character into the exemplary and wise man you are today!!

      I can remember my days of transgression across and through ours' and our neighbors' cornfields in route to his wonderfully abundant watermelon patch. My subsequent borrowing of a small but extremely succulent 'black diamond' melon, never approached the potential punishment you would have received, but still the decision to do the 'deed' was something that my 9/10 year old guts, likewise had to accept as worthy of the risk and reward.

    • Stella Kaye profile image

      Stella Kaye 22 months ago from UK

      Fantastic. I just love articles like this that give the reader plenty of food for thought . Well done - a really great read which succeeds in making the reader re-evaluate aspects of their lives. We all wonder from time to time whether the outcome of a situation would have been different somehow if we had handled it differently and not lost our nerve.

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 22 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      Hi Vladimir, I thoroughly enjoyed this hub, it was useful and somewhat comical. You don't know me but it took guts just for me to join HubPages. I'm a shy person who never had any confidence. I think I got gutsy just to sign up and then my brains had to kick in to use it. I like this article and will tell my friends about it.

      Blessings to you.