In my life, almost by chance, I've stumbled upon a spiritual, mystical path that has granted me contentedness and fulfillment.

Following the path entails learning to manage this magnificent brain we humans have inherited. For, our brains are so vulnerable to genetic and social programming, changing chemical levels in our bloodstream, and physical damage that it's amazing we all get along as well as we do. Because of ever-changing external influences, the brain constantly shifts its center of perception, even while incessantly spewing illusions and spinning stories that often disorient us, stress us and get us in trouble. Because of this, following the path I'm talking about is not easy.

I began my own path in college where, by reading books, I learned basic principles of meditation. That enabled me to calm my spirit, focus my mind, and to visualize states of peace which sometimes I could access. Putting this learning into practice enabled me to pass through a time of life when suicide was very much on my troubled mind.

Maybe the most powerful insight from that experience was this: That certain systematic procedures exist that can make you happier if you practice them. Back then, just learning how to breathe deeply made me feel much better and brightened by attitude. The lotus position helped, and ommmmmmmming... I don't do those things so much now, but the discovery that "known procedures" can work on one's psychic and spiritual state was a powerful and important discovery for me, for until then I'd assumed that we humans "are just what we are."

Now let me tell you about a procedure that means so much to me at this time in my life. It's a procedure that for me has become something like a meditation or even a prayer. It's the very same procedure that is linked to on the front page of my Backyard Nature website at http://www.backyardnature.net, the button entitled "3 Steps to Learning about Nature." Those steps are:

Step 1: Identify something

Step 2: Look up the name on the Internet or in books and see what's said about the named thing

Step 3: Keep gathering and organizing the information as the years pass, in your Nature Notebook or on the computer.

At http://www.backyardnature.net/listopen.htm these points are further discussed, and links are provided, especially to help you get started with the identification step.

Here's my theory on how this procedure works:

The brain can hold just so much. It's like a bowl full of good and bad stuff. If you start pouring only good stuff into it, like learning which birds have what songs, and what the features are of this and that flower, good stuff goes in while bad stuff tumbles out. Eventually the bowl ends up filled with much more good stuff than bad stuff, and you feel good. Simple as that.

For me personally, the Three Steps have become "My Key to Happiness." You are welcome to try them.