What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.Carl Sagan, from the Cosmos episode “The Persistence of Memory”
To be in your own thoughts — language, like headphones, delivers a sense of privacy.
Of course, no thinking is linear. Neurons are always crashing into each other, trying to connect and build new avenues of ideas.
The whole of brain waves is greater than the sum of its parts.
But knowledge presents a key constraint in the gobbling of information — it requires a dishwasher of synthesis to make even more sense of the apparent world.
What’s most dizzying is experiencing nothing. Whatever your neurons are up to this very moment determines what you do next.
Curiosity is a powerful tool. It makes us question our surroundings and compels us to ask why things work the way they do. It kicks the mind into exploration.
But the addition of courage takes curiosity a step further; it tries to fill the void through hands-on experimentation. These small tests are fuel for failure in disguise as they convert ignorance into knowledge.
The greater challenge, therefore, is the audacity to continue guessing. Even when something gets discovered, it opens up a whole new can of ignorance.
The learning never stops if the asking never stops. The more we know, the more we desire to know.
Said Henry David Thoreau, “Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”
Walking boosts creativity. If you ever get stuck in a creative rut, science shows that you should go for a stroll to get your endorphins moving.
As learning scientist Marily Oppezzo notes in her TED presentation below, walking generates twice the ideas. Even if you walk and then sit, your mind will continue to generate novelty.
But you can’t just walk forever, nor should you run. You should discuss your ideas out loud; the good ones will stick around. If you really want to remember everything discussed, record the thinking session on your phone.
So, how do you walk and brainstorm?
- Pick a problem/topic for brainstorm
- Walk at a comfortable pace WHILE you are brainstorming
- Generate as many ideas a you can
- Speak and record your ideas
- Cap your time
The chair-based lifestyle is not only killing us, but it’s also stifling good ideas. Go for a walk to freshen up your pattern of thinking.
In the New Republic, writer Matt Ford rightly argues why we should be in awe of the blurry photo of the black hole. It's not about the picture as much as the effort in went in to capturing it. Context is king.
This level of cynicism is better understood as ignorance. The image itself might indeed seem unimpressive. But judging it as you would any other digital photograph, shorn of all context and understanding, would be shortsighted. One also has to consider the thought and labor behind its creation. The photograph might not depict the horror of galactic destruction as some expected, but it represents something even better.
Think about it: A group of mostly hairless primates, stranded on a rock circling a nuclear spark, used radio waves to photograph an invisible sun-eater so far away that a person would have to travel for 55 million years at the speed of light to reach it. It’s hard to not feel a frisson of awe at the scale of the feat. This context is vital to fully appreciating the image itself, in the same way that the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling is even more impressive when you know that Michelangelo spent three years of his adult life bent over backwards to paint it.
Put your hands in the air and wave them like you just don't care.
What looks like a dubstep rave is actually styrofoam dancing to sound waves in a massive flexiglass pipe. The faux mosh pit is the result of a process called sound looking which demonstrates what audible vibrations may actually look like.
Watch the entire video below.
A stunning video of the nervous system of a zebrafish over a 16 hour period.
The imperative is to grow into somebody.
“Don't whine, don't complain, don't make excuses, just do the best you can do,” said UCLA coach John Wooden.
It turns out coach was on to something.
Recent studies show that complaining every day changes the structure of the brain.
Harmful behaviors such as complaining, if allowed to loop within the brain continually, will inevitably alter thought processes. Altered thoughts lead to altered beliefs which leads to a change in behavior.
Our brain possesses a something called the negativity bias. In simple terms, negativity bias is the brain’s tendency to focus more on negative circumstances than positive.
Dr. Rick Hanson, a neuroscientist
andauthor of Buddha’s Brain, explains negativity bias:
“Negative stimuli produce more neural activity than do equally intensive positive ones. They are also perceived more easily and quickly.”
Fortunately, the brain is plastic, which means it can allow more positive emotions to work alongside more negative ones. Writes Alex Korb, author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time:
“In depression, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the brain. It’s simply that the particular tuning of neural circuits creates the tendency toward a pattern of depression. It has to do with the way the brain deals with stress, planning, habits, decision making and a dozen other things — the dynamic interaction of all those circuits. And once a pattern starts to form, it causes dozens of tiny changes throughout the brain that create a downward spiral.”
Your hopes and fears may be in your genes, but that doesn't spell doom. One of the most practical things we can do to counter negative thinking is practicing meditation. “Neurons that fire together, wire together,” said neuroplasticity pioneer Donald Hebb.
If forcing positive thinking feels inauthentic, try watching your thoughts instead. Being a neutral observer will help you rise above the whole notion of emotional sidedness. As with any self-improvement mechanism, daily practice and momentum is the key to long-term success.
I never sleep/because sleep is the cousin of death.Nas, ‘New York State of Mind'
Everyone knows sleep is critical few people prioritize it. Some folks think it's a badge of honor to get five hours a night. But your brain literally eats itself when you don't sleep.
Sleep is a ‘non-negotiable biological necessity.'
And why not get a few extra 💤? We're all geniuses when we dream.