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Building a blueprint for a better brain by tinkering with the code.

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November 1st, 2018

How good is your first impression, your first thought, your first conclusion? How often does our first thought lead us down an unwise path. How often do we find ourselves needing to revisit our thinking?

Perhaps this is because we are rarely thinking during that first impression or coming to that initial conclusion. We are using a shortcut to thinking. We are feeling things out. Going with our gut. And while going with one’s gut is perhaps rightfully touted as good advice near and far, it is not always the best thing to do.

Often we would do best to

think again.

But we shouldn’t think again in the same exact way. Doing so is either a form of practice, like trying to play a piece on the piano as well as we did last time. Or it’s insanity. Like trying to get through a brick wall by banging our head against it over and over and over.

To, think again, is a akin to backing away from the wall and looking for a door, or gauging whether it’s possible to climb or dig under or, oh hey, here’s a box of dynamite.

This is the two-hundredth episode of Tinkered Thinking. It now spans over 150,000 words which is about as big as a 600 page book, and all of it is geared towards exploring ways to think again. Or perhaps, considering our first impression and our initial conclusions are really based on feeling and not thinking, the advice to think again, is really to think for the first time.

We are on autopilot for so much of our day and so much of our life, being pushed around by our own feelings, to chase this future or resist that past, and so much of this ragdoll treatment that we experience at the hands of our days could be soothed by changes, often startlingly simple changes, in thinking. Think of an orchestra with a grand piano that has one particular note central to the piece that is out of tune on the instrument. It throws the whole experience off, and yet the fix is just a tiny bit of tinkering, a small tweak needed in just the right spot, and then suddenly everything good that was going on with the rest of the orchestra is noticeable. While this analogy for our mental worlds is absurdly simplistic in the face of all that we have to deal with as thinking, feeling humans, it should not go without some utility to our way forward. So many quaint motivational sayings hinge on a similar chord, whether they be accurate or not. We’ve all had the experience of walking around with a small jagged pebble in our shoe and for whatever strange reason we can go a surprisingly long time enduring such pain before our executive brain gets the picture and we stop, take off the shoe and shake out the annoyance. The difference can be immense, and so too can the difference of effect be immense if we think again, or simply give our minds space to think in a different way, down a different path, exploring a different experience.

That famous advertisement to ’think different’ might very well be a call to think for the first time since our emotions are usually guiding us through our day, and consequently through life.

Thinking deeply, or differently can lead to some surprisingly counter-intuitive places, meaning that something that seems to make sense might not feel right, and suddenly we find ourselves rationally compelled to go against the flow of everyone else, including who we were before we paused to think about things.

Much recent research in behavioural economics seems to point out that our intuition is very often quite wrong. This doesn’t mean that it can’t get better. Quite the opposite, our intuition can get better, but only if we thoughtfully pause when we discover it is actually is, instead of plowing ahead like some dumb beast going over a cliff.

While this platform finds more value exploring concepts at a remove from current events, it is hard not to wonder how much rhetoric would never see the light of day if the tweeter, or newscaster, or politician thoughtfully paused before speaking or clicking or tapping, or whatever means of communication has them by the throat.

So often, that is the either the cure to a present problem, or the first step to finding a solution: thoughtfully pausing.

It is in essence, taking a break from our impulse system to actually think.

Like a muscle, its one of the few things that actually gets better and stronger the more it is used.

Best to think again about leaving it on the backburner.

This episode references Episode 23: Pause, Episode 44: Autopilot, Episode 73: Plow Ahead.

Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

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Podcast Ep. 200: Think Again

Tinkered Thinking

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