I am reading a book, Stumbling on happiness… so far it’s excellent, funny, witty, and very enlightening. 1
I am learning that the difference between animals and humans is their capacity to plan, their capacity to do computations for a future, imagine a future, their capacity for “if… then” statements: (If I do this, then that happens…), i.e. foresight and preparation for the future.
The part of the brain that does that is the frontal cortex. People with frontal cortex lobotomy cannot plan, and don’t have anxiety. Because anxiety always deals with the future… albeit in a very primitive way.
Now, unless you had lobotomy, or a frontal cortex injury, you have the capacity of a human, for thinking.
Download the pdf version of this article at the end of the article
But how you use what you have, and to what degree, is up to you, and your training.
I have had a frontal lobe injury… beating… so I have, probably, less to work with than most of you. Planning, creating a mental image of what needs to get done and in what order is excruciatingly difficult for me… but I am getting better at it.
The brain is a self-organizing, self-healing organ.
So, this is what I saw yesterday that with the new knowledge from the book I suddenly could interpret differently than before.
Case Study: teaching a student to do the first step in the direction of thinking.
One of my students has had the habit of writing long rambling comments with no or little thinking brain input. He is a college graduate, by the way. So having earned a degree doesn’t mean you know how to use your human brain.
To him it felt like thinking, but it was having thoughts.
Without activating the second, the thinking brain, he is not going to grow, and he wants to.
He talks about all the things he wants to do, but talking about things isn’t the same as doing them.
Please tell me exactly what you mean so that I can stop doing what I’m doing in the way that I do it I really get it.
I suggested that he practices asking questions of himself…
I gave him a demonstration of what I would ask myself…
what I would ask: if I had any choice, where would I live and why? what’s in it for me? what does it support me in? what am I up to that it is a great fit for?
do I have a chance to live like that here and now, or am I putting the cart in front of the horse?
Are my actions consistent with what I am up to? What could I do right now that would be consistent with that future?
But given that I asked the questions… I practiced my frontal lobe, but answering does not exercise it.
If it isn’t… to use your second brain, you need to ask questions…
if you aren’t asking questions yourself, only answering them, then the whole thinking is automatic and from the genes.
when you do your usual bit of talking about: 100% lizard brain. Makes noise but no difference.
You need to learn to use your second brain… both kick it into gear, and learn moves.
It hasn’t even started…
Start with inventing questions.
I have a book that has 1001 questions… it can teach you questions, and it can give you questions to ponder.
don’t be so result oriented… you’ll miss the forest for the trees… there is no hurry on the creative plane…
you are not deserving yet, because you are unconscious and gene driven… this step will be mandatory for being worth a damn.
I am going to upload the book in different formats on the subscribers only site… Ask and you will succeed is the title
your best bet is to start at the beginning.
what do you hold dear in life?
if you asked me this question, I would really have to go deep… and look, and evaluate, and spend a lot of time with this question.
the faster you answer the more sure you can be that it is not an answer from the second brain: it is an automatic answer.
bring some integrity to it. I’ll know when you lie, and so will you… hopefully.
also, the question isn’t: what you should hold dear… it asks: what do you hold, actually, you, today, now, dear in life.
darn… hard question.
His first stab on using his second (thinking) brain:
Question: What do I hold dear in life?
My first answer: Nothing. And I actually think there is a lot of truth to that.
I came up with a list. Is having looked as valuable as what the answers are? Maybe, if the process has revealed something. If you were to ask me to show by my actions that I do indeed hold these things dear, it might be hard for me to prove. Muscle testing might reveal the truth.
In no particular order:
Rock & Roll
Peace and Quiet
But was he using the thinking brain?
No. He was gathering areas and ideas from life he knew he should value, he should hold dear.
And this is when it hit me: it is the multiple choice questions that has kept your frontal cortex from fully functioning, from being used.
The automatic brain can spit back knowledge, just like a parrot can talk back to you.
But the frontal cortex can see connections, can see connotations, consequences, cause and effect, and thus it is the author of essays, of talks, of creative endeavors, not just rearranging building blocks that belong together.
Asking question to drive the stuff up… Questions that you don’t have an answer to… Open ended questions.
Ask: how would I know what I hold dear in life? How would my actions show me that? How would my thoughts show me that? Do I have any control over that?
Anything I hold dear in life is MY choice, or all of it is predetermined?
Do I use free will… and if I do, what do I use it for?
Asking these questions, and then attempting to ponder them is all second brain phenomenon…
So if you haven’t been using your second brain, like my student… you need to do it, and you need to start slowly… you can’t run before you can crawl.