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Learning about the way we learn

Posted by Amir Karimi on Wed, Nov 1, 2017

Sometimes, we need to invoke our own brain to describe some facts about itself but in a more pleasant way to help ourselves move on. It’s not a bad thing at all, but I prefer to know the scientific facts, no matter what’s the cost.

I’ve seen a TED talk, posted in response to a tweet suggesting the best person you should compete against, is the past version of yourself. But it might be even more challenging to compete against yourself if you’ve been good enough.

 

This talk is basically an idea for successful people who have a creative job, like writers, poets even enthusiastic software developers, to protect themselves against the dark path of depression and frustration after gaining a good reputation.

Please watch this great talk and then return back so that I can share a scientific fact about.

When you do a great job, you should either maintain the obtained reputation, or you can just find a way to deal with the fact that you might not be able to gain the same reputation anymore. Maintaining the reputation needs more hard work and enthusiasm but unfortunately, it’s not always possible to do another great job better than the previous one.

So Elizabeth Gilbert suggests that we can accept the genius as an external entity which is the source of all our great works. This used to be, after all, the definition of genius in late 16th century; attendant spirit present from one’s birth. 

Now, if we created something extraordinary it’s that genius spirit. If we end up with an awful result, it’s not us, again the genius guy. So we can blame that spirit for all of our failures and consequently, we wouldn’t be able to be arrogant about our success.

In this talk, she also shares an interesting experience in this regard. Asking the genius to help her create a fantastic impression. Which works for Elizabeth Gilbert and others. Now let’s face with a scientific fact related to this great idea.

A couple of weeks ago I’ve attended an amazing course Learning how to learn which couldn’t find enough time time complete but yet I’ve learned some nice ideas from the first two weeks.

The first step to improve our learning skills is to have a better knowledge about our brain and the way it works. This course helps you become a better learner by giving a better knowledge of your brain.

You might have experienced those amazing ideas coming to your mind when you’re running, taking a shower, doing something totally irrelevant. And when you need some creative ideas, they don’t show up. It’s simply because when we think about something, our brain works mainly in two modes: Diffuse and Focused. 

Analogizing “thought” to “light”, “Focused thinking” is a laser, and “Diffuse thinking” is a flashlight. We may even daydream in diffuse mode while we’ll be able to do more sensitive works in focused mode. They seem opposite but in general, we need both of them to master a topic.

All of those stories about the genius spirit is about the Diffuse thinking mode. In which we have a lower level of consciousness. This is the mode after which we don’t remember exactly what we did, but we come up with some good ideas or even a great solution for a problem we’ve been stuck on for a while. It’s totally reasonable to feel that we’ve got all of them from an external source, but actually, it’s all happening in our brain.

We need to care a lot about this mode of thinking, especially when we need to be creative. And we sometimes need to prevent distractions to stay in this mode for a while. Even the idea of posting this story came to my mind in the middle of watching that TED talk! I just paused the video, took some notes and continue watching. It was a pleasant diffuse mode which I shouldn’t leave!

The talk idea is about blaming the genius as an external identity can be a good approach to keep doing what we’re good at without being distracted with social and career expectations. Some true stories have been told which really happens. We might have had similar experiences but, remember, our brain is so powerful that allows us to fool ourselves using this power.

Finally, whether you believe in the genius spirit or your own brain, there is an absolute true conclusion; “No matter what, just use your amazing brain and do what you’re good at”.

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