The Hidden Recesses of Your Mind

The human mind is perhaps the greatest creation in the universe. In the past century we’ve started to unlock the mysteries of the mind through scientific study. Here are a few interesting brain facts:

  • Your brain consumes approximately 20 percent of your calories but accounts for about 2 percent of your weight.
  • It’s not true that we only use 10 percent of our brains.
  • There 100 billion neurons in the brain, six times more than the number of people on earth.

Several weeks ago I wrote a post called What The Hell Were You Thinking? and shared stories about how we often do things but don’t realize why we do them. Malcolm Gladwell explored this in his book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. He shared several studies that showed mere exposure to words and ideas can change people’s behavior. For example:

  • People exposed to words typically associated with the elderly walked slower after seeing the words.
  • People who wrote a paragraph about the last book they read got more Trivial Pursuits questions correct than those who wrote about a fight at a soccer game.

The reason this is top of mind is because of something that happened not too long ago. I was in the middle of replying to an email when I realized I was supposed to be on a conference call. I dialed in but kept my eye on the emails coming in regarding the issue I was involved with.

After a few minutes a young coworker I’ve been mentoring resolved the issue to the delight of another coworker. His handling of the situation was brilliantly orchestrated so I replied, “Well–played, maestro.” I pasted a picture of a maestro in the email to be light-hearted.

When I returned my full attention to the conference call it leaped out at me when the vendor we were talking to referred to a version of their product called…Maestro!

When I referred to my coworker as maestro and pasted the picture in the email I had no recollection, none whatsoever, of that word having been mentioned on the call! But without a doubt it was fixed in my subconscious and impacted my behavior just as Gladwell described in his book.

This brings to mind a time when Jane told me about a dream she had. In the dream she described a woman with a red top and white pants. It was no coincidence to me that the night before we’d met a woman, a friend of a friend, who was wearing a red top and white pants. Jane didn’t remember meeting her but it was apparent that despite the lack of memory it was the reason for the woman in her dream.

The human brain is fascinating and despite all we know there is much we still have to learn. For you and I it’s important to understand that things our brain has taken in, but doesn’t consciously process, impact much of what we say and do. Every now and then we should pause and ask ourselves why we do what we do because not all of our decisions are good ones. When we make bad decisions we need to correct them before they become detrimental or before they become bad habits.

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