Tag Archives: reality

Help your brain to not trip over it’s own survival mechanisms

Does thinking make you tired?

I wish that I could energize and focus myself by thinking and (relatedly) by reading. I wish I could set my mind to something and just GO but I find that focus and a state of wakefulness are kind of like trying to keep a spinning top from falling off the sides of a coffee table. You have to herd that mess.


(See what I mean?!?! I’m writing late at night and while thinking about the impact of this last statement, I nodded off, fingers barely poised above the home row—except for the heavy ‘d’ finger.

I really did write this segment late at night, really was exhausted, and really did fall asleep in the process. But before I banished it to my Ridiculous bin, I wanted to share some good news with you. The good news is that working WITH the human brain and our physiology, instead of against it, is really worthwhile and will help us focus and reach our goals.

Here are some scientifically backed tips for getting more of your potential loosed.

  1.  Eliminate distractions. Our brain wants to follow distractions. Studies show that a distraction happens every 11 minutes throughout one’s day, while it takes one’s brain 25 minutes to ‘get over it’ and move on. Therefore, cutting ourselves off from certain distractions will pull out stops towards accomplishing our goal(s).
  2. Limit work sessions, especially creative ones. With very few exceptions, brainstorming sessions, creative writing workshops, and other productive increments should be limited to an hour. Beyond that, everyone keeps looking like adults but inside we start to naturally resemble pent up children that need to go run around the playground for a while. Therefore, build in mandatory breaks for yourself. If you need more time for a project/task, or if it just isn’t done yet, break it up into sections–taking advantage of…
  3. Chunks. I’m not kidding here–chunking–is a psychological term for how our brain groups things together in order to efficiently keep track of information. This is why we remember things better if grouped into threes. (E.g. phone numbers (555) 555-, “they always come in threes, don’t they?”) This is also useful for planning how to teach and share information: combine it with the fact that in a list of things people will remember the first and last items best, and you can greatly increase the chances they’ll retain some of it.
  4. Git ‘er dun. Okay, so this one isn’t scientifically steeped here. But it’s right up there with “Just Do It.” Simply finishing something–even if it is only one item out of many you want to complete, or if it is something very small–will give you an emotional and cognitive pat on the back. I saw this in action the most working with special-needs children and those with learning disabilities. When these kids are just floundering and on the brink of total shutdown, we quickly bring the finish line to them so that they are guaranteed to at least cross it. (We would try again later.)

Tutor: “Okay, Johnny, what’s 3 + 4?”
Johnny: “AAAAHHHHH!!!!!”–while flailing and writhing in pain.
Tutor: “Okay, Johnny, touch the circle. Good job! Go play!”

These little tips are sufficient to lighten up on  yourself and get tough with yourself simultaneously. Work with your biological inclinations, get serious about building and guarding an environment you’re most likely to succeed in, and then go for it.



Depravity of “The Bachelor”

This wildly popular show has always bugged me. I just can’t ignore the mind splinter I get. There is something profoundly wrong with the whole premise of it.

So, do you see kids in your future?

Not that I’m coming from a I’m-too-awesome-to-enjoy-such-frippery high and mighty place. I rubberneck and get sucked into the sensational as much as the next fella.

But tonight I overheard something that spiked out to me like a charlie horse in my jaw. The Bachelor was on a “date” [doh!] with one of the women, and was giving his spiel about what he looks for in a woman. He gave a good, safe, and politically correct suitable for primetime short list of qualities, such that the inner beauty is what matters, and that he’s dated women from several major ethnic groups without trying to, of course. (I actually thought his response was good. I share his sentiments.)

The part that got me was the woman’s response to him. She replied something along the lines of, “Those are perfect answers!”

This little moment is a great reminder of the man behind the curtain of The Bachelor. This isn’t a date in the everyday sense of the word. It’s an interview! The creators of the show are so crafty at letting you forget that none of these people are meeting each other organically and getting to know each other the way the rest of us do, that it’s shocking to me when it gets revealed here and there.

Even a blind date is more of a real relationship than this. At least blind dates are arranged by someone else as an educated guess, and the two of you are on equal footing as you stumble through the early stages of getting to know someone that you could theoretically fall in love with. This isn’t like that at all. There are plot points and set responses that need to occur, since this is a short-term budgeted weeding out process in which one man pretends to have equal interest in dozens of women knowing full well that he has to favor only one for the sake of his contract and the American Public. This is truly a game in which everyone is trying to glean enough likability to survive the cut at each round, hoping to turn a cumulative couple of days with a person you are never with in a natural setting with into a “for the rest of my life” soul mate. (It would be interesting to count how many times the phrase “for the rest of my life” is used per episode. I wonder if you plotted them on a graph for each season, would the frequency be equally….meh, I’m getting sidetracked.)

Ohmigod I like, TOTALLY forgot you were there filming us! Hafuhfuhffuhfuhfff!….

I’m not pretentious enough to say there’s no hope in actually falling in love and pulling the real thing off here. Real life is awkward enough to prove that. But this show is so orchestrated as to not acknowledge the awkward reality of life that I can’t stop annoying all my family that likes to watch the show. Thank you for reading–now maybe I can stop bugging them. 😉