Tag Archives: Thought

They Limped in and Danced Out: Choices and Illusions, Part 1

A few of my posts recently have been about the importance that our thoughts and beliefs can have on how we function. Coincidentally, I was asked to write a review of a book that is right in line with this thinking. The book: Choices and Illusions: How Did I Get Where I Am, and How Do I Get Where I Want to Be? by Eldon Taylor. I enjoyed reading it and if you’re unfamiliar with the idea that our thoughts can have a tangible impact on us, this book is certainly a great introduction. Over the next few days, I’ll take a closer look at some of the sections of the book. In today’s post, I’ll look at the first 6 chapters.

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Chapter 1 was a great introduction to this idea that our thoughts can have a tangible effect on our lives. Taylor tells a clever story about an eagle that was raised as a chicken. The eagle, all its life, assumes it’s a chicken, even when an eagle comes to tell it that it’s an eagle. This chapter reminds me of many of the posts I’ve written about perspective. If you don’t know what other possibilities there are out there, it’s hard to choose something different.

In chapter 2, I was surprised to hear about someone who can draw fractals freehand! I remember a few years ago being really enthralled by fractals. In fact, there were times when I’d just watch YouTube videos of fractals for in 15-30 minute increments. If you’re interested, Jason Padgett is the fellow who can draw fractals freehand. He’s quite good! And if you don’t believe me that fractals can be encapsulating, watch this: Fractal Zoom Mandelbrot Corner.

Chapter 3 had a really fun story about a high school reunion. There were a number of people who had reached the age where they weren’t as mobile as they used to be. The DJ, not accounting for this in creating the playlist, became worried when people weren’t moving so well on the way into the event. Figuring that there wasn’t enough time to change the playlist, the DJ played it as it was. The DJ later told Taylor: “Eldon, they limped in and danced out!” How is this possible? Well, as Taylor emphasizes, our thoughts can have a powerful effect on our abilities. Many of these people were transported to their youthful days upon hearing the popular music during the time they were in high school.

Chapters 4 through 6 reminded me of the importance of the documentary Miss Representation (and it’s soon to be released companion: The Mask You Live In). The media can have such a powerful impact on the way we think about ourselves and it can often be overlooked. In particular, chapter 6 reminds us that advertising is not always the most ethical profession. With that being said, it’s important to say that not all advertisers behave in this way.

In tomorrow’s post, we’ll look at chapters 7 through 12.

(Disclosure: I was given a free copy of the book.)

Leonardo da Vinci Thinks You Need a Fresh Perspective

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a photo of a real estate listing in Korea and the story of the blind men and the elephant. These were both meant to emphasize the point that perspective is really important. A few days ago I came across an article from Inc. that continues to strengthen my opinion that being able to assume different perspectives is extremely beneficial.

This particular article had to do with Leonardo da Vinci — a famous polymath from the 15th and 16th centuries. The article was illustrating the different ways that da Vinci could teach the reader about creativity. The lede for this article:

The Italian master had skill and great ideas, but he also had something else: the ability to look at the world around him differently.

Perspective.

Here’s the two “things” that I think highlight this point:

Independent Thinking

Diversity is critical for creativity and innovation, which is why it’s important to seek out points of view different from your own.

“The problem is the more senior someone becomes the more likely they’re going to believe their own publicity and surround themselves with people who always agree with them. So the more senior you become, the more concerted effort you must make to seek out different opinions. Then you have a chance to think independently,” Gelb says.

Make New Connections

Logical and linear-thinking types–engineers, analysts, and scientists, for example–can have a hard time looking for patterns and new connections, but doing so is the key to creativity.

Again, Gelb likes to use mind mapping, although it take a while to train these kinds of folks since they’re used to doing things in a formal order.

“At first it feels very messy… thinking through association and letting the mind go free and generating lots of key words and other images in different directions,” he says.

So, if you won’t take my word that seeing things from a new perspective is important, will you take da Vinci’s word?

 

Your Beliefs Matter for Others, Too

In reflecting on yesterday’s post, I remembered another anecdote that you may find quite powerful. This comes from a story that a friend of mine who taught high school (not sure if she still does). And the more that I think about yesterday’s post and the post I’m about to write now, yesterday’s matches really well with the the first post I wrote about words being important and today’s matches really well with the second post I wrote about words being important to others.

The story begins with the teacher, let’s call her Laura to make this easier, asking the class to stand in a circle. After the class is standing in the circle, she asks for one volunteer to step into the center of the circle with her. Someone enters the center of the circle — let’s call him John. Now, before I go on, I should say that John was one of the taller people in the class (taller than Laura). These were high school students and some of them had surpassed Laura’s height, which is natural because Laura wasn’t very tall. Alright, so Laura pushes down on John’s arm and nothing happens — obviously. He’s much stronger than her.

Then, Laura asks John to go out into the hallway for a few minutes. After the door is closed, Laura then tells the class what she’s about to do. She also explains that she wants everyone to send/think negative thoughts to John. Thoughts like, “I hate you,” and “You suck,” and lots of other negative things that they can probably imagine because they’re in high school. They’re not to say any of these out loud, though. Once she’s certain everyone gets it, she goes out into the hall to get John.

After John’s back in the circle, she explains to everyone (and John, this time) that she’s going to have John extend his right arm out in front of him. Next, she’s going to ask him to hold it steady (i.e. resist) as she begins to push down on it. What John doesn’t know is that when his arm is extended, the rest of the class will be sending/thinking negative thoughts.

John extends his right arm. The class starts sending negative thoughts. Laura pushes down on John’s arm… it falls like limp spaghetti. The look on John’s face, Laura tells me, is remarkable. He’s astounded that Laura can simply push his arm down with ease. He asks her to do it again — and he tries harder to hold his arm up. The same thing happens.

She thanks John and asks him to go out into the hallway one more time. When he gets there, she then tells the class that she wants everyone to do the opposite this time. She’s going to have John repeat the process, but she wants the class to send/think positive thoughts of John. Things like, “I love you,” and “You’re awesome.”

When John comes back into the circle this time, he’s expecting that Laura will, again, be able to easily push down on his arm. However, when she pushes down — nothing happens. So, Laura then tries using both of her hands to push down. Nothing. John’s arm wouldn’t budge. Again, Laura tells me, John’s reaction is priceless. She thanks John and explains to the class what’s just happened, who by the way, are also pretty shocked to see John’s arm collapse for negative thoughts and hold steady for positive thoughts.

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The thoughts we think are powerful. This used to be something that was “fringe,” and relegated to certain aisles in the bookstores. When you see publications like Scientific American reviewing studies that confirm things like this, you know that it’s striking a mainstream cord.

If you’re looking for more information about topics like this, I suggest looking for academic studies on the Placebo Effect. It’s quite amazing the kinds of effects that can occur that are attributable simply to the person believing that they’re going to be better.

What if Predicting the Future is a Skill?

In the shower this morning, I was thinking about some old research. Old since it’s almost 10 years old — so not “old,” per se. Anyway, I was thinking about those experiments where a person’s body knew before a startling picture was about to appear before them. In layman’s terms — predicting the future. Then I thought (because all great ideas start in the shower, right?) what if predicting the future is a skill… and we just have to develop it!

I’ve written before about the evidence for predicting the future (precognition) — there’s lots of evidence to support that this phenomenon exists. There’s also lots of research that talks about — at birth — we have the capacity to speak every language. I should say, we have the capacity to develop the ability to speak every language. It has to do with connectivity in our brain, phonemes, and the like. So, isn’t it possible that there are also neural pathways that could be developed to improve our ability to predict the future?

And if this were the case, isn’t it possible that we can also develop this skill later in life. There are infinite examples of people learning new languages after the so called “do or die” time when they’re babies, so isn’t it possible that people could then develop the ability to predict the future later in life, too?

I don’t have any definitive answers to the questions I’m asking, but it’s certainly a thought worth entertaining this Friday morning.