Who is Smarter than You?


This week it is “I” for Intelligence

Intelligence is tricky, we think of ourselves as smart, we also want to be smarter but do we know if we are smart enough? We avoid things that will make us feel less smart therefore we gravitate to activities that make us feel smart, confident and accomplished. It is natural to not want the pains of learning something new & getting frustrated but learning to me is like exercise, we do it because we know it is good for us. It hurts doing it but in the end we are better off.

As far as intelligence goes, we can’t do two things at once. Neither task will turn out well, our brains are not equipt for that. Multi-tasking is a myth an overused excuse for not paying attention. We are in reality at the neuron level of the brain,“switch-tasking”. “Switch-tasking” puts our brains in a very fast & inefficient task swapping mode. It is a myth in our society that we can look at texts or emails while we are in a conversation with someone. I admit to trying to do this, I also admit to stopping a conversation with someone who thinks they are listening to me but they are doing something else therefore not really listening. An intelligent person understands that focus on a smartphone will take focus off the person in front of you, right? “Are you listening?” “Yeah, just let me finish this…..” That is NOT listening.

Our brains are not equipt to handle the information overload that today’s social media & quick moving information sources put on us. How can we recover & function well? How does our brain work & what does it need to not be so tired and overwhelmed all the time? Exactly how do we make sure our brain is able to learn and think at it’s best?

I read an article recently in the New York Times by Daniel Levitin, Director of the Laboratory for Music, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University and the author of “ The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload.” His insights really made sense to me. Our brains do have switching mechanisms that fire on and off to focus on a task & then on thinking. Back and forth. He describes it like a seesaw. “Task-active” (doing) and “task- negative” (daydreaming). He suggests a more equal balance. Just like a seesaw, too high & it’s hard to get off. He also extols the virtues of walking in the woods allowing our minds to wander. This allows us to balance the demands of our hyper-attentive, demanding world. When our minds wander we come up with associations and connections that our “task” mind cannot make. This is problem-solving at its best. Don’t you have problems to solve? Don’t you need to be a bit “smarter”?
I always have so much on my mind, while driving I like to turn the radio off and enjoy the quiet zone to gather my thoughts. How many times have we heard of or been told of great ideas in the shower? There are so many places in your everyday life where you can have quiet time to gather your thoughts. We need to give our active brains a break. It is nearly impossible to think of turning off email & not paying attention to the incessant texts, notifications and electronic pokes we get all day. To me it is like a bad addiction but we like it because it fires the brain in the pleasure center to receive something. Our curiosity gets the best of us & we pay attention in five-second spurts, tiring our brain out. All your brain is asking for is a few breaks a day on this high-intensity race.

This week attempt to shut off the electronic noise, close out the email. Your brain will thank you if you spend 30 minutes or more on one task, walk in the woods or daydream a bit and let those other brain neurons have some time to breathe and rest. Taking time away from the intense, attention grabbing stimuli will make you feel better and it will make you smarter!

Your problems are calling you. Answer!

Use this weeks IDEAsheet to help give your brain a break.

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