“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
Our brain is brilliant. Looking around, there are traces of human brilliance everywhere. We travel in space, cure illnesses, develop ever further-reaching artificial intelligence, create more complex and impressive constructions…the list could easily go on.
There is no doubt that for us humans, our brain is our greatest asset. And there is no doubt that our brain is, indeed, brilliant. But as with all working things, there are certain aspects which are good to know when relying on them for certain tasks.
Our brain doesn’t come with a user manual, but perhaps it should. Or we should all at least get to know how it works, it should be considered general knowledge really, before we rely on it for instance to solve problems. Or for it to come up with new things, innovations. Or simply to do what we do most with our brain: think.
The peculiarities of the human brain
First of all, the human brain is lazy. Yes, indeed, lazy. Always looking for the easiest way out, the path with the least resistance. To play it safe. “Safe” in this case being what we know.
How does it work? Well, basically, our brain is like an advanced computer (don’t worry, this will not lead to a discussion on artificial intelligence beating us at our own game), in that it recognizes a situation based on a cluster memory of similar, previous experiences. This can be useful of course, think about identifying danger for instance. However, categorizing everything we experience based on past experiences, also means we automatically take the road the most travelled, and the chance to take the road less travelled by becomes an option that requires an active approach (this was also true in Robert Frost’s famous poem, I think).
Why does this matter? The most important reason here, is that our brain actually holds us back. Whenever we want to try something new, go for our dreams, live life to the max or at least according to our own wishes, anything new becomes something our brains will push back with resistance. The kind of resistance that finds excuses not to do something new. Not to dare to live your dreams. Not to try something exiting you’ve wanted to do but…well, never gotten passed the resistance to actually do. This can have a huge impact on how we live our lives, which is why it is important to at least know our brains will try to do this to our wildest ideas. At least then we can push back and take action!
The second important consequence of our brains choosing the easy way, is based on the fact that our brains get stuck in their own paths. You know, the road the most travelled by. And this road may not be the one needed for the situation at hand. It may have worked well in the past, in fact, it may not even have worked all the well in the past, but simply based on the fact that it is a path we know, we will still consider it a safe choice. According to our brilliant but less than perfect brains.
Have you ever been in a brainstorm situation and contributed with a wild, totally out-of-the box idea, only to be met by a comment starting with the words “Yes, but…”? I bet however the sentence was completed, it somehow bore proof of past experience, current definitions or beliefs, showing your wild idea was never going to work. Dismissed before it ever saw the light of day.
Not getting stuck in the old ways is massively important when it comes to moving away from the current economic system we have created. Humans are leaving a footprint larger than the planet behind, but the only living memories in our brain, are the ones of paths that were used when creating the problem we must now get out of.
Time to open up our minds
Time to actively start open up our minds! To break out of the pathways our minds would love to stick to if left to their own efficiency, and to create new pathways and open up to new thinking. Take a step back to see the whole picture, look at things from new and perhaps unexpected angles, learn from nature, learn from each other, turn the sequence in the process around…in brief, take our brilliant brain to a new level of brilliance!
In our work, this is what we aim to do with SCUPER, the Straight Circles Universal PERspectives. And with our mind openers on Instagram. You are welcome to learn more and also to contribute if you like – get in touch!