Earlier this week on my way to work, I happened upon a most interesting piece on the human mind while listening to NPR. It told of a very simple experiment that led to some very interesting results.
Take just a few moments and listen to the article here. It's quite interesting, very funny, and yet somewhat disturbing...
It delves into the theory that our mind is anatomically a tale of two halves, called a dual system. A rational deliberative system, and an emotional, unconscious system. It seems that these two systems are often at war, competing for attention, and trying to guide and direct our behavior. The disturbing fact, it only takes 7 little pieces of information to totally overwhelm reason and allow emotion to WIN, almost hands down. And next thing we know, we have let the "bad" cake win over the good "fruit." One of the Radiolab guys says it best:
" - Team Reason is well, pretty feeble, and when we always rely on it, all the advice you get on decision making is, "stop and think", "slow down", "take your time".. and yet when you actally look at the brain, that would kind of lead you to rely on a feeble piece of machinery."
That is a shocking revelation indeed. When it comes to decisions about cake, well that just results in maybe tipping the scale in the wrong direction, but what about the really IMPORTANT decisions? Can we trust ourselves to ever think rationaly? I by no means claim to be an expert, as I only have but 33 years of experience under my belt. But I think there are some things we can glean from all this other than a fear-mongering moan of terror as we shudder to think on our thoughts.
Mankind is notorious for complicating things. We try to cram more and more pixels on the screen so we can better imitate what we see with the naked eye. But decision making is still black and white. It's either cake or fruit. We muddy the waters with the gray matter of life. We try to anticipate what others will think, as we check email on our smartphones and surf Amazon.com for that thing-a-ma-jig we don't need but it's a 24 HOUR SALE!! So "Mental Multi-tasking" dooms us right from the start. Why not leave the simultaneous extrapalations to the gigahertz processors?? Accept our mind for the feeble machine that it is, prioritize our thoughts and do one thing at a time, and do it well!
A potent piece of scripture comes to mind: A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:8) I have known and memorized this verse for many years now, but it takes on even more meaning now. It would appear that we've been given warning of this very such problem already! So for us to walk in wisdom, we must first live daily in such a way that does not overtax our minds lest we become unstable. How many irons do we have in the fire? Our mind is NOT to be treated like our Fidelity Portfolios. The more we "diversify" and add elements for our minds to juggle, the closer I fear we edge on the precipice of insanity! Let it be known, I dabble in many different things that interest me; but to be successful at any particular one of these I have to lay the others aside. I pledge to do one thing well at a time and enjoy the tranquility of Living Simply!
That's enough heavy mental lifting for today. I am off in search of cake!
Until Next Time..