Archive for Brain Science
I received the following message from a subscriber who listened to my radio show Logical Soul Talk this past Tuesday. It was such a great question, in fact, I want to share it with you . . .
“Hi, Michael –
I listened in to the “Branding from the Inside Out” yesterday
which had me totally intrigued – enough to go back and listen
to other podcasts – such a rich resource there, really.
Question/Comment: When defining ‘passion’ you asked the question, ‘Is it something you are willing to die for?’ I am passionate about encouraging and coaching other artists to find their authentic creative paths but I am not willing to die for it.
Similarly, I am passionate about my own art and developing web presences for others, but not so much that I would die for it. I have businesses related to both and am marketing them with increasing success.
Were you speaking metaphorically? As in : death to a life without success surrounding your passion? Or lack of life energy or loss of joy if you couldn’t participate in what you are passionate about?”
Dear subscriber: To answer your question, I will refer you to Will Smith’s video featured on the June 2nd Blog Post. During an interview, Will basically said he was willing to “die for the truth,” i.e., what he believes in, or what he is committed to. Take 10 minutes to listen to that video – it will open your eyes.
Will Smith is very successful. Tony Robbins is successful. John Travolta, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey and Mohamed Ali are successful. What do they all have in common? They all share the same quality of total commitment that can only bring success . . . or annihilation. Looking to history, we find this quality present mostly in the movers and shakers of their era: General George Patton, Mahatma Ghandi, Harriet Tubman, Alexander the Great, Martin Luther King, Jr. and others like them. All of these great ones played the same high-stakes game of “do or die.”
What sets each of these people apart from 97% of humanity is that they do NOT compromise when it comes to their deepest values . . . even if it means their physical death! When they focus on something, it gets done. Period. Their passion drives them towards success. Nothing else matters.
If you can look at your career or life goals with the same conviction, you will succeed. If not, you will always have an “out.” Your chances for lasting success, therefore, are reduced.
The fact is, very few of our options (unless we are committed to extreme sports or sky-diving) will lead to physical death. That’s the good news. The bad news is: there is a part of our brain that can’t tell the difference, and will continue to fight to keep us “safe.”
Does this mean you can’t have a measure of success? No. What it DOES mean, however, is that you will NOT be playing the same game on the same world stage as the super-achievers.
If that’s not important to you, I understand. Your passion is for survival, as it is for most of us. This is not wrong; its just the way things are. You can still achieve your own measure of success and happiness, so long as you know this is the game you are playing . . . so play it all out! “Death” to you might mean something like public speaking, cold call selling, or doing something you believe in that risks criticism. So do something that invites personal transformation.
This “passion for survival” can understood as part of our evolution as a species. Even if we no longer have to face daily threats like invading tribes and saber-toothed tigers, we still carry that awareness of threat within us. Facing danger in the past meant annihilation. Therefore, our ability to commit to any perceived suicide – real or imagined – has essentially been bred out of us over the millenia.
Fears of death – whether it be to the body, emotions, ego, or even basic beliefs – all appear to us equally frightening, and the part of our brain that makes this ultimate “passion decision” is very old. The limbic system – usually oversimplified as our “animal brain” – is programmed to make us survive at all costs.
In ancient times, when saber-toothed tigers roamed the earth, this meant either learning to either fight the tiger – and sure-fire way to get killed – or flee from the tiger and have a much better chance to survive. This “fight-or-flight” reaction, coined by Walter B. Cannon in the 1920’s, has also created a type of human schizophrenia.
While we WANT success, we HAVE TO survive! Our “passion thermostat,” therefore, is set for low. In our society, only the Alpha Males (and Females) actually attempt to kill the saber-tooth . . . or die trying. They become our leaders, or our deceased heroes. The rest of us are ruled by “common sense” . . . . something we’ve passed down to our descendants for millions of years.
So what does all this mean?
It means one of two things:
- we live according to the evolutionary cards
we were dealt, or
- we change our survival decision setting.
Believe it or not, there is a way to change our evolutionary survival setting . . . but it takes time and a commitment to personal transformation. You must be willing to give up many of the time-honored “truths” you have held for most of your life, and be able to embrace a feeling of emptiness – at least for a short time. This vacuum – coupled with a deep intent towards success – will invite that transformation.
For some, this might mean quitting your job to pursue your passion – a kind of “death” that still implies danger to our limbic system. Some make it; some don’t. Only by truly embracing your real passion can this work out. If you quit your job to pursue the IDEA of what you THINK is your passion, you will fail. The good news is that you will probably still be alive and can regroup and try again later.
There are ways to actually LINK the passion for survival with a strong desire to succeed in a given field of endeavor. This is, in fact, a little less risky, and is the essence of “Branding from the Soul.” Without a firm (and deep) commitment, however, our “passion” will remain just a word.
So thanks for the question!
Yours for Outrageous Success,
The new year is upon us, and the “resolution bug” bites us with the promise of glorious health, grand riches, and perfect relationships.Â Then, sometime before March, reality sets in.
You wanted to lose that 20 pounds, get the ideal job, find the perfect life mate, and get out of debt.Â But somehow progress is slow or nonexistent, and before you know it, Thanksgiving arrives and you have nothing to show for your (by now) forgotten resolutions.
Why is this?Â Why do we sabotage ourselves? Why does self-sabotage slowly ruin our best-laid plans?? Is it laziness?Â Partly.Â Lack of willpower?Â Might be.Â Forces beyond our control?Â Could be.
The main culprit, however, is far more subtle and powerful than we could imagine. Â This culprit?Â . . . . a second “self.”
That’s right.Â There is another “self” in there with you! While your so-called ego self is the one who speaks and makes logical decisions (and resolutions), it is powerless without its twin, the inner self.
This inner self (or force) was even given a name by the ancients:Â Ka by the Egyptians, Chi by the Chinese, Ki by Japanese, and Ku or Unihipili by the Hawaiian Kahunas. They speak of this self as one who does not speak, but embodies the senses, memory, and driving force required to accomplish anything.
Even modern brain scientists understand the profound impact of thisÂ silent self.Â Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD wrote in her book My Stroke of Insight how her own stroke experience revealed the power of her right brain, and that this entity exhibited, in her words, “different values” than those of her left brain self.
I’ve discovered that we can apply Newton’s Third Law of Motion to relationships with other people . . . and with our hidden self!Â This Law states thatÂ for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
By ignoring the integrity of this being, i.e., NOT treating this being as a separate and distinct self,Â we westerners are missing half (or more) of our ability to accomplish our goals and dreams.Â So long as we try to program, hypnotize, manipulate, or otherwise control “our subconscious,” it will just fight back.
This self knows ALL our tricks, remember?Â Â The “equal and opposite reaction” is this:Â the more we ignore this being and try to reach our goals without his or her support, the less certain we will succeed.
So long as we see ourselves as “individuals,” i.e., undivided beings, we will continue to buy into the illusion that this hidden self is really only a part of what we consider “us,” and has no abilities outside of what we “program” it to do!
Begin to speak the language of your hidden self and you can begin to influence its behavior.Â Find out what he/she needs, then act to give that.Â Otherwise, you will always be a “victim” of self-sabotage since this hidden self is not on board with your wishes!
What do these people have in common? Mark Joyner, Alex Mandossian, Mike Filsaime, Joel Comm, Matt Bacak, Gina Gaudio Graves, Dave Lakhani, Tellman Knudson, Mark Widawer, Michael Penland, David Garfinkel, Simon Leung, Ken McArthur, Donna Fox, Kevin Wilke, Sterling Valentine, Harris Fellman, Heather Vale, Jeremy Gislason, Jason James, Frank Sousa, Larry Benet, Mike Morgan, Jason Moffatt, Eric Holmlund, Ross Goldberg, Joe Lavery, Devon Brown and Brian Edmondson, to name just a few??
Well, for one thing, they are all very successful Internet marketers and entrepreneurs.Â For another thing, they all still share another bond – a friendship and admiration for Jason Oman, my very special guest on Logical Soul Talk, Tuesday, December 15th at 6 pm ET.
Jason,Â author of the book Conversations with Millionaires, suffered a brain aneurysm back in October of 2007 that left him virtually incapacitated. Although he survived, his business suffered, his income went down, and even his memory and social life have been slow to rebound.Â However this remarkable young man – still in his late 30’s – has fought over the past two years to make a remarkable recovery with the help of Emory Hospital, good supportive friends, and his mother, Merry.
Amazingly, Jason is still very upbeat, cheerfully addresses everyone as “SuperStar,”Â and has big plans for the near future.Â Although his memory is still a little weak, with the help of friends and technology he is writing again and planning another series of books and online courses.
The world is still Jason’s oyster, and he shows us why none of us have ANY excuses not to make it in life and business! Here is a taped interview with him in July, 2007:
Tune in Tuesday as a show of support for Jason – and let’s cheer him back to a full recovery!
We human have a nearly unlimited capacity for understanding, knowledge, wisdom and even computation.Â All this mental capacity, however, becomes useless when we focus on things that add nothing to the human condition or evolution.
Why, in the name of common sense, do we persist in using this unlimited mental capacity for nonsense like searching for Brad and Angelinaâ€™s baby pictures or rehashing civil war conspiracies?Â (Note: Iâ€™ve done both myself, so Iâ€™m not immune to the nonsense either!) This is like cramming the volume of all the oceans in the world into a shot glass.
Over the years, Iâ€™ve come to the conclusion that this marvelously-brilliant mind of ours is controlled by a relative idiot â€“ the conscious mind. Like it or not, this mind is the one in charge . . . the â€œbeingâ€ that calls the shots.Â Or at least we think he/she does.
If the human brain is compared to a computer (and the mind being analogous to software), the conscious mind is the â€œcontrollerâ€ â€“ the one who inputs data to this computer and expresses the findings.Â If the controller is fully alert, the input is sharp and the results useful.Â If the controller is foggy, both input and results are also foggy and unintelligible.
Using this analogy, we come to the inevitable conclusion that not only is the average controller asleep, he is also dreaming, and inputting data based on these dreams! How else can we explain our cultural obsession with the likes of Paris Hilton??
So who is it, actually, that controls a mind that is estimated to have the powerful reserve of over 100 quintillion bits (100,000,000,000,000,000,000) of memory available to it (according to John Von Neumann)??Â How much working capacity does this being exhibit?
Mind’s Limit Found: 4 Things at Once
Clara Moskowitz, writing for www.LiveScience.com in April 2008, reported on some research that indicates that, regardless of how powerful we think our mind is, it is functionally rather stupid.Â She writes that there is an ongoing debate about how many items we can store in our conscious mind, in what’s called our working memory.
The answer: three or four. Here are excerpts from her article:
Working memory is a more active version of short-term memory, which refers to the temporary storage of information. Working memory relates to the information we can pay attention to and manipulate.
Early research found the working memory cut-off to be about seven items, which is perhaps why telephone numbers are seven digits long (although some early telephone dialing started with a two- or three-letter “exchange,” often the first letters of a community name, followed by four or five figures, e.g. Pennsylvania 6-5000). Now scientists think the true capacity is lower when people are not allowed to use tricks like repeating items over and over or grouping items together.
“For example, when we present phone numbers, we present them in groups of three and four, which helps us to remember the list,” said University of Missouri-Columbia psychologistÂ Nelson Cowan, who co-led the study with colleagues Jeff Rouder and Richard Morey. “That inflates the estimate. We believe we’re approaching the estimate that you get when you cannot group. There is some controversy over what the real limit is, but more and more I’ve found people are accepting this kind of limit.”
The study was published April 22, 2008 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and involved presenting people with different squares â€“ some colored and some not â€“ and asking them to make decisions based on short-term memory.Â The working memory of each participant was consistently three or four.
Masters of Memory
While the average person may only be able to hold three or four things in mind at once, some people have achieved amazing feats of working memory. Contestants at the World Memory Championship (most recently held in Bahrain in September 2007) often recall hundreds of digits in order after only five minutes. But even these masters of memory seem to start with the same basic capacities as everyone else, and improve their abilities with strategies and tricks.
“A very famous study was a test done of a long-distance runner who learned to associate digits together in ways that were meaningful to him with respect to running times,” one researcher said. “He could repeat back lists of up to 80 digits in the right order, but if you gave him a list of words, he was at seven plus-or-minus two like everyone else.”
Working memory and intelligence
Although there seems to be a cap on the average number of things a person can remember at once, basic working memory capacity does vary among individuals. Interestingly, those that test well on working memory tasks also seem to do well at learning, reading comprehension and problem solving.
“People accept that intelligence seems to be related to working memory,” Cowan said. “The information you can hold in your mind at one time is the information you can interrelate. If you have a better working memory we believe that your problem-solving abilities are better.”
Researchers don’t know what causes these variations in working-memory abilities â€” perhaps they are genetic, perhaps they arise from differences in early childhood environments or education.
The good news is people can improve their performance on certain working-memory tasks with training. When children practice these tasks, over time they get better. And not only do their scores on the memory tasks improve, but their scores on tests of attention and reasoning can also rise.
It’s all in there
Researchers debate the relationship between working memory and long-term memory. While some hold that the two are independent storage facilities, others say working memory is simply the part of long-term memory that we can currently access.
Many scientists believe that almost all of our experiences are encoded into long-term memory, and that forgetting is simply a matter of not being able to access that memory.
“It’s in there somewhere, the problem is just getting to it,” Cowan said. “Everything gets encoded into long-term memory almost immediately, but it gets encoded in a way that may not be distinct enough to be retrieved.”
NEXT: Are Limits to the Mind a Strategy to Avoid Power??
The human race has the capacity to put men on distant planets, explore the depths of the oceans, invent nano-technology to replace living tissue, and create energy sources that replace fossil fuels. We also have the ability to exhibit the depths of depravity, stupidity and triviality.
While most of us humans still consider depravity and stupidity undesirable traits, we have somehow come to accept triviality as, well, acceptable! I find this disturbing in the sense that triviality can be a deadly form of self-delusion that hides the true nature of reality, and of life.
Take for example our most important news concerns of the day: Brad and Angelina’s dinner menu, Nicole Richie’s post-delivery pictures, party crashers at the White House, and any stupid thing Britney does. How, we might query, does this feed a single hungry person or add to human knowledge at all?
Hello! It doesn’t.
And It’s Getting Worse
Marketing expert Troy White writes
Celebrity-gossip websites have seen a 30% growth over the past 12 months “ many offline print magazines are seeing a 50%+ growth rate “ this while newsworthy publications like Time are seeing a 17% decline in readership.
Scary. If I believed we were capable of little more than this, I would fear for our race. Global warming may never get us, but our own folly certainly will . . . given enough time and lapses in leadership.
I still believe, however, that humans have a destiny that transcends even
all humans, including the assumed-to-be ˜illiterates’ and ˜spastics,’ are born with a comprehensive and superb inventory of subjectively apprehending and synergetically comprehending faculties “ as well as objectively articulating capabilities. (p. 26)
This is Fuller-Speak for all humans have the capacity to be very intelligent, and to express this intelligence. But how? By focusing on Britney’s latest arrest photos? Probably not.
We Are Asleep
Fuller cites the fact that 99% of humanity does not know we have the ability to make it on this planet and in the universe (as of 1980 anyway). Maybe Britney, Brad and Angelina are diversions intended to numb the pain of our collective fear. Perhaps we have made the decision that we are helpless against natural forces, and accept our fate by ignoring it.
This may be true. We have, after all, been bombarded with bad news even before CNN, FOX and NBC. Since biblical times, prophets, seers, and soothsayers have been predicting our demise. It seems to be a popular sport, then as now.
The economist Thomas Malthus predicted in 1805 that overpopulation would result in the destruction of all humans by 1900 and the same theme was played again in the 1960’s and 70’s.
So far we’re still here.
Fuller’s vision of the future gives us more hope that perhaps the modern doomsayers are wrong. He found, for example, that mankind in 1980 was using only .0000004% of the reserves available via what he calls our cosmic energy income account. He said that artifacts “ created and propagated by our own intelligence “ would consistently come to our rescue.
If this is the case, then we have severely curtailed our ability to create even more artifacts. But how much of our mental capacity remains untapped?
Let’s Look at the Brain Itself
The view of the brain as a type of computer has gained general acceptance in the philosophical and computer science community. The only question has been “ how powerful IS this machine when compared to, say, an IBM PC or a Cray? How well does the human brain actually perform?
Einstein postulated that we are perhaps using about 10% of our mental capacity. But of course, Einstein based his estimate on his personal observation as a patent clerk and a physicist usually surrounded by other brilliant minds. Even his first wife was a physicist herself, and instrumental in helping him formulate his Special and General Theories of Relativity.
One of the modern techniques used to consider mental capacity is to count the number of synapses, guess their speed of operation, and determine synapse operations per second. There are roughly one quadrillion (1,000,000,000,000,000) synapses operating at about 10 impulses per second, giving roughly 10 quadrillion synapse operations per second.
Another approach is to estimate the computational power of the retina, and then multiply this estimate by the ratio of brain size to retinal size. The retina is relatively well understood so we can make a reasonable estimate of its computational power.
The output of the retina – carried by the optic nerve – is primarily from retinal ganglion cells that perform center surround computations (or related computations of roughly similar complexity). If we assume that a typical computation requires about 100 analog adds and is done about 100 times per second, then computation of the axonal output of each ganglion cell requires about 10,000 analog adds per second.
There are about one million axons in the optic nerve, so the retina as a whole performs about 10 billion analog adds per second. There are about 100 million nerve cells in the retina, and between 10 billion and 1 trillion nerve cells in the brain, so the brain is roughly 100 to 10,000 times larger than the retina.
By this logic, the brain should be able to do about one trillion to 10 quadrillion operations per second.
Either way, that’s enough mental power and speed to predict everything Brad and Angelina will be doing over the next five hundred years . . . or perhaps we might even do something useful instead.
Next: The Limitations of the Conscious Mind
There has been a long-time observation by philosophers, scientists and psychologists alike, that suggests we use only a small fraction of our brains, and therefore a fraction of our mental potential.Â I hold the same theory, and will attempt to quantify these observations in a series of articles.
The reasons I feel this exercise is important are fourfold:
- We tend to underestimate our potential mental capacity and power,
- We tend to over-exaggerate the ability of the conscious mind to achieve what we desire,
- We tend to AVOID achieving our goals through self-sabotage and various means of internal and external distraction, and
- This avoidance and distraction creates mental pollution that clogs our synapses, dampens our spirits, and reduces our access to our own power.
If I can (over the next few blog posts) show reasonably and conclusively that our fate relies on the vast, untapped reservoir of mental and emotional potential, and that there may be a method to tap into this potential, I believe that the fate of humans on this planet can be powerfully altered.
I will also attempt to show the connection between our potential extinction, and the our capacity to prevent it without massive government involvement.
Next: Part 1 – How and Why We Underestimate Our Mental Potential
People ask me all the time about the technique I discovered called the Logical Soul(tm), and how it works.Â
The answer is always the same:Â it is a simple and natural technique that allows you to access and change hidden decisions that affect your goals, your life, and your destiny.Â It is also a way to “flip on” the internal passion that we are all born with, but lost soon after early childhood.Â
But “self-improvement” its not.Â I discovered that the Logical Soul(tm) is different from allÂ other motivation and transformation techniques in that itÂ does nothing toÂ “improve” your “self” or yourÂ life.Â I don’t even claim that anything SHOULD change!Â Â When doing a session I simply assume you are where the sum total of all your decisions have placed you.Â If you want to change, you must first become aware and transform your current hidden decisions that keep you where you are.
To do this you must become aware of theÂ matrix of decisions that take priority and cover up your conscious goals and aspirations – trillions upon trillions of overlapping now-subconscious decision bundles and programs.Â Â Most subconsious decisions can be traced back to ancestral decisions and by taking on someone else’s “stuff.”Â
While this may sound simple, the implications are enormous.Â Think of it this way: you are not only the sum of all the decisions you have made, but are the product of all the decisions your Ancestors have made!Â Multiply this factor over seven or ten generations, and you can see why it becomes a stretchÂ to think we have anything close to “free will.”Â
We also have animal and reptilian influences!Â The older parts of our brain, including the Limbic system,Â function purely to ensure ourÂ survival.Â Â Even the so-called “higher” or newer portions of our brain – the cerebral cortex – have theirÂ differences.Â The rightÂ hemisphere, for example,Â has its own unique VALUE SYSTEMÂ that differs from the left hemisphere.Â Â Its like having two (or more) people in there!Â Â Â Â
The ancient Hawaiian Kahunas saw the so-called “individual” as 3 selves, corresponding loosely to Freud’s paragon, but separately funtioning in and of themselves.Â Other cultures – particularly in the east – also see the so-called “individual” as a convenient invention of the mind and nothing more.Â
The word, in fact, originated from the Greek term that described the self as undivided and a single whole.Â This was – and is – a convenient tool if things need to be done.Â Archimedes’ injuction “Give me a place to stand and I can move the world” is a perfect example of how the mind can provide that single ideological “place.”Â
The hero is the ultimate individual.Â Heroes can do anything, and we all strive to be one, whether we are conscious of it or not.Â We live in the west, and this IS our culture!
The only drawback to Archimedes’ model, however, is that all heroes must have a “villain” or obstacle to overcome.Â Â Â In the west, we have the news, and the news thrives on drama:Â Good.Â Evil.Â Disaster.Â Salvation.Â Deliverance.Â Corruption.Â Change.Â Ad infinitum . . .
Â Transformation does not involve getting better, more dynamic, or by becoming a hero.Â Quite the opposite, it involves relaxing into the true basis of the Self – that unbounded field of pure intelligence I call the Logical Soul(tm).Â
I just finished a great book called My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD (Viking Books, 2006).Â Dr. Taylor was a 37-year old Harvard-trained brain scientist when she had a massive stroke in 1996 that damaged the entire left hemisphere of her brain.Â Â
This is a unique story about a very rare event – a brain scientist having a brain breakdown and recovery, so Dr. Taylor has a very unqiue perspective on what this event means, and can compare it with what she knew before the stroke, compared with her direct experiences AFTER the stroke.Â The findings are astounding.Â
In the book she writes that it took over eight years to recover. With theÂ help of dozens of caretakers she was eventuallyÂ able to relearn everything she ever knew and “get back” some of what she had lost.Â Â She also found she could discard much of what she knew before – in her “past life” that no longer served her, e.g., negative emotions and thoughts that damaged the sensitiveÂ circuitry of her wounded brain.Â Â
Most of the book covers the different funtions of theÂ right and left hemispheres.Â The left is very judgmental and divise – its nature, of course.Â The right brain, on the other hand, embraces universality, feelings, and a sense of ‘knowing that cannot be discerned by the other half.Â Â
These observations fit almost exactlyÂ with the model the Hawaiian Kahunas described as the LOW SELF (Ku) and MIDDLE SELF (Uhane), and of course correlate with modern brain science.Â What Dr. TaylorÂ discovered as a so-called victim, however, was soemthign she said she could have NEVER learned as a scientist – thatÂ there is also aÂ distinct difference in VALUES between the two hemispheres! (p. 133)
Â If this is so – and she reports it is – then there are TWO FORCES within us, each striving for dominance on any given issue.Â If the right brain wants to feel happiness, it may CHOOSE failure instead of success if it deems that a certain activity or job selected by the left brain is wrong.Â
This is the basis of the SEED OF FAILURE – that someone with a strong SOF has equal parts left and right brain values that fight each other constantly.Â While this might seem to be a hopeless situation, its not.Â The Logical Soul(tm) techniques have the ability to synchronize these two parts of the brain and give you a certain peace in KNOWING that your goals, dreams and affirmations ARE in fact true for you.Â
Present tense:Â BE the goal you set for yourself and RESOLVE any hidden goal-to-action conflicts.Â You are then on your way to true success.Â
– Michael Craig