“No” Is the most dangerous word in the dictionary
Words have a power that goes way beyond what they mean. Meaning is derived from context as well as knowledge (a.k.a. definition) but there is also an additional layer of associative connections that creates a truly semantic web of connections.
When a seemingly ordinary math problem becomes something that is impossible to solve the transformation reveals the boundary that marks the limit of our technological capabilities and the wonder that is the human brain. The process also teaches us something vital: just how much we can rely on our technology for our critical decision-making and at which point we need to use our own skills and talents.
We know that a brain left to its own devices is like a field left unmanaged. Yes, it is a field, but beyond what chance and nature placed there, it is unlikely to be of any great usefulness or, indeed, value. Training our brain though requires commitment and it takes effort. We need to have clear reasons for embarking upon it. So, here are fifty of them to help you:
You’re reading this because you know it will give you a way to get smarter. Each time we read something new, an opinion, some fresh research or someone else’s thoughts, we synthesize the information inside our own mental world, taking something that is immaterial and invisible and incorporating it into the electrochemical reality that is our brain.
Let’s start with a disclaimer so we can get the obvious out of the way. In order to change your reality you don’t need to pop acid, dive headfirst into a pool of alcohol or arrange for that quick trip to Amsterdam’s “coffee shops” you’ve got on your bucket list. Reality can be changed by changing our perception of it. As Neo finds out in the seminal 1999 sci-fi hit The Matrix, the reality we perceive does not exist outside the construct of the self:
No one dares say it but the fear that our brain is slowing down, that we miss things we never used to, that age and time are finally catching up is something we all worry about. We can stand, perhaps not being as fresh-faced or as fast to catch a ball or as energetic in the morning as we used to be. These are things that are inevitable, we know. But to think that we may be no longer as razor-sharp in our thoughts as we were in the past and not know it, is terrifying.