Tag Archives: Confusion

Whose Thoughts are in YOUR Monkey Brain?

The other day I was sitting at a coffee shop. It is kind of a mix between a coffee shop and a bagel shop. Because I was only drinking coffee, in my mind I was at a coffee shop. Of course had I been eating bagels, I would have remembered it as a bagel shop. Interesting how the mind works like that. You can remember something, and based on slight change of angular memory, the past can take on a whole new meaning. Meaning is a fairly slippery thing. Many people don’t realize just how slippery it is. I guess that’s why so many people get into arguments about things that happened before. They aren’t really arguing about the events per se, rather the meaning each individual gave to the meanings that they each subjectively applied to the past. Because they each applied a different subjective meaning, or interpretation to the past, they actually stored the memory differently in their brain, from a neuro-chemical standpoint, which gives the illusion that they are remembering different things.

I was listening to a lecture once about this subject. The professor who was speaking was exploring how we code and store events have a large effect on how we remember them. She went on to explain that when some people say they have a “memory problem,” that is not entirely accurate. What they really lack is a storage problem. And because most people don’t consciously choose to store their memories in a certain way, when they go and try to recall them, they not only can’t remember where they put them, but they don’t remember what kind of box they put them in. Which makes looking for old memories a problem when you don’t know what color the box is.

So anyways, I was sitting there, drinking my coffee, waiting for the movie to start. It was one of those international blockbusters that has been heavily marketed, with signs everywhere, and trailers before every movie. I was looking forward to it, because I read the book, and I enjoyed it. I actually read the book twice, by accident. And when I say by accident, I don’t mean that I fell down a flight of stairs and read the book on the way down. I read it, and forgot that I read it. Then a couple years later I read another book by the same author, which I really enjoyed. Then I went to the bookstore to find other books by the same author. That’s how I generally read books, by the way. I’ll read one author, and if I like them, I’ll go to the bookstore or the library and read all their other books. So I went to the bookstore, found another book by the same author of the second book, and picked out the first book, which I’d read before and didn’t remember. Then about halfway through it, I realized, “Hey! This seems familiar, I think I read this before!” Of course I kept on reading, because I wanted to see if it turned out differently than before. Because I didn’t remember how it turned out from before, I wasn’t sure if it was the same ending. Which of course, made sense when I saw the movie, because then, everything fell into place, even though they changed some parts from the book.

So my friend walks in this coffee shop, and has this really confused look on his face. Like he was just finished reading this really confusing article on the Internet or something. I asked him what happened, and he told me that he just got back form a lecture. It turns out some really cute girl gave him a flyer for a lecture that some metaphysicist was giving. He doesn’t normally go into metaphysical lectures, but because this girl was really cute he decided to go. I asked him what the lecture was about, and he tried his best to describe it to me. There were several different lectures, and they kept finishing up where each other started. There was one guy that had this really long beard, and another guy that had some really strange sandals.

He said that most people are walking around in a cloud of ambiguity. Because we are so conditioned to get other people to think for us, when there is nobody there to make a decision, you just kind of walk around with a vague sense of waiting to be told what to do. Which normally isn’t a problem. It makes sense to be this way at work for example. It wouldn’t really be very productive to have a bunch of people at work just doing their own thing, or arguing with the boss whenever she gave you an instruction. I don’t know if this is a leftover from evolution, or if it is something that is just hardwired into us, but the brain will always look for shortcuts in thinking. Kind of like when you are driving on the freeway, and you get a traffic report of an accident up ahead, you can imagine ways to go around the problem, so you don’t be late for your appointment. The brain will always find the easiest path to get to a decision. Which worked pretty good when we were cavemen running around chasing our food, or running away from dinosaurs that thought we were food. But in today’s society, when there are about a billion things coming at you at once, it’s hard sometimes for our monkey brains to make a good decision. So modern man has learned to kind of have this vague cloud of ambiguity floating around, waiting for clear instructions. He said that the two biggest forms of guidance come in the form of social proof, and authority. Social proof, of course, is when you go along with the crowd. Everybody has experienced this. You do something, because everybody else is doing it. Of course, this isn’t what you tell yourself, we always have some other reason why we think we are doing something.

The other shortcut is authority. When a police officer, or a doctor tells you to do something, you rarely question them. Unless you are a criminal of course. So in the absence of these two elements, he explained, it can be hard to figure out what to do.

I asked him if he explained how to get around this, and he said he did. I asked him what it was, and he told me.

The best way to get around this is to have clear, strong, powerful goals. That way you will start to see everything in relation to your goals, and your automatic monkey response will decrease, and your evolved human response will become stronger and stronger, and you turn your mind/body system into a goal-seeking missile, instead of an automatic monkey responder.

And he concluded his speech by saying that the choice is up to you. You can let other people choose your goals for you, and walk around in an ambiguous monkey daze, bouncing from one mental shortcut to the other, or you can choose your own goals, and let your goal seeking mechanism do all work to create the life that you want. Then you can eat bagels, AND drink coffee at the same time.

Unresolving Ducks of Confusion

This morning I was talking to a friend of mine in the UK, over the phone. I haven’t spoken to him in a while, but he is one of those friends that you just can pick up where you left off, you don’t need to keep up a lot of maintenance. Like if you have a pair of skis, you can just throw them in the garage when the winter thaws out and wait until next year.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s better to rent skis. I don’t think I use them enough to warrant buying a new pair every year, but some people get away with it. It’s like when you decide to try something new, and you put all kinds of effort and energy into it, and make big plans, then later decide that it wasn’t something that was as good as you thought it might have been back when you first started thinking about it.

But my friend was telling me about these new neighbors that he has, and they are keep strange hours. Not that they are loud or anything, it’s that they seem to be up half the night doing odd things. My friend wouldn’t really elaborate, but I got the idea that it had something to do with a new business they might be thinking up. His father, the guy next door, was telling him that they hope to corner the market on the particular niche that they are hoping to invest in.

Anyways, I was more interested in hearing if my friend was still married, because last I talked he was having some problems. Something about not being able to communicate very well. A lot of times people that are in relationships say the other person doesn’t’ communicate, until they remember that in order to understand what people are saying, you need to really pay attention to them when they speak. And it can be a lot more deeper than just words.

For example, my friend kept telling me that she didn’t like unresolved problems. Now those are two words that can mean pretty much anything. If someone asks me if I have any unresolved problems, I’d say of course I do. Everybody has unresolved problems. The problem with unresolved problems, is that in order to solve them, you need to make sure you are talking about the same unresolved problems, otherwise you might solve something that wasn’t even a problem to begin with.

When she started going on and on about unresolved problems, I thought she was talking about how her father treated her when she was a little girl, and she had all kind of deep emotional issues to deal with whenever she got close to being intimate with somebody. It turns out that her unresolved problem, at least when we were having the discussion, were about a phone bill she had called to inquire about, and the person was rude to her and hung up on her.  But then again, that might be related to her childhood after all, you never know these things unless you can really communicate in such a way that everybody knows exactly what you are talking about.

I was at a seminar once, and the teacher was illustrating this very point. She told everybody to think of a duck. And then she went around and asked everybody what duck they were thinking of. Some were thinking about a rubber duck. Some thought of a duck flying home for the winter. One guy thought of the AFLAC duck.

The point was, that even when thinking about a simple noun like “duck” a room full of people came up with a roomful of different ideas.

Now that is something to think about.