A great pun? Or the best way forward?

I remember getting a shiver when my brain spawned this pun, from whatever ooze thoughts come from:

The Canary in the Coal Mind.

I love a good pun, see. And I love a terrible one.

I doubt I’m the first person to come up with this. Maybe I’m about to embarrass myself and it’s the name of some famous song or program or something.

As of this writing, not yet. But who knows.

Whether or not you’ve heard this pun before, you’ve heard the idea.

Your brain doesn’t act randomly. You might wonder if it works well or optimally or consistently, but it’s not random.

Emotions, bad habits and destructive urges might confuse you, bewilder you or frustrate you. It might seem as though they come out of nowhere but if you weren’t here to think those thoughts, no one else would think them for you.

This is foundational stuff in neuroscience – a neuron never fires for no reason. It only ever sparks because of chemistry or electricity.

Neurons scale into networks, and those networks generate thoughts. No spark, no thought.

Which means there’s always a reason behind every flash of anger, every misplaced feeling of frustration, every thought that lies to you, every urge for just one more glass of wine, cigarette, donut…

And that’s great news! If there’s a reason – no matter how misguided – you can do something about it. You can’t reason with random.

The only question remains: what kind of reasons?

Do you crave that donut because your ancestors grew up, lived and died in a world where calories were scarce, precious and fleeting?

Well… yeah.

But if that were the full story, you’d have been feeling those cravings all the time. Why do they come and go? Even factoring in hunger, blood sugar, fatigue and whatnot, sometimes the craving is there and sometimes it isn’t.

That’d be a curious thing, if it weren’t so mundane. Of course thoughts, urges and emotions come and go! Anyone who’s lived as a human for a day knows that.


… then… what?

Where do these thoughts come from and where do they go when you don’t think them?

Any answer is going to be incomplete – an oversimplification.

But, hey, we do better than “see food… feel hungry…”

If you’re curious about where your urges and impulses come from – and if you’re not, you must have no interest in self-development – check the upcoming Phronesis Accelerator issue.

So many of your problems aren’t problems – they’re warnings.

Learn what they’re warning you of… and what to do about it:


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