Sometimes, we have a notion that doesn’t hold up.
If we reflect on it, we see it doesn’t make sense.
Even so, the thought slips in.
One such thought comes in many forms but the crux of it is this:
After some disaster or misstep, you think to yourself, “if I were smarter, I would have solved that problem.”
Then again, maybe not.
The wishful thinking is, if only you had more raw brainpower – then you could have figured out the solution.
I’m not saying intelligence isn’t useful…
But it doesn’t help you in the moment.
In the moment, you don’t think. You can’t. You don’t have the time or the attention. Instead, you react.
On a tennis court, you can’t think about where the ball is or how to hit it.
When driving a car, you can’t think about the thousand little things to pay attention to.
All you can do is follow your programming.
The good thing about your program – whether you call those your training, your instincts or System 1 – is how quick it is.
Fast enough to respond to the world in real time.
Real thinking takes time – especially deep, thorough thinking.
When you hear things like this – or that research showing you make decisions before you’re even conscious of the choices – you might give up. That means consciousness is an illusion and you’re doomed to follow your programming.
But that’s not the lesson.
The real lesson is this:
Sure, you don’t have time to think when you need to act.
But afterwards, when you’re free to reflect on it all?
And beforehand, when you’re training for the future?
That’s when you have time to think.
And those thoughts are what drive your System 1 instincts to respond the way they do.
The more you think and the better you think, the better you react to things as they happen.
No amount of intellect makes up for a prepared mind.
So prepare it.
Focus on things that are useful to your life – things that’ll enrich your relationships, satisfaction levels and career.
And focus on the mental fundamentals – the very building blocks of thought, decision, emotion and reason.
Sharpen these and it gives your brain something real to work with for your next crisis.
There are plenty of ways to train your brain – and some of them even work.
Throw out those cutesy games on your phone.
Socialise, exercise and be creative. That’ll do more for your mind than 95% of those fun little toy apps.
If you want to take it further, though?
I blend ancient meditation, cutting edge neuroscience and a whole lot in between into this, the finest way to train your mind: