This blog is a forum for testing ideas about how to build and live a fulfilling life.
The blog will have a number of different categories. The first of these is mind challenges. The way our minds work is puzzling and surprising. We are not nearly as “rational” as we believe we are. Although this sounds like a flaw, it actually increases our ability to solve complex problems—problems that would stump our relatively new prefrontal cortex. That part of the brain, which is a mere babe in evolutionary terms, is still sorting things out. It functions extremely well on some problems, but not so well on others. The mind, we’ll explore, is much more than just the brain we think we know and think we trust. Our minds are discussions—even arguments—and we’re aware of only a minute amount of the information we take in, and even less of the complex screening and calculations that are applied to that information before our “conscious” minds receive the synthesized representations of reality that we call the world around us.
That is not to devalue the brain or its computing power. It remains the most powerful computing device in the universe, so far as we know. Yet we are still learning a lot about this device, and much of what we’ve learned in the past 20 years puts the lie to many myths that were considered settled truths in my childhood.
In addition to mind challenges, we will have a category of mind tools. Given what we learn about the quirks and special functions of the mind, we will learn ways to use that great tool better. Just as you get better results holding the handle of a knife and applying the blade (instead of the alternatives), we will learn how to use the best parts of the mind for different applications. Overextending the metaphor, we will also learn the best ways to sharpen our minds.
After mind tools, we will begin in earnest our exploration of overcoming perfectionism. Many of us value perfectionist instincts because we believe that these urges translate into better performance. Sometimes they do, in the short run, but research shows that those who achieve the most in life tend to be those who are willing and able to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes without being crushed or inhibited. Thus, this part of the blog will focus on breaking out of the artificial boundaries that perfectionism imposes.
But to what end? Where are we headed when we break free? That is what we will explore next, in a series of categories that describe aspects of a fulfilling life.
We will look at goals—whether they are worth having, and if so, how to set them and use them to achieve more in life. Many people focus on goals only in professional and career settings. This blog will urge a much broader perspective: goals across a great range of life aspects will, over time, create synergies that will increase your performance across the board.
We will also look at how to foster creativity and life-long learning. The point of this category will be to illustrate that we can find within and around us a wealth of possibilities for personal, relational, and professional growth. By remaining narrowly specialized, we may be able to achieve substantial success, but we may miss vistas that begin to show themselves right beyond the trench we dig for ourselves. I want readers to at least give themselves a chance to look over the top of the trench, because what is out there might be very interesting. It might help you in your chosen career, or it might help you redirect that career or change it altogether.
Next, we will turn to something that is as true as it is well-known, as important as it is taken for granted: connection. Research reinforces the notion that we are social animals, but the importance of connection goes well beyond social small talk. Social interaction increases a person’s sense of self-worth. It increases opportunities for learning. It provides support and nurturing. It provides business opportunities. It opens the door to love. This category will explore in practical terms what modern research shows is important about building and maintaining connections with other people, in personal and business relationships. It will also discuss important relationships involving mentoring and creative reinforcement.
We will also discuss the (surprisingly) new field of positive psychology. Although Maslow and others before him advanced this notion of viewing the human condition not from the standpoint of pathology, but instead from the standpoint of maximizing human potential, certain pioneers are now building an exciting new branch of psychology devoted to evaluating and determining psychological best practices.
We will also explore the issue of influence. If you want to impact your relationships, your business, your community, or your nation, you must know something about how people change their minds. Of course, much of what we will already have discussed about mind function, creativity, connection, and the rest will be useful here. But we will look at what some of the leading theorists and researchers are saying about how people decide what they believe, and how people persuade others.
Finally, we will discuss broader issues of purpose and success. What is your purpose? Is there a way to find out? Is it worth it to try? And what about that word we’ve used already—success? What does that mean? If it is a good thing, how do we get more of it in our lives?