“Hey … I’m Thinking Here, I’m Thinking Here …”

“Cogito, ergo sum”

(Rene Descartes, 1596-1650)

… with apologies to Ratso Rizzo of “Midnight Cowboy” fame .

This is a very elegant phrase. 

It describes something that we do throughout our lives, something which affects our every action, emotion, and thought, and which determines ultimately much of the quality of our days.

Every one of us has a brain … even though some try to convince us otherwise through their behavior and words.

Yet most of us know very little about how we do this all day, every day.

… not because we don’t have enough options to learn.   My preferred learning route is reading a book:    A recent Amazon.com search using the term “Brain” resulted in over 11, 000 titles, “cognition” yielded just over 7, 000, and “thinking” produced just under 7,000 hits and I only noted hardback titles.  Add in paperbacks and these number grow significantly.

Books about how the brain works, often attached to a promise to “reveal the secrets” or “learn better” are prominently displayed in most book stores.… and this is just the popular press.  If I had looked at academic articles, professional journals, and other sources of credible information, the list simply expands.

How we perceive, learn, change, sell, decide, and experience emotions are critical functions.  

If we do not have some understanding of how all these and related functions occur, we are at the mercy of what often appears as a random or mysterious world.   One in which our lives are experienced as a series of “magical moments” or indecipherable actions.

So I have some questions for you today:

Questions:  If you have read some on thinking, cognition, and how our brains work, what was the specific title and how would you rate it in terms of  

1)  Clarity:  How clearly written was the book?   Did it include understandable explanations?   Can you remember the points?

2)  Focus – What was the specific or main focus (neuroscience, politics, emotions, or other)?

3)  Usefulness –  How did this book help you in your daily professional or personal life?

I have my own recommendations, but those are for another day.   I  want to hear from others about what has helped them understand this distinctly human function.

If you have not or are not engaged in a personal learning project around how we think, choose a recommended title and start now.  It’s sort of important.

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”

Well, something to think about anyway:)

Thinking my head off in the Heartland ….


Imagine This!

“Imagination is a quality given a man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is.

Oscar Wilde

Now doesn’t this look like someone who appreciates a little imagination and a good sense of humor ….?

Interesting quote which manages to define and illustrate two concepts in less than thirty words.

Can you come up with a pithy, short, and accurate statement about even one concept or term?

Don’t ponder this one – just come up with something right now, off the top of your head.

Here’s mine:

Love is a condition which affects our physical well-being, emotional health, and cognitive competence … for better or for worse.

Okay, your turn:)

Waiting fairly patiently for inspirational and amusing statements in the Heartland ….


Read and Learn … Guaranteed:)

“A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.”

Will Rogers

Not sure I can buy the idea that learning ONLY occurs through reading and association with smart people, but these are two very important elements of self-directed and social learning.

The questions came fast and sharp:

Does it count more if I read a book to a smart person?

Do I learn more when a smart person reads a book to me?

Is this why audio books are so popular?

Reading exposes you to articulate and in-depth discussions of issues, personalities, events, and topics.  The knowledge you gain from reading can populate your world with more possibilities than you ever thought on your own.

… IF you choose the books you read wisely.    The more challenging your book choice, the more potent the learning.

Do you regularly read a good book, and then gather with others to discuss what you have read?  When you engage in intelligent talk with others who challenge your thinking, you learn  to explain what you have read, defend a position or perception, and to consider people, events, and issues differently and from a more thoughtful position.

… IF you choose your group wisely and become a full partner within that circle.  Otherwise, you’re just listening in.  You have to engage.

Lurking is not learning.   Social Learning involves active engagement with other people.

If you already choose and read thought-provoking books and discuss what you think about them with others, congratulations.  Will Rogers would be proud of your self-directed learning.

If not, ask yourself why you are not doing this.  Then consider changing your behavior.

Looking for a good book group in the Heartland ….


I Came, I Saw, I Failed Completely ….

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more
important to heed the lessons of failure.”

Bill Gates

OK, we all know that Gates also said640K ought to be enough for anybody.” a few years ago and that turned out to be a Very Large Mistake

I think Gates is onto something with the value of failure. Continue reading

Hard Work or Brains?




Ah, what fine, stirring words – quintessentially American in their cultural implications.  We are, after all, “The Land of Opportunity” … or so we have usually thought.

The Procrastination Quotient is a regular blog at Psychology Today.    In a recent article entitled Hard Work Beats Talent (but Only If Talent Doesn’t Work Hard)” by  Dr. Piers Steel, several interesting points are made about the relationships between hard work, intelligence, and achievement. Continue reading