The Inner Story Grows

January 20, 2011 Leave a comment
mind the gap

|Photo by limaoscarjuliet|http://www.flickr.com/photos/limaoscarjuliet/3305886294|

Leave it to David Brooks to put a nice point on our string of posts this week and last on the importance of tending to our “interior condition.”  Brooks’ recent article in The New Yorker (“Social Animal: How the new sciences of human nature can help make sense of a life”) pulls together much of the brain research that is pointing us in the direction of redefining (or is it rediscovering?) what matters most in our lives.  Without going into a lot of the details, I wanted to highlight some of the points the article raises, and then heartily encourage you to make it part of your weekend reading (and then get back to us here with some of your reactions!):

  • Intelligence (as traditionally defined), academic performance, and prestigious schools don’t correlate well with fulfillment, and not even with outstanding accomplishment.
  • The traits that do correlate are the ability to understand and inspire people; to read situations and discern underlying patterns; to build trusting relationships; to recognize one’s own shortcomings; and to imagine alternative futures.
  • Recent research (over the past 30 years) emphasizes the relative importance of emotion over pure reason, social connections over individual choice, moral intuition over abstract logic, and perceptiveness over I.Q.
  • Human beings are “overconfidence machines,” and benefit from enduring uncertainty over long periods of time in order to make the best decisions.
  • Research also makes it clear that the inner mind wants connection.  “Happiness is a measure of how thickly the unconscious parts of our minds are intertwined with other people and with activities.”

The closing narrative by a fictional neuroscientist is really a thing of beauty and worth reading if you read nothing else.  Check it out and see if you too believe it’s time for a revolution of consciousness.

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