December 31, 2007

See Ya, 2007

What a perfect time of year to have a blast of cold, fresh air blow through my brain and teach me something wonderful. As I was trekking through the business section of the NYT yesterday (I tread lightly, though maybe I should devote more time to it), I came across this article that I think should be in every section.

It's truly enlightening. And mostly for its simplicity. As we get older, we become so certain of what we know, that we find it harder and harder to learn anything new, or even acknowledge that there is anything new. The constructs of our brain get so hardwired, we take these shortcuts that leave out all the scenery - learning new things, acknowledging other points of view, and the ability to share that information.

They use a great example - your remote control. You know all those little buttons on it? You know how you use about 3 of them, and stare blankly at the other 47? Some engineer somewhere knew - just knew - you would need all 50, and diligently set about developing them. Because he needed them.

But the best example they use is one I've run across in person, playing Cranium at the cottage, drunk. In the study, one set of people had to tap out popular songs to another group, who were supposed to identify them. For the tappers, they were bewildered that only 2.5% of the listeners could get the song right. And yet they could hear it so clearly in their own heads! We do this with Cranium, and we even get to hum the song, and yet still Roz is yelling out 'O Canada!' while I'm violently humming 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'.

The upshot? The smarter you think you are, the stupider you will end up being. Our assumptions are bunging up the works. If you're so busy stroking and nurturing the things that you can count on knowing, you might as well turn out the lights and lock up. Your life is only as great as the things you have yet to learn.

I kind of love this idea. Imagine if all of us devoted more brain cells to listening and understanding, rather than coercing everyone over to our side of the fence. I can't think of an industry or discipline that wouldn't benefit from some of this mental cross-pollination.

It's probably not going to send me running to read any engineering text books, but I am going to hold up a prism to things that confuse me. Maybe another view is just what I need to clear stumbling blocks out of the way. And besides, 'fresh view, clear mind, open heart' is a way better New Year's Resolution than 'exercise and eat more celery'.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hereby resolve to be happy and relax about the little things! Life is too short to worry about the celery. Have a good one, Lorraine.


December 31, 2007 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For 2008, I am going to be more tolerant of others. I think it will make for a better world, from my stand point, and Lorraine as you mentioned, we don't know it all. Perhaps I can gain some tidbit of knowledge from someone that I didn't know when my feet hit the floor in the a.m. and best of all, it is free...

December 31, 2007 10:50 AM  

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