10 and I are currently reading Dan Brown’s latest opus, Inferno. We’re late, we’re aware of that, but it doesn’t make the book any less interesting.
This is not the first time he and I read something together. Toward the end of our LDR, we read the Fifty Shades trilogy together. We’d catch up on each other to see whether we’ve reached a particular point in the plot, and we’d share our opinions on the characters involved. He’d wish he was Christian Grey on his helicopter ride to SF, and I’d bitch about Elena. It was fun.
Summer is officially over. As fall looms, my wish list is bombarding me with the season’s most-anticipated literary heavyweights.
This fall will have you sticking to your reader 24/7 – whether you’re the local bookstore frequenter or the one practically glued to your Kindle.
With the likes of bestselling authors Malcolm Gladwell (“Blink”, “Outliers”, “The Tipping Point”, “What the Dogs Saw”), Elizabeth Gilbert (“Eat, Pray, Love”, “Committed”), Mitch Albom (“Tuesdays with Morrie”, “The Five People You Meet in Heaven”, “The Time Keeper”), and Dave Eggers (“What is the What”, “Zeitoun”, “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”), I’m filling my nightstand with to-reads that the publishing world has been buzzing about.
“Young people! With their hurrying and their worrying and their wanting all the answers now. They wear me out, the poor, harried things. Don’t come back, I always tell them. Don’t come back. Youth is still where you left it, and that’s where it should stay. Anything that was worth taking on life’s journey, you’ll already haven taken with you.”
When I pre-ordered the book back in April, I was having high hopes for another round of Kinsella’s frolicsome adventures. I mean, when I read her previous standalone, I’ve Got Your Number, which was released on Valentine’s Day last year, I consumed all 448 pages within less than 48 hours. I was hooked – as I’ve always been to her novels after Madeleine Wickham decided to get herself a pseudonym. Wedding Night was nothing short of a fun ride, but the plot was unexpectedly weak.
By now, it’s blatantly clear that I love to explore the human mind and learning the best ways to mind my brain for optimum function.
Even though for a while now I’ve finished reading Earl Nightingale’s record, The Strangest Secret, I’m still taking my time to re-read every word written on it in order to guide me through life as I apply the invaluable skills I’ve learned from the author, because I believe real learning takes place by doing.
As a creative by vocation, and having earned a Bachelor’s in the fine arts, most people I know would think that I’d go spending the rest of my life wandering about the world in complete rebellion with myself, trying to sell and to protect the abstractions I deeply hold at heart, and promptly assume that these abstractions I profess come in the form of hand-drawn sketches, digital illustrations, or canvas paintings.
The statement above is true – except for the latter clause.
My medium is the written word, and I’ve long committed myself to it without my noticing that it has chosen me, instead of me choosing to write. Perhaps one day when I’ve left this world, a curious biographer would paint the abstract picture of my life, but for me, words were always there long before I entered high school and college, and today, much as for as long as I’m present, I’m just going with Czikszentmihalyi’s flow.
In the midst of chasing deadlines and baking ideas for stories in my head, I come back now and then to the chapters of Nightingale’s manual. It occurred to me that for as much as, I dare say, 99%, the book makes a claim that the human mind is the source of all the things you truly need to fulfill the deepest desires in your life.
In an individual chapter wholly dedicated to the mind, “Your Most Valuable Creative Tools”, Nightingale argued that even though technology has, in the last century, developed at a speedier light than human intelligence, computers can only remain as good as the person who programmed them.
Technology has superior mechanical skills, but it does not have the unlimited cognitive reserve humans are blessed and endowed with.
In other words: We can think. Machines cannot.
This is why I love the three-pound sponge in our head: The brain is where you hold the potential to create anything you wish for in your life, materialize it into reality, and continuously solve problems to make better decisions as you go conquering challenge by challenge.
In the aforementioned chapter, Nightingale postulated that there are 4 basic powers of the human brain:
♥ The Power to Absorb
The ability to take information, knowledge.
We do this by looking, listening, touching, tasting, and smelling, by using all five of our senses and keeping the gateways of our mind always open.
♥ The Power of Retention
The capacity to retain knowledge and recall it.
Our brains are like endless rows of filing cabinets with relatively few packed file drawers full of all sorts of information. There’s always much room for more.
♥ The Power of Judgment and Logical Thought
The more facts we feed our brain, the more able
it is to reason and judge intelligently.
♥ The Power of Imagination
The ability to think creatively.
Don’t these powers look old school to you?
As a self-proclaimed self-help junkie, there really is nothing new to every book I’ve consumed since the first Chicken Soup for the Soul that I’ve read when I was 9 (stacked dustily in the decks of Popular Bookstore in Singapore).
Except that now, with this post, I conclude that the brain is your biggest tangible asset above all – even above money, goods, and shelter.
Lately, I realized that when we truly open ourselves up and take advantage of all of our senses to their fullest capacity, you start picking up a deeper level of insights you’ve never thought you could pick up.
You start paying double attention to your surroundings, particularly to those that interest you, and you start baking them into your mental cabinet for a certain period of time before you decide they should be promoted into the long-term memory or not. While you decide, you reason. Every time you decide, you exercise reasoning, using sound, critical thinking and logical thought. Should you be left with no choice in the face of indecision, the power of imagination opens you up wide to new ways of thinking things through.
I decided quite some time ago that I am a lifelong learner and will always be. It is logical to think that because I’m still 23 years of age. I don’t know how arrogant I’ll become in the next decades to come, but I know what I don’t want to be: The know-it-all – simply because I believe I don’t know better.
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A valuable lesson I learned today
This afternoon, I learned something noteworthy from someone that is only a couple of years my senior, but have accomplished so much more than even older folks: People tend to dislike difference – doesn’t matter if it’s a good difference or a bad difference. Why? Because it is a natural inclination so often practiced today to choose the lazier way to think – to stick within the comfort zone of your own thinking pattern rather than taking a leap of faith and step out of fear, the fear of believing that something other than your own truth is equally true.
So I asked, how do you deal with that kind of pressure, that kind of thoughts from people who’s holding you back?
Well, inertia is not the solution, that’s for certain. You may have asked a thousand questions in your head that’s causing you to struggle, finding all the right reasons why you are the way you are, thinking about all the things that could go wrong and all the negative things that people would say about you if you are not behaving like other people who have grown comfortable behaving robot-like within society’s unwritten rules, all the while you are hindering yourself from living out your full potential.
But what’s more important than all that thought is this: Be your own person.
“The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd,” Albert Einstein once said. “The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before,” and along with that, you have to accept that it’s inevitable to come across those who are displeased with your difference and your uncompromising will to conform.
It’s the price the creative person must be willing to pay in order to realize her impact to the world – by using all the 4 freely-given powers of the mind, and by having the courage to, just, be.
It’s an imperfect world after all, isn’t it? At the end of the day, there’s nothing really for you to lose if you would just be who you truly are, other than those discouraging thoughts others conjure up about you when you bravely take the road less taken.