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Got Thought?

Bench Racing

by Ryan King

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To understand the automobile, you don't need to believe things, you need to be able to think.

Thinking is not the process people are often taught by parents, in grade school, or even much of college, which is to observe something, compare it to your concept of right and wrong, and judge it. That's just an illusion of thought.

Thinking is a deep, complex subject that covers creativity and logic, problem solving, decision making, and so much more.

The automobile is deeply rooted in both art and science, two of the most highly developed areas of thought humanity has ever produced.

To understand thought and its ability to drive achievement, it's important to recognize that like everything else human, it begins with the basic physical construct and ends with a moderate ability to modify that construct through self-development.

In the processes of learning and problem solving, there are two mental states which play key roles: focused and diffuse thinking.

Focused thinking is narrow, specific, and based predominantly in the pre-frontal cortex. It is how you bring information into your brain and consciously process a well understood concept from beginning to end. However, for conceptualizing and creativity, it isn't terribly effective. In fact, it will completely stymie either one of those processes.

Diffuse thinking, on the other hand, is broad, relaxed, and distributed throughout the brain. It's how the brain creates context and understanding, otherwise known as conceptualizing. It also excels at rearranging concepts, otherwise known as creativity.

Both of these modes of thinking are critical to problem solving and work in series by bringing in information in the focused mode, then by relaxing and allowing the diffuse mode to work by stepping away from a problem and doing something else, or doing nothing at all.

That is how real thinking, knowledge work, and effective learning get done, not by working "hard."

The next time you're struggling with a problem in your hobby, stop, take a break. Even sleep on it. You might be surprised how much more effectively you solve your problem by not trying to solve it.

If you want more information on the concept of focused and diffuse thinking, as well as how to apply it to science, math, and even your hobby, check out A Mind for Numbers by Barbara Oakley, PhD.

Ryan

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