April 22, 2020 No Comments

Human Mind – An Enigma Simplified

The human brain is the most complex thing in the universe, and you get to own one – how amazing is that? Different wings of science have their peculiar way to describe what it is made up of and how it functions. Unfortunately, these explanations are difficult to even read through for most. Let me explain some of how it works in simple terms. Though the reality is far more complex.

The mind is meant to absorb new information, transform it into wisdom and lead it into action. Action and speech determine the quality of our life and these come from the mind itself.

Have you ever wondered why we humans do what we do? Why we act the way we act? The answer lies in uniquely different thinking in each one of us.  The next big question that pops up is what makes our thinking so unique? Even though we are uniquely different in our thinking, why each one of us trust our own thinking and consider it to be the only righteous one.

Nature follows a principle of the shortest path to accomplishment. Like when an object is thrown up in the air, it takes a predetermined shortest path back. It does not zig zag in the air. Similarly, the human mind follows this natural principle of least action.

Human thinking and its resultant action are an outcome of data crunching that our mind does all the time through we remain oblivious. It compares and contrasts new sensory inputs with accumulated past experiences in life. Memory is the imagery of impactful intense experiences and/ or knowledge gained in life. A combination of interest, perception, and wisdom forms the intention. All three are intrinsic and make a significant impact on the effectiveness of the outcome.

Let’s refresh the meaning of some terms in our context here.

Object and Objective: –

Object and objective are intricately linked to each other. While an object is a visible thing, something or someone of interest. The objective is a purpose or reason behind the personal interest in the object. It is represented by our needs, desires, and aspirations.

We, humans, have multiple needs and desires and thus a complex web of objectives and objects of our interest occupying space in our mind.

Objective manifests in the form of the object only with the availability of an energy source coming from human attention and intention. Each one of us has only a finite amount of attention to distribute on objects of our interest and that is why the term ‘Pay attention’.

Intrinsic: –

Knowledge gained by a person from life experiences of similar nature enabling judgment of right/ wrong, good/bad, like/dislike, etc.  Since life experiences are uniquely different, so are the intrinsic beliefs and perceptions. And hence, each human is a uniquely different individual.

Effectiveness and Efficiency: –

Efficiency and effectiveness aren’t the same things, complementary and not synonyms. Although the two words refer to progress toward a goal, there is a clear distinction. Efficiency relates to the process while effectiveness relates to purpose. While efficiency is a measure of resources deployed and time taken, effectiveness is a measure of fulfilling the intended objective and the efforts deployed.

While efficiency can be a good thing, it can also be a distraction from your real goals. It’s all very well to do something efficiently, but if it’s not furthering you or your organization’s purpose, then it doesn’t really matter. It is desirable to be both ie efficient and effective.

The difference between effectiveness and efficiency can be summed up shortly, sweetly and succinctly – Being effective is about doing the right things while being efficient is about doing things right.

Coming back to effectiveness, pertinent to our topic. Effective means action resulting in a disproportionately better outcome in proportion to efforts deployed.

Most effective are those actions where efforts are almost nil and the person involved remains feeling fresh and energetic after the activity. The time just flies away. These are the tasks and activities that a person loves to do, knows how best to do it and enjoys doing, resulting in a sense of satisfaction and happiness.

Least effective are those activities where efforts deployed are disproportionately high. These activities seem boring to the mind and hence squeeze out the energy. One feels as if the clock has stopped ticking. Thus, results in stress, fatigue, dissatisfaction and aversion towards such activities.

Mental Processing Guiding Human Choices:

  1. Interest: Intrinsic Objective –What do we want to achieve? What is the object of our desire? What is our interest in the action under consideration? What is in it for me? Why should I do it? What if I don’t?

An action is highly effective when one’s mind can visualize the fulfillment of its interest. The visualization gets muddled up when the person receives instruction without relevant details regarding the intended purpose or there is a lack of trust in the person instructing.

  1. Perception or Judgment: Righteousness of action – Knowledge and experience about the object held in our memory comes alive shaping and sizing the competency to perform as well as guiding our judgment on likely outcome. Action is perceived to be a righteous one if it takes us closer to the fulfillment of our intentions. Whereas it is perceived wrong when it takes the person farther away from the intended object.

  1. Wisdom: Wisdom relates to unexpected implications that also come along. A judgment on potential implications on other objectives and interests that are also dear to the person. It is a deeper intricate understanding of nitty-gritty nuisances with the action. While direct implications are generally known and anticipated, it is the reflected, deflected, delayed, or invisible nuisances that are mostly unknown and unexpected. That is why this accumulated experience is appreciatively termed as pearls of wisdom.

A choice of action turns difficult when another objective is perceived to be negatively impacted in the long run. A Dharma Sankat.

It is akin to a business case weighing the pros and cons that finally leads to the shape and intensity that gets deployed in that activity.

In summary, it is the intentions comprising interest, perception, and wisdom – all three completely individualistic to the person taking action which determines the effectiveness of his/her action. An action is more effective when chosen by self! The effectiveness reduces when action is on the behest of someone else depending upon the relevance of information and wisdom shared.

Action Imposed on a Person

The following are the possible scenarios of imposed action with limited information.

  1. Unable to visualize a clear and direct link between the proposed action and personal interest, i.e. unable to connect object and objective in their mind.
  2. Missing the required knowledge required to be able to judge thus unable to perceive the righteousness of action
  3. Missing the trustworthy information to fathom the impact on other objectives

Trust plays a vital role in such scenarios. Trust in the information, knowledge, wisdom and most important intent of the person instructing.

Effectiveness stands compromised in the absence of trust in the leader. Over time, a person accumulates knowledge, experience, and most importantly wisdom and its direct connection with personal interests. In this process, it either further weakens or reinforces the level of trust in the process and the line manager.

Understanding of mind and what makes it tick is a key to open the gateway to success and fulfillment of dreams.


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