Have you ever thought about how little we actually have to think, particularly when it comes to complex decision making?
Today, for example, we didn’t have to think very hard about what to wear, whether to brush our teeth, how to get to work, how to do our job (in many cases), or what to eat. If we listened to the radio or read the newspaper this morning, that didn’t take much thinking either.
I just finished reading Thinking, Fast & Slow by the Nobel prize-winning economist / psychologist Daniel Kahneman and I highly recommend it. It’s a rich and powerful book, a classic actually, vastly covering how we think, or in most cases don’t have to.
Habits and programmed thinking are actually a good thing. They save us time. We take shortcuts by using computer programs stored in our brain to make routine decisions. Most of the things we do are easy.
Kahneman uses a model of two Systems. System 1 thinking is fast, automatic, intuitive, and largely unconscious. System 2 thinking is slow, deliberate, analytical, and consciously effortful.
I won’t attempt to fully review the book, but when it comes to strengthening the mind, I recommend trying more System 2 thinking. Read difficult texts, learn new things, try new hobbies. Some examples that come to mind are music, literature, writing, and of course sports and exercise. And what about learning to cook? Trying a new recipe is a “System 2” way to think, it takes planning, organization, and concentration.
Learning is a good thing, and it builds brain muscle. When inflammation occurs in the brain, which it will occur, this extra brain muscle you build through System 2 thinking could come in handy.
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