Why should we use our intelligence deliberately?

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what I had to teach and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. — Walden

We are gifted with an enormous neocortex. It has the intelligence to analyze and develop logical solutions. However, our brain is inherently noisy. It can easily get distracted. Our mind works like a kid in a candy store, and it gets distracted by everything it sees. On top of it, our brain is lazy and avoids taxing tasks. Any given time, it prefers laziness over hard work.

We need to make our thinking a bit more deliberate. Any task that you do, do it consciously. If we are going to a shop, shop with full attention. Don’t passively buy things. If you are buying an apple, make sure you consciously hold it in your hand, feel it and then buy. Many have the habit of crossing mental lists while we take the items from the grocery shelf to cart, rarely spending time deliberately buying things.

While we walk, spend some time to look around. Observe the people and notice the surroundings. No need to critically analyze. Let our senses observe things around us. If you hear any birds chirping, just pay attention to it. Just feel the wind and sunlight hit your face. It gives a whole new meaning to life.

Our mammalian cerebral cortex (neocortex) is part of recent evolution. Unlike the other part of the brain like the reptilian and limbic, which are more stable platforms, our neocortex is a work in progress. By design, it is not deterministic. It makes decisions based on competing choices.

Let’s take an example if you want to buy an apple, our neocortex throws up multiple options, like am I hungry, is the apple looking fresh, do I need it? All these options go in before it makes a decision to buy. These decisions may not be subjected to any logical conclusion, it is just the weightage that our brain gives to the choices that we have.

The platform Neocortex is the best that we have in the animal kingdom. We need to use it deliberately to make decisions, and else it is a waste of a God-given faculty.



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Ranjit Damodaran

Tech enthusiast, Project Management. Interested in Complexity science, Economics, Psychology, Philosophy, Human Nature, Behavioral Economics, almost anything.