The Engine We Call A Brain


Photo by Mike Bird from Pexels

This post was originally posted on Medium.

The minds of different people see the world differently. Some people can have minds that process a lot of information like a powerful V8 engine. And others may have a 4-cylinder that is more than enough power to sustain analytical productivity. Do you know what type of mind you have, and is it suited for success in what you’re doing?

More powerful doesn’t necessarily mean better. Often times, people with overactive minds tend to process a lot more information than others. This doesn’t mean they are better or more intelligent, but rather that they are better suited for making connections between things. For artistic minds, if all of the cylinders are not fired to accomplish a large, complicated task, the leftover energy gets transferred into boredom, self-analysis, and creation of falsehoods about ourselves. An artistic mind needs a more challenging path in the form of complex problems.

Every path we take in our lives has its own challenges, so it’s important to use the right tool for the right job.It doesn’t matter how powerful of a car you have, a 500+ horsepower engine driven into the ocean is a massive failure. In this instance, even a rowboat is more efficient than drowned car. From childhood, we start learning societal social norms and are expected to follow the paved path/freeway that is often: work your 9-5, raise a family, be amiable, retire, travel. There is nothing wrong with this path, but if the thought of this makes us uncomfortable then we are not meant for that life. Unfortunately, the majority of people today have falsely convinced themselves that this is the most secure path for them in life. But people that are not meant to belong in the corporate machine are adding more misery to an already overpopulated demographic. People have become so accustomed to travelling on this “normal” path,  they forget to exit to refuel, to go fishing, to smell the roses, to go off-roading, to go camping. They forget why they were ever on this path or freeway in the first place. The V8’s are wasting way too much fuel idling in traffic, whereas they’re meant to go off-roading or something with that power elsewhere. People feel restless from having unused energy because their engine doesn’t match their road. They need to exit. We need to exit.

But not everyone needs to exit, because some are on a path that gives them true happiness. Just like how creatives are happy doing deep work, analytically-minded people cringe at the thought of processing so much data. What seems crazy to them, is easy for the V8 mind. And what V8 mind finds difficult (marketing, hitting deadlines, etc.) is where this mind is expert. Everything and everyone has their place in this interdependent web. The Analytical V4 is an efficient engine that gets shit done. Every bit of energy has a task or purpose, unlike the V8 mind that constantly needs direction and information. These V4 people are better suited for being goal-oriented and being to the point. Unlike the rowdy, boisterous artistic mind that thinks laterally from concept-to-concept to make connections, the analytical V4 thinks vertically in steps, from task to task. The analytical minds know their purpose. The artistic minds are conquering uncharted territory. They both need each other because the analytical minds are the ones that help the artistic minds realize their goals into reality. If Shakespeare was a V8, the entire cast of people, set design, lighting, etc. were the V4’s that helped realize his dream and plays. And each person was happy doing what they did (or so one would hope).

We both need each other to make movement happen, like Yin and Yang. The kind of engine or brain that we have isn’t an indication of our worth or ability. Each brain requires a different level of maintenance, and a different path to conquer. We shouldn’t be comparing abilities in the first place, but rather, how we can better help each other, and by extension ourselves by practicing self awareness. Success is different for everyone. Each person requires their own type of care and fuel: the care is meaningful relationships and the fuel is gratitude. Instead of being convinced by others to stay the course on the beaten path, let’s recognize the power of our engines and drive accordingly.

Jay-Ram is a former Industrial Chemist turned writer who aims to help others use deductive reason and the scientific process to gain deeper insight into people, and create deeper, meaningful relationships between his fellow humans.

Pain is Guaranteed, but Suffering is Optional

Whenever we revisit the past, we must make sure to enjoy the good moments as much as we scrutinize our bad moments. It’s easy to spend time scrutinizing every mistake you’ve ever made – who else besides us knows every mistake we’ve ever made? But for some reason, it’s so easy to forget the things we do correctly: the good decisions. The decisions where present-day you would be proud of younger you for making that choice. Most of us (when invited) would easily celebrate the victory of a good friend or someone else we care about, but why do we forget to celebrate our victories as greatly as we scrutinize our pain? Perhaps we’ve contlditioned to look for the faults in others, instead of improving ourselves, because the former is much easier than the latter – judging others is easy, yet changing ourselves requires a lot of failure, pain and introspection. Is there a painless way to learn? No. Pain is an integral part of the human experience. Suffering however is optional. What we choose to do with the pain is what ultimately transforms us into the person we want to become. We’ve learned to become who we are from the pain of our mistakes. Pain is guaranteed, but suffering is optional.

Float like a Butterfly

Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest athletes of our time, but his opponents extended far beyond the boxing ring. We too can be the champions of the battles we fight each day if we are adaptable and courageous.

Being a black Muslim in the 1970’s produced its own challenges in the forms of racism and Islamophobia. One of the characteristics that made Ali so remarkable was his ability to stand firm in his beliefs, regardless of who was opposing him. If you look up any video today, you’ll see ferocious confidence in his self-expression.

Being unique today requires tremendous courage to challenge the status quo. Heroes are scarce in our generation because most of us have been taught to limit our critical thinking for a paycheck; by fitting into society like a standardized cog in a machine. Ali found courage within himself and became an individual. You can also cultivate this courage for self-expression.

In nature, a butterfly is able to float because it is light, agile and curious. On the other hand, a bumble bee has similar capabilities but different mindset: workers that’ll defend the queen and hive with their sting. Humans however are not restricted to any particular pattern, because self awareness allow us to change our perspective when presented with new information.

When Muhammad Ali’s saying, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” was also a comment on how humans can adapt their nature. We can be light on our feet and observe like a butterfly, but change and strike with purpose like a bee. We are not restricted to nature’s patterns, but to recognize and change them requires self-awareness and that courage deep inside you. Adapt, and you will overcome anything.