The Engine We Call A Brain

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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.

Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight

One of the things that many of us have in common is a past we cannot change. We’ve often heard many life coaches and motivational speakers talk about continuing to work on the present and moving forward, that we should keep the past behind us. As appealing as this advice may be, I feel that ignoring an important part of ourselves isn’t really complete advice. Ultimately at the end of the day when we are by ourselves and we become introspective, where does our mind go? Often to the past.

Since the past isn’t something we can change, it’s important that we look at it from different perspectives. Just like with people and situations in our lives, if we can’t change them, it’s important to change our perspective. As I sit here, I think about all of failures I’ve had in the past. For some, reflecting on things that’ve gone wrong might be debilitating and discouraging. But with the right perspective, it can be liberating. Each time we’ve failed at something, it means we’ve displayed courage and took a risk. And most importantly that we’ve survived.

We fell down seven times, but something made us stand up an eighth time. What was your reason for continuing to keep trying? And can we cultivate that into a passion that keeps us interested in life?

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.

The right team for the right job

If your goal is to build a bridge, then following the advice of a demolitions expert and buying dynamite make no sense. But most of us do this in our lives every day: we take actions opposite of our goals and end up frustrated.

Demolition experts are the negative people in your life. They’ve relentlessly practiced how to locate and identify even the smallest faults and weaknesses to destroy the greatest structures. The reason negative people seldom live positive lives is because they focus on failures their entire life — so they rationalize any risks to avoid taking them. They can easily demolish the foundation of your courage with their years of practice.

On the other hand, an expert bridge builder focuses on strengths, and what materials go well together for a strong structure. His mission is to connect people, and this goal far outweighs any short-term fear of failure. His team and tools are also much different than a demolition expert: one carries dynamite and a wrecking ball machine, and the other employs construction workers and engineers.

Depending on what we are trying to accomplish, we need the right team. Whether you’re trying to build bridges or destroy them, you’ll be able to achieve your goal more efficiently with a team on the same mission as you.