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Brain Freeze

In recent years we have come to think of our brain as a computer.

In the good old days of Aristotle we knew what the brain was. A refrigerator.

No, I’m not kidding. Aristotle had it figured out that the brain was used to cool the blood.

We giggle at Aristotle now because even a five-year-old child knows that the brain is not a Westinghouse. Little children (and all college students) have been convinced that their mind is a terrific computer.

Well, I’ve got a news flash for you. Our grandparents could multiply rather complex numbers in their head. Today, unless we are idiot savants like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, most of us require a little battery-powered calculator (such as you obtain for free with a subscription to Time magazine) to figure out what 15 percent comes to when the waiter brings us our bill.

So you say, “Jaron, since you claim to have a large brain, what is the brain?”

And I say to you, I have no idea. I can tell you one thing, however, it’s no computer. I think it’s where our soul lives. Ah, but you say, we don’t have a soul. We have a computer between our ears. And we could argue like that for a long time and end up fighting.

But it’s the holiday season and who wants to fight?

So here’s my holiday thought for you. If you want your brain (whatever it is) to work better, start thinking of it as a refrigerator.

By the way, if you think of a brain as something other than it is you are into the field of metaphors. Aristotle said that was one of the major differences between men and animals. Men could develop metaphors.

That could be true, although I have no idea what an elephant thinks of me. She might consider me a Sub-Zero. This would prove that some animals can employ metaphors.

Let us return to the human brain as a fridge. When the compressor is running smoothly and the door is kept closed, your fridge works better.

So here’s my holiday gift for you. If you want to think better, wait until your brain is running at its peak. Then do your important thinking.

How can you tell when your brain is running at peak performance? Play Concentration. Take a pack of playing cards and deal them face down, turn one over, remember it and replace it face down. Continue this with the rest of the cards until you find another card with the same number of the card that you have already turned over. Turn both cards (with the same numbers) face up. Do the entire pack.

You have to use your brain to remember the location of all the cards that are face down. In addition you have to employ some kind of logic to figure out what is on the face down cards that you have not turned over.

You will discover that there are certain times of the week that you are more successful with the game. When you are most successful with the game, you can conclude your brain is running closer to its peak.

The fridge between your ears is humming in overdrive. That is the time for you to think about and solve problems.

When you play Concentration, you are not thinking about your problem. But a part of your brain that you don’t know about is solving your problem. This is like saying the fridge works best when it seems to be turned off. I have yet to see any kind of computer that works like that.

Of course, if you don’t have a 50-cent deck of cards, you can always employ your $3,000 laptop to play concentration. Go to www.mindjet.com and there you will find a free copy of Mindory. They have 10 identical cards that they randomly shuffle for you. You have 60 seconds to “win” the Mindory concentration game.

If you are having a problem, wait until you beat Mindory, then consider your problem. I think it will be easier for you to solve. And while you are at the Mindjet website, have a look at their program MindManager. It emulates the way our mind seems to work.

MindManager is a brilliant tool that makes it easier to organize thoughts and seems to be based on the way our mind may work. It is a dynamite program for noodling out screenplays or writing articles on Aristotle.

You can download a free demo of MindManager. It is based on notions by Tony Buzan. He was the guy who taught people to think more effectively by persuading them to draw little “bubble thoughts” and then connecting them. Apparently this method makes it much easier to take and remember notes and lectures.

I could not find any references to “the mind as a fridge” in Mr. Buzan’s writing but I still think his concepts are very cool.

Remember, if you want to think better do your heavy thinking when your fridge is in high gear. By the way, the ears of elephants act as radiators to cool the blood from their brains. As with so many other things, Aristotle was on the right track.

He would have flipped for MindManager.

Happy Holidays.

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