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How your brain handles data

Your rational brain can process about six bits of data at once.

For example, in a meeting, you could be processing:

  1. what happened in your last meeting with her;
  2. the concerns that are now surfacing;
  3. your goals;
  4. the rewards if this meeting goes well;
  5. the person's pupils dilating;
  6. butterflies in your stomach.

Sequencing these events in different ways will generate 720 bits of intel. (6 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 720)

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If during a meeting, you perceive an emotional threat, your brain will release stress hormones that will attempt to remove complexity from the situation. These stress chemicals will flush out bits of data that seem unimportant.

If just one bit of data is flushed out of your rational brain, you will be left with 120 options. (5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 120). It effectively means that you just lost 600 possibilities.

Higher-order thinking 

When your creative, higher-order thinking fades due to stress, all you are left with is binary thinking; Yes-no, now-or-never thinking. This makes it impossible to be innovative or to engage in any form of value creation.

You can get back to the 720 possibilities by restoring your higher-order thinking.

When you focus on gratitude, your body releases feel-good hormones that flush out stress chemicals, helping you to keep your smarts.

When you are experiencing anxiety, you can reduce stress by half if you notice and name your emotional state. 

When you experience stress, your breath becomes fast and shallow. To counter this, make your breathing slow and deep to signal to your brain's emotional center that you are no longer under threat.

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RELATED IDEAS

Avoid stress.

High levels of stress are associated with chronic inflammation, which can cause our motivation to decrease.

Low levels of stress can actually help us perform better by making us more alert.

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IDEAS

The olfactory sense at work

Our sense of smell works in wondrous ways since the chemical composition of our surrounding change instantly and constantly. Our noses pick up volatile airborne compounds that interact with our olfactory receptors.

The information that we get from our surroundings pass through our noses and then to the core cortex in the brain. We, humans have about 400 types of olfactory receptors which is used to identify many different types of chemicals that have varying odor quality.

Doing little positive things is better for happiness than occasionally bagging an elephant:

  • Enjoyable stuff
  • Achievement stuff: Defeat your goals in single combat and feel like a conquering hero
  • Meaningful stuff: Do volunteer work or just help someone
  • Physical stuff: Exercise. Not only keeps you alive, but it’s like miracle grow for your brain
  • Social stuff.