May 25, 2009

What happens when we understand something?

"We often make the fatal mistake of thinking growth opportunities come to an end when something or someone becomes part of our daily routine. When things become familiar and predictable, we become mindless drones. We tune out. As soon as we think we understand something, we stop paying attention."
This quote reminds me of a post Avoiding automaticity which I wrote some time ago. I agree with Todd that when it seems like you fully understand something this is always wrong. When you curiously explore that thing you'll find out there is always a great complexity beneath your current understanding which offers great opportunities to learn. This process of exploration is basically asking yourself some questions like: What do I precisely understand about the topic?, How could I explains this topic in simple terms? How does it work?, How do I know this?, How does this topic relate to other topics?, How can I understand how and why other people view this topic differently?


  1. "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few." - Shunryu Suzuki


  2. Hi Peter, yes, and the interesting thing turns out to be that the real expert performers manage to keep the beginner's mindset alive.

  3. Peter, thanks for Suzuki's quote.
    Beginner's mind is a great book!

    Coert, what Todd says dovetails perfectly with Wilson's and Gilbert's paper that Michael sent to ut: uncertainty increases the emotional impact of events, both positive and negative.
    So to hold on to a positive emotion you should try to avoid to find an explanation, while explaining negative events is a good strategy.
    Oh, and the link to the article... well, I'll keep that uncertain... :)

  4. I remember a bit from one of Tony Robbins's audio programs. He said there are 6 human needs and the first two are:

    "1. Certainty/Comfort. We all want comfort. And much of this comfort comes from certainty. Of course there is no ABSOLUTE certainty, but we want certainty the car will start, the water will flow from the tap when we turn it on and the currency we use will hold its value.

    2. Variety/UNcertainty. At the same time we want certainty, we also crave variety. Paradoxically, there needs to be enough UNcertainty to provide spice and adventure in our lives. "


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