Sep 9, 2011

How Your Brain Plays Tricks On You -- Essay

Your brain can be your best friend and your worst enemy. And in both cases, the benefit is yours, if you know when the brain in playing which role. This is difficult to understand, but we'll try. You and me. Because as much as I am trying to explain, I am also trying to understand the mechanization of the our brain.

There is a lizard brain and there is a monkey brain. It is the same organ, but it differs its roles in accordance to the situation. For example, right now, as I am writing this, my brain told me to open another tab and see which movies are playing in the theaters tonight so that I can go and catch a show tonight. But I am still writing. Here, the two roles of my brain have crossed each other and I have taken the painful (if you call writing this painful, maybe difficult) path over the path of instant gratification.

Instant gratification and delayed gratification are interesting concepts that we have to understand. If, say, you eat an ice cream right now and you stop feeling the "need" to eat an ice cream, then that's instant gratification. But if you keep telling yourself that you'll eat ice cream only on a Sunday, that's delayed gratification. The more you delay it, the more fun it is. But at times, you need instant gratification too. The catch is knowing when to get what.

The best way to save yourself from the string pulling by your brain is to take a third person perspective on yourself. If you're studying and you feel like watching TV. Observe yourself "feeling" that desire to watch TV. 

Give it a 5 minute break. 

Study for five more minutes. Which is just like staying in bed for five more minutes, the desire to wake up vanishes in those 5 minutes. The same way goes with most of the desires of the brain. Another example, I want to buy a phone, but I know that the one I have right now is working perfectly for me and there is no actual need to buy a new phone, but i still WANT it. So, i put the phone on a 30 day time frame. If I still want it after 30 days I will buy it. There might be new phones in that 30 day period and the phone's price might fall. I might find some better use for my money and I might even run out of money by the end of the 30 day period.

You have to judge what's important and how you're going to spend your time/money/attention doing and getting what's important. Yup. That's about it.

Edit : for the funnies, check this meme about brain --> HERE
Thanks to @peanutbut for suggesting the link :)


  1. What about the outside influence, the advertisements of phones or ice creams? They influence the brain too.

    Ever noticed that its your brain which comes up with an argument and then the counter argument as well or a problem and then the solution as well. Is our brain a single person?

  2. @Vivek

    Of course, its a push and pull in the brain. It's easily influenced, that's why monkey mind. But we are easily motivated to eat an ice cream, but less motivated to study. That should be sufficient reason for duality of brain :)

  3. Wow!That was intense,but true!I've done some "Observe yourself 'feeling'" thing and my 30 day period always gets extended till the time I realize I should stop wasting money/time on it!
    Interesting post :)

  4. Nice one Pallav!

    The brain is astonishing and mostly these gratifications, desires, needs and wants are sriven by external factors,... How to keep them at bay?

    I have to work on that!!