“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
― W.B. Yeats
Our 120-bit brain
I have read that our consciousness (our brain) can process about 120 bits of information per second. Sounds impressive. Think of this equivalent: An average person listens and attempts to process two people talking at once. It’s doable, but after a while, we can no longer interpret the full content of each speaker accurately. Thus, we are limited in our capacity to perceive everything around us. The world we associate as “real” is shaped by that 120-bit information flow.
Our combined senses (i.e., smell, touch, sight, sound, taste) bring us about 400 billion bits of information every second. (The actual number is debated among experts, but it’s a lot.) Our 120 bit-capacity is but a tiny sliver. In essence, we live in a 120-bit myopic microcosm we call our brain. Believing we are ‘aware’ of our surroundings is a fallacy. We miss more than we take in. Let’s level up and own this reality.
Take it a step further. Banish the idea that we know everything about our chosen fields of study, our vocations, our hobbies, and even those activities we have ‘mastered’. As humans, we admit there is much more unknown than known to us. Acceptance of this allows us to avoid thinking we are ‘experts’ or even ‘teachers’. Let’s get on with the important work of being students hungry to learn. Learning opportunities are all around us in every direction. Learning can be shared by anything with which we come into contact at any time.
The brains ‘border patrol’
Another paradigm to understand is how this 120-bit information drip-feed comes into our consciousness. This information must first pass through our brains ‘border patrol.’ The amygdala, which is associated with our fear and stress responses, is actually in charge of the infinitesimal parse of information our brain processes. This is the information to which our brain permits reactions and emotions.
Sometimes, our brains ‘border patrol’ can slacken causing nonsensical or unreasonable reactions. We allow ourselves angst and anguish over things that don’t warrant those responses. We can go bonkers over a phrase or event or even a memory. Think of a time when you found yourself tightly wound over an otherwise innocuous email or text. Sometimes we spin out of control, unnecessarily. Our minds can hi-jack our reason and our happiness.
“The true triumph of reason is that it enables us to get along with those who do not possess it.”
Tools to Remodel
Learning to avoid taking our emotions too personally can fine-tune our mental set point, our general level of happiness. Studying and discovering more about areas such as neural-cultivating will equip us with the tools we need to avoid happiness hi-jacks. The tool of meditation has many benefits. Its effect on brain chemistry is profound. Learning how to extend this ‘calming’ of our minds is one of the most important things we can do for our overall Healthspan. Meditation can remind us to get out of our own way. It can bring creativity, vision, and insight. A few quiet minutes each day reflecting on our habits and behaviors will foster happiness.
Remodeling is a term used to describe the plasticity (the ability to change) of the brain. The brain can be changed by the simple decision to refocus our consciousness lens to view the world differently. See through a peaceful and playful state of mind. Your brain is with you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. Studies have shown that sitting still and being mindful (meditating) will result in increased ability to process in areas associated with attention, memory, and emotional regulation.
Humor is another valuable neural-cultivating tool. Our remarkable brain can reorder the world before us. Light-heartedness can be a conduit to reshaping our consciousness. Understanding and coping with the craziness around us may be easier with a little comedy. Absurdity can characterize some of the injurious behaviors going on around us by using the very irreverence they deserve.
Here are a couple of funnies that unmask (no pun intended) the cowardice and weakness of those people and situations that drain our joy. Perhaps these will move your happiness needle.
We are continually inundated with ugly rhetoric by hateful people. Internet trolls intentionally cause upset using inflammatory and manipulative messaging (to their amusement). I call these derisive and disruptive people ‘cliff jumpers’. They lead others to jump off the psychotic cliff with little effort. Our culture has coined the descriptor, “troll” for these harassers.
I looked up the definition of this word. I even located some example pictures. What’s all the fuss? Are these the creatures demanding our attention? They hide within the internet void spewing hate. After seeing these people through a ridiculous, juvenile lens, the vitriol is deflated. Trolls aspire to the level of trouble they can cause in an environment. Calm, creative, and controlled minds are troll-resistant. Inspiration and imagination are like kryptonite to trolls. I mean, really, how can you take these creatures seriously? Come on….with that hair?
Definition: “troll” | trōl |
Noun: a person who makes a deliberately offensive or provocative online post. (Okay, they are not nice.)
Definition: “feed the trolls”
Phrase: a negative response to deliberately offensive or provocative online posts. “Don’t feed the trolls, guys, it only makes them come back.”
Inspiration and Imagination are like Kryptonite to Trolls!
-Fred A. Robinson
You’ll probably chuckle and remember the visuals of the trolls above the next time you are enraged over some goofball’s attempt to provoke you. After reading this next one, you won’t be able to hide your smile the next time you are talking about a Twitter feed either.
A phrase attributed to Mark Twain sets the stage for my next witticism. “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” There are people in this world who seem to be insistent upon living in the sewer. I don’t know how or why someone would want to keep their brain in the toilet, but some do. Maybe they refuse to learn or are not ready to learn how to escape. But, it remains, these people will try their very best to entangle us in their negativity, pessimism, and vulgarity.
Sometimes, even after all the kindness, compassion, and empathy, we can muster, it’s a better alternative to simply wave goodbye to these people. Time to flush them and their toilet thoughts. However, it could also be rather entertaining to detach and lighten up. When those tweeting twits start, sit back and wonder at the sheer silliness of it all.
I found a couple of hilarious and quite apt definitions. Not sure how this has escaped me until now. From now on, these egomaniacal tweeters will be known as twits. A twit, by definition, is a silly or foolish person. Yes, that fits. A twit can also be a state of agitation. Yes, that fits as well. What a fun game to decide which twit is tweeting: Twit 1 or Twit 2.
From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.
Definition: “Twit 1” | twit |
Noun: a silly or foolish person
Origin: perhaps from an earlier dialect related to ‘talebearer’.
Definition “Talebearer” | ˈtālˌberər |
Noun: a person who maliciously gossips or reveals secrets
Noun: a silly or foolish person.
Origin: perhaps from an earlier dialect related to ‘talebearer’.
Definition “Twit 2 ” | twit |
Noun: a state of agitation or nervous excitement.
Over the last year, we’ve all endured so much. Time to take a step back and realize the hilarity and the idiocy we’ve witnessed. You just can’t make this stuff up. Go out into the world this week with a giggle and a grin, knowing we think just a little differently! Remember, my friends, Happy Is Humorous.
“I realize that humor isn’t for everyone. It’s only for people who want to have fun, enjoy life, and feel alive.”
-Anne Wilson Schaef
I will continue to share information I’ve discovered to help you further fortify your arsenal of happiness.
It is my greatest hope that you will implement some tips from our Bio-Cultivating and Neural-Cultivating blogs. Further, it is my hope you will be inspired to pass these learnings along to family and friends. We all have people in our lives who have the desire but lack the accurate information to improve their health. It is frustrating to sift through the bombardment of data and the misinformation in today’s world. It’s no wonder some give up in frustration. I believe that we deserve the healthiest choices that honest modern science can offer. It is my mission to help as many of us as possible get and stay healthy.