Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The bubble around you...

Sometimes I get these flashes of "intelligence" and in some of these situations, things turn out the way I want or say something "smart", both at work and in personal life.

I'm sure you are familiar with this type of people. Everyone has at least one or two colleagues, working in the same company or at the same department, or some friends, who seem to make things happen. Often coming with unexpected ideas or easily getting a bigger picture of things when you explain them something new.

I read once a book where the author imagine a bubble of influence around every person in the world. My bubble encapsulates, to a bigger or lesser degree, the bubbles of other people around me. I am also part of others people bubbles. When I do something, I would start a ripple through time and space, that would jiggle the bubbles of those who I am connected to, depending on the strength at which they are interconnected.

I like the image this theory generates in my head and it makes me think of how small we all are, with our struggles and emotions. Picture a camera view, zooming out on the world, and seeing people around you with their bubbles getting smaller and smaller. As I zoom out, I realize that what appeared as a big bubble around me, is not as big. Bigger bubbles from other people emerge, which makes mine look very small. And if the zooming continues both in space and in time, even bigger ones emerge, with connections to various people around the globe.

It's a scary image! The world doesn't seem so simple anymore, does it? I don't seem to have all the answers as I previously thought and my struggles appear less important and meaningless.

So why do we categorize others around us as smart, intelligent, clever?

The only answer I could come with is that our brain needs it. Our brain is by design lazy. It always looks to the least energy expensive way to interpret situations around us. It needs this easy characterization of people that you interact with, in order to know how to interact with them without spending additional energy every time rebuilding a mental profile. How many times have you stopped and analyzed a friend when you meet with him? Your brain does this with people you just meet, but once it attached mentally some categories to that person, your brain will always call to those quick references when you meet later on with the same person.

What's even worse is that these mental profiles your brain makes after the first encounter with someone are very hard to change. Why would your brain go through the the effort of analyzing again someone it already did? What benefit it has to spend that much energy?

Try to find ways to force your lazy brain to continuously analyze everything and everyone you interact with, especially the image your brain makes about yourself. Everything around us changes, the experience we build makes us constantly change, so why would the image our brain has on the world stay the same?