Good news if you think your brain is puny
How much brainpower do you have?
Recently, I’ve been reading about Leonardo da Vinci. Michael J. Gelb wrote a fascinating book titled, How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day. As I always do when I read about the brain, I’m amazed by the power and complexity of this thing I carry around in my head. I think about how much more I could know and do; how much better I could be performing — if I were only making full use of it. Sometimes I even worry that I’m losing my mind, sloughing off brain cells in a continual dandruff-storm of bad ideas.
Reading Gelb’s book made me wonder about how much of brainpower I really have.
I’ve heard that most people use a meager 10% of their brain, but that’s a myth that’s been debunked. Thanks to modern technology and Magnetic Resonance Imaging, (MRI) scientists now know that we are using all parts of our brain. Different areas of the brain may be processing information at different times, but the ten percent theory was wrong.
I’m relieved to know that I’m not letting 90% of my brain sit idle, aren’t you?
Here’s more good news.
Your brain is stronger, faster, more agile, more complex, and much buffer than you ever imagined.
1) Your brain is a speed demon
It may not always feel like it — especially if you haven’t had your required amount of caffeine — but your brain is more flexible and multidimensional than any supercomputer, processing data at a speed of 3000+ GHz.
No matter how old you are, your brain can learn seven facts per second, every second, for the rest of your life, and it will NEVER be filled up. You’ll keep learning and always have plenty of bandwidth left for more.
The human brain can read up to 1,000 words per minute. (How’s that for speed reading?) When we touch something, we send a message to our brain at 124 mph, a speed faster than a hurricane, a tornado, a fastball, and a skydiver hurtling from a plane toward earth. (I’m going to remember how fast my brain is moving when my fingers are touching a pencil or a keyboard and it feels like I’m moving at the speed of a sloth.)
2) Your brain is a unique, unlimited encyclopedia
Your brain is unique among the 107 billion people who have ever lived. No two brains have ever been the same or will be.
In addition to your unique brain, you are capable of producing an infinite number of original ideas. Can you guess at the number of possible connections between data, memories, experiences, and thoughts? A legendary Russian scientist named Pyotr Anokhin figured out that our brains offer near-infinite potential. He published research
“…Demonstrating that the minimum number of potential thought patterns the average brain can make is the number 1 followed by 10.5 million kilometers of typewritten zeros.” — Michael J. Gelb
If the math doesn’t hit you, let me say it this way: Your brain has a minimum number of potential thought patterns of a 1 followed by six and a half million miles of zeros. That’s a lot of brainpower. You have unlimited potential for synaptic connections that lead you to unique ideas and original thought patterns.
Not only can you think in millions of different ways, but you can retain more information than any encyclopedia in the world, five times more, in fact. Forget blaming your limited bandwidth. You’ve got plenty of room in there.
3) Your brain is getting better and stronger
Contrary to the popular belief that we all become addle-brained as we get older, there is proof that your brain can IMPROVE with age if you use it properly. People who actively use their brains increase their neural connections and complex pathways for fact-retrieval. Studies have shown that writers who are constantly processing information, describing experiences, and utilizing their senses make multiple areas of their brains light up with activity, enhancing their cognitive ability, then and in the future.
If you keep exercising it, your brain gets better and stronger.
4) Your brain is a lean, mean, calculating machine
If you’ve ever worried about your weight, this will make you happy.
Your brain is the most important asset you have. It controls your movements, your emotions, your thoughts, but its importance doesn’t translate to weight. Isn’t it nice that it doesn’t work on a pound for pound formula? That the more developed your brain is, the more it weighs?
Your brain weighs only 2 percent of what your body does, yet does most of the work for just 20% of the resources. Pretty efficient, huh?
A lean, mean, calculating machine, your brain stays fit the more you exercise it. And like any fitness guru will tell you, you have to keep it hydrated. The brain is 73% water, and if you’re working out — mentally or physically- you have to drink to rehydrate it. Even a 2% reduction in water intake will impair memory and motor skills.
Your brain doesn’t feel pain or get muscle strain from working too hard. It NEVER rests, working even while you sleep. It is your own supercomputer, infinite-storage facility, improving itself constantly, and keeping itself in good shape.
On those days when you’re feeling discouraged, slow, and uncreative; when your head feels boggled, barren, or unbalanced, remember this:
Your brain is way buffer than you ever imagined.
Check out more ideas about the power of the writing brain in "A Writer's Life"