Brain Debates and Delusions – Food for Thought

Man considering himself is the great prodigy of nature. For he cannot conceive what his body is, even less what hisspirit is, and least of all how body can be united with spirit. That is the peak of his difficulty and yet is his very being. – Blaise Pascal

colorful brain clipart

The brain has been deliberated for hundreds of years. The physician Alkmeon of Kroton proposed that sensory information such as sight and sound were more earthly and occupied distinct brain areas.  Thoughts, however were spiritual in his book, so he decided they were part of the soul, and therefore, unable to locate in the physical body.

Plato said that the brain was supreme among the organs of the body, but thought that the lower, rounded part of the brain (medulla) was where God planted and enclosed the soul.

Aristotle thought the heart was the place to find the human soul and the brain was merely a type of radiator or “kettle” that either warmed or cooled the blood.

Today brain research is unravelling the mysteries of the brain.  Just thirty years ago we were able to first ‘see’ the way nerve cells communicated with each other. This is very fascinating to brain geeks, like me! In fact, I have a video tape of one of the very first brain cells captured electronically – yes on VHS. And thank you, Tony Buzan, for sharing it with me!].

I have tossed about food for your brain to ponder.  I challenge you to consider what you think and what you know about your brain and your soul.  Now, I challenge you to dig deeper.  Always seek the Word of God, in conjunction, with trusted research.  Anything that outright contradicts the Bible is false.  Trust me, the more you search scripture the more you will see the great depths of wisdom revealed about the science of our brains.  A few starting points for you: the work of Neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf and the book used for this post: Blame It on the Brain? by Edward T. Welch.


Brain Byte: The Power of Belief

“The only thing that stands between a man and what he wants from life is often merely the will to try it and the faith to believe that it is possible.” Richard M. DeVos (Billionaire entrepreneur)

Have you ever heard of the classroom mixup where the Gifted and Talented students were assigned to the teacher who expected the Low Performers and the Low Performers were assigned to the Gifted & Talented teacher?  Although the students were different, the expectations of the unsuspecting teachers remained the same. Those who were expected to perform well – did, even though they did not have a past record of high performance.  The students who were expected to perform at par to sub-par, did so, in spite of the fact that they had been performing remarkably prior to this switch.

Belief has a powerful impact on performance.  

Where does your belief need to change and where is it working at it’s best?

How are your beliefs impacting the performance of others?

Where are your beliefs holding you back?

Brain Byte: Identify Your Motivator

Most of us need a little cause and effect; a little compelling reason to get up extra early and get moving ‘toward something.’

Write your goal for the day__________________________________.

Now identify your motivators so that you are sure to exceed your own expectations:

What motivates you to put in extra time and effort?

What motivates you to spend extra money?

What motivates you to learn?

What motivates you to work harder?

What motivates you to improve your relationship?

What motivates you to become better at _________ (reading, speaking, weight lifting, sport, your job, etc.)?

By accomplishing (GOAL), I will gain (RESULTS = potential Motivator).

Now, get up and get started!!

Power of Pictures

organized and free flowing brainImagination

The image-making capability of our brain is powerful.  When we hear a word, we do not see the letter in our mind’s eye; we see the image of what was spoken.  Often our brain does this so quickly, we forget this switch is taking place.

According to John Medina in Brain Rules vision trumps all senses.


By Laitr Keiows


  • Takes up half our brain’s resources
  • We learn and remember best through pictures, not through written or spoiken words.
  • “A picture is worth a thousand words.”


USA Today’s popularity over traditional word-dominated presses.

Today’s Smartphone application driven society.  Gaming, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and the list goes on of the push and pull of an image driven world.

Net Lesson:

When you want to communicate an important concept and/or you really need to drive an idea home – be CERTAIN to use images.

Communication feedback process

Brain Blooming

The best way to get a good idea is to get lots of ideas. – Linus Pauling (Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry)

Some will challenge this and say too many ideas can lead to junk. But how will you know that the last idea will not be the best?

Brain Bloom quickly and effectively by using a Mind Map to capture every idea while naturally ordering them with the hierarchy of the Map.  You will quickly see themes and be able to pick out the good from the bad in short order.



Scaling the Wall



Brain Byte: Get Your Brain FLOW On!


Psychologist Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi wanted to know why so many people were so unhappy.  For twenty five years he interviewed hundreds of people all over the world, from all walks of life – artists, athletes, chess masters, janitors, and more.  He asked them to recall their happiest moments and to describe what brought those moments about.

Csikszentmihalyi found that the best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.  The experiences may not have been fully pleasant at the time for example the swimmer’s muscles may have ached during his most memorable race, his lungs may have felt like exploding, and he may have been dizzy with fatigue-yet these could have been the best moments of his life.

This research lead to the writing of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Csikszentmihalyi calls this sort of peak experience the flow state.  He determined that flow occurs when we are absorbed in an activity that is neither too easy for us nor too difficult. If it’s to easy, we become bored.  If it’s too hard, we become anxious.

According to The Einstein Factor by Win Wenger and Richard Poe, Flow builds brainpower.  Scientists have found that pleasure is a key ingredient in building brainpower.  We learn far more from mental exercises when we enjoy them.  Likewise, Csikszentmihalyi found that our minds grow in complexity the longer we remain in flow.

Generally we move in and out of flow without even knowing it.  It can happen when you fall into a rhythm while practicing your tennis strokes against a wall.  It can happen when you walk down the street and find yourself so absorbed by the beautiful, crisp sunlight on the buildings that you forget all your troubles.  It comes when you are playing with your kids or enjoying a special moment with the love of your life.


Brain Byte: Sell Yourself A New Habit

Bad Habits Store Sign

Photo Credit Brent Moore of Nashville


Habit is habit, and not to be thrown out the window by any man; but rather, coaxed down the stairs one step at a time. – Mark Twain

This is the time of year to talk habits.  Ridding old ones replacing with new ones.  I have written about the process of how habits form a pattern, or a groove, on your brain here.  According to Karl Albrecht in his book, Brain Power: Learn to Improve Your Thinking Skills, you can sell yourself on a chosen new habit!

He marks out the step-wise process of a professional salesperson persuading a customer to buy a product:

1)  Attention – the customer realizes the product exists

2) Interest – customer thinks the product fills a need

3) Desire – customer wants product

4) Action – customer commits to purchase and sale is closed

Albrecht says these same four steps, AIDA, may be used to sell yourself a new habit pattern.

1. Clearly identify the old habit pattern you want to change in specific, observable terms [Attention]

2. Clearly identify the new habit you want to install in your brain’s system of patterns; do not say “stop procrastinating” because your brain does not operate effectively to negative commands, instead specifically detail the desired results.  For example, “leave for work at 8:15 to arrive early for work”. [Interest]

3. Make yourself fully aware of the situations in which the old habit comes into play so that you can consciously replace the undesired behavior with the desired behavior. This may take several days to weeks to evaluate.  What is triggering the desire to do the old habit?  The new habit must become more desirable. [Desire]

4. Systematically act out the new behavior over and over until it starts to become an unconscious and fully established habit. [Action]

Remember it takes 21 days of consecutive action to form a new “groove” on your brain, i.e., to form a new habit.  It will take longer if you miss days or only perform the action one time per day.

Undercover Boss Stoops Low

Endearing.  That is how I have described the CBS TV Show The Undercover Boss.  Although it appears a little less than “reality”  I appreciated the good intentions of the show.  I like a responsible business owner getting out of the Ivory Tower and into the trenches to attempt to experience what working for his/her company is really like.  After all, how will you really know what is going on if you are not humble enough to roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and be prepared to listen.  Really listen.  Not just hear what you want to hear, but to learn what the employees really think.  What barriers do they face daily to accomplish the goals of their job?  What hardships?  Some of these hardships extend beyond the daily grind to their family or home life circumstances.

This is what I have found endearing: nearly every episode of Undercover Boss ends with the compassionate CEO extending love and generosity to the employees who have demonstrated their commitment to the company.  Often the generosity is directed to a charity the employee cares about or to help pay for family medical expenses or college debt.  It is touching to watch the overwhelmed and delighted individuals process the shock of the large gifts bestowed.

However, on Sunday, December 26, 2014 CBS took a drastic turn in Undercover Boss.  A contrast of day and night.  The show went from an inspiring family show to a dark, sexist, downer of a show.  I am not sure that I can bring myself to watch the show again after this choice.

I can only speculate that CBS was going for ratings and that they assume their audience likes sex, drinks, and misogyny.  The show featured a Texas bar owner, Doug Guller, who makes his money on exploiting women’s breasts.  In his own words he terms his businesses, “Breastaurants”.

Guller’s first ‘undercover’ assignment is with Jessica, the bartender dressed with a T-shirt, rather than the required bikini top. Guller is clearly angered and says so on camera after their encounter.  He does not offer any pass for the fact that Jessica explained that she normally wears the bikini at work, but because of the camera chose to wear a shirt.  Seriously, can you blame her?  She is beautiful and seems to have a great head on her shoulders. Smart move, Jessica, you definitely come out on top in my book.  And by the looks of the Social Media – many people are applauding you for taking a stand for yourself.

In the most bizarre move – at the closing of the show when the Undercover Boss usually ends with an offer of generosity in the forms of helping employee’s improve their situations both at work and at home – Guller fires Jessica for not baring her breasts on camera that day!  In fairness, she had also over served a patron, and to me that is a training issue that Guller should take responsibility for, but he never bothered to ask her about her training. He explains that he just doesn’t think her heart is into this job and she would be better of somewhere else.  You think??  You go, Jessica, I have no doubts that you WILL be better of somewhere else and I hope many offers have already come that do not involve you having to show more skin than you are comfortable with to make a living.

The next unbelievable move comes in the form of Guller giving a bonus in the form of a Boob job.  Yes, that is right, he offers a young and enthusiastic, less than stellar employee, a breast augmentation with the condition that she be a “Rock Star” at work over the next six months.

Enough said. Makes me sick to think that CBS believes that this is desirable programming.  I truly hope that I live in a country where people will stand up for others, even when they don’t know they need to be protected – like this precious girl who was so excited about getting larger breasts.  Does she really know that it has nothing to do with Guller’s true concern for her?

They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity. Ephesians 4:19 NLT

Why it is Smart to Smile

😁 Smiles seem to be caught. Often I pass a person by and he smiles at me.  Then it dawns on me, that I first smiled, and in response the passerby returns the gesture.

Dr. Caroline Leaf says: “Did you know that the mere act of smiling could stop a negative toxic mindset? In fact, research shows that smiling a lot helps towards rewiring the circuit in the brain that helps you keep a positive attitude to life! This means God has designed us in such a way that when we smile with our eyes and mouth…a real deep meaningful smile (called the Duchenne smile), the part of your brain involved in decision-making, intellectual pursuit, shifting between thoughts, and thinking things through rationally becomes stronger and more effective. Simply put, smiling makes you happier and more intelligent!”

According to Leo Widrich in his article The Science Behind Smiling, ” Once the smiling muscles in our face contract, there is a positive feedback loop that now goes back to the brain and reinforces our feeling of joy. To put more succinctly:

“Smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match.”

Smiling then, seems to give us the same happiness that exercising induces terms of how our brain responds. In short: our brain feels good and tells us to smile, we smile and tell our brain it feels good and so forth.”

A joyful heart is good medicine… Proverbs 17:22a ESV

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 655 other followers