I don’t know how they have done it. With their brain scans and electroencephalograms, MRIs and sleep studies: Experts have measured, analyzed and come up with the fact that you, a regular human being, think 3000 thoughts per hour.
That’s about 50 thoughts per minute; basically one thought per second.
While your brain is thinking – yes, about the data it just took in – it is still taking in new data.
…aaaaaaaand you wonder why, sometimes, you feel overwhelmed? Why the market to eliminate think-wrinkles and bitch-lines with Botox is booming? Why there is so much teeth-grinding, fist-clenching, stomach gurgling and sleepless nights? Why Big Pharma is selling so many FORCE-YOU-TO-RELAX meds?
See if you can appreciate yourself more after you learn this astonishing data:
From what you see, to what you hear, to what you feel, smell and taste, your brain is ravenously taking in a whopping 11 million pieces of unconscious data per second.
Wondering about the conscious data? That drops…to only 40 pieces per second.
FORTY. Per SECOND.
With the 100 billion nerve cells in your brain and its’ trillions of connections, you transmit about 1,000 impulses per second.
Keep in mind (ha ha!! Gotcha!), all that data collection is happening while your brain is munching on the stuff that’s already been taken in. Finally, after the munched-on-data has been assimilated, another little thing called thought is spit out. Before you are done thinking your current thought, your brain has taken in millions of other new bits of data and is already forming your next thought.
Researchers want you to know that a good portion of your time is spent thinking about what you just thought about; and it is probably related to what you have thought about before. (Can I be the first here to say DUH?)
What is Thinking?
How does a bunch of cells – called your brain – think? Does thought only happen in the brain cells? Or do other cells join in the fray? …you know…can your liver think? Is it true your gut thinks? Is there such a thing as genitalian thought?
Science says yes. Every cell is taking part in the Big Think.
Yet, the center of thought processing is the 3.5 pound universe you call your brain. As it turns out, your brain is a special organ able to process and transmit all aspects of your human consciousness; that includes thought, but isn’t limited to it.
There is way more to your brain than being an organ that grinds out thoughts:
Your brain is a super sophisticated transmitter doing the central processing of your existence. Your brain, my friend, is a RADIO. It is taking in data…color waves, sound waves, vibrations…tuning in, tuning out, tuning up, tuning down…
Even though your brain is taking in wave data from all-over-the-place outside of you, it is partial to you – the inside you. Somehow, every single other cell inside you gets to participate: every cell is involved in your thought and consciousness.
No, not even neuroscientists know exactly which cells play which roles in your thought processes. But they want to know: They are trying to know as much about your brain as possible. They want to make robots to think for you. You know: Artificial Intelligence. Information Theory. …all that Terminator stuff…. For a robot to be a good robot, it will have to do some basic thinking. That’s why so many scientists give a hoot about what thinking is all about.
Does that mean robots will be overwhelmed, too? Are robots going to get stressed out from a gazillion thoughts passing through their wiring every day? Or are they going to be jolly – and maybe slightly high strung – like C-3PO?
I don’t know about you, but I am going to use all of this neuroscience to make my life better. I don’t need a robot.
What exactly, makes someone a great thinker?
You might think someone with a high IQ and pedigree from the greatest academic institution is blessed – and cursed – with the ability to generate a greater number of thoughts per second than the person of average intelligence and education.
We all know someone who brags about being able to think about stuff. And we all can name the great thinkers in various fields. The question is: Do great thinkers think more thoughts than the rest of us? Is that what makes them smarter?
Researchers report that whether you are of just below – to far above – average intelligence, you are having the same number of thoughts per second as Einstein did.
What does vary is – ta DA!!! – two things:
Curiosity and Purpose.
Your curiousity about and purpose for the information you acquire. Every bit of data you take in is a building block for something. You pick what that is. You can use it to build solutions, excuses, emotions, problems…. It all depends on you.
Your perspective about incoming information. Your attitude, point-of-view and outlook. It is your perspective that impacts how you label what you think.
So, here is the revelation…as in REVELATION:
It is not the data you take in that makes you think happy, sad, relaxed or stressed thoughts. It is your curiosity about and purpose for what you take in – and your perspective about it – that categorizes your data into those subsets: happy, sad, relaxed, stressed….
Whoa. That’s big. Big. BIG.
It means it is up to you to decide – let’s say choose – what the outcome is going to be, before it is even an outcome.
Discipline and Choice are important words here, folks, and they are critical ingredients to self-awareness. It turns out you can train the brain to be great at thought, if you are willing to be aware.
No more thinking “That thought just happened to me!” Nope.
The funny thing is that research points to the fact that the person who is most able to reduce his or her thoughts per second is the one who seems to be able to improve self-awareness and have the highest quality thoughts.
Greater Number of Thoughts per Second = Lower Quality Thinking
Lesser Number of Thoughts per Second = Higher Quality Thinking
Yes! Having less thoughts makes you SMARTER.
Reducing the number of thoughts per second is called many things: Meditation, Mindfulness, Contemplation or Stillness.
Think Less: Love Thyself
Here is the research, my friends:
In terms of clinical studies, people who reduce their number of their thoughts per second are found to have developed parts of their brains that lead to higher levels of contentment and satisfaction with life (regardless of the external circumstances), and a higher regard (appreciation and love) for themselves.
READ THAT AGAIN. AND AGAIN. AND AGAIN!!
It seems the people who do not decrease their number of thoughts per second are destined to not only feel stressed, but suffer more troubled feelings about themselves.
REDUCE YOUR THOUGHTS PER SECOND!! NOW!! Do it!!
Throughout time, sages, philosophers, prophets, mystics and great teachers – probably best friends and parents, too – have urged us human beings to do one thing, above all: Be still.
You have gotta get still.
Think about nothin’…
Lie on your back and stare at the open sky.
Be like Whitman: Stare at a blade of grass.
It is only within the still inner space of the human experience that you will be able to witness or observe yourself living; to hold yourself above the wavy surface of so many ongoing thoughts per second.
If there is one skill you commit yourself to master, let it be to reduce your thoughts per second. Regardless of how you get there, it is where you will fill yourself up with energy, vitality and love.
Thought without stillness is an electromagnetic circus without a ringmaster.
Don’t leave your circus unsupervised.