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March 2017

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can't sleep books will eat me

Book report #42: Richard Restak, MD; Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot

This is all right for what it is, I guess. I am more interested in the mechanisms of neuroplasticity than self-help books on how to be smarter, but hey, it did give me this little passage:

First, avoid playing over negative scenarios in your mind in which all of your worst fears are realized. As Freud pointed out in 1925 in an insufficiently appreciated paper, "On Negation," the brain doesn't deal well with negatives. If you concentrate on ways of avoiding a bad outcome rather than bringing about a good one, your brain will lock onto the negative. As every tennis player knows, the surest way of coming up with a bad serve results from energy wasted on avoiding gaffes rather than concentrating on the intended ace. Concentrate on your ideas and your goals rather than focusing on the bad things that could happen, or on how nervous you're feeling.

Or in other words, it's not what you don't do wrong. It's what you do right.

Comments

That's incredibly interesting/helpful. Thanks!
you are welcome!

I will miss you at WisCon...
I'm not sure if you're already planning/have read these, but Memory and Dreams by George Christos and The Inner Game of Work by Timothy Gallwey are excellent books on how brains are trained.
thank you.
Phantoms in the Brain, by V.S. Ramachandran makes a fascinating read. Popular rather than technical, but not a self-help book.
It is an excellent book.

If you look back along the book reports tag, I've hit a couple of Ramachandrans. He's full of awesome.

(Actually, this book references him...)
You might also want to take a look at the book called "The Secret." It may be a little over-the-top for your tastes, but it's still helpful reading, I think. It's all about the same principle - the power of positive thinking.
I'm not really interested in self-help books, actually. But thank you.
Yeah, I surmised that (not sure how, but I did). That's what I meant by "over the top." It's an odd kind of thing, that there are so many books out there (self-help or not) that deal with the same principle - or maybe I'm just paying more attention to it now that it's at the forefront of my mind. Most likely it's the latter - which only serves to remind me how much there is out there that I don't know, and that I just don't have time enough to read and absorb it all! (And people wonder why I wish for immortality?!?)
I'm more interested in neuroplasticity than "positive thinking" anyway--but what Restak is talking about above, in my take, is something I keep telling apprentice writers.

That it's not what you don't do wrong that makes you good. It's what you do right.
It's good advice, too. It's very much a "Tell that internal critic - that one that tells you that everything you do is awful and will never be any good - to shut up so you can get on with the writing." I need to get better at doing that.

Now I have to add "neuroplasticity" to the list of things I'd like to know more about. I need a bigger brain, with bigger storage compartments, and lots and lots more time!
No, that's not what I'm talking about. Imposter syndrome and so forth is something different.

But what a lot of artists do is they concentrate on not doing things wrong. You'll hear people bitch about how much J.K. Rowling does wrong, constantly.

And they'll correct all the wrong things and not take any chances and have created something dull as ditchwater.

And it doesn't matter what you do wrong, as long as you are doing enough right.
Or as they say in riding: don't look at the jump. One of those technical pieces of advice that always seemed to explain everything, in life, you know? Also good for biking (look at the pothole-->go into the pothole). I'm not good at it, but I'm still sure it's the Right Answer.
Swing through the target.

Yeah.
Someone once told me that if you want someone to remember something, you're better off saying: "Remember to take your X along" rather than saying "Don't forget your X!", because the brain fixates on the "forget" part and promptly does what it's told.

Apparently it works the same way with kids - telling them "Don't do X!" is more likely to get them to do X than if you frame the opposing action in a positive way.

Er. Did that make sense?
Yes. *g*
Very interesting, and very true. Thanks for the good advice.