I heard this guy interviewed on the brain science podcast and followed the trail to listen to this book. I had always imagined that meditation was for people who were stressed out and needed to chill. Given that I am by nature pretty low stress, I never bothered with it. I gained some interesting insight here. Just as you might practice a tennis stroke to ingrain and master it, practicing meditation can be very empowering (in many ways). Have you ever tried it? Lie down and just focus on your breath. Empty your brain. Not easy, is it? If you're like most people you'll find that lots of thoughts start seeping in. Neurons that fire together wire together. The more you practice this, the better you get at it. This rings true for me. Years ago I was an Olympic athlete. I used to practice imagery to gain control of my mind in stressful and sometimes somewhat dangerous situations and also to practice and ingrain the rather technical motion of a ski jumping take-off. Initially I wasn't very good at it but with practice I dialed it in. I'd say that honing this skill was integral to my ultimate success in sport... and later in life as well. This relates to some other books I've read. One example being The Biology of Belief (great book). This book briefly explores the concept of "the director" - in a nutshell being introspective and conscious of the activity of your brain - your thoughts; "Isn't that interesting that I had that reaction". The author of The Mindful Brain (a scientist who by the way reads his own book here and conveys his passion for the subject matter) is exploring this concept in great detail. At times a little over my head but quite interesting ...
There are so many great books out there, I try to steer clear of the mediocre ones and only read the best ones. Here's one that I'd highly recommend. The content of this book is fascinating. He does a fantastic job of delving into some interesting characters who gained early insight into the morass of collateralized debt obligations and the insanity of the sub prime debt market. The factual plot unfolds like scripted fiction. It's well written, very entertaining, and funny (I definitely laughed out loud several times). I now have a much better understanding of the sub-prime debt crisis.
That book brought me to a revelation. He points out how mankind is unique in that we continuously build upon and leverage knowledge of past generations to in effect improve our standard of living. He also points out how great innovations most commonly come not from scientists but from entrepreneurs who look at existing processes or methods and revise, combine, etc to develop new tools and technologies. The revelation is this. Despite our very serious debt problems, I think that the next couple of decades will likely actually bring an unprecedented upswing in opportunity and prosperity (in particular in the US where business friction is actually the lowest). The internet is still quite new. When I started college, uvm still had card catalogs in the library! The effort required to find information was absurd. The access that people now have to information and accumulated wisdom of past generations is phenomenal. It’s an explosion. Information and knowledge are the fuel for innovation. There’s a lot of fuel and there’s a lot of innovation coming.
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