Cognition – Imagination – Try New Things

Friday, June 20th, 2008 at 8:00 am.
by pre.

Robert Anton Wilson describes The Jumping Jesus Phenomenon, in which the amount of time it takes for society to double their current level of knowledge has been shrinking at an exponential rate. The entire range of human thought has been doubling increasingly quickly since before the time of Jesus. Raymond Kurzweil takes a more rigorous approach and calls the effect Accelerating Change. He researches, maps and graphs a whole range of human knowledge measures and finds they make straight lines on logarithmic graphs. Exponential growth! What’s do you imagine drives this incredible process?

Human imagination allows us to combine ideas, and since each combination produces a new idea, every act of doing so increases the pool of ideas available for combination.

Every tool we invent allows us to modify all the other tools we have invented. And here what works on a societal level also works on an individual level. Every idea you have gives you a larger pool of ideas to call on when you’re trying to solve a problem.

In order to have the greatest pool of ideas available to you, the largest range of mental tools, and thus be as imaginative as you can you will start saying “Yes” more when asked to do new things. Seek novelty for it’s own sake. Do things differently just to catch yourself off guard.

As you do so, you’ll also be literally encouraging your brain to grow. Just last month the NY times reported research which suggested you should aquire new habbits because studies indicate doing novel things literally keeps your brain from rotting:

It turns out that unless we continue to learn new things, which challenges our brains to create new pathways, they literally begin to atrophy, which may result in dementia, Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases.

Convincing yourself to try new things

It’s very easy to get trapped into your normal routine, the rut of your day to day existence. It’s comfortable there, but that very comfort may be letting your brain rot. What can you do to make it more likely you’ll try something new?

Simply reading this article and so knowing that doing new things is important to you may give you a slight edge. But allowing that suggestion to sink deeper into your unconscious can’t be a bad idea. Try a five minute meditation, allow yourself to drift into an emotional state, then just tell yourself you’ll do new things, and think about the last new thing you did. Concentration on those things will help you spot opportunities to practice the novel, and pay more attention to them when you do.

Finally, if you can’t do something new, do something old in a new way! Try it left-handed. Try it upside down. Try it with one arm behind your back. The more variety your life has, the more food your imagination has, your brain will begin to burn with new ideas, which give you new things to do. Pretty soon you’ll be doubling your own knowledge every few years too!