jump to navigation

7 New Year’s Resolutions for your Brain 29 December, 2006

Posted by paralleldivergence in 2008 resolutions, Brad & Phil, education, My Thoughts, Resolutions.

Tired of the repetitive, pointless, run-of-the-mill New Year’s Resolutions like quitting smoking, losing weight and getting fit? These are the most resolved and least achieved resolutions, made in the heat of New Year celebrations. Achieving anything requires you to put your mind to the task – but what if your mind’s simply not up to it? What if your brain has been subjected to years of abuse ? Parental influence. Bandwagon-hopping. Too much FOX News. It’s time to think for yourself.

Critical Thinking

Here’s a set of New Year’s Resolutions for your Brain. The aim is to develop critical thinking skills and the love of lifelong learning. These things do not come naturally – they need practise. But what they will do is make your life a whole lot more enjoyable and clarify your whole reason for existence. Nobody can clarify this for you, but you.

1. Empathize
There are two sides to every story. Just because one person or one website says something against another, it doesn’t mean it’s right. People fight. More importantly, people have their reasons for fighting. We have to ask “why?” and we have to search for the answers. This powerful Phil Collins lyric demands that people start to empathize if they want to truly work out how to heal:

White man turns the corner, finds himself within a different world
Ghetto kid grabs his shoulder, throws him up against the wall
He says “would you respect me if I didn’t have this gun?”
“‘Cos without it, I don’t get it, and that’s why I carry one.”

2. Analyze
Your parents taught you what they wanted to teach you. Is it safe to expect everything that they taught you to be the truth or to be right? Culture and custom are great for defining a society or even a nation, but we know the ideologies of some nations and religions are questionable. But then again, they probably know your nation and/or religion are questionable. So who’s right? Don’t blindly accept the hand you’re dealt, because life is not a game of Poker. You are permitted to make up your own mind. But to do that, we need to develop the skill of recognizing the underlying details of important facts or patterns that are not always readily visible. Break the cycle. Investigate. Research. Then…

3. Rationalize
Learn the difference between critical and non-critical information. Many irrational concepts will always appear in the mix – that’s the human influence. It is important to be able to identify and filter out baseless contradiction and to give appropriate weight to emotional argument. Based on all of the evidence found, employ logic and reason as the process of drawing to a conclusion. It’s better to be rational than irrational.

4. Realize
It’s one thing to know, it’s another thing to understand. Realization is coming to understand something clearly and distinctly. Understanding is however one of the more complex concepts we face in humanity and it is the lack of understanding that brings about confusion and alternative hypotheses. Man desires answers, but where they are unobtainable, Man readily plays the supernatural card. History has shown us that among humans, this card trumps all others – even when plausible answers are discovered. Always strive to understand, but if you don’t, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t understand that…yet.”

5. Criticize
If you know something is wrong and you know why it it is wrong, stick your head up and say or do something about it. But criticism is only of value if you can show why that criticism is justified. Criticism is not contradiction. Criticism is making a judgment as to the merit, effectiveness, utility or correctness of the object in question. It involves discussing both sides of the argument. It involves helping the one being criticized to realize their mistake. If we don’t criticize, we allow false definitions and concepts to propagate. If you’ve worked through resolutions 1 through 4, you’ve earned the right to 5.

6. Exercise
The human brain contains more than 100 billion neurons, which are electrically active brain cells that process information. Each neuron is linked to as many as 10,000 others. These links, or synapses, are crucial to the biological computations that underlie perception and thought. Just as muscles can be developed then can lose tone and strength without ongoing excercise, neural links are formed throughout schooling and can be lost without ongoing brain exercises. Give yourself the time to say once a month work on some puzzles. By practising solving puzzles, you are obviously improving your thought-processes of retrieving, storing and arranging information in an optimal fashion; finding or originating a set of optional hypotheses which can make sense of data; reducing the options by elimination until the correct or best answer or answers have been isolated; and the communication of that answer. A mind enhanced by a little interesting and enjoyable training helps open your eyes to the solution of everyday problems – of life and the desire for success. Buy a puzzle book or try my Enigma Challenge.

7. Synthesize
Don’t try this one until you’ve achieved the first five resolutions. Synthesis is where you show everyone your well-rounded cranial abilities by combining new information with existing knowledge to form and express an original idea or interpretation. It’s the pulling together of concepts and information to develop a common framework for understanding or to create and share a new idea. If you cannot empathize, analyze, rationalize, realize and criticize, then you’ll probably synthesize some pretty stupid ideas – and we’ve all seen them before…

If you decide to make these resolutions and work toward achieving them in 2009, I guarantee you will have a better life. It’s all in your mind. Have a Thoughtful New Year!

Brad & Phil #13



1. tobeme - 30 December, 2006

Excellent resolutions! I love that you have encouraged us all to wake up and think for ourselves. Thinking for a living! What a wonderful concept and an even richer reality when it is executed upon.
Love your writing and the way you are thinking!

2. mark - 30 December, 2006

This all sounds like hard work! The results of this hard work would probably take some time to appear as well.

Surely there is a tablet I can take that will give me all these things instantly?

happy new year

3. paralleldivergence - 30 December, 2006

Thanks tobeme. Glad you like it. As for Mark, sorry, you can’t buy intelligence – although you probably can buy a university degree… 😉

4. Desiree - 31 December, 2006

Now there are some worthwhile resolutions! Interesting blog you have here!

5. puddlejumper - 2 January, 2007

Happy New Year to you.

No resolutions as yet. But may take your advice to try and think better!


6. mark - 6 January, 2007

Mr Divergence

Great piece of writing. Clear and rational thought is the only way forward.

You might enjoy reading David Lovejoy (our local newspaper editor) on the probable necessity for men and women of sense and goodwill to fight for a new enlightenment.

Find the article here


7. paralleldivergence - 6 January, 2007

Thanks Mark. The people of the Byron Shire are fortunate to have such a local newspaper editor. It’s a good piece.
Do you like the new Brad & Phil page in the top menu?

8. mark - 6 January, 2007

Brad and Phil page good idea. My cousin has a t shirt with the granpa dying peacefully in his sleep joke on it. (i almost peed myself first time i read it)

9. Theology Brief - 11 April, 2007

7 New Year’s Resolutions for your Brain -Parallel Divergence

7 New Year's Resolutions for your Brain -Parallel Divergence

Okay, so I have not been blogging lately. Things have been hectic and many things that I should be doing have all fallen by the wayside. So, one of my New Year's resolutions is to…

10. paralleldivergence - 20 September, 2009

Stephen Downes has posted a brilliant article that follows on from this one somewhat and it’s highly recommended reading:


Leave a Reply to paralleldivergence Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: