Book Club – Brain Rules by John Medina
This month the Maniac Book Club is diving deep into the brain with John Medina’s Brain Rules. It is a scientifically-backed exploration of how the way our brains functions impact our daily lives and what steps we can take to make our experiences more productive and generally beneficial to ourselves.
Medina divides his book into 12 sections, each a different Brain Rule. Each rule explains the biological set-up of a part of our brains then offers advice on actions we can take in our daily lives to take advantage of the biology of our brains for better outcomes. The Maniacs read the first seven rules this month which included Survival, Exercise, Sleep, Stress, Wiring, Attention, and Memory. Phew, was that a ton of great information to absorb.
All of the Maniacs enjoyed this read, finding many applications for our work with our clients and for our personal experiences. So what were the major take aways?
A big part of our discussion centered around stress. Medina argues that our brains were designed to handle short bursts of intense stress (he says to think of a lion attacking us on the plains then running off) rather than prolonged stress of, saying, worrying about how you’re going to put your kids through college and keep up with the mortgage. This kind of long form stress impacts the chemicals in our brains, making it harder for the parts of our brains that hold the executive functions to work properly. Therefore, we end up in situations where we are both stressed and less able to use the natural skills at our disposal like problem solving and emotional regulation to get us through those situations.
The wiring chapter was interesting in that it talked about the brains ability to change as we change our habits. If Medina is correct, then the more we do certain activities, the more the brain responds and areas of it become more complex and strong, like other muscles in our bodies do as we exercise. This means that when we encourage our clients and ourselves to create strong habits, we’re actually helping to rewire the brain in a way that supports our goals.
Stay tuned for more and happy organizing!