Open Notebook: Maximum Brainpower

IMG_4548There’s a lot of good information and perspective in the excellent brain health book Maximum Brainpower, much of it resonating with Simon Sinek‘s Leaders Eat Last and Steven Kotler’s The Rise of Superman. In case it’s of interest, I thought I’d share some of the ideas from Maximum Brainpower that I’ve jotted down to keep in mind. My note-taking style for books I read for leisure is pretty minimalistic, but I’ve included page numbers (in the 2013 US paperback edition) for the quotes and points below if you’d like to read more about them.

Eustress: stress that stimulates performance, p. 129

“In evaluating the impact of stress, what matters is not the absolute level of stress but the change in stress from a person’s baseline (the level to which he or she is accustomed).” p. 130
“Whether a new situation creates stress or eustress depends largely on our level of preparation. Eustress occurs when we believe we have a good chance at succeeding in the task before us.” p. 130

“…’cognitive appraisal’ posits that if we think we can manage, we are less stressed.” p. 131
2 phases of cognitive appraisal: 1. whether the event is a threat or challenge, 2. can we cope or not?

“…Stanford researchers were shocked to discover that multitaskers were uniformly bad at just about every mental task. They were far more distracted by irrelevant items, had worse memories, and were slower at switching tasks (!) than non-multitaskers. By training themselves to constantly move from one stimulus to the next, they had Continue reading

Steven Kolter on the Mechanics of Flow

From Warren Berger's enthralling book CAD Monkeys, Dinosaur Babies and T-Shaped People (formerly, Glimmer)

From Warren Berger’s enthralling book CAD Monkeys, Dinosaur Babies and T-Shaped People (formerly, Glimmer)

Ever since reading CAD Monkeys, Dinosaur Babies and T-Shaped People—that incredible book on the world of design and power of design thinking by Warren Berger—I often refer back to and share its clear description and helpful chart on the mental state of flow (some times referred to as being “in the zone”).

According to Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the condition of “flow” is characterized by being totally immersed and completely engaged in what you are doing, to the extent that time seems to stop. People who are in a state of flow “experience intense concentration and enjoyment, coupled with peak performance,” he says.

Now, I’ll also undoubtedly be sharing information from (as well as recommending) Steven Kolter’s book The Rise of Superman when talking with friends and colleagues about creativity and performance. This book is all about flow, primarily through the lens of extreme athletics, and if those topics interest you, you might enjoy the latest Accidental Creative podcast in which Steven Kolter and Todd Henry discuss research findings on the neurobiology of flow and the scientific picture we now have of this amazing phenomenon. Even while groggy after hours of traveling, I was enthralled by this interview and will definitely be listening to it again very soon.