Common Sense Caveats
Garbage in/Garbage out
People who take in 15-second “news” stories, communicate in brief “texts” on their phones, play highly stimulating video games or watch quick-cut movies and television programs—and especially those who do more than one of these things at the same time—develop brains that don’t process language very well, that can’t maintain focus on a task for more than a few seconds and who actually believe that they are specially able to perform multiple tasks at the same time without losing quality of outcome.
People who get their news and opinions from the internet or TV shows, pre-packaged into sound-bytes or talking points begin to lose the ability to think for themselves and begin parroting what they have heard as if it were their own opinion. They do everything they believe they are supposed to do, but their lives never really happen for them.
People who live in a world where “doing something” is a central value, children who are raised with multiple “activities”—soccer one day, karate the next—not only don’t get very good at any of them, but they become stressed. They are always being pushed from one place to the next. It’s heart-breaking to listen to these kids who don’t have time just to be still—have to set up “play dates” to get free time with other kids—and when they do, can’t think of anything to do but sit on a couch in front of a screen and interact in parallel with a meaningless “game” instead of with one another.
Their parents, trying to juggle this with jobs that require them to deal with multiple deadlines, with the financial stress to keep up with the consumer lifestyle they are shown in the culture, that build their lives around “social media”, don’t have time or energy for anything but “entertainment” and feel a growing emptiness and dissatisfaction at their centers. They literally become drones, driven by something unknown outside themselves.
Use it or Lose it
What we choose to do in our lives has an effect on our minds, and that has an effect on the homeostasis in our brains. The stable patterns in our brains have an effect on our mental processes, our moods and even on our body systems. It may be possible to change the way your brain works by changing the way you think or act. It is absolutely possible to change the way you think and feel and act by changing your brain patterns.
What’s more, the tools are there for each of us to do it ourselves, if we choose. Or, for those who haven’t the time or will or energy or faith in themselves to take on the task, there are an increasing number of people who will become guides: we call them personal trainers for your brain. They can’t do the work for you, any more than a coach can get in shape for you, but they can guide and help motivate you until the process starts to change your brain’s set point in lasting ways.
The Road Map to Magic
That’s what this book is about. It is a guide to the process of unlocking the magic in your brain. It’s written in a rather unusual way, because we wanted it to be a resource for the individual who wants to change his or her own life or help family members do so. But we also wanted it to be a resource for the thousands of professionals—therapists, teachers, coaches and others—who would like to add these remarkable tools to their own work.
We’re going to begin by reframing what brain training is all about. We reject the idea that all of us want to be “normal” or “average”. If that’s all you want, then living in your smartphone/i-pad/video-screen/gaming universe is exactly the right path.
We believe that, given the opportunity and the means, most of us really want to become more fully ourselves—to develop brains and minds that in their own ways are peak performers. Being the best dad, the best partner, the most fulfilled you is no small goal. Maybe you also want to become an excellent musician or speaker or problem-solver or dealer with stressful situations, to invent cool things, to help others change their own lives, to create or help build a great company. Those things are all within you. Training your brain can bring them all out if you are willing to spend the time and energy, to reject the quick-and-easy answers.
We’ll focus on a new vision of who you can be and how you can get there, a new way of thinking of yourself, a greater knowledge of what is within you and how you connect with the spirit that inspires your mind and body. Finding that base will give you a foundation for the magic. Living in it will truly help you make your life come true.