Srini Pillay | The Power of the Unfocused Mind (Episode 643)

Srini Pillay (@srinipillay) is a world renowned, Harvard-trained psychiatrist, former Director of the Outpatient Anxiety Disorders Program at McLean Hospital, and author of Tinker Dabble Doodle Try: Unlock the Power of the Unfocused Mind.

“Most of us spend about 46.9 percent of our days daydreaming anyway. So why not learn to unfocus in a more productive way?” -Srini Pillay

The Cheat Sheet:

  • When 90-98 percent of mental activity is unconscious, focus can only get you so far.
  • How focus and unfocus work in the brain.
  • How positive constructive daydreaming helps us become more creative.
  • Why doodling can improve memory by 29 percent.
  • Discover the concept of possibility thinking for solving seemingly intractable problems.
  • And so much more…

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There are a lot of superpowers locked away in the human brain that we’re only now beginning to understand. But if trying hard and focusing aren’t working to get the desired results, have you considered trying less to get the most out of your brain’s capabilities?

It sounds counterintuitive, but psychologist Srini Pillay, author of Tinker Dabble Doodle Try: Unlock the Power of the Unfocused Mind, joins us to explain how unfocusing can harness the brain’s subconscious — where the majority of brain activity really takes place. Listen, learn, and enjoy!

Please Scroll down for Full Show Notes and Featured Resources!

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According to psychologist Srini Pillay, author of Tinker Dabble Doodle Try: Unlock the Power of the Unfocused Mind, we’re really only tapping into about two to ten percent of our overall brain activity when we consciously follow strategies, plans, and structures to find success in whatever we set out to do. But what if we could harness the rest — that 90 to 98 percent of mental energy dedicated to the unconscious?

“When you think about strategy or plan or any kind of three-step process, that’s really like a plant. But the plant needs to have its roots in a very rich, unconscious soil. And in order to do that, we need to learn how to till the soil of the unconscious so that the roots can really dig in deep, get a good hold, so that the plant can grow. So having a strategy is really important. Focusing is really important. But if you’re really looking to make a major change in your life, potentially in an exponential way, then learning how to till the soil of the unconscious is where I think the action is.”

Forks, Spoons, and Chopsticks

When following a strategy, a common shortcoming is to lose track of one’s sense of self — where the unconscious really dwells.

“Despite the fact that people have very significant plans — and a lot of them actually execute on those plans — they don’t even get close to where they want to get to,” says Srini. “And part of that, a lot of recent brain imaging research has shown that when people say, ‘I need to do X, Y, or Z to get somewhere,’ they do the thing, but the thing they forget about is the ‘I.’ The unfocused circuits in the brain are actually largely responsible for the sense of self and self-awareness.

“So if you want to follow a strategy, to focus on the you part, unfocus really needs to be part of what’s being activated.”

Srini likens the parts of our identity disclosed by focusing as being metaphorically accessible by fork — think of the tangible details you reveal in an online profile: name, age, gender, job title, etc. But this is just a small inkling of who we really are.

The parts of our identity disclosed on a less concrete level by unfocusing invite other utensils to the table that are better designed to capture aspects that are less tangible.

A metaphorical spoon scoops up sense memories like the smell of grandmother’s apple pie or the crispness of a winter morning.

Chopsticks metaphorically connect ideas across the brain. A marrow spoon metaphorically digs into the recesses of the brain for memories and fragments. And so on.

“Most human beings are filled with paradoxes,” says Srini. “People are maybe introverts and also incredibly powerful. People may feel like they’re happy, but they’re also lonely. And in our day-to-day activity, we tend to polarize how we are. But when you stimulate the unfocused circuits, then these two sides of yourself get represented at the same time, and that allows you to be much more powerful in executing your actions.”

Listen to this episode of The Art of Charm in its entirety to learn more about how to ensure we’re fully representing ourselves with the help of our unconscious, what might tip us off to a need to unfocus, how to begin the process of unfocusing when we identify this need, times of day when unfocusing is optimal, triggering positive constructive daydreaming (and how it differs from regular daydreaming), why doodling improves memory by 29 percent, how focus drains the thinking brain of energy through self regulation depletion, how we can use unfocus to predict possible outcomes, possibility thinking for overcoming our self-imposed obstacles to progress, and lots more.

THANKS, SRINI PILLAY!

If you enjoyed this session with Srini Pillay, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:

Click here to thank Srini Pillay at Twitter!

Click here to let Jordan know about your number one takeaway from this episode!

Resources from This Episode:

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With pain-free invoicing, FreshBooks helps entrepreneurs and freelancers save time and avoid a lot of the stress that comes with running a small business. Try a month of unrestricted use for free here (no credit card required)! Enter ART OF CHARM in the how you heard about us section.

Learn over 500 subjects (no tests or homework!) at The Great Courses Plus -- The Art of Charm listeners get one month free here!

Now save a whopping 50% on new webhosting packages here with HostGator by using coupon code CHARM!

With Business Platinum from American Express, it's not about where you are, it's about where you want to take your business next. Explore the Power of The Business Platinum Card here!

Catch season two of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath on A&E!

Free yourself from typing notes, reports, and documents by going with the transcriptionists we trust here at AoC: TranscriptionOutsourcing.net -- 99% or higher accuracy guaranteed!

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Jordan Harbinger - author of 924 posts on The Art of Charm

Jordan Harbinger has spent several years abroad in Europe and the developing world, including South America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, and speaks several languages. He has also worked for various governments and NGOs overseas, traveled through war zones, and been kidnapped -- twice. He’ll tell you the only reason he’s still alive and kicking is because of his ability to talk his way into (and out of) just about any type of situation. Here at The Art of Charm, Jordan shares that experience, and the system borne as a result, with students and clients.

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