Everyone in psychology talks about the two brains that drive our actions -behavioral economics talks about the system 1 (active) and system 2 (passive), Switch (Chip and Dan Heath) talks about the elephant (emotion) and the rider (logic), A whole new mind (Daniel Pink) talks about the creative and critical thinking brains.
The left and the right brain; locked in an eternal embrace, constantly iterating around the equation that balances instinct and reason – to define the way we behave, the choices we make and the life we live.
The Monkey Brain
Constantly in a state of flux, always chasing new goals driven by the gratification of desires and a volatile stream of emotions. To the monkey brain, unrest is the natural state of being, it is always looking to jump from one branch to another, chasing one fruit after the other, never taking a pause to truly appreciate the bounty it has gained.
This is the monkey that keeps us up at night, unsettles our core and tilts the balance towards chaos every chance it gets.
However, the monkey is also what inspires us, gives impetus to our imagination, and extends possibilities. The monkey is what enables us to break from the often ‘linear’ paths that we are naturally set on.
The Human Spirit
The human spirit endures, it is the anchor that keeps us tethered to reality. It feeds on the good relationships we build, the knowledge and wisdom we accumulate and the experiences (adventures) we embark on.
The human spirit is what seeks to empathize, it drives us to see the reflection of our own selves in everything around us, it is the one that seeks to discover our place in this universe.
So now what?
It is the amalgamation of the two and their relationship with each other that defines our personality.
Our ability to harness their strengths is what defines the fortitude of our character. This ability can be learned through conscious introspection, persistent effort and methodical shaping of will.
I myself am trying to constantly tame the monkey while at the same time nudging the spirit into action. It’s a difficult battle fought on multiple battlefields throughout the day. From the moment I wake up in the morning (which in itself is a struggle) to the point when I force myself to switch off the TV at night to larger decisions about adhering to social norms, managing expectations from family and often relatives, switching to jobs that may redefine the path my life takes to deciding what to do with the money I have.
I win sometimes, but mostly I lose. I understand that winning all the time might not be possible, but if I can even improve the ratio of my wins – that in itself is a triumph.
In the end
I don’t know if you’d agree with what I said, maybe you do agree, maybe you don’t. You may feel that you’ve already heard it, read it – my point of view is generic or derivative. Either way, I’d love to hear what you have to say – feel free to share your viewpoint in the comment section below.