By A.J. Jacobs – Author, Lecturer and Editor at Large at Esquire magazine
I don’t trust my brain. It’s got some good qualities, sure, but it needs constant supervision. It’s like an unruly Boston terrier – left to its own devices, it will scamper off and rummage through the garbage can, spreading rotten guacamole all over the house. In my brain’s case, this means the hours spent wallowing in unrealistic worries, time-wasting regret and elaborate revenge fantasies.
My brain needs constant tugs on its leash to redirect it. And I think I’m not alone. Most brains are like that.
So who should supervise my brain? Since I’d rather not have an NSA-implanted chip monitoring my thoughts, I have to monitor my thoughts myself. I have appointed myself my brain’s babysitter.
Which is why I spend a lot of time thinking about the contents of my thoughts. Dozens of times a day, I like to ask myself: “Hey, what are you thinking about? Is that a good use of your brain?”
As you might know, the official term is metacognition. And I believe metacognition is one of the keys to my happiness, right up there with supportive friends and HBO GO. I was most recently reminded of the importance of metacognition by Arianna Huffington’s new book,Thrive, which calls for a rethinking of how we spend our time…….