Reviews on: Mind, Thinking, Attention, Emotion–With exercises


Steinberg, R.J. The Triarchic Mind: A New Theory of Human Intelligence. Viking, Penguin Group, NY 1988.

In Chapt. 12, “When Self-Management Fails,” p. 296 ff, there is a listing of “Twenty Sources of Failure,” each an impediment to the full realization of a person’s intelligence. (An “opposites” listing would be most appropriate here—JHL.)

Lack of motivation
Lack of impulse control
Lack of perseverance and perseveration (not knowing when to quit)
Using the wrong abilities—drawing vs. writing—e.g.
Inability to translate thought into action
Lack of product orientation—follow through (not just promise) or work hard but get
nothing done
Inability to complete tasks—follow through, get to the end
Failure to initiate
Fear of failure—opposite of “risk-taker,” fear of failing
Misattribution of blame—looking for scapegoat all the time
Excessive self-pity—whining
Excessive dependence—never going it alone
Wallowing in personal difficulties—enjoying feeling bad
Distractibility and lack of concentration—never fully focused
Spreading yourself too thick (one thing) or too thin (too many)
Inability to delay gratification
Inability or unwillingness to “see the forest for the trees”
Lack of balance between critical analysis and creative\synthetic thinking
Too little or too much self-confidence

LaRoche, L. Relax, You May Have Only a Few Minutes Left. Random House, NY 1998.

How does humor work. There are at least six ways.
1. It relaxes you
2. Provides a new perspective
3. It changes feelings
4. It provides explicit and implicit comparisons
5. It is not “serious” and so shows contrasts with other views
6. The “relatives” of humor also affect perception of topics and situations, among these are: sarcasm, irony, word-play, wryness, exaggeration, etc.
Humor is actually “reframing” the context of a situation, including learning situations, so that a broader insight into it can be perceived.

Moss, R.A. Why Johnny Can’t Concentrate. Coping With Attention Deficit Problems. Bantam Books, Bantam Doubleday, NY: 1990.

Primary Characteristics (Note—These are all attention-related—JHL)
1. Short attention span and distractibility
2. . Impulsivity
3. Free flight of ideas
4. Poor organizational skills
5. Insatiability—craving for one thing, tantrums)
6. Hyperactivity (unfocused)

Secondary Characteristics

Social immaturity
Performance inconsistence
Inflexibility—can’t tolerate change
Mood swings
Poor short-term memory

Other Characteristics

Fine muscle and writing problems
Gross motor problems
Poor sleep cycles
Domineering social behavior—need to be center of attention
(All of these are related to or affect “attention,”—JHL)


Nadel, Laurie, (with Judy Haines and Robert Stempson.) Sixth Sense. The Whole-Brain Book of Intuition, Hunches, Gut Feelings and their Place in Your Everyday Life. Prentice-Hall Press, NY 1990.

“Emotional Interference” interferes with “intuition.” Clear out conflicting emotions. How to initiate intuition while under stress: relax, center, visualize a place in your mind that you can go to and be at peace, without fear, and not anxious or tense.
Man has three brains, the reptilian, the limbic and the neocortex/
Intuition is non-verbal—your lern it, and “know it when you feel it.” Willis Harmon says, “If you really want to know something, or know about something, you become one with it.!!!!

The Ten-Step Program (This is, at least partly, a way of “detaching” or seeing yourself doing it.) Three steps are define, identify, trust.

1. Define—any intuitive experience you have had.
2. Identify—give it shape, form, color, sound, feeling. Visualize what was “it,” that “intuition.”
3. Cultivate—your intuitive resources, a data bank of your intuition. Model intuitive behavior—you will know it when you experience it.
4. Acknowledge—your intuition, Meditate, talk to it, when does it want to work?
5. Trust it—How do you respond, create your own inner sanctuary and go there, shift your view point and focus to feel safe and secure sense of mind-reading.
6. Nurture it—Deep breathing, yoga, relaxation rituals—rituals—mind map, treasure map, stimulate and be able to resonate with others’ mental processes
7. Value it—respect it as much as you do logic—e.g. on insufficient data) dialog with it.-when I discuss it with others, who are argumentative,
8. Release it—Then wait for it to guide you, ask for advice, guidance, insight, a felt sense and a feeling of rightness.
9. Validate it—How did it do—did it work was it helpful?
10. Thank it—appreciate it as having been helpful and useful.
(Actually, you are “paying attention” to this neglected part of the way you think and embedding the “intuitive” experience in your consciousness.)

Ask Yourself!!! You need to know, to recognize how your intuition communicates with you, so that you will be aware when it is doing it. Ask yourself, when I have felt intuition, how did it come, a voice, a feeling, a sense of rightness, or wrongness, a physical thing, e.g. avoid, even illness or malaise? How did you experience the intuition? (Note, this is relevant and analogous to ZONING or being in the FLOW, when on “recognizes” the feeling and realizes that this actually IS, again, what they have felt before.)

Hunches and gut feelings may or may not be relevant—you must “evaluate” them, based on what you learn and know about whether they have resulted in good things for you.

Relaxation is the first step in releasing the intuitive capacity that you have. Intuition is an intellectual skill says Elaine De Beaufort (Mead School for Human Development, Greenwich, CN. She says it is one of the 13 intelligences.

The triune brain involves the Following:
Neocortex (Rational)—associational, visual/imaginal, Intuitional
Limbic (affectional)—motivational, mood, oral, nasal, sexual
Reptilian (basic, routine, ritual)

Some suggestions: Suspend rational thought. Free from thinking, visualize, associate, (e.g. Nostradamus staring at the surface of a bowl of water, or a candle—let your mind work.)
Keep a list of intuitive experiences and note identifying characteristics—intuitive flashes, inner voice, gut feelings—good or bad, other experiences
Using yourmind over your rational mind—that is, in addition to logic, turn into your intuition with precedent—something you know, or without it—some insight you might have—but detach, image, and see yourself separate from the situation, etc.

(Note—my intuition sometimes tells me to suspend judgment, to wait before deciding, to get more data, and just feel the vibes, the way things “feel.”)

1. Get comfortable—deep breathing, relax body and mind
2. Give yourself permission to feel yourself “wanting”
3. Ask—“what do I want?” The more you ask, the more you learn and can go deeper inside and “feel” the wanting, picture, senses, again, give yourself permission to do this, to want and to find out what it is

EXERCISE—Voice of reason
1. Relax., breathe, get comfortable
2. Close your eyes and listen to “the voice of reason” and what you see, color, black and white, any feelings you have, talk to the voice, negotiate, discuss, ask, balance with reason, you have a right to be intuitive and to be reasonable too.

EXERCISE—Voice of intuition
1. Relax, etc.
2. Follow the breath to your most relaxed state
3. Ask, is my intuition ready to communicate? Work it out, negotiate, signal visual image or sound—get an answer
4. If intuition says yes, then ask it a question, e.g. do you think (believe) I really want to—-etc. Yes or no.
5. Notice and remember what the voice is like, Intuition—get a symbol, pick it out.

Shifting from trust to intuition, shift from “existence” (I am) to “intuitive” (just be receptive and trust yourself.)
Think of the part of the brain that is responding—the reptilian—basic responses, ritualistic, routine, or limbic—intuitive feelings, or neo-cortex—rational responses, and how the feelings develop. Neocortex lets you “label” or name the issues, feelings, ideas, while the limbic brain give you images.

Before anything else can happen in the mind, there is a state, a stage in the thinking process that precedes it, an awareness of, an expectation of the “next” thing to come to one’s attention, or the “first” thing, and that more may e involved, or again, or soon, or next, etc.
So, awareness is consciousness of—and comes with and at the same time or before “something.” Awareness is a kind of waiting or unfolding, but being aware of being aware—how can that be explained? Demonstrated? Objectively identified apart from a persona experience? How?
Is it time-bound? What is the relationship between time and awareness in the mind? Is it a state of subjective but describable “feeling?” What feeling? Expectation? Or…?
When does a computer become aware—when it is started, when a program is called up, when it performs a function—is it the same for living beings? The mind is “acted on” and then “reacts.” Is that awareness? Then, is just being alive like the starting of a computer–? Or must “something else” know that one’s mind has “acted” for there to be a thought? Or is it like the tree in the forest—if no one hears or sees it fall—what happened there (is this an impossible question, because of no one “knows” how can you suggest that it DID fall?)

Time: Become the master of time—concentrate as if time were irrelevant—that it does not exist, that it stops while you focus. “Learn to make time your tool—how” Become the master of time.

Goleman, D. Emotional Intelligence. Bantam Books, NY. 1995.

p. 289. Cites the Oxford English Dictionary that defines emotion as “any agitation or disturbance of mind, feeling, passion; any vehement or excited mental state.”
Goleman “takes emotion to refer to a feeling and its distinctive thoughts, psychological and biological states, and range of propensities to act. There are hundreds of emotions, along with their blends, variations, mutations, and nuances. Indeed, there are many more subtlties of emotion than we have words for.”
He lists as the main emotions most theorists agree on as: Anger, Sadness, Fear, Enjoyment, Love, Surprise, Disgust, Shame.
Four emotions—anger, fear, sadness, enjoyment are recognized by most people in many cultures.
(P. 290) Moods, he says, are the “ripples” of emotion and last longer than the emotions themselves.
Then, temperament is a longer-lasting mood, e.g. cranky (anger), happy,(enjoyment) sour,(anger) timid (fear), etc.
Finally, disorders of emotion such as depression or anxiety make people feel “perpetually trapped in a toxic state.”

So, your ZONE may exist already, and you don’t know it. What is your present mood? Is it sad, happy, neutral, bitter, etc. What is your “usual” zone, when you get up in the morning, when you work, when you come home, when you play, when you try to relax, when you see certain people, go to certain places, must do certain things?
CAN YOU CONTROL OR CHANGE IT—DO YOU, HOW? How does it change when you move around? What makes it change—HOW MUCH CONTROL DO YOU HAVE OF IT????

Pinker, Steven. How the Mind Works. W.W. Norton & Co. NY: 1997.

Chap. 4.The mind’s eye, p. 211 to 298. P. 212, Medeival philosophers thought that objects continuously sprayed tiny copies of themselves in all directions, and the eye captures a few and grasps their shapes directly. My Quest.—Holograms?)
Actually, we do capture images, that is, the light they reflect, and the brain analyses and translates the light into an image we recognize.
p. 213. He quotes David Marr, vision “is a process that produces from images of the external world a description that is useful to the viewer and is not cluttered with irrelevant information.”
Mental imagery uses the reflected light that enters the brain through the eyes and takes that light, turns it into concepts of objects that the mind uses, as it thinks, to identify (compare what it “sees” with what it already has seen and identified, and named, and stored in memory to try to recognize it, or to see if it is like or unlike anything it already knows. As it compares memory image and vision image your mind has to decide, to name it, or re-name it, or associate it, act on the image in some way, at least mentally.
Vision, imagery, delivers a description, if it didn’t, the other senses would have to take over.
A good example of what would be needed is when Helen Keller, blind and deaf, asked a dance teacher to explain what dancers did when they leaped. The teacher, understanding that she had never seen a leap, could not see or hear, took Helen’s hands and put them on the waist of a dancer, who then leaped and moved. Helen understood through her sense of touch what leaping was.
Note how important the eyes are to knowing what the world is like, and our brains and minds, that make clear and help us to recognize and know what we see.
(Pinker’s book is over 600 pages—emphasizes the role of vision in how we think.)

Pinker, (p. 42)ff, discusses what people really think about—in a compendium he cites called The Adapted Mind. These are practical applications, uses, of what we, most of us, find/think is important to remember.
The list describes what is important to most people, and is actually what we/they think about and need to remember and understand. There are 15 kinds of “thinking about,” “paying attention to” things on the list.

Notice how they relate to memory, attention, imagery, order, senses, mind, learning.

1. Intuitive mechanics—knowledge of the motions, forces and deformations that objects undergo.—sense input into your “inner space” from “outer space.”
2. Intuitive biology—understanding of how plants and animals work. (More sense input data–)
3. Number—order and amount, and how we think about more than one thing.
4. Mental maps for large territories.—(inner space concepts as above, 2&3)
5. Habitat selection—seeking safe, information-rich, productive environments, generally savannah-like. (Choosing where to live and work, if you can.)
6. Danger—including the emotions of fear and caution, phobias for stimuli such as heights, confinement, risky social encounters and venomous and predatory animals, and a motive to learn the circumstances in which each is harmless. (This gets your “attention,” and takes what you learned and puts it into memory where it will be recalled—because this is vivid, important and emotional stuff!)
7. Food—what is good to eat. As a baby you trust those who fed you, growing older you can choose—your senses of taste and smell put this into your memory and you use it every day—it is part of natural memory.
8. Contamination, including the emotion of disgust, reactions to certain things that seem inherently disgusting, and intuitions about contagion and disease. (Survival instincts arise here, another survival sense.)
9. Monitoring of current well-being, including the emotions of happiness and sadness, and moods of contentment and restlessness.
10. Intuitive psychology—predicting other people’s behavior from their belief and desires. (Your senses and brain use data from memory—words and actions that represent concepts, to let you compare and determine how people behave toward you—safety and danger and comfort decisions result from this.)
11. A mental rolodex (listing) a data base of individuals, with sections in it for kinship, status or rank, history of exchange of favors, and inherent skills and strengths, plus criteria to evaluate each trait.
(What you think of, how you get along with, what each person or group of people you know is or does that concerns you—whether you need to meet with them, associate, work with, what you owe them, or they owe you, and your feelings (value) about them and about your relationship, and whether you care or don’t care, etc. A very important part of your “operating memory” and the analysis is done using data you accumulate.)
12 Self-concept—gathering and organizing information about one’s value to other people, and packaging it for others.
(“We know ourselves as others react to us,” is a truism. How they accept, tolerate, love, honor, dislike, avoid, or seek us out, care for us, enjoy our company, etc. And we use our “rolodex” to see whether we care, or not. Some people we ourselves seek out, avoid, etc.—your self-concept determines the value you place on yourself, and how you make decision, etc. and your relationships with others.)
13. Justice—sense of rights, obligations and desserts, including the emotions of anger and revenge.
(Your sense of morals and ethics, your belief that you are a good person and your standards of behavior and actions of others is based on what you know from observing others and your own analysis of right and wrong.)

14. Kinship—including nepotism, (favoring one’s relatives over others) and allocations of parenting effort. Caring for those you live and who love you and giving some leeway, consideration to relationships but understanding there are limits to what one owes another, relative or not. This is based on role-models and how we value important people in our lives.)
15. Mating—including feelings of sexual attraction, love and intentions of fidelity or desertion.
(How we choose to live and work at relationships revolves around #s 10-14 above. Honesty and consideration, fairness and affection and mutual respect.)

Pinker says most US college psychology texts don’t include any of these “modules” or families of instinct. He says, further, in an analogy, that this (college psych. texts) is “like explaining how a car works by first discussing the steel parts, then the aluminum ones, then the red parts, and so on, instead of the electrical system, the fuel system, the transmission, etc.


Language, for the psychologist, is a shortcut to concepts, but it is not descriptive until the student learns the vocabulary and relates it to experience and knowledge—sometimes this never happens

John H. Langer, JD, Ed.D. Retired Federal agency manger, former professor of education, public school administrator, and writer of a number of articles and publications on education, public affairs, substance abuse and social issues. In writing a book on attention and memory as it relates to education, this blog is helping to focus attention n current issues, and hopefully, add something useful as well.

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