If I’m honest, I don’t know if I can ever do this session justice.
For the first time that day I gave up trying to live blog as all I’d be doing is tyiping words with no real value or benefit to me or anyone that read it. So, I decided to take some time with this one and reflect on it.
During this amazing session we covered; different types of intelligence, how they can all manifest themselves, what that means for happiness, what that means for our species, for the world even. I am quite pleased that it was almost unapologetically philosophical as it tested me, cognitively as well as on a personal values perspective. In addition, it wasn’t some sort of binary good vs bad or best vs worst thing. It was this world and more importantly the people that are in it are complex, mixed up and overlap.
So… I hope I am going to a) make sense of the session b) represent it well c) join it all up. Wish me luck, here I go:
Let’s start with our speaker. Alan Wallace (@BAlanWallace) is a seriously clever guy and yet shared his wisdom in a humble and unassuming way. Someone who has studied meditation and mindfulness for longer than I’d care to mention and has had the Dalai Lama as a teacher since 1971Def and works with Paul Ekman, that is awesome!
What Alan did for me was give three ways of classifying (what he called) intelligence:
– Hyperactive; too much of it
– Deficit; not enough of it
– Dysfunctional; applied in a way that breaks down relationships or destroys collaboration
So, the four types of intelligence next:
– Conative; the ability to discern which desires and intentions truly lead to one’s own and others’ wellbeing and then to adopt them, while realising what desires and intentions undermine one’s own and others’ wellbeing. (direct quote)
– Attentional; the ability to focus our attention, without judgement.
– Cognitive; the ability to think, reflect and process ‘stuff’
– Emotional; the ability to notice and relate to how emotions are affecting you.
Linking back to my point earlier about binary and greyness then these don’t exist in isolation, they intersect and interact. Or as Alan put it ‘they are an utterly smooth spectrum’.
What Alan was saying is that any of these intelligences can combine with the classifications in different ways.
For example, as a manager/leader you may have attentional deficit to your team/people because you are simply not interested. Or, it may be hyperactive in that you pay them too much attention in a micro management kind of way. Similarly, you may have a dysfunctional conative intelligence in that you cannot (or choose not to) discern which intentions lead to wellbeing and choose other things instead.
We then went into evolution and the ‘parsimonal’ aspects of it. Evolutionary theory suggest that you will eveolve to get enough of what you need. For example, if you need to run at Xmph to catch your prey then evolution/natural selection will give you that, nothing more. You won’t get an extra 10mph because that might be cool, you’ll get what you need. If that is the case, why do humans have all of these intelligences and the huge pre-frontal cortex that we do?
Alan then linked us into happiness and the (seemingly unending) strive for happiness. What he was saying here was, if we have all these resources in the mind that we seemingly don’t actually need, why have we forgotten and/or not learnt from our past? As the generations pass or even as we get older, why aren’t we progressively happier? I don’t know the answer to that…
Next we explored some sobering statistics shown below.
Man, that is hard reading right there.
If we are on this journey to hapiness, why is all that happening?!?! Again, I don’t know the answer, yet at least. Moving on with the theme of happiness, Alan shared two definitions of it:
Again, there wasn’t a ‘hedonic is good’ or ‘genuine is best’ type thing. It was, there are these two possible definitions and each have their issues and/or place in the world. I found this aspect really fascinating, to the point I stopped tweeitng for a bit. Again, these things overlap. For example, I give appreication to someone, that may be classed as Genuine Happiness as I am bringing it to the world and it isn’t dependent on anything. I may then also get hedonic happiness form the response I see in the other when, they are happy or proud. Does that make sense? I hope so.
The final aspect that really struck a chord with me was then about how, in the connected world we are in, to what extent are we, as individuals, happy being alone with just our mind? Can, do, will we be on our own with our mind? I do it a lot and maybe could do it more. One to think about.
It really was a fantasitc session. It hurt my head and was awesome too. I so hope I have done it justice.