"One of the World's Most Popular Homepage of Somebody who is a Nobody"

Home | Articles | Photos | Hobbies | Links | Guest Book | About

Home > Articles > Are you thinking straight?

Cognition: Why are so many of us just not thinking straight?

by Luigi Di Serio

Next to breathing and pumping blood, cognition is one of the most important things we do. As a matter of fact, it is what distinguishes us human beings from other animals. So, why do we pay so little attention to it? Life is a journey, that includes a series of decisions, that more often than not stem from our mental (cognitive) process, most of which is done subconsciously to eliminate the repetitiveness of making the same decisions over and over again. Furthermore, I believe we all have a cognitive process that is the rudimentary channel of communication between our moral conscious (spirit or soul) and our brain (the physical body). I don’t want to prove this is true, however, as a reference, both Eastern philosophies and Western Theologies have thorough beliefs and understandings based on the mind, body and spirit connection. Because we are aware of our ability to think, we know that you are not just a reaction-based organism. Without the “know” and thought, you would not be reading this right now. So at least a basic cognition of cognition exist within all of us. You with me so far? Good.

Heck, even (the usually skeptical) contemporary science (including, unbelievably, western medicine) are beginning to acknowledge the body, mind and spirit connection and its significance on everyday health, thought, emotions and general well-being. So why do we use cognition anyway? Is it to help our specie survive? I'd surmise the answer is a resounding NO. Most species in existence rely on many different survival mechanisms, no of which include a thorough thinking process. We use cognition to help us find truth! That’s right, the truth. We all want to know what will truly make us happy; what truly will give us joy, peace and success. So we are constantly processing thoughts in attempts find the answers, so to speak. So regardless of what you believe, it is pretty obvious that cognition is so important. So what the heck is cognition?

cog·ni·tion n. (dictionary.com)

  1. The mental process of knowing, including aspects such as awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgment.
  2. That which comes to be known, as through perception, reasoning, or intuition; knowledge.
So if you have to make a tough decision in life, or you want to know if something is true or not, we must take into careful consideration the many things that initiate a cognitive process. Many things that influence it, and many things distort it, even farther from the truth (or profound knowledge) that we seek. So when you sit on your bed and ponder, “Why am I here?” or “Does He Love Me?” or “Should I get a new job?”, etc. try to be aware of what is causing and influencing your thoughts. The truth is unchanging, it is just how we process the perception of it, which is influenced by circumstances, environment, etc. There are probably a lot factors. 

So if we look at something we are doing and say... "Am I doing the right thing?" we must be very weary of how that question is answered. Since most of the time your subconscious mind simply answers based on prior cognitive process (e.g.. memory, experience). So our apparently new thoughts may be only old cognitive outputs from previous cognitive cycles. Thereby we are actually not be thinking at all, but just "rearranging" our prior thoughts, namely our prejudices. 

This type of thought output is very unhealthy. 

It is the type of thought that is invoked by narrow-minded believes, instead of concrete evidence for example. A realization is not cognition. Sometimes people do things without thinking, and then they rationalize it. Rationality is not thought. Do all yourselves a favor and throw rational out the window. Rationality is the world’s biggest EXCUSE for all the stupidities we do in our lives... "I did it because..."; "It is ONLY"; "This was JUST a...". Justification and reasoning are excuses for not answering to your higher conscious, which orders to know and live by the truth. Some say "reason is the tool of the devil" and since most of us are intelligent beings, we can almost always come up with a reason or explain rationally why we have done something. Real thinking is used to find truth through cognition and then through wisdom, not through rationalizing. Cognition is the process of coming to know, and to be more exact the process of knowing what’s right and what’s truth.

Here is how to breakdown how cognition is triggered; how it is processed; and what affects it.

Table 1: Basic Cognitive Inputs

  • 5 Senses
  • Basic Instincts, Emotions, Fear
  • Communication & Language
  • Nero Associations
  • Chemical – Environmental Reactions
Each input is such a vast topic, we can write a book on each. However, the common theme for the inputs is that they are, for the most part, beyond our control. They are the stimuli, the cards we have been dealt for any given situation. This is what is thrown at us and now we need to do something with it. Cognitive inputs can be as simple as seeing a lovely landscape (a 5 senses input), to something more complex such, as someone offering you a drug (Communication and Nero-Associations and if you take it chemical). So once, our thoughts are invoked what happens next? Well we need a platform where cognition takes place. These platforms are:

Table 2: Platforms of Deep Cognition (Processing of Thoughts)

  • Knowledge
  • Smarts / Common Sense
  • Intelligence
  • Wisdom
  • Intuition
Just quickly and “very” generally:
  • Knowledge is information or facts you can recall at will;
  • Smarts is what makes the most sense (usually based on short-term precedence)
  • Intelligence is often based on resolve through patterns, logic and problem solving
  • Wisdom is based on history and experience
  • Intuition is based on gut instinct, universal minds and/other unknown powers (please do not confuse this with feelings or emotions.)

These are tools we use to process thoughts. Some of us are more blessed than others in certain areas. While there are ways to improve on each, take a note when you are thinking something through or making a critical decision, which ones you are using to process your thoughts. If you are not, you should re-consider they way you are tackling the problem and use one of these tools to help you out.

Table 3: Cognitive Outputs (Perception and possible distortion)

  • Chemical & Physical Reactions (Habits)
  • Decisions (Rationale & Circumstances)
  • Beliefs & Values (Prejudice)
  • Emotions & Feelings (Ego & Temperament)
  • The Self (Selfishness & Pride)
After a cognitive process is finished, there is an output, a thought, an idea, some action or maybe a decision. However, after the output is created it needs be put back into the cognitive cycle. So how is that done? Well, if you made it this far you will see my point in all of this, so read on.

Fig.1 Thought Process (Via Cognitive Process)

In a healthy thought process, cognitive outputs are used in future thought process, during the “thought” or cognitive process stage. In an unhealthy thought process, cognitive outputs are recycled and used again as inputs. Again, look back Table. 3, and you will see how similar, yet different the outputs (enclosed in brackets) are from those not. Although they are essentially synonymous, this is not the case in a cognitive process. It is a simple case of Garbage in… Garbage out! Most people use the outputs, as the input variables to come up with or influence thoughts, ideas and perceptions. So many of us end up not thinking straight, acting foolish and becoming victims of circumstances, rather than making wise decisions. We act selfish, rather than becoming self-actualized, take ecstasy, instead of feeling it, have prejudice, instead of beliefs, and so on. 

You with me?

I think you got it. Again, this all happens if you take your cognitive outputs, and re-introduce them into your own cognitive cycle in the input stage.

Example: Little Johnny gets burned by a small candle as a young boy (cognitive input). He quickly thought (cognitive process) to himself, I must stay away from "hot stuff", and now has decided to avoid touching "hot stuff" all the time (cognitive output). All is fine up until here. But after the cognitive output stage, if he re-introduced his thought as an input it will become a negative neuro-association or a basic fear for Little Johnny, he will most likely be scared of everything that's hot or fiery. This is because the cognitive input is "all in his head", so too speak. It is not a real cognitive input (like a stimuli), but a phobic-like fear, or in other words, a perception or distortion of truth. Let's say in his case he developed "Pyrophobia" as he grew up. Not a very good thing, I don't think.

Now, let's say he re-introduces the cognitive output of "avoiding hot stuff" into his cognitive process instead, it will stay in his memory bank until he encounters the situation again (as real cognitive inputs). This time Little Johnny sees a candle burning dangerously close to a table cloth. Johnny introduces this to his cognitive process and thinks "this is dangerous, I'd better be carefully with that and put it out safely. As Johnny grew up, he learnt more and more about fires and became a "pyro-technician". This is because he does not use his past cognitive outputs as inputs, but rather he uses it in a new process, with a different set off cognitive input variables (in other words, a new situation). Although a silly example, there are people that have a phobia to fire, and ones who are experts with it, and it could easily stem from something like this.

So the easiest way to change this and make sure you are thinking straight is to simply ignore thoughts that just "pop" into your head, with no basic stimuli or reason. Another way is to work on your cognitive process channels. Gain wisdom and smarts through experience, sharing and working. Gain knowledge and intelligence through reading, writing, conversing, dialectics and problem solving. And gain intuition by... I don't know, use your intuition for this one.

Back To The Top | Copyright © 2007. All Rights Reserved for Luigi Di Serio