Friday, April 25, 2008

It starts with the coining of a new word - kluge, which rhymes with huge. It's ...
“a clumsy or inelegant — yet surprisingly effective — solution to a problem.” Something you probably do all the time; I know I do.
As an EQ coach and student of the human brain, I found the book review by Annie Murphy Paul interesting.
Marcus is a prof of psychology at New York Univ. and director of the NYU Infant Language Learning Center.
Marcus says that kluge is a good description of the human body.
Writes Paul:

Take the spine. It would make more sense, and spare us much Advil, if we had
four cross-braced columns of vertebrae instead of a single vulnerable one. Or the retina: it faces the back of the head rather than the front, burdening us with a blind spot where a clump of wiring gets in the way. We’re a collection of patches and fixes, held together with the biological equivalent of duct tape — the handiwork not of an intelligent designer but of the rough-and-ready processes of evolution.

Here I might add that it's good to remember we evolved from a creature on four legs, and hanging limbs off a spine like that made sense. When my back got to hurting when I was pregnant, my good ole country doctor told me to get down on all fours and give my spine a little relief. Are these bits of advice "homey" and "silly." Um, not at all. It helped and, after the fact, made sense.

Murphy adds:

Evolution “kluges” its solutions because it has only the crudest tools at its disposal: genetic mutations and millions of years. Natural selection can select only from what genetic accidents have made available, and the features it chooses may remain in place not because they are optimal, Marcus writes, but “because evolution just didn’t find a better way.”
Neuroscience tells us of the triune brain - one brain on top of another, on top of another, progressing upwards from the reptilian brain, which evolved a LONG time ago, and thus will always be the strongest. Envisioning the brain this way helps to explain the conflicts we all have - it's one brain wanting one thing, and another, wanting another.

Paul faults the author for such 'obvious-ities' as: "Whenever possible, don’t make important decisions when you are tired or have other things on your mind.” I would add here what my psychology professor told me in grad school -- that EVERYTHING is "obvious" once it's een pointed out. It's just that we are "the fish in the water." Sometimes we MISS the most OBVIOUS things.

But so much about emotional intelligence is common sense, which has NEVER been common, and still isn't.

In fact I bet there's someone reading this who makes a note-to-self -- don't make important decision when you are tired!

I would add an even more obvious adage, that we miss over and over again -- Don't talk or deal with things when you are angry. And down here in south Texas, don't deal with things when you're too HOT, is another one. When the reptilian brain takes over, we can't think, and that's when we do a lot of harm.

In fact I'm coaching a man who said the other day, "I've learned to say 'I'm going to end this meeting now before we both say something we regret.'"

There's nothing wrong with a time out.

Keeping your mouth shut is sometimes a good policy. I'm a DATING COACH, and I often have to remind new-daters that one needn't, in fact shouldn't, tell everything right away, especially the bumps and warts and so forth. And don't talk negatively about your ex, or how 'awful' dating is. Those kinds of comments seem to beg the question that you are (1) unhappy; (2) in therapy; (3) both!
How about "don't tickle a gorilla." Learn to notice what's going on with the OTHER person, so you don't "walk into the blade of a fan."
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