Hmm. Writing every single day is tough. Consciously exposing myself to thought-provoking ideas, reflecting on them, and writing about that reflection every single day is tough. This is like willing my mind to go to the gym ever day. I struggle to do this with my body, too. Sigh.
What broke my streak? Something excruciatingly silly. Like the flutter of the butterfly wings in one hemisphere causing a storm in the other. Since I had taken it upon myself to pepper the post of the day with the wordle of the day, the word on 24 Jan gnawed at me. Knoll. What is this knoll and how do I use it in a sentence? (Now that that’s out of the way…)
This flutter was compounded by several small flutters that stormed my mind enough to shut down. But something changed today. I heard The Balaji Podcast (linked below) and it shook my mind up from a deep dark slumber. I have to listen to it a few more times to really absorb everything that was shared. This merits a separate post some other day.
Today is about “Theory of Mind”. I learnt about this psychological concept during a project at work last year. I came across this again today morning on Hidden Brain (linked below), which got me thinking more about it.
Theory of Mind (ToM) is the ability to understand another individual’s mental states including their desires, emotions, beliefs, intentions and thoughts; and recognizing that they can be different from your own. It is not just thinking about thinking, but also using that knowledge about mental states to predict someone’s actions. Look at it as some form of ability to read minds. It’s something we do without even really realizing we’re doing it.
However, consciously applying Theory of Mind is a very humbling exercise. It moves the focus between my thoughts and the thoughts of others in a way that it lends multiple perspectives that often challenge my first thought. Let’s say, I’ve made an error in a presentation at work. I am immediately crippled by my first thoughts of what others may think of me if I own up to the mistake. They would think I’m sloppy and inefficient. But then I pause and consider what I would think of them had they made this mistake and owned up to it. I would be impressed by their ability to pick up that small error, their courage to admit it and their quick-thinking to fix it. Maybe that’s what they would think of me, too. This perspective quickly bursts my cloud of insecurity.
Another interesting aspect that Theory of Mind sheds light on is this whole discourse around intent of the action vs impact of the action, especially when we question the morality of the action. Here’s a paraphrased example from Hidden Brain — Person X added a white powder to her friend’s coffee. She thought it was sugar, but it turned out to be poison that harms her friend. Person Y added a white powder to her friend’s coffee. She thought it was poison, but it turned out to be sugar that only made her friend’s coffee more enjoyable. Now, what would you consider as immoral — a negative intent or a negative impact?
Theory of Mind also determines your sense of humour — whether or not you find something funny, how quickly did you get the joke, and how L is your LOL. Most of humour is not judging something at face-value, but understanding the hidden layer — the intent, the tone, the sarcasm, the pun, the context. Theory of Mind helps with all of those factors to make the joke land on that sweet, sweet spot in your moist brain. WHACK.
I feel like I have wrung myself out of a deep slumber with this rather perky brain-activity for today.
Maybe I can wait for the words from wordle to mount up, and season them across my post every once in a while. I know you wouldn’t think any less of me, because I wouldn’t think less of you if you did that. :)
Some of the parts:
The Balaji Podcast (we will come back to this soon): https://youtu.be/q-852BsgNck