Bad news: Your brain is probably less powerful than you thought. If you’re like me, you thought your brain could do just about anything. That it was infinitely powerful. But it’s not… That’s the bad news. But there are two gigantic silver linings to it. Stay tuned…

Andrew Andrews Quote - Seeds of Depression
“It is impossible for the seeds of depression to take root in a thankful heart.” -Andy Andrews (Tweet That) | Share this Graphic on Pinterest | Share on Facebook

Your brain: the single processor

If you were born prior to 1995, and my most recent reader survey suggests that 97% of you were, you remember single processor computers. The other 3% of you will have to use your imaginations for this illustration. A single processor computer is r-e-a-l-l-y slow and does not allow you to have 37 programs open at the same time. In other words, you can’t IM on Facebook while tweeting and hosting a Google Hangout, all while listening to Pandora. Any attempt to do so would most likely result in the “blue screen of death.”

Think of your brains the same way.

Yes, your brain is more powerful than any computer ever made. But, it’s essentially operating on a single processor.

It can only allot a limited amount of its power to experiencing the world around you. You can’t process both gratitude and depression at the same time. You can’t process rejection and hope, pessimism and optimism, or hate and love at the same time. Your brain cannot accept the input of despair and negativity from the television news and, at the same time, express the beauty of the world. It’s literally impossible.

Because of this, you must choose how you use that limited power.

You can either use your brain’s limited resources to:

See only negativity, despair, stress, pain, and hate.


View the world through a lens of optimism, hope, gratitude, purpose, and love.

The good news, part one

The first positive of this is that you get to choose.

No, you cannot change the reality of the world through positive thoughts alone or through magical unicorn beams. You cannot even change your own reality that way.

But you can change how you view the events of reality. You can alter how you process the world.

That changes how you act in response to negative events.

The good news, part two

The second silver lining is that it can work in your favor.

If you choose to view the world through a positive lens, it becomes that much harder for negative thoughts to take root.

Andy Andrews says it this way:

It is impossible for the seeds of depression to take root in a thankful heart.

Psychologically speaking, that is sound wisdom.

Lest you think this is all feel-good mumbo jumbo, Shawn Achor, the author of one of the five books I recommend everyone read, The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, explains what a positive lens is and isn’t:

not about lying to ourselves, or turning a blind eye to the negative, but about adjusting our brains so that we see the ways to rise above our circumstances.

Related link: The 5 Books I Recommend Everyone Read

Action item: What is one thing in the world that you have typically seen through a negative lens? Decide now to view it in a positive way. Change how you process that.

If you want to change the world, it starts with seeing it in the right light. Your brain is less powerful than you might have thought. You must choose how you see the world.

It’s up to you.

In the past, how have you chosen to process a negative event as a positive?

14 thoughts on “WARNING: Your Brain is Less Powerful than You Thought

  1. Lily Kreitinger says:

    Today I am choosing to shift my thinking about owning a business. 20 years ago I tried and failed. Fear is still there. I choose to think that I can be successful with the right tools, support and encouragement from people in my life like you, Matt, who believe in me.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      You are 20 years older and wiser…that is a LOT of wisdom gained. You’ll do amazing this time!

      1. Lily Kreitinger says:

        Sounds like a compliment, but I think you just called me old.

      2. Mark Sieverkropp says:

        No Matt wasn’t…now if I had said that…yes I would’ve been calling you old 🙂

      3. Matt McWilliams says:

        Trust me…I chose my words carefully and debated how to say it.

    2. Mark Sieverkropp says:

      Ummmm….I think you are already successful at it!! Now it’s just becoming MORE successful!

  2. David Mike says:

    I feel like being around negative people can bring me down pretty quickly. I think by making the decision not to fall into that trap can instantly change the situation. Being conscious of the right time to make that decision is key.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Agreed. They will change your worldview, making it impossible to see the good in the world.

  3. Nancy Heidger Benavides says:

    I like to remind people that their thoughts and actions are directly connected to what you feed them. Spending hearing and speaking negatives and your outcomes are exponentially more likely to be negative.

  4. Mark Sieverkropp says:

    I don’t think I do very well at that until after the event is over. Looking back if had a previous job that I HATED. It completely drained me in every way possible. But looking back now, it was the catalyst to almost all the good that has came into my life since 🙂

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      You sound like everyone who ever worked for me before 2010. They hated it. Then they realized how thankful they were at how much they learned…about how not to be a leader.

  5. Jon Stolpe says:

    I choose to believe that God can use the “crappy” situations in my life for good. I have deeper compassion and understanding for people who might be going through similar “crap.” I think this is a positive perspective on life events that are negative.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Very well said!

      I believe that some people have more strength to overcome certain things at certain times in life…and then share how they did it with others!

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