Podcast 328: Eat Something You Saw on the Screen or Page, a Reading Hack, and Annie Murphy Paul Talks About the Extended Mind

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Update: We've announced our next book club choice! We're reading Crying in H Mart (AmazonBookshop), the terrific and acclaimed memoir by Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast fame.

To get the flavor of this memoir, you can read Michelle Zauner's 2018 New Yorker essay. Here's the official description:

In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother's particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother's tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.

As she grew up, moving to the East Coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, and performing gigs with her fledgling band--and meeting the man who would become her husband--her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother's diagnosis of terminal cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.

We'll announce soon when we'll be talking to Michelle Zauner on the podcast.

Try This at Home: Eat something you saw on the screen or on the page.

I got this idea from my friend Reem Kassis, a writer who focuses on food history and culture and who's the author of two award-winning cookbooks, The Palestinian Table (Amazon, Bookshop) and The Arabesque Table (Amazon, Bookshop).

She told me that when she watches a TV show or movie that shows people making or eating a specific dish, or if she reads about people making or eating something, she'll prepare or buy that dish herself.

This idea is a great way to deepen our relationship to what we watch or read, and what we experience in the moment.

Happiness Hack: Keep a shelf of all the books you've read this year. It's great to see the collection grow over the year. #Read21in21.

Interview: Annie Murphy Paul.

Annie Murphy Paul is an acclaimed science writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Scientific American, Slate, Time magazine, and The Best American Science Writing, among many others. She is the author of Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives (Amazon, Bookshop) and The Cult of Personality Testing: How Personality Tests Are Leading Us to Miseducate Our Children, Mismanage Our Companies, and Misunderstand Ourselves (Amazon, Bookshop).

Her new book is The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain (Amazon, Bookshop). It’s about how, when we’re facing a difficult project or problem, we can get outside our heads to get more focus, brainpower, and creativity from our bodies, our surroundings, and our relationships.

We discuss:

  • we can think outside the brain in three ways, by thinking with our bodies, thinking with our surroundings, thinking with our relationships
  • we think with our bodies—with the internal sensations of our bodies (interoception), with our movements , and with the gestures our hands make
  • our surroundings can support thinking—for instance, we benefit from privacy, "cues of identity," "cues of belonging," and a sense of ownership and control; there's a "home-field advantage"
  • when working in groups, it's important to make our own thinking explicit to others  (note Elizabeth's work white board in the photo above!)
  • when we're giving presentations, we should practice the gestures we make, with both beat gestures and symbolic gestures
  • on its own, the biological brain is quite limited; it's shaped by evolution to do very specific things, which are different from what we ask of it these days—so the brain needs help! We should give it resources from outside of our head.

Highlights include:

  • “Thinking is a full-body experience.”
  • “We think with our bodies.”
  • “When we have to gather up all our stuff and bring it home, we can’t offload our thinking onto the space where we work.”
  • “When we’re about to give a speech, we think so much about what we’re going to say, and yet so much of what people take away from a speech is what we’ve done with our hands.”
  • “Gestures can conjure a whole world that doesn’t exist yet.”
  • “The biological brain, on its own, is quite limited.”

Annie Murphy Paul's Tendency: Questioner. And even though she wrote a book The Cult of Personality Testing, in which she was very critical of the history and effects of personality tests, she does embrace the Four Tendencies.

Annie Murphy Paul's Try This at Home: We try to do too much in our heads. Move the ideas and information inside your head onto a physical surface—then interact with those objects.

Elizabeth's Demerit: While she gives herself a gold star for going snorkeling on her last week in Puerto Rico, she gives herself a demerit for not doing more to take advantage of being there.

Gretchen's Gold Star: Thanks to all the listeners who answered the questions about whether and how you use show notes and episode numbers. That feedback was very helpful.


Resources:

  • Want to know if you're an Obliger, Upholder, Questioner or Rebel? Take the quick, free online quiz and find out instantly here. Or, if you’ve already taken the quiz and want to learn more, check out my Four Tendencies course.
  • Want to make your day happier? Subscribe to my free “Moment of Happiness” newsletter. Five days a week, I share a quotation related to happiness—the design also makes it easy to screenshot and share. Click here and select “Daily Happiness Quotation.”

What we’re reading:

Quote From the Podcast

“Thinking is a full-body experience.”
Annie Murphy Paul

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