The Topic: Cognition

Does how we think make us clever? This is a question that I have often heard being discussed, and I suppose it all depends on what you think clever is? Does it depend on qualifications, sporting achievements, survival of trauma, ability to live in the wilderness for years with nothing other than a spoon and a photo of your loved one?

Work is often a biggy on how we judge whether a person is clever or not. For example, you may know or be a person who is a sole trader who specialises in a craft or manual trade which affords a life that allows the opportunity to seek pleasures and profits from their own specialism and may be considered very clever. Similarly, you may be a person or know of one who works in an office boasting an accolade of academic qualifications, earning a handsome salary, that too, may be considered very clever. You may be retired, well sure you can be considered clever too, as can my dog, my children and my friend’s pet chickens. Who knows? Well, actually, I dare say none of us, as it all boils down to what you believe clever is and what you feel being clever does for you and those around you.

The Intention:

I read an interesting book on the human mind and a section specific to intelligence (2). It raised some great points about how we regard it, how we measure it, how we categorise it, whether we are born with intelligence or if we develop it as we go. It was a very interesting read and opened my interest (as well as studying the human brain of course!) as to what and why intelligence matters. Which I would just like to say, isn’t about to be covered in this blog post! If scientists, philosophers and laymen haven’t figured it out as yet – I am fairly sure, that I am unlikely to crack it right here and now either. However, that does not mean it isn’t fun to chat about! So let’s go….

The Evidence:

Cognition is a term widely used, but not all of us know what it means, and the definition differs too! In general, the term cognition refers to knowledge. When we discuss cognition we are focusing on all the ways that beings can gather, store and use the information that has been obtained from their world. This extends to attention, memory, how we perceive things, why and how we think, how we solve problems, the language we use and how we reason and conceptualise information (1). So, you can now see why we wanted one word to describe all of that, but you can perhaps also see how that one words covers a huge range of elements and can often be misinterpreted!

In the 1980’s Howard Gardner challenged (3) the model that is IQ intelligence. He argued that we can’t measure intelligence only on intellectual skills. He suggested that there are seven different types of intelligence; musical, verbal, mathematical/logical, spatial, kinaesthetic, intrapersonal and interpersonal. A friend of mine did this test with me recently and I really enjoyed it! I am very aware that my intelligence, if not for a better word, is stronger in some of those segments and definitely not in others! However, what is really cool about Gardner’s theory, is that each area of intelligence is a regarded as a skill set, so we can learn and improve them. This is why I am back studying a scientific degree approaching 40 – growth mindset! 😉

Now, real life:

So, now on to why you have spent a few minutes of your life reading this blog post. Well, the whole basis of my work and research is healthy body, healthy mind, healthy person. So, with that in my mind and now in yours, let’s draw on our intelligent selves and look, listen to and feel what is happening in our mind-body. What natural remedies can we draw on to support our mental and physical selves? Well, exercise is a good place to start, as is getting outdoors. My advice as qualified professional in the field of physical movement; move in a way that makes you feel good and inundates you with endorphins! If that happens after you have weeded your garden or cleaned your car then great! You don’t have to hit the gym if it doesn’t contribute to your happiness, if it does, then great - go!

Now, I won’t use this opportunity to talk about the evidence that has supported the benefits to physical and mental health by way of yoga practice as that may be seen as ‘plugging’ (and who likes that!?), but if you want to practice and join in one of my classes or a one to one, you can then make up your own mind as to whether it supports your happiness and is a benefit to your mind-body. In the meanwhile, do comment with your thoughts! I always love to hear them.

Most importantly, take good care of you!

(1) Gross, R. (2015). Psychology: The science of mind and behaviour 7th edition. Hodder Education.

(2) Winston, R., & Hill, D. (2004). Human Mind. Transworld Publishers Limited.

Gardner, H.,(1983). Frames of the min

(3) Gardner, H.,(1983). Frames of the mind. The theory of multiple intelligences. Basic Books.


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