What is Perceptual Intelligence?
An excerpt from Perceptual Intelligence: The Brain’s Secret to Seeing Past Illusion, Misperception, and Self-Deception by Brian Boxer Wachler, MD
I’ve seen different definitions of Perceptual Intelligence (PI), but I like to think of it as how we interpret and occasionally manipulate our experiences to distinguish fantasy from reality. PI relies heavily on our senses and instincts, but it is frequently influenced and distorted by our emotions and memories. Just as with other forms of intelligence, some people have higher PI than others. However, PI is an acquired skill. It begins with awareness and requires practice before it becomes habitual. So you may find yourself initially overreacting to a situation or circumstance, but with proper knowledge and a different perspective, you may start to ask yourself: Am I interpreting the situation correctly and making the best possible choice?
In their excellent book The User’s Manual for the Brain, authors L. Michael Hall and Bob G. Bodenhamer write, “The problem is never the person, never the experience, never what we have been through. The problem is always the frame, always the mental movie, always the higher frames running the movie.” It’s how we interpret what happens to us. If a bird with good aim uses my head for target practice, I could either get ticked off or say, “It’s good luck!” (which I learned from my Brooklyn-born dad).
When we have a vague memory of a painful incident, what purpose does it serve? Why bother keeping that potentially incorrect perception of the event when you can make something good come of it? This is where the sniper ability of Perceptual Intelligence comes in. A well-developed PI can identify and take down a faulty idea that tries to sabotage you. Having high PI is recognizing that your mind is more plastic than you think and can be molded and reworked as needed. PI can be improved, just like any other skill, such as driving a car, playing a sport, or learning an instrument.
Many people have survived traumatic incidents and made life decisions based on these experiences. Their perspectives on these events shaped their lives in either a positive or negative direction. It was not the incidents themselves that determined the outcomes; it was the individuals’ perceptions of the incidents and how they reacted afterward that formed their future. The “heroic” survivors we see on TV or read about in books merely applied principles of PI, whereas the “victims” remained immobilized.
Sharpening Your Perceptual Intelligence
As I’ve said, since PI is a learned skill, it requires practice before it becomes a habit. Someday you may find yourself initially reacting unfavorably to a situation. Rather than jumping to a negative interpretation, you can catch yourself and ask: Is this the best choice? If not, you can tap into your PI, change your perspective, and achieve a more favorable outcome.
My main objective in writing this book is to help you find your aha! moment regarding how you perceive and react to the world from the inside out. It is my sincere hope that, as you follow me on this journey, you will discover a heightened and enlightened understanding of the mystery that is human perception and make better decisions based on what your senses and intuition are telling you. In the chapters that follow I will reveal to you how understanding and maximizing PI is the key to what lurks behind your thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. You’ll learn about (not necessarily in this order):
· Why some people can’t resist “cat poop coffee” at $100 a cup
· How the brain helps us make sense of the world
· When the mind is healing us and when it’s doing more harm than good
· Why we hold on to our illusions
· Why we feel compelled to “return a favor”
· What is really happening when we see aliens in the middle of the night
· How low PI helps us enjoy art more
· Why some people see Jesus in their cornflakes
· How inflated PI can influence the PI of the masses
· Why some athletes and teams are winners and others chronic losers
· How reciprocity hijacks our perceptions
· How celebrity personas manipulate us
· How Mark Twain’s thoughts on masturbation reveal his high PI
· Why Kim Kardashian West has so much social impact
· How cults brainwash people with low PI
· Why our perceptions of time are so often distorted
· When to listen to your gut
A hundred years from now, we may not even recognize the science that is being practiced today. We will almost certainly have completely mapped the brain by then, yet we may still be no closer to understanding how we perceive the world. In the future, as with today, we will continue to perceive. Somehow, every day we will convert the inconceivable into the conceivable, as do all living things in their own inimitable way. As you’ll see in the next chapter, it all starts with the human brain.
Fasten your seatbelt and brace for impact.
Excerpted from the book Perceptual Intelligence: The Brain’s Secret to Seeing Past Illusion, Misperception, and Self-Deception. Copyright ©2017 by Brian Boxer Wachler. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.
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