What separates the brightest minds from the rest of us, and how can we become better thinkers, problem-solvers, and decision-makers? Let's take the human mind apart into its most fundamental principles and see how it works.
It’s the software that takes input from your senses and produces thinking (thoughts, ideas, and concepts).
Those ideas help you to survive in the (modern) jungle. Besides basic survival, they help you get what you want out of life, whether financial freedom, fulfillment, or something else.
Usually, between you and that thing you want, there is some kind of an obstacle, a problem that needs to be solved. To come up with solutions, we think, i.e., thinking is a problem-solving tool. It’s what separates us from other species and makes humans master problem-solvers.
Problem-solving consists of making decisions and backing them up with action.
There are only two things that determine how your life turns out: luck and the quality of your decisions. In other words – you are your decisions.
Humans have two decision-making systems. To make good decisions, you need to use the right decision-making system in the right situation.
System 1: Instinct
Useful for quick short-term decisions. It’s fast, emotional, and reactive. Most everyday activities (like driving, talking, eating, etc.) make heavy use of this system.
System 2: Reason
Useful for critical long-term decisions. It’s slow, conscious, and responding. We use it when calculating a complex math problem, exercising self-control, or performing any demanding task.
We’re interested in System 2 and how to make the most out of it.
Our brains cannot keep all the information that they get through the senses in our heads. To simplify things, it creates (mental) models.
Mental models are representations of how something works in the real world. They are the lenses we see things through. Everybody thinks in mental models even when they are not aware of it.
The average mind has a small variety of mental models from few domains. That means the average mind has few different perspectives to see things from. Therefore it can make fewer connections between information and comes up with less insights.
People who we call geniuses use a lot of different mental models from various fields. That ables them to see things from different perspectives, make more connections between information and come up with more insights.
The more quality mental models you have, the better you will understand how things (the world) works. They will help you to make high-quality decisions, solve problems, and live a more thoughtful life.
Better models → Better thinking → Better decisions → Better outcomes
The most valuable mental models are the foundational parts of the biggest fields – biology, chemistry, physics, economics, mathematics, psychology, and philosophy.
Besides that, there are thousands of smaller frameworks and mental models for niche situations.
The famous thinker and investor Naval Ravikant also has some recommendations of where to find useful mental models: “The best mental models I have found came through evolution, game theory, and Charlie Munger. Charlie Munger is Warren Buffett’s partner. Very good investor. He has tons and tons of great mental models. Author and trader Nassim Taleb has great mental models. Benjamin Franklin had great mental models. I basically load my head full of mental models.”
Mindsera is cognitive science backed software that helps you to train your decision-making, problem solving, and critical thinking skills with mental models and writing. Learn more.