The Science Of Getting Out Of Your Head | Annie Murphy Paul

Ten Percent Happier
May 20, 2024
The Science Of Getting Out Of Your Head | Annie Murphy Paul
Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris

When you think about thinking, most of us think of it as a supremely solo pursuit. You’re in your head, concentrating and cogitating, all by yourself. But the science shows that if you want to improve your thinking, you need to get out of your head. Today we’re going to talk about a concept called “the extended mind.” Your mind isn’t just in your skull: it’s in your body, it’s in the people around you, it’s in your surroundings. The best thinking requires that you break out of what the writer David Foster Wallace called “the skull sized kingdom” and access these other resources.

This may sound abstract, but our guest today makes it very practical. Annie Murphy Paul is an acclaimed science writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Scientific American, Slate, Time, and The Best American Science Writing, among many other publications. She is the author of Origins and The Cult of Personality, hailed by Malcolm Gladwell as a “fascinating new book.” Currently a fellow at New America, Paul has spoken to audiences around the world about learning and cognition; her TED talk has been viewed by more than 2.6 million people. A graduate of Yale University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, she has served as a lecturer at Yale University and as a senior advisor at their Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning. Her latest book is The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain

In this episode, we also talk about:

  • How to use your surroundings to think better 
  • My favorite of the three areas of this book – thinking with our relationships
  • Why “groupthink” isn’t always a bad thing (OR you can say, the benefits of thinking in groups)
  • What she called “extension inequality” – that this benefit of the extended mind isn’t available to all people

Related Episodes: Ancient Secrets to Modern Happiness | Tamar Gendler