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Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Perspective: Macro change begins at the micro level

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I’ve been thinking about thinking lately – as I’ve watched our country grow increasingly divided -- and heard so much about the ways social media algorithms feed users exactly what they think they want. In a world that moves at a lightning-fast, technology-fueled pace, we need quick thinking for quick rewards. Our brains are challenged in an effort to keep up or miss out. Research has revealed that our brains are like “two-engine” two-system machines. They rely on quick thinking from our System One brain to keep us moving successfully through our days and the reasoned logic and deep thought of our slower System Two brain to help us look at issues and problems more completely. Unfortunately, System Two only “kicks in” when System One feels truly stumped.

While System One is all about speed, instinct, and intuition, it’s limited in its ability to go deep. What you see is what System One one hundred percent believes you’re getting. System Two is where we wrestle with complex ideas, going below the surface, and weighing conflicting pieces of information as we come to a carefully reasoned decision. Unfortunately, our brains tend to take the “easy button” approach. Yet when we move through life on automatic pilot, we are avoiding challenges and circumstances that would encourage our System Two thinking to engage. While this might bring some discomfort, it could also deepen our understanding and connection with folks and ideas we tend to avoid out of habit. This might actually revise our basic System One programming.

Changing the world isn’t going to happen at the macro level until we’re able to make some micro changes within ourselves.

I’m Suzanne Degges-White and that’s my perspective.