Of all the skills needed for success, I believe that psychology is the most important. Of course, being that HM is a psychologist, a degree of bias must be admitted. Nevertheless HM shall make this argument.
Psychology is frequently confused with psychiatry. Psychiatry is a medical specialty dealing with mental problems. Clinical and some counseling psychologists also deal with mental problems, but they represent about half of all psychologists. Other types of psychology are social psychology, industrial psychology, organizational psychology, engineering psychology, educational psychology, psychologists who work primarily with nonhuman organisms, and psychologists who work with humans. HM is a cognitive psychologist meaning that he is interested in how we perceive, remember, learn, make decisions, form concepts, solve problems; that is basically everything we do that involves our brains.
In “How to Fail At Almost Everything and Still Win Big” Adams devotes several pages to biases, heuristics, different types of effects, fallacies, illusory correlation and so forth. Our cognitive processes are very complex, and they need to be understood as well as they can be understood. We are constrained by a limited attentional capacity that must be understood. Memory failures can usually be attributed to failures to pay attention, but we are bombarded by much more information than can be processed. Memories change over time, and every time we recall a memory it changes. Memories are highly fallible, yet we have a high degree of confidence in them. In short, we need to understand our minds as best we we can so that we are aware of the mistakes we are likely to make, and so that we can use our minds to best advantage.
Adams is writing about success and his examples are how a knowledge of psychology is key to success. But given that education involves learning, should not students be provided an understanding of how we learn? And given that education involves memory, should not an understanding of our memory systems be taught? And should not learning and mnemonic techniques be taught to facilitate learning and memorization? Should not students be taught problem solving techniques and the traps that can preclude solving problems?
Meditation is beneficial to both learning and emotional health, so should not meditation be taught and regularly practiced in schools? Mindfulness training provides a basis for understanding why we differ and how best to interact with others who think or behave differently. Disciplinary problems would largely disappear if both meditation and mindfulness were standard practices in schools.
Many businesses are providing for meditation and mindfulness to be incorporated into their business practices and many more businesses will be adding these practices in the future. They might also want to add courses on human cognition that are relevant to their respective workplaces.
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