Neuroscience Positive Psychology Wellness

Our brains are prediction machines – introduction to the Monday Morning Practice August 31, 2015

Written by Allison Wolf

Your brain is like a prediction machine. Jeff Hawkins, founder of the Redwood Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience, explains: “your brain receives patterns from the outside world, stores them as memories and makes predictions by combining what it has seen before and what is happening now.” He goes on to say that “prediction is not just one of the things your brain does. It is the primary function of the neo-cortex, the foundation of intelligence.” (On Intelligence)

In practical terms what this means is that you don’t simply hear what someone is saying, you also predict what he or she will say next. You also predict what you are seeing moment to moment. My artist friend John McDonald is aware of this and plays with this concept in his pieces – exploring how many brushstrokes does he need to place on a canvas in order for the viewers eye to see a face or a landscape? The answer is – not many.

This also means that what you expect is most often what you get with positive or negative repercussions: The paranoid boss who believes that all the staff members and management are against him will create an atmosphere of distrust and fear that brings about the very negative outcomes he fears.

Researchers in the field of Positive Psychology have developed many valuable practices that work with the brain’s primary “connections” focus and “neuroplasticity” to create simple exercises each of us can carry out to increase our overall sense of happiness.

This Monday morning I am offering you a very simple practice to try for a week that acts to focus your brain on positive experiences and as a result creates a positive shift in experience in just a week.

I started this morning with a sense of tension and anxiety over the volume of deliverables this week so I will be using this practice this week to get myself back on a positive track.

Do join me in giving it a try and let me know what you discover.

Wishing you a happy Monday and positive start to the week!

About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and one of the most senior coaches for lawyers in North America. I have helped countless clients over the past fifteen years, develop thriving legal practices and before that served as director of marketing for award-winning law firms. My specialty is uncovering the thinking traps and gaps holding clients back and helping them acquire the mindsets, skills, and habits for growing successful and rewarding legal careers. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and now coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at or learn more about my coaching practice from the coaching section of the Attorney With A Life Website.

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