While in Hawaii this past week I read a fascinating book titled Blink. It was in hard cover, and expensive, but it grabbed me in the prologue and kept my attention the entire time and I talked about it with friends on the beach, and to others by the pool, and ended up leaving my copy behind so my boyfriend could read it next.

Blink looks at thin-slicing life, those two seconds where we dissect a situation, whether by instinct, knowledge, or a combination of the two and those two seconds–especially if instinct is honed by education–we know nearly everything we need to know. In those first seconds. In the blink of an eye.

I loved the book because it drew on mountains of research and psychological analysis. It took examples from sport, marriage counseling, military, anthropological studies and demonstrated what a profound instrument the mind is. How we compute wildly diverse bits of information in milliseconds and how this process is good, and how–if we’re ignorant–it’s dangerous.

Another favorite lesson learned was the reminder that whatever we put in our heads, eventually comes out, and if put put in negative thoughts, we’ll create negative situations. Even if we don’t want to. But the brain processes what it gets, and the face–the face!–doesn’t just reveal what we feel on the inside, but the actual expressions of the face, imprint on our minds and create the emotions and thoughts from the outside in. In short, if we even look sad, we will feel sad, because the muscles are hardwired all the way through and the tugging down of the lips, and the pinch of the brows creates stress and the release of cortisol and increases the heart rate. Thus, ‘put on a happy face’ might be more important than we ever knew.

I like books like Blink. I like the research and the layering of fields of study. I like to apply the lessons to my life, as well as to the process of writing. As I read, I’d put the book down repeatedly and see how the information could aid the creative life. Or just life in general. Because it’s not enough to just get through life. We shouldn’t let life shape us. We should shape life. We should reduce the negatives, increase the positives, and live more. Live big. Live fully.

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