Brooks’ core argument is that the vast majority of us have very little understanding of why we make the choices we do, and that we’re influenced instead by peer pressure; impulsive and reactive emotions; a deep and bottomless need for admiration and status; overconfidence in the present; excessive worry about the future; the evolutionary instinct to avoid pain and move towards pleasure; and precious little capacity to delay gratification.
“The unconscious parts of the mind are most of the mind,” Brooks writes. “[They have] a processing capacity 200,000 times greater than the conscious mind.” Tragically, this interior domain remains largely terra incognita, a vast unexplored territory full of resources and potentials we haven’t begun to tame or to tap.
Instead of drawing on our rational faculties to more deeply understand our interior impulses and motivations, we too often use our prefrontal cortex to rationalize, justify, minimize and explain away the unconsciously driven actions we’ve already taken. “A man hears what he wants to hear,” Paul Simon sings in The Boxer, “and disregards the rest.”
Merely claiming that unconsciousness rules does not do the trick, my book will explain why: accumulated choices sunk from the past will shape up that unconsciousness in us to make things easier. Not awaring of that makes many scholars over-reason, a phenomenon we see everyday!