Mental bandwidth

About a year ago I made an effort to read a book about the operations of the mind and the relationship between the human brain and the concept of mind. I wasn't able to force myself to finish the book, however, because the questions the book sought to answer struck me as patently ridiculous. One of the many reasons that I am not a philosopher is that I find debates over things like the mind-body problem ultimately unimportant, and most explorations of them self-indulgent and baseless.

I greatly prefer a more practical approach to thinking about the mind: I don't really want to contemplate how it works as long as it does. But there is one (in my opinion) common-sensical concept that I do use extensively: that of 'mental bandwidth,' generally in the context that I don't have enough of it available for something.

Essentially, I find that the amount of things I can keep in my mind or consider has a finite limit, and so the things I contemplate on a regular basis are limited to the few things that I prioritize as the most important. The limit obviously decreases significantly when I am overloaded with work or other things (as I often am back home)—things like getting my assigned tasks at work accomplished, or finishing projects for school. But the mental bandwidth does not strictly vary with my free time, as some things might use up a lot of mental bandwidth while using up trivial amounts of physical time.

Since I've been here in Almaty I've discovered that without the stresses of daily life in Atlanta, I suddenly feel like I have significantly more of this bandwidth available. This leaves me free to contemplate the things that previously were too low on the priority list, like changing bad habits, or indeed relationships.

Relationships, in fact, are perhaps the best example of this mental bandwidth concept, as they require a lot of bandwidth to be viable. Whenever I even considered relationships back in Atlanta my general feeling was one of stress, guilt and frustration brought on by the fact that I knew I wasn't able to put enough of myself into anything. Here, I've unexpectedly found myself with what I might consider a much… healthier range of emotions towards the idea. Ironic, considering getting into a relationship during a six-month stint in Kazakhstan probably makes very little sense. But hey—que sera, sera.

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