“True or false: you use about 10 percent of your brain.”
“Despite the prevalence of this belief, it’s false. We don’t use 100 percent of our brain at one time, but we do use all of it, which takes a lot of energy.
Dr. Marcus Raichle, a professor of medicine, says in a Time magazine article, “As an energy-consumer, the brain is the most expensive organ we carry around with us.” Our minds use approximately 20 percent of our energy, the most of any part of our body. Today you’ll burn around 320 calories by thinking.
The more challenging a task, the more energy our brains use. It makes sense that introverts, whose minds are more active, experience a greater brain-related energy drain. In our culture, we can view thinking, analyzing, and daydreaming as “doing nothing.” But this excerpt from Time magazine has a different perspective:
“You spent Sunday on the couch, skimming your social feeds and watching HGTV. Monday at work was a different story; your job involves creative problem solving and other difficult mental activities. Does the extra brainpower you use at work burn more energy than your Sunday spent watching Fixer Upper reruns?
‘The basic answer is yes,’ says Ewan McNay, an associate professor of psychology and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Albany. . . . ‘You will in fact burn more energy during an intense cognitive task than you would vegging out.'”
While McNay clarifies the difference in energy burn is small (sorry, thinking hard isn’t a diet plan), it’s enough for researchers to observe.
Another example: chess grandmasters. Mikhail Antipov, a twenty-one-year-old Russian grandmaster, burned 560 calories playing chess for two hours. Stanford University stress researcher Robert Sapolsky found chess players burn up to six thousand calories a day, have stress responses similar to those of elite athletes, and “sustain blood pressure for hours in the range found in competitive marathon runners.”
Before you toss your tennis shoes, consider that chess grandmasters now consider physical fitness essential to their success, even visiting Olympic training centers for guidance on how to optimize their bodies to support their active minds.
When Introverts spend time processing, creating, or thinking, and then get frustrated with ourselves. “Why am I tired?” we ask. “I haven’t done anything.” But that’s as untrue as the idea that we use only 10 percent of our brains.
Thinking is a legitimate activity, especially for introverts. It uses energy just as a social event, playing a game of basketball, or making a call to a prospective client would. We need to expand our perspective of what “busy” means to include our bodies and our amazing, active introvert brains.” ~Holly Gerth, The Powerful Purpose of Introverts
Today’s post is an excerpt from Holley Gerth’s book, The Powerful Purpose of Introverts: Why the World Needs You to Be You, chapter 11, “Intentional Energy.” Be sure to take Holley’s free One-Minute “What % Introvert Are You?” Quiz. I took it and much to my surprise, I scored 93%!