our brain is a compression algorithm

Human brains are the most expensive organs in terms of energy consumption. As a self-preservation tactic, we try to save energy where we can. Therefore, being lazy could be considered smart.

Compression algorithms, the technology that makes files smaller, work similarly. There are many different ways of going about this. Still, fundamentally, many compression algorithms share the same approach at their cores. Look for similarities and omit excess information. For example, you take a photo of a loved one on a clear sunny day. The blue sky’s pixels could be rendered individually, or, in an attempt to reduce file size, the pixels could be clustered. Meaning, as long as the next pixel is similar to the previous one, we can group them.

Even cats go about their day applying compression algorithms. Our domesticated feline friends have excellent spatial awareness. When you put a cucumber, or any object for that matter, behind them when they can’t see, they lose their minds upon noticing. Why? They scanned the environment when they entered the room. The new information being introduced unknowingly is rather shocking for them.

People do the same thing. Cities can be tumultuous. If we have to pay attention to every single detail, our energy would be absolutely drained before we arrive at work. Riding a bicycle in a city, for instance, requires paying attention to cars, traffic lights, pedestrians, and so on. That’s plenty of information as is. Our brains will filter out the smell of the bakery, the sound of the birds, among many other distractions, in an attempt to save energy.

Have you ever turned down the music to better park your car? I sure have. That’s a semi-conscious action. Our brains continuously apply many compression tactics without us being aware. Depending on your energy level, we can try to bypass the compression or deliberately pay attention to things we’d usually miss. Children can notice pretty much everything, but as we grow older, we somehow lose the ability.

Suppose we want fresh perspectives and really be present in the moment. In that case, it’s interesting to be aware of our compression algorithm and turn it (all the way) down when we can and want to.

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