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Feb 21, 2024

"Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart ... live the questions now." --Rainer Maria Rilke

Why Uncertainty Can Lead to Childlike Wonder

Uncertainty is often viewed with uneasiness, yet our capacity to hold this quality can actually lead to remarkable strength and possibility. Neuroscience notes that when you "meet up with something new, you're flooded with neural changes in the brain related to neurotransmitters and stress hormones," explains journalist Maggie Jackson, who's authored an entire book on the topic. "These are stress-induced changes, as you can imagine. And so that's where the unease comes from. But at the same time, the brain is actually being readied to update its knowledge of the world. And in a nutshell, it's good stress. And so by cutting short that moment, we are actually squandering or missing, cutting short opportunities to learn, to grow, to broaden our cognitive horizons. ... So, when you can have uncertainty woven into your life, that means you're really ... relinquishing a little bit of control of your life. And you're also at the edge of what you know. And that's exactly where the human being thrives. That's where learning occurs." Jackson dialogues with Thomas Burnett on her personal experiences and state-of-the-world insights to unlock the wonder and power of uncertainty. From her own encounters with cancer to the trending practice of "uncertainty tolerance" as an antidote to mental illnesses like PTSD, the potential of uncertainty in artificial intelligence, and training "adaptive experts" like surgeons who operate well when things go wrong, Jackson unveils how uncertainty can be a tremendous tool for being full alive.

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