Your Besotted Brain: A Neuroscience Love Song

Love is complicated, scientifically speaking. There’s no single, specific “love chemical” that surges through our bodies when we see our beloved, and we can’t point to a specific corner of the brain where love resides.

Still, scientists have measured real changes in our bodies when we fall in love: an ebb and flow of signaling molecules. In that early lustful phase, sex hormones like testosterone fuel the libido (in both men and women). The dopamine highs of new attraction have been compared by some scientists to the effects of cocaine use.

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#BobHawke at SOT launch in Canberra, 1988 …

Prime Minister Bob Hawke at SOT launch in Canberra, 1988, with SOT Principal Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson

On 30 May 1988 in Canberra the School of Thinking was officially launched in Australia by Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson in the presence of the then Governor General of Australia, His Excellency Sir Ninian Stephan AK GCMB GCVO KBE, at the Bi-Centennial Convention of 600 of Australia’s commonwealth, state and municipal statespeople.

After his foundation address, in which Dr Hewitt-Gleeson challenged that “thinking” as a school subject should be put on the curriculum for every school in Australia, Sir Ninian stood and said to Dr Hewitt-Gleeson, “You have just given the best keynote address I have ever heard!”

Sir Ninian was then presented with a Clever Brainusers Software Kit by Dr Hewitt-Gleeson.

Next to speak was the Prime Minister of Australia at the time and Rhodes scholar, The Honourable Robert J Hawke AC, GCL who commended Dr Hewitt-Gleeson for this initiative and agreeing,

No longer content to be just the lucky country, Australia must now become the clever country!

Prime Minister Hawke was then presented with a School of Thinking certificate by Dr Hewitt-Gleeson proclaiming him to be “Australia’s Number One Clever Brainuser” and to symbolise the vast potential of the power of Australia’s 16 million brains.

The historic event was reported in Australia’s largest circulation newspaper, The Sun – (Melbourne, Australia, Fri May 27, 1988): “The education for 600 of Australia’s notable statesmen will begin on Monday (30 May 1988) when Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson delivers the keynote address at the Bicentennial National Congress in Canberra.”

“The Clever Country” mission of the School of Thinking has been to get thinking taught on the Australian school curriculum as a core subject. “If Dr Hewitt-Gleeson has his way, Australian schoolchildren will, by 1992, have the study (of thinking) as much a part of their curriculum as the traditional subjects of maths and English,” recorded Australian author, Peter Fitzimons, in the Sydney Morning Herald (Wednesday September 5, 1990).

In his book, Clever (1993), Dr Hewitt-Gleeson wrote,

If we are to become a clever country and ensure our economic future and our stability as a nation, we may have to focus more on the productivity and potential of Australians as individual thinkers. As a national service, to provide training in thinking to every Australian would be less than the cost of one army tank!

The motto of the School of Thinking is

Nemo Nascitur Sapiens Artifex

“No-one is ever born a skilled thinker”

Mastering One Thing at a Time …

From the article originally published on


Research has shown that you are 2x to 3x more likely to stick with your habits if you make a specific plan for when, where, and how you will perform the behavior.

Psychologists call these specific plans “implementation intentions” because they state when, where, and how you intend to implement a particular behavior.

However research has also discovered implementation intentions only work when you focus on one goal at a time.

In fact, researchers found that people who tried to accomplish multiple goals were less committed and less likely to succeed than those who focused on a single goal.

This is important: developing a specific plan for when, where, and how you will stick to a new habit will dramatically increase the odds that you will actually follow through, but only if you focus on a single goal.

What Happens When You Focus on One Thing

Here is another science-based reason to focus on one habit at a time:

When you begin practicing a new habit it requires a lot of conscious effort to remember to do it. After awhile, however, the pattern of behavior becomes easier. Eventually, your new habit becomes a normal routine and the process is more or less mindless and automatic.

Researchers have a fancy term for this process called “automaticity.” Automaticity is the ability to perform a behavior without thinking about each step, which allows the pattern to become automatic and habitual.

But here’s the thing:

automaticity only occurs as the result of lots of repetition and practice. The more reps you put in, the more automatic a behavior becomes.

For example, this chart shows how long it takes for people to make a habit out of taking a 10-minute walk after breakfast.

In the beginning, the degree of automaticity is very low. After 30 days, the habit is becoming fairly routine. After 60 days, the process is about as automatic as it can become.

The most important thing to note is that there is some “tipping point” at which new habits become more or less automatic.

That said, the study cited above found the average habit takes about 66 days to become automatic. (Don’t put too much stock in that number. The range in the study was very wide and the only reasonable conclusion you should make is that it will take months for new habits to become sticky.)

Change Your Life Without Changing Your Entire Life

  1. You are 2x to 3x more likely to follow through with a habit if you make a specific plan for when, where, and how you are going to implement it.

  2. You should focus entirely on one habit. Research has found that implementation intentions do not work if you try to improve multiple habits at the same time.

  3. Research has shown that any given habit becomes more automatic with more practice. On average, it takes at least two months for new habits to become automatic behaviors.

This brings us to the punchline of this article…

The counterintuitive insight from all of this research is that the best way to change your entire life is by not changing your entire life. Instead, it is best to focus on one specific habit, work on it until you master it, and make it an automatic part of your daily life. Then, repeat the process for the next habit.

The way to master more things in the long-run is to simply focus on one thing right now.


In the School of Thinking, the number one habit

to attain mastery of lateral thinking is the DFQ.

SOT #1 Habit …











SOT Pedagogy: The Clever Army

When I was twenty I won, in a raffle, a million dollar personal growth program from the Commonwealth of Australia. During a national crisis (known as “The Domino Theory”) the Commonwealth of Australia drafted the cream of its male gene pool, its 20-year-olds, into army national service.

At that time, the elected government of the day had decided that this particular cohort of young Australian boys were quite old enough to fight and die in an American war however they were not yet old enough to vote in an Australian election. We felt that was a deeply unfair policy and ominously un-Australian! That was before Vietnam. After Vietnam the worst was yet to come.

Anyway, it was decided to hold a lottery and 366 marbles were put in a barrel–one for every possible birthdate of 20 year-old males. My birthdate was one of those selected and that’s how I won a two-year stint, called National Service, in the Australian Army.

Subsequently, after a comprehensive battery of tests and evaluations, I was further selected to be a member of the elite Battalion of Officer Cadets (BOC). This leadership training program was not for everyone. It was only for the top 1% and was conducted by selected Australian Defence Force directing staff at a little known place called Scheyville, OTU.

1967 201a Entrance

The uniqueness of the Australian Defence Forces has been internationally recognised as world’s best practises for over a hundred years and its services have been in constant demand by the UK, the UN and the USA ever since.

For my part, the Officer Training Unit at Scheyville near Windsor, NSW was a life-changing experience as it was for those 20 year-old boys who were selected (unfortunately there were no girls called up for national service during the Viet Nam crisis which never attained the status of a declared war).

As BOC members, we became immersed in a rigorous training schedule, for 154 days and nights, where we were not only given the top level intellectual property (IP) of military science but also highly useful skills for life. This unique regimen has historically become known as The Scheyville Experience.

Although I had been in military cadets at school, it had never occurred to me before Scheyville how clever the army was, especially with its training strategy. It was only there that the army revealed its brilliant secret. Algorithms!

Its training strategy did NOT rely on exhortations as I had previously thought. Do this. Do that. Win, don’t lose. Kill the enemy. Defend the flag. etc. (By contrast, we see the exhortation approach mostly used in business, finance and marketing). No, to my surprise and personal benefit, the army used algorithms. Clever well-tested algorithms and lots of practise, repetition and rehearsal. (We also see this algorithm strategy used mostly in sport and in the performing arts).

The army could select, randomly, boys from a lottery and then prepare them for battle (the ultimate bottom line) because it’s training was all done by the use of clever algorithms. This was an amazing insight to me and I have developed the insight and used it ever since in the design of all SOT training. We teach thinking skills and selling skills by using clever algorithms.

At Scheyville, we also received algorithms for instructional techniques, strategic thinking and advanced perceptual skills, leadership strategies, confidence and survival skills, social etiquette, and the ’13 officer qualities’ including tact (which I failed).

Scheyville was closed down after Viet Nam but its leadership algorithms still survive in the habits and experiences of over 1800 men around Australia and the world who were members of the Battalion. It was a very intensive program and also a very clever one and an unusually high percentage of these officer cadets were later to become leaders in Australian business, military and government sectors.

Marcus Blackmore claims to have used these skills to take his father’s small health laboratory and turn it into a billion dollar national Australian brand. Tim Fischer tells anyone who will listen about Scheyville and how he used his training to reach the level of Deputy Prime Minister of Australia. Jeff Kennett acknowledges the role that the Scheyville Experience played in preparing him for becoming Head of Government of Victoria.

In my case, it allowed me to study the army’s most effective training algorithms which I later distilled, packaged and transferred to both the School of Thinking projects and to my private consulting practice in training selected clients for the mastery of lateral thinking skills and WOMBAT innovation.

Pics: Pics of self before, during and after a gruelling OTU 8-day field exercise.
Pics: Pics of self before, during and after a gruelling OTU 8-day field exercise.

The Five Day Course in Science Thinking

There are different kinds of thinking. For example …

Q How does Legal Thinking differ from Science Thinking?

Both science and law use metacognition. Science Thinking is ten times faster than Legal Thinking. Science Thinking uses metacognition to bring forward a much better future. Legal Thinking uses metacognition to rake over the past.

Because the view from inside the box is quite different to the view from outside the box is why there is such a world of difference between Legal Thinking and Science Thinking.

Legal Thinking is about judgment and is the Right/Wrong system. It was developed by the Vatican (based on the ideas of Plato, Aristotle and Aquinas) and then spread around the world in the last 500 years by missionaries. Even today in Australia and the US we still teach young children to “get the right answer and don’t make any mistakes!”

Science Thinking is about experiment and is the What if or Just suppose system (based on the ideas of Bacon, Galileo and Darwin) and was spread around the world in the last 300 years by university journals, independent publishing houses and the media.

Sometimes these two types of thinking are called Black Hat Thinking and Green Hat Thinking and, although there has sometimes been a conflict between these two types of thinking, we really need to be skilled in both if we are to be effective thinkers who can design a safe and productive future.

We need Science Thinking to be able to take broad leaps and escape from current ideas with What if/Just suppose experiments in order to discover new ideas; and we also need Legal Thinking to perfect the new ideas and remove their faults and extract their value with Right/Wrong judgment.

The full code of the School of Thinking brain software is – SDNT cvs2bvs QRH PRR – and the first part – SDNT – is how we teach Science Thinking.

SDNT stands for Start Do Notice Think.

SDNT is a kind of cognitive spiral which is repeated round and round and again and again to help you escape from the box.

First you must escape from inertia and actually start something then you go on and do it (perhaps as an experiment) then you carefully notice what has happened and then you think about it: do I like it or not?

Then you repeat the process … many times …

Start Do Notice Think

Start Do Notice Think

Start Do Notice Think

Start Do Notice Think





etc etc.


How you can continue to experiment with SDNT in your life going forward and post your response here in less that 100 words …