Everyone can name books they return to time and time again because they provide inspiration, solace and pleasure. One of mine is “Iconoclast: a neuroscientist reveals how to think differently”, by Dr Gregory Berns, Distinguished Professor of Neuroeconomics at Emory University. My bedraggled copy is dog-eared, under-lined and filled with marginalia, testimony to the timelessness of Berns’ ideas.
Iconoclasts perceive the world differently, and fuel this capacity by placing themselves in situations where their opinions and knowledge are constantly challenged – by reading widely, travelling, engaging in conversations with a variety of people. Berns encourages us to “bombard the brain with new experiences” in order to “jolt it out of preconceived notions”.
Berns, who first published his book in 2008, might be called a “disrupter” today. As he writes, being uncomfortable is a sign of growth: “If you imagine something less common, perhaps something that you have never actually seen, the possibilities of creative thinking become much greater because the brain can no longer rely on connections that have already been shaped by past experience.”