If you didn’t know before COVID-19, you do now. 

And if you don’t know it consciously, your body is feeling it. 

The source of your greatest fear lies at the heart of every one of your brain’s thoughts, emotions and beliefs. It is the basis of our evolution. It underpins every behaviour you have ever done or will ever do in the future. 

Religion is a means by which to resolve it. The stock market reflects it. And the success of any company, brand, marketing campaign and political election is largely determined by it.

So, what is the human brain’s greatest fear? 

It’s the fear of Uncertainty. 

You knew it already. 

It has recently invaded your REM sleep.

You felt it in the increased tension of your dreams.

The combination of COVID-19 and the internet has meant - you hear about uncertainty all the time. 

Everyday billions of people are now focused on this one topic.

For the first time, we - as a global population - are collectively experiencing intense levels of uncertainty simultaneously. 

But uncertainty is not new. 

What is new is the realisation is the depth of its impact on our lives. 

And it has always been thus. 

It shaped the colours we see; 

it shapes who we fall in love with and why; 

and it will shape who becomes America’s next president.

Now that we know this collectively, what is essential is how you respond to ‘not knowing’. 

The functional structure of our brain is ‘plastic’.

We are wired to be re-wired, 

We are adapted to continually re-define normality 

... especially in times of stress.

The choices you make in uncertainty will actually change the cellular structure of your brain.

Which means your choices will not only reveal who you were, they shape who you will become. 

Uncertainty is possibly the most salient opportunity to take agency in shaping your own brain’s future structure.

Here, at the Lab of Misfits, we’ve been studying uncertainty and how the brain adapts to it at the computational, the cellular and the perceptual levels for a long time. Throughout this time of COVID-19, we will be sharing our past insights, as well as our future discoveries and ideas.

We will explore why we fear it.

What it does to our bodies and brains. 

And how we can even thrive because of it … in time. 

It is by engaging with uncertainty (and not avoiding it) with proactivity, humility and with the desire to understand that literally increases the complexity of your brain. 

And a more complex brain is a more adaptable brain. 

In nature the more adaptable you are (whether a person, culture, species, ecology, business or government), the more resilient you will become. 


Written by: Beau Lotto.


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