“How to understand your mind?”

“How does the human mind work?”

Philosophers and thinkers have tried to answer questions such as these for centuries now.

To understand how the human mind works, it is essential to understand what the human mind is. Is not a palpable thing like the human heart or lungs.

It is a dynamic outcome of special nerve cell activity, thereby producing ideas, thoughts, wishes, desires, intentions, emotions and feelings, critical thinking and reasoning.

The mind stores all the memories, important phone numbers and ATM pins, along with the names of one’s distant relatives and childhood pets.

The conscious mind is used in decision-making, problem-solving, active thinking, inductive and deductive reasoning, learning, and carrying out complex tasks, among others.

The unconscious part of the mind refers to all the automated functions of the neurons which collect and store a huge amount of data that is not accessible to us consciously. However, this unconscious mind determines what motivates us, inspires us and makes every individual unique and different from the other.

To understand how the mind works, let’s look at some of its fundamental processes:

  • Attention-

The world has many sounds, sights, colors and smells. Without the ability of the mind to pay selective attention to one, human beings would be overwhelmed by all the stimuli around them.

For instance, let’s consider two people, Raj and Simran, walking down the road while talking to each other.

They’re surrounded by several distractions such as the sound of cars, voices of other people passing by, the colors of the shops around and huge billboards. Thanks to the ability of their minds to pay attention to selected stimuli while pushing the rest to the background, they continue to have a fulfilling and engaging conversation. An interesting way how our mind works is by choosing among the host of billion stimuli every minute and focusing on one.

  • Sensation & Perception –

The five sensory receptor organs help us gather a huge amount of information from the outside world, helping us see, hear, taste, smell and touch. Sensation is input about the physical world obtained by our sensory receptors and perception is the process by which the brain selects and organizes these sensations. is the deductive work that our mind does to give a name and meaning to that sensation.

For instance, when the skin, our source of tactile sensation, comes into contact with cold steel, it sends the sensation to our brain. Our mind then interprets from the nature of the sensation, and that it was ‘cold’ and a ‘metal’.

  • Thinking-

The thought is probably the most popular output of the mind. Let’s see how the mind works. A newborn cannot produce well-defined thoughts like a teenager or an adult. All newborn babies do is react to sensory stimuli around them, while unconsciously gathering all the information from their interaction with the outside world as well as their internal sensations. Slowly, when they have enough information, their minds start producing thoughts that get more and more defined as they grow up.

  • Memory 

This primary process of the mind is the gathering and storing of information. This information then forms different types of memories. Procedural memory, for instance, is responsible for storing all the information on carrying out motor tasks, such as swimming, cycling or writing. Similarly, the human mind is also able to learn and memorize complex mathematical equations and remember the names of relatives, roads, and faces, among other things.

  • Learning-

Using the above processes, human minds can “learn”. Learning is the process of acquiring information, knowledge and skills. The mind works by learning everything from simple tasks to extremely complex skills. It does this by gathering information, integrating it, using insight, attempting trial and error, and observing other people.

  • Emotions-

Emotions are mostly contained within the unconscious processes of the mind. They are basic neurochemical information that makes us feel happiness or joy, sadness or remorse, fear, anger and disgust. Emotions tell us whether we should approach an external stimulus, engage with it or avoid it. Emotions are covert, which means they are internal.


Harappa Education offers a course called Reasoning Logically that helps you understand how the mind works,. Sign up to learn about the Importance vs Emotion framework, a tool that helps an individual deal with situations with different levels of importance and emotions.

Explore topics such as the Meaning of HeuristicWhat is Logical Reasoning & Systems of Thinking from our Harappa Diaries blog section and hone strategically thinking skills in business.

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