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Brains, Thoughts & Toilets

It’s 5:30 AM. The bedroom is dark, the room unfamiliar, and my wife sleeps soundly. To pee, or not to pee. I fumble my way across the hotel room and hesitate at the light switch – to switch, or not to switch.

Whilst in the dark, even the least civilized amoung my side of the species knows that peeing sitting down is the best option. As I descend towards the throne I hesitate momentarily – Wait, real men don’t pee sitting down!?  But it’s too late – I’m down and no one’s looking.

Peeing Sitting Down – why not??

Real men don’t pee sitting down…  Really? Why not? Who said so? Who taught me this?? When, exactly, in our cultural history were men told that sitting down is wrong, effeminate, for old men, or just not proper??

I can’t actually remember anyone explicitly teaching me this, yet some primal part of my brain continues to tell me to stand up. Logically, peeing sitting down has many advantages – I can relax, not splash on my legs or the floor, and I can check my email while, er, working.

Few people talk about what we get up to when the bathroom door is closed. Perhaps all men are peeing sitting down and just don’t talk about it. Perhaps we lift the seat just to perpetuate this strange myth of always standing. Or perhaps it’s a deep rooted evolutionary survival tactic – fearful of a sabre-toothed tiger leaping on us while we tinkle. As children we sat on potties – perhaps it was a right of passage when we were finally tall enough to move to a standing position. Perhaps we never let go of this magnificent anthropological achievement.

What if no one actually told me I should remain standing? What if I made this up years ago and joined some unspoken, subconscious mental collective? Did this unwritten rule simply osmose in to my head? So many possibilities…

My legs are asleep.

As I stagger back and collapse in to bed, I think “This might make a good blog post”.

Perhaps not, but here it is.

Made Up Mental Rules

If my brain is telling me to stand while peeing, even though I have no memory of such a rule being taught, what other baseless ideas does my brain hold on to?  What else do I do in my day for no reason except that “this is how I always do it.”?

What else does our society do over and over again that has no basis in logic, behavioural teachings, societal rules, or even common sense?

Take a moment to think about your day.

Thinking Without Thinking

Our brains have a unique ability to think without us thinking about it. Left alone, your brain works things out, stores things away, makes things up, separates right from wrong, and processes, processes, processes.

Brains fascinate me because it’s where I spend most of my time. I like my brain and I’m equally fascinated at how many people find that a curious thing to admit.

What do you think about your brain? Do you think about your brain? I hope so.

Same Same, But Different

Did you know that everyone’s brain is folded slightly differently? We all have slightly different shaped skulls and, as a baby, your brain grew to fill the space it was given. So while our brains all theoretically operate from the same principals and materials, it’s impossible to say that all of our brains are identical. Neat, huh?

Your brain is like no one else’s, but it’s capable of all the same things.

“Same same, but different,” as they say here in Asia.


I’m no expert at neurolinguistics, but I believe a brain is a muscle. Like all muscles, it is capable of repairing itself, rebuilding parts of itself, and making itself ‘stronger’. The strength of a bicep is different than the strength of your brain, but both can be exercised, and both will atrophy if not “flexed” from time to time.

Science is now proving that our brains can literally re-write themselves, by themselves, with nothing more than thoughts.

Thoughts create pathways, and pathways create thoughts.


Thinking about Thinking

For whatever reason, I love using my brain – I love to think. I contemplate, analyze, and people-watch. I enjoy figuring things out, I try to never repeat the same thing the same way twice, I’m always trying to improve my way of doing things, and I like to think about thinking. I listen to my thoughts, I use my brain to examine my brain. It’s fun. Why? My brain is my conscious and unconscious self, so the better I know it, the better I know myself.

The better I know myself, the better I can change what I don’t like and proudly play with what I do like.

Until recently I assumed everyone else thought about thinking as well, but a lot of people I’ve talked to don’t do any of this. In fact, many seem to be afraid to examine their own mind. There is a fear that if they take time to examine themselves, their life, their feelings, their thoughts, they may not like what they find.

Ooo, they don’t know what they’re missing.

Like a Republican extremist, our brains continue to tell us the same things over and over again until we simply believe whatever we think.  We simply believe our thoughts without taking the time to question our thoughts.

It is easier to simply obey than to question.  Fox News knows this – they repeat the same war mongering buzzwords and propaganda knowing eventually we will collectively start to believe them. In Canada, our politicians appear to believe them – they are now repeating the same messages of war and fear. Psychologists have been helping the media and the military fine tune this technique for decades.

The survival of our individuality and the goodness of our society relies on each of us questioning our ideas, our ideals and our thoughts.

Taking time to separate useful ideas from habitual ideas helps us grow and learn as people, and as a family.

Identifying the things we do without knowing why we do them help us release bad habits, old ideas, and outgrown thoughts. It forces our brains to flex and grow.

The more we examine our own minds, the more we get to know ourselves.

The more we get to know ourselves, the more confident we can be internally and externally.

The more confident we are, the less we need media, celebrities and psychopath politicians to tell us what to think.

So, why do men get all funny about peeing sitting down when it’s easier to sit down?

I don’t know, but it makes you think.

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