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Keith Tse


  • Writer's pictureKeith Tse

Mental stimuli

I am fidgety. I have mentioned before that I prefer driving manual cars to automatic ones, since I like the sensation of playing around with the gearbox. This habit of mine applies to when I am working too, since I also like to move around and play with different gadgets while reading/writing. One recent hobby of mine is to change and click my (electronic) mouse. Technology is developing at such a spectacular rate that every year some new device comes out and completely dominates our lives. When I was a kid, there was only one type of mouse, namely the Intel Microsoft whitish-creamy model which always came with the desktop. Nowadays, there are loads of models around, some of which are even wireless and can connect to your computer from another room (!). I like technological developments, since, ethical issues aside, they truly are marvellous inventions which greatly enhance the quality and speed of our daily lives, and I have recently begun collecting different mice for my computer. I still use the wired USB mouse which I bought cheaply a few years ago, but in addition I have also acquired several wireless gaming mice which are really quite fun to play with, since I love the sensation of clicking and scrolling on them, both the sound and the touch. Different-sized mice seem to have a different feel, and I quite like big and hard (plastic) ones which click heavily rather than silently, since they give my fingers a better feel. This is merely and simply pure pleasure, and of an extremely trivial kind too. One thing I have noticed, however, is that this little hack of mine actually removes quite a lot of boredom from my cognitive system and enables me to work longer. We must all have experienced states of mental saturation where after a prolonged and sustained period of intense mental activity we feel that we just cannot go on anymore. Fatigue is the main factor, as our brain is a muscle which does get tired like any other muscle in our body, but boredom is also an important contributing factor to our mental fatigue, since by staring at our work for too long we do tend to lose interest in it and have to do something else to reinvigorate ourselves. By clicking my mouse, however, I discover that I can engage with my work for a significantly longer period of time, since just when I am about to enter the mental state of a zombie, changing mouse and clicking/scrolling on a new one keep my mind fresh and my brain alive. It is remarkable how a small and trivial act of self-pleasure can have such a big effect on one’s mind. I have been taught since childhood to eradicate any unnecessary and useless habits, and if my old teachers at primary school ever saw me click repeatedly on my mouse again, they would probably tell me off like in the old days. I was always a ‘good’ boy at school and never deviated from my teachers’ instructions, but on this occasion I believe that I am justified to be a ‘bad’ boy for once and refuse to comply, since while I agree that clicking and changing mouse is a totally useless act, its cognitive benefits are quite significant as they help me sustain my focus for a much longer period of time. Career coaches often teach that while self-discipline and motivation are essential for success and achievement, it is also important to reward oneself once and a while and keep one’s mood high, since the positive vibes that come with it can actually be a motivational force and bring one to greater heights. As Siddhartha Gautama, the Great Buddha, once famously preached, the path to enlightenment lies in the middle optimum between total austerity and extreme indulgence, neither of which in isolation and extremity can lead one to salvation. I have to agree with him here (as I do in just about everything else, as seen in my love for JinYong’s ‘Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils’).

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