Tips on How To Use One of Your Brain’s Biggest Qualities for Your Benefit

Did you know that we are pattern-seeking machines? It’s actually one of the functions of our brain that we use the most and we don’t even realise it.

In today’s fast-changing environment the ability to make quick subconscious connections based on previous experiences is very useful.

Here we will explain what pattern-seeking actually means in regards to our thought process and how we can use it to our advantage.

What Is Pattern Recognition?

Let’s start from the beginning – the term apophenia. The word itself means the search for connections of seemingly unrelated subjects. This ranges from finding faces in different items to having lucky numbers in a game of roulette.

Definition of Apophenia: the tendency to perceive a connection or meaningful pattern between unrelated or random things (such as objects or ideas).

However, to look at it another way, a different example can be how our brains process information regarding complicated situations based on past experiences. Think of the way master chess players develop strategies.

This is the type of superior pattern processing (SPP) a lot of scientists argue has made our species so advanced. We most likely owe our ability to understand language, have such vivid imagination, and think of inventions, to superior pattern processing.

Without getting too technical, the most basic explanation is that the way our neurons are connected and how those connections are made and strengthened through time is what’s behind our complex way of thinking.

This is the foundation of all research connected to pattern-seeking in our brains. Interestingly, this process is important, so learning how to better it in our daily lives must have a big impact.

How To Use Pattern Seeking To Our Advantage?

Well, we already subconsciously do. With each recurring action, we take we teach our brain how the action itself is connected to the effect.

Therefore the more we reinforce our actions with explanations, the better our brain will find the motivation to do them again.

What psychologists call apophenia—the human tendency to see connections and patterns that are not really there—gives rise to conspiracy theories.
— George Johnson

● Pattern Seeking And Happiness

For instance, each time something makes you happy – big or small – pause and explain to yourself how you got here.

For example, if you pay a compliment to a stranger and see them smile, remind yourself that you enjoy seeing other people’s happiness. This will help you connect your own happiness to that of others.

By doing this, you make an assured connection. Consequently, due to pattern-seeking, you’ll end up doing such acts of kindness more often and finding more enjoyment in them.

A different idea is each time you tell a memory, remind yourself of how and why surrounding memories made you feel happy. For example, if you’re telling a sad memory, try to remind yourself about a time or a place close to the event that was positive to you in some way. This is a way of actively teaching your brain that all bad comes with good. This creates a more positive outlook on life in general.

These actions might seem small and they take some time to work. But once your brain has internalised them and made them into habits, it gets much easier.

You’ve probably heard of Donald Hebb’s saying “neurons that fire together, wire together”. Your neurons are designed to seek connection. By actively seeking a positive idea each time, a better, more positive way of thinking will be reinforced.

● Pattern Seeking And Learning

The other big reason why pattern-seeking is useful is that it’s the easiest way to learn.

Using something our brains do effortlessly to remember new information is a smart technique. Incorporate this method into your studying. You can do this simply, if you have a given rule, try to gather the evidence supporting it yourself.

Think of it like figuring out yourself the Pythagorean theorem by mapping it all out. That way you remember the pattern itself and not just the numbers.

And this doesn’t work just for maths! Anything you learn from your own experience, finding it and proving it more than once in your active life (searching for a pattern to add to the list of proof) is much easier to remember. This is because it’s a much more vivid story that your brain can archive.

A different technique is to make connections between your own field of study and something which you already know. For instance, explaining the way black holes work with a ball and a piece of fabric.

Technically patterns are everywhere. So explaining them with something not as abstract and finding out why they are similar helps you learn the more complex and not tangible theories. Pattern seeking is a natural benefit we have. Using it to expand your knowledge is extremely easy once you know its benefits.


Pattern recognition has been embedded in our brains as a way of survival ever since we started evolving as a separate species.

This means that looking at the present, we have had enough time to perfect it as a process and to build on top of it.

The more we use patterns to better our learning. By asking more questions, we improve our outlook on life, and the easier it gets.

So with that in mind, give our ideas a try and see how far you can go!

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