Contest winner – Understand your brain with mind mapping

Congratulations to Ken Shapiro, the winner of our recent mind mapping contest. He is the recipient of the prize $250 Amazon gift card.

We received many great entries for this contest, but we were especially inspired by Ken’s map, which truly shows the creative value of mind mapping. Ken has faced (and is still facing) some serious challenges. In his own words:

“I am a relatively young man of 42 who — after having brain surgery to remove a large cerebral aneurysm approximately 20 months ago — suffered a stroke which has left me with extremely limited use of my left arm and hand, as well as the need to walk with a cane. Fortunately, I have retained cognitive function but do find my thoughts scattered and at times difficult to express clearly.”

Mapping the human mind

Our minds are so complicated; constantly awash in new thoughts and sensations from moment tomoment; able to shift from frustration to joy in a matter of milliseconds. We ourselves are completely baffled by their workings of our own brains. We have trouble breaking habits, making decisions, or pulling ourselves out of a bad mood.

Ken’s map is extraordinary because it conveys in a single image the complexity of the human mind. Joy and gratitude are present side by side with anger and anxiety. Distinct thoughts feed into one another in a network. Powerful abstract emotions are connected with the actions of day-to-day life.

Hope and Anxiety

Ken’s aspirations are listed under the topic “Hope.” Certainly our goals and aspirations depend on our hope for the future, and they provide us with hope during times of difficulty. However, Ken has also drawn an arrow connecting “Aspirations” with “Anxiety.”

Aspirations and anxiety? At first, I didn’t understand this connection. But as I thought about it, I realized Ken’s connection contained a perceptive insight into my own mind. It’s true that my aspirations have caused anxiety for me before: sometimes they seem overwhelming or impossibly challenging. Other times I forget my reasons for pursuing them, or wonder if I am wasting my time.

Of course, just because my aspirations can be intimidating at times doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable and worth pursuing with vigor. It’s part of the human experience to have a mix of emotions that may even appear contradictory at times around a particular subject of importance.  Ken’s map helped me to see that.

Mind mapping and self-knowledge

With a single arrow, Ken’s map communicates a deep insight into human experience. His map contains many other insightful connections as well.

Our thoughts are often connected to one another in ways that are difficult to see until we make the effort to step back and look carefully at our habits and histories. As Ken’s map shows, mind mapping can be a valuable tool for this process. Perhaps by mapping our thoughts in this way, we can learn much about ourselves and make better decisions.

That’s part of why mind mapping is so exciting. We can turn the power of mind mapping to any topic, and it helps us make new associations. We form connections between concepts we had never considered before. When we let creativity take control and no longer hinder our thought process with structures and expectations, we can find new solutions and ideas.

Learn more about Ken’s story at his blog,

Enter Round 2 of the contest!

MindMaple is sponsoring a second mind mapping contest. To enter, make a mind map of your favorite book you’ve read recently, and send it to by September 1. Learn more about the contest at the MindMaple website.


One comment on “Contest winner – Understand your brain with mind mapping

  1. Ken Shapiro says:

    Of course, I appreciate your rewarding my entry in the contest, but I especially appreciate the time and consideration you took in truly reviewing my mindmap so thoughtfully.

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