The LA Times recently completed an interesting four-part series on how learning and memory work. And the New York Times wrote about the importance of physical exercise for neurogenesis (the creation of new brain cells). Did you even know it was possible to do something that would help your body create new brain cells?
A few years ago, I got hooked on reading about how our brain works, when I stumbled upon a fascinating book called Brain Rules, written by John Medina, a molecular biologist. In the book, Medina writes about things we can do to improve our thinking skills through improved cognition. That book started me on a quest to discover as much as I could about the brain and how it works.
Did you know there are lots of things you can do to improve the effectiveness of your brain? If your brain is working better, you’ll make better decisions. And better decisions lead to a more successful business. In other words, a brain that works better can help you make more money! The whole concept intrigued me, so I now read everything I can find on how to improve and strengthen my brain. (Trust me. I need all the help I can get — just ask my kids!)
Here’s a short list of things I’ve discovered — from a wide variety of sources — that you can use to have a better brain.
- Learn to appreciate the beauty of your brain. It’s a dense forest comprised of billions of neurons and synapses that are constantly developing in order to help you survive (and thrive) in your daily life.
- Eating good stuff is smart. Did you know your brain only weighs 2% of your body weight, but it consumes over 20% of the oxygen and nutrients you intake? Good nutrition will make you a better thinker.
- Things that exercise your body can also help sharpen your brain. In fact, physical exercise improves and enhances neurogenesis.
- Travel is good. Adapting to new locations forces you to pay more attention to your environment and make new and different decisions.
- Develop and maintain stimulating friendships. Social interaction is one of the best ways to stimulate your brain to think quickly and respond appropriately.
- Thrive on learning and mental challenges. Once new neurons are created in your brain, where they stay and how long they survive depends on how you use them. “Use it or lose it” doesn’t mean “read the sports page in the newspaper every day.” It means challenge your brain often with fundamentally new activities.
- Practice positive, future-oriented thoughts until they become your default mindset and you look forward to every new day in a constructive way. Did you know that stress and anxiety induced by your own thoughts actually kill neurons and prevent the creation of new ones? Negative thinking is the opposite of exercise: it prevents the creation of new brain cells.
- Because we were created with such a large, well-developed brain, we’re the only self-directed organism on this planet. Aim high. Once you graduate from college, keep learning. Your brain keeps developing, no matter what your age, and you can accomplish far more than you realize.
- Don’t outsource your brain. Not to media personalities, consultants, industry leaders, or your smart business partner. Make you own decisions — and mistakes. Then learn from them, and adapt quickly. That way, you’ll be training your brain, not your neighbor’s.
- Laugh. Often. Especially to cognitively complex humor, full of twists and surprises. Did you hear about the band that called themselves 1023MB? They haven’t had any gigs yet.
My name is Mike Stevens, and I am a printer.