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6 Ways to Train Your Brain to Literally Get Smarter

A journaling habit

Taking notes or only writing down things or ideas is creating an extension of your mind. 

Your thoughts will be recorded, and the routine of writing them down will enable you to think more thoroughly and improve your way of thinking.

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6 Ways to Train Your Brain to Literally Get Smarter

6 Ways to Train Your Brain to Literally Get Smarter

https://www.inc.com/andrew-medal/6-ways-to-train-your-brain-to-literally-get-smarter.html

inc.com

6

Key Ideas

Enjoy intelligent company

Being in the company of intelligent people will indirectly make you want to continue developing your own intelligence.

Read

Well-read people aren't just articulate--they also have a vast pool of knowledge and an always-evolving mind.

Reading improves your vocabulary, expands your communication skills and develops your analytical abilities. 

Rest

A lack of sleep, relaxation, and excessive stress can diminish your brain's capacity. The brain requires plenty of energy to function, so if you're exhausted all the time, your mind simply won't have the ability to learn and improve.

Eat brain food

Food is fuel for the body, but it does matter what kind of fuel you are using.

High nutrition foods work well to power up your brain. Walnuts are a great source of brain food, so is fish; tuna, mackerel, salmon contain rich, fatty acids that have been proven to help neurons function. 

Play brain games

Your brain needs to face challenges, to push its limits to make progress. 

Try brain games like memory games, Sudoku, word puzzles, and problem-solving games. I love escape rooms that make you think on the fly, and under a timeline. They will increase your pattern recognition, logic, and ability to process thought quickly.

A journaling habit

Taking notes or only writing down things or ideas is creating an extension of your mind. 

Your thoughts will be recorded, and the routine of writing them down will enable you to think more thoroughly and improve your way of thinking.

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Empathy
Empathy

Empathy means seeing things through someone else's eyes. It is an essential component that keeps relationships running smoothly. It allows us to create bonds of trust, gives insights into anoth...

Empathy in the business world

There are many studies that link empathy to business results. Empathy is correlated with increased sales, performance of the best managers of product development teams, and with enhanced performance in a diverse workforce.

It is predicted that those with a strong right-brain (interpersonal) qualities will have the upperhand in the Conceptual Age.

Reasons why empathy is important

Dr. Daniel Goleman gives three reasons why empathy is so important:

  • The increased use of teams (that could spark different emotions.)
  • The rapid pace of globalization (with cross-cultural communication that could lead to misunderstanding)
  • The growing need to retain talent.

Leaders with empathy do more than sympathize with people - they use their knowledge to improve their companies in skillful and subtle ways.

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"Learning is deeper and more durable when it's effortful... Learning that's easy is like writing in sand, here today and gone tomorrow."

 -  Make It Stick: The Science Of Suc...

Bring it back from memory

Retrieval is so effective is that it strengthens the neural pathways associated with a given concept.

When you're attempting to recall an idea, method, or technique from memory, you're retrieving. Flash cards are a great example: They force you to recall an idea from memory, unlike a technique like highlighting where you're not burning anything into your brain. 

Connect new ideas

... to what you already know.

When you try to put a new idea into your own words, you're elaborating.

For example, if you're in physics class and trying to understand heat transfer, try to tie the concept into your real-life experiences, say, by imagining how a warm cup of coffee disperses heat into your hands.

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Addicted to Consuming Information
Addicted to Consuming Information

The amount of content on the Internet is huge and it’s practically impossible for us to consume it all. But we struggle with it anyway.

This creates a situation where we are constantly diges...

Information Clutter

In the case of information, reading several articles and sources on the same topic can create a lot of clutter. Because it creates internal struggles and questions:

  • What sort of information is important?
  • This post said this is important while another post said it wasn’t important. What information is relevant here?
  • What information should I internalize and apply?
The LATCH principle

... for organizing information:

  • Location: put the most relevant stuff to be within reach.
  • Alphabet: for organizing lists of people and statistics, dictionaries, and official documents.
  • Time: used when providing step by step instructions or when things have to be in chronological order.
  • Category: organize information by similarity or relatedness.
  • Hierarchy: organizing information that is used collectively to compare things.

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Maintenance Learning

Maintenance learning refers to you keeping current with your field.

Reading an occasional book and keeping current with blogs and newsletters is not equivalent to adding to your educat...

Growth Learning

It is the kind of learning that adds new knowledge and skills to your repertoire. With growth learning, you’re acquiring new information that enables you to do things that you could not do previously.

You can discover great ideas by listening to podcasts, reading blogs, and reading books.

Shock Learning

Shock learning is learning that contradicts knowledge that you already have. That’s the kind of learning that generates innovation

If you don’t ignore or resist the unexpected, this “shock” can give you insights to enable you to take advantage of a major change in the marketplace or guard against a serious reversal. 

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Never stop learning

Research shows that people with more education have a greater cognitive reserve and this works as a protection in the face of mental decline.

But there's a twist to it: educated people t...

Crosswords

Cognitive activities like crossword puzzles, reading or playing music may delay memory decline among people who eventually developed dementia.

Stereotype threat

It happens when a person is in a situation where they are anxious that they may conform to a negative stereotype aimed at his or her social group.

Positive stereotypes, or success on previous memory tasks, can help combat this negativity. 

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Time for yourself

According to experts, choosing to spend time by yourself can help your social relationships. Solitude can also help you regulate your emotions. It can have a calming effect that prepares you to bet...

Take time to be idle

Being overly busy with long to-do lists has become a way to communicate status. Although being busy is not a real status indicator, the impact is real and it contributes to burnout, anxiety and stress-related diseases.

Doing nothing can be a great productivity tool for recharging.

Casual friendships

Having weak ties (neighbors, your favorite bartender, or fellow members in a spin class) can have a positive impact on our well-being by helping us feel more connected to other social groups.

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Restrict yourself

Research suggests placing self-imposed limitations can boost creativity. 

It forces your brain to come up with creative solutions to finish a project around the parameters you’ve ...

Re-conceptualize the problem

Instead of thinking of a cut-and-dry end goal to certain situations, creative people sit back and examine the problem in different ways before beginning to work.

If you find yourself stagnating by focusing on generic problems, try to re-conceptualize the problem by focusing on a more meaningful angle.

For example: Instead of thinking “What would be something cool to paint?” rather ask, “What sort of painting evokes the feeling of loneliness that we all encounter after a break-up?”

Create psychological distance

Creating “psychological” distance may be useful for breaking through a creative block.

Try to imagine your creative task as being disconnected and distant from your current position/location - this may make the problem more accessible and can encourage higher level thinking.

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Meta-Learning

It's knowing how to learn. Learning itself is a skill, and knowing how to do it well is an incredibly valuable advantage.

Merely acquiring information is not learning....

Learning has 2 phases

Learning is a two-step process:

  • Read/listen: feeding ourselves new information.
  • Process and recall what you’ve just ‘learned’: connecting new materials to what we already knew.
Remembering the right things

You should not waste your time by committing unimportant details to memory. 

Your focus should be on understanding the bigger picture, on how things relate to each other.

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Strike a high-power pose

Body language affects not just how you’re perceived by others, but also your internal body chemistry.

A high-power pose usually means having your body open rather than hunched up. That mea...

A fresh start

You can give yourself a fresh start anytime. By doing so, you’re going to have a burst of energy.

These “intertemporal markers” encourage us in two ways: by making people disconnect from past failures, and by promoting a big-picture view of life.

Eat some chocolate
  • It increases both serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes calm, and also phenylethylamine, which promotes stimulation. White chocolate does both even more intensely.
  • It triggers a release of dopamine, which will elevate your heart rate and significantly increase motivation.
  • It also results in a mild antidepressant effect, literally because your brain responds to the stimulants by promoting blissful emotions.

Other dopamine-inducing foods that can help maintain a healthy diet: blueberries, spirulina, and fish high in Omega-3 fats.

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Emotional Intelligence

People with high emotional intelligence (EQ) are generally found to have more success in life.

Being better at handling and gauging emotions and forming relationships is a formidable t...

Five Questions

... we need to ask ourselves in order to assess low emotional intelligence:

  1. Are you quick to judge? Low EQ people make hasty, impulsive and negative decisions.
  2. Do you have a hard time accepting criticism? Low EQ people tend to freak out when criticized.
  3. Are you stressed or anxious? People with low EQ tend to be anxious and stressed.
  4. Are you a bad listener? Low EQ individuals neglect to listen and lack empathy
  5. Is it hard to recover from mistakes? High EQ individuals are resilient and heal easily.