Did you know that 90% of your everyday actions and decisions are controlled by your unconscious mind?
All your personality, emotions, behavior, memory, creativity, how fast you’ll learn new information and skills, how well you’ll perform at work and how motivated you’ll be to do it in the first place, are controlled by your unconscious mind.
The first question that comes to mind is.
How well did I prepare my brain to control 90% of my life?
If brain is not regularly challenged with variety of tasks it will not develop and you will block yourself from reaching your full potential.
There are many ways to prepare brain to do its very best without your conscience involvement.
For a long time we believed that we are born with certain abilities and limitations and that we can’t go beyond them.
But reality is completely different. Thanks to the amazing ability of a brain called neuroplasticity. And it’s kind of a superpower.
You probably heard of neuroplasticity. In a nutshell it is the ability of a brain to adapt and change according to environment. When you repeat any task or way of thinking or behaving your brain remembers and learns to become better at it.
Although that super ability has a downside. Brain doesn’t divide which is good behavior and which is bad. That’s why if every day you’re stressed or sad or unmotivated your brain remembers it and gets better at it.
But on a bright side if you want to learn certain skill or adopt a new habit, you just have to show up every day. Work on it with dedication and patience and you will succeed.
Use it or lose it
Brain creates new neurons all the time in response to mental activity. The more quality activities your brain engages with that more neurons are being produced.
But if you don’t give your brain enough quality stimulation every day. Brain cells die at an incredible fast rate.
After a lot of research I found exercises that give required stimulation and improve overall brain functions. With as little as 5 minutes a day you can improve memory, processing speed, focus, mental flexibility, reasoning and much more.
Little changes for healthy brain
When I just started paying attention to brain development my first actions were little exercises that were easily incorporated in my everyday life.
They don’t require any special skill or time dedication.
Because your brain grows with every new experience, these little changes in your everyday life will bring just enough novelty without much effort at all.
For example you can:
- brush your teeth with less dominant hand (you can try swapping hands with other simple tasks like unlocking doors, eating, or try writing your name with ˝wrong˝ hand just for fun)
- take a different route when going to work, coffee shop or other places you regularly go to
- when reading news, read one or more articles about topic you know nothing about, or even better read a whole book about something you know nothing about
- eat with closed eyes (of course open them to put food on fork or spoon and then close eyes) – to improve your sense of taste and smell
These are all so simple but they actually have big impact.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
Use your hands
There is a direct link between brain development and how we engage our hands.
Some researches show that writing (and drawing) improves memory, attention span and focus.
Folding an origami has so many benefits on brain. Like eye-hand coordination, improved spatial skills, develops creativity, improves memory and focus and many others. You can read more about it here
So it’s only logical that we should engage our hands to improve our brain.
Some of activities you can try:
- practice juggling
- learn to fold beautiful origami – here you can find out how
- learn to tie knots – click to learn how (and it’s a life saving skill)
- draw a 3D image of object in front of you (you don’t have to be good at drawing, this is just to engage brain in diverse activities)
And any other activity, where hands do the work, are good for brain – like playing an instrument, sewing or pottery.
Solve a problem
My favorite way to exercise brain and improve its overall performance are puzzles and riddles. They improve your problem solving, focus, memory, reasoning, also develop patience and ˝out-of-box˝ thinking.
You can try:
- actual puzzles like this one
- Sudoku – on this site you can find new Sudoku every day
- riddles – on this site you will find many riddles (with solutions)
- various other brain games
Be the Master of your Brain
Following activities can help you gain better control over your brain, improve your intelligence, strengthen your brain and expand its abilities far beyond you ever thought was possible.
Chess is the best game you can play for brain development. And it’s the only game that the more you play, it becomes more interesting, fun and beneficial. Playing chess will develop and train all brain functions better than any other activity. Especially is beneficial for memory, strategic and analytical thinking, focus and attention. Play a game of chess every day and your productivity, problem solving and decision making will improve drastically.
Check out Chess Academy to learn few tricks and improve your game.
Learn foreign language
Learning a new language will increase your IQ, reshape your brain, encourage creativity and broaden your horizons.
And to have benefits you don’t even have to be fluent in a new language. The benefits come with the process not result.
What I like to do is every evening take 5 words of a language I wish to learn and write them in notes on my phone. During the next day I repeat them several times in my head or out loud. You can do it while doing your morning routine, exercising, cooking, driving.
There are so many moments during the day when our brain is not doing anything useful. You can spend those moments thinking about trivia or you can use that time to exercise your brain and learn a foreign language.
With this method you will not only exercise your brain every day but very soon you will know hundred words of your new language. And without that hassle of “finding time to learn a language”.
Keep thought journal
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
Journaling is a powerful tool that can help you gain clarity, balance and happiness. You will get to know yourself better and gain control over your thoughts and actions. But also it is a way to expand your cognitive abilities.
Your journal is a record of your self-discovery and self-improvement. For those who don’t know how to go about keeping a journal here are few topics that you can write about:
- Write down few key moments of the day and your feelings about them.
- What are you grateful for?
- What would you like to change (about yourself, your life or world) and why?
- Imagine something impossible and describe it.
- What are your goals/dreams? What can you do tomorrow to get one step closer?
- Describe one memory from your childhood.
- Can you remember thoughts you had during the day? did you like those thoughts? If not how can you make them better?
These are just few topics you can write about. Of course you can personalize your journal with your own topic depending on your needs.
Think about an area in your life that you would like to improve and then think of one question that you can ask yourself every day to keep your focus on solving that problem. Then answer that question in your journal every day.
For example if you want to exercise more, but every day fail to do it. Ask yourself every evening this question: “Why didn’t you exercise today?” Write an honest answer in your journal. After a few days of answering that question and writing it down you will get tired of your own excuses and get to work.
Dedicate 30 minutes or at least 5 minutes a day to intentionally improve your brain performance. Few years from now you’ll be thanking yourself.
Your brain can be your strongest tool to achieve all your goals or can be your weight to the bottom. Brain as any other organ weakens with time. But with daily maintenance you can strengthen and improve your brain as well as delay weakening and cognitive decline.
For best results I would recommend to alternate between different exercises. That way you will engage all areas of your brain.
Also don’t force yourself. It’s not a contest, there are no grades or deadlines. Just do it for fun. Brain responds and develops faster and better if you enjoy activities.
You don’t have to strain your brain beyond current abilities. What’s important is that you give the brain a challenge that is just a little bit above its limits, and repeat it every day.
Remember ˝dedication + patience = success˝
How do you engage your brain so it doesn’t “go bad” ?
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