If you’ve ever wondered how to make your brain work harder for you, and how to improve logical critical thinking and reasoning, then this is for you.
Science writer, Rhodes scholar and two-time author Jonah Lehrer has come up with some unexpected ways you can help your brain stay fit and sharp. As an organ like any other in our body, it makes sense that exercise might be helpful.
There are, according to Lehrer, ten principles of better thinking you can apply to your own life to improve your own mind.
1. Tap your emotions – don’t avoid what they tell you, but listen and act accordingly where possible. These feelings are coming from someplace, brought on by facts outside of your conscious awareness.
2. Trust your instincts – once you’ve developed a skill, the time invested has given you reliable instincts, so instincts to can often be trusted.
3. Consider alternatives – the brain naturally filters the world to confirm what it believes, stop and consider just the opposite.
4. Know what you like – don’t be fooled by price tags or popularity, decide for yourself what’s for you, and what isn’t.
5. Take long showers – research shows that insight always arrives at the precise moment you’re not attending to the problem, most likely because our minds tune in better when free of stress.
6. Suspect your memory – the act of recalling an event changes the structure of the event, so the more you think about it, the less accurate your recollection can become.
7. Don’t overdo – the prefrontal cortex, responsible for willpower and thinking is easily depleted according to studies. You can do lots of things, just not all at the very same time. So, multitasking is not effective.
8. Learn from mistakes – successful people pay attention to their fumbles, as well as constantly looking for what they could improve upon – vital to learning.
9. Daydream – this is an incredibly important tool for creativity, causing a rush of action in an area known as the default network that allows the mind to make new associations. Daydreaming actually puts your brain into overdrive.
10. Think about thinking – introspection may well be the key to good judgment, at least the equal of intelligence and experience.
A unique list to be sure, but worthwhile to consider.
Lehrer has a keen interest in the brain and the neuroscience of thinking and decision making. He thinks of the brain much like a Swiss Army knife with all kinds of tools for different things. The thing you have to do is be sure you’re using the right tool at the right time.
Beyond mental exercise there are other things you can do to keep your brain healthy.
Eating a diet rich in antioxidant-loaded foods like almonds, leafy greens and blueberries is a smart choice.
Vitamin D has also been shown on multiple occasions to help with memory and information processing, so be sure you’re getting as much as you can. If you don’t take in enough omega-3 fatty acids from fish (that’s two servings per week), ask your primary care physician about a supplement as1,000-milligram fish oil supplements might be an option for you.
Moderate caffeine intake has also recently been shown to be helpful.
As our population ages, more focus has turned to ways to keep the brain sharp as the years pass.
Doing things that use both the left and right sides of the brain has been shown to build brainpower. Challenge yourself – just ten minutes of mental activity a day might be enough to reduce your risks of mental decline.
Puzzles, reading or anything you like to do are good ways to keep the brain sharp, and will also potentially improve your logical critical thinking and reasoning abilities.