“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Save your brain! In our ever busy lives, day-in and day-out, seemingly routine habits, it can be difficult to find new activities to stimulate our thinking and avoid becoming a zombie. Here’s how to save yourself:
Get sleep. Getting enough sleep is important. When you nap or go to sleep, your brain deletes unused information. The more you think about something, your brain reinforces that information when you sleep. While you sleep, the brain also clears unused information to allow new space to build new connections so you can learn more.
First-Principles Thinking. This is a mode of inquiry that relentlessly pursues the foundations of a problem. According to billionaire Elon Musk, rather than doing what everybody else is doing reasoning with analogy, you boil things down to the most fundamental truths of the issue and then reason up from there.
Lateral thinking. Lateral thinking is solving problems through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious. It solves questions and creates new concepts that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic.
In other words, ask questions. Have you ever wondered why the sky is up, why dogs wag their tail, why someone said what they did, why you heard something a certain way, why your sheets are a certain color, why people believe anything to be true?
Asking questions leads to more questions and limitless answers. The exercise of questioning things shifts our mind’s standard activity of receiving information to producing new ideas and allows us to try on different perspectives. Through lateral thinking, we can change the context in which we experience the world.
Learn a language. Learning a new language can be challenging, engaging and fun. Not only will you have to push the mental capacity to put together your newly learned words and phrases, but you will also have the opportunity to think in a different language.
Meditate. Meditation is an excellent way of expanding your mind from your subconscious. It can require diligence, patience, and focus. As an added bonus, it’s a great way to relax and find peace of mind.
Mentors. Find several mentors who can coach you and train you in various areas of your life.
Music. Music increases our sensitivity, as well as fosters a sense of emotional intelligence. If you’ve ever listened to opera in language that you don’t understand, you will be pleasantly surprised that you will not only know what’s going on, but be able to feel the emotions of the performance.
People. Spend 1/3 of your time with your peers, 1/3 of your time with others who have accomplished more than you, and 1/3 of your time with those who have not achieved as much as you whom you can mentor.
Read. Leverage other people’s experiences. We can’t learn everything we want alone. Find books and articles written by people that have accomplished something you want or admire.
Something New. Cooking, hiking, ice skating, poetry, puzzles, video games, travel. Broadening your experiences heightens the use of your senses. A new activity can foster creativity, exercise your memory, challenging your critical thinking, and improve hand-eye coordination.
Write. Free-writing or journaling expands our vocabulary and also improves our reading ability. Effective communication and self-expression through a strong vocabulary has been shown to be directly correlated with success.