Four Ways To Supercharge Your Brain
While your brain only accounts for 2% of our body mass, it consumes 25% of our energy. Think of your brain like a muscle. You need to exercise it daily to keep it strong and healthy. Without frequent use, it will wither and become weak. Your brains more responsible for your happiness than your bicep, so why curl all the time but never work your brain?
Here are my four ways to optimize your brainpower.
1)Learn Something Everyday- The School of Life
"Once you stop learning, you start dying" -Albert Einstein
If you take away just one piece of advice from this post, make it this. Learning something new everyday is the best thing you can do for your brain health. It sounds cliche because it's true.
School kills learning, at least I know it did for me..
The problem is years of schooling has taken the fun out of learning for most people. It becomes a chore, stripped of its excitement and novelty by the public school system. Instead of encouraging curiosity and innovation education is about uniformly ranking people with test scores.
It took me a long time to rekindle my passion for learning. Up until about 2nd grade I loved reading for fun. I would go out into the woods and explore all the flora and fauna. I even had a logbook drawing and describing everything I saw. I loved watching the Discovery channel and weighing new ideas.
Slowly this passion was chipped away until I was another drone; taking adderall for my tests and going home to watch mindless t.v. Starting college, I was premed and had no enthusiasm for life. Halfway into my sophomore year, I finally listened to my inner voice.
My life began to get better and better.
The more i'd read the more my life would improve. One idea would lead to ten more. It wasn't just books. I soaked up knowledge from every situation. In public, I would people watch, making observations. The key is to constantly keeping your mind active. I listened to podcasts everyday, watched informational youtube videos, read and posted on useful forums, anything I could do to grow as a person.
Consistent exercise is a major key to a healthy and happy brain. It has been shown that physical exercise releases tons of feel good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. Moreover, exercising can actually make you grow more neurons (more on this here). It also improves your blood circulation to your brain.
A healthy body is a healthy mind.
Just think about it. Your brain is an organ in your body. Exercise keeps your body healthy. Therefore, exercise keeps your brain healthy. Our moods are a lot more dependent on chemicals and hormones than we may think. Take away the majority of a persons dopamine or a man's testosterone and he will be incredibly depressed.
I find that if i'm in a rut, I don't want to work out. This causes me to feel worse, which makes me not want to work out even more. When I finally do, I feel replenished. It's like someone hit a reset button on my body. It let all the gunk out. Afterwards I have more energy and am in a better mood. This is all backed by science, but do you really need studies to tell you that? To tell you that being healthy makes you feel better? Conduct your own study, go for a run and see how you feel.
The stereotypes are stupid.
We all have this notion in our head. People that are big into exercise and going to the gym are vapid and shallow. The guys are dumb, monkey-like 'bros' and the girls are superficial bimbos. They don't have real substance, This kind of thinking is insane! I can understand why some really smart people may think that, who have never been big into exercise themselves. They don't see the point in it, they don't understand it. What's sad is that if those kinds of people would put the same dedication and fervor into a healthy body as they did in their intellectual pursuits, they would find their entire life improving greatly. They would feel better, be more confident, and have a stronger functioning brain.
What you do doesn't matter.
You don't have to aim for 20 inch biceps. You don't have to look freakish. Do whatever interests you; mountain biking, martial arts, running, weightlifting. It doesn't matter. To experience the cognitive benefits of exercise, you just have to get going. Of course some forms of exercise may be better for brain health than others. But I can tell you what they're all better than- not exercising at all.
3) Saturated Fat- the brain's Superfood
Your brain is made up of mostly saturated fat and cholesterol. Without eating a diet rich in these nutrients, your brain won't function optimally.
Wait saturated fat's unhealthy!
This is a myth that began in the 1950's from a scientist named Ancel Keys. He published a paper linking saturated fat intake to cholesterol and heart disease. He claimed that countries with a higher saturated fat intake had higher rates of heart disease. He cherrypicked his results. Ancel Keys wanted to make a name for himself, he wanted his paper published. He picked six of the 22 countries studied and left out the other 16 that did not support his results. When all countries are looked at, the trend goes the other way. The more saturated fat a country consumed, the LOWER their risk of heart disease.
The brain is made of mostly saturated fat. As is the myelin sheath, which covers the brains' nerves and ensures their proper functioning. If that's not convincing enough, saturated fat
What Foods Have Saturated Fat?
There are plenty of foods loaded with brain-healthy saturated fat. Some that I use are:
Milk and Cheese
Nuts (especially brazil nuts)
Red Meat (steak and beef are great)
4) Write Down 10 ideas a day
Just like working out, you can exercise your brain. Your idea muscle and creativity can get stronger. I learned this from James Altucher - A millionaire who had created more than 17 businesses. The premise is that ideas are the "currency of life". The more ideas your brain is able to produce, the greater freedom you will have. You can give these ideas out to businesses or friends and ask for nothing in return. By doing this you are opening yourself up to limitless opportunities. The best thing about this is you can never run out of ideas.
The Power of Momentum
At first, like anything in life, this will be hard. You will struggle to come up with 10 ideas, and most will suck. The brain is like a muscle. Do this everyday and your idea muscle will get stronger and stronger. You will become an idea machine. There is no better way to supercharge your creativity. This is an extremely way of keeping your brain strong and healthy. What better way to get better at thinking, than forcing yourself to come up with unique thoughts everyday.
Again, people think they're just born with their intelligence. You can get stronger muscles. You can get better at doing any skill. You most definitely can train your brain to be stronger as well!
Bonus: Play Chess
Life ain't one dimensional and neither is chess
Chess will always be my favorite board-game. It's a lot like life. The problem is most people play life like it's checkers. The pieces aren't all the same.
I'm sure if there are such things as professional checkers player, they'll disagree. This is the way I see it. Checkers doesn't have much strategy. All the pieces have the same value. They all take pieces by hopping over them. Chess is a game of strategy. Each piece has its own strengths and weaknesses. There are countless ways to play a game of chess and one isn't better than the other.
The critical thinking involved in chess is an incredibly undervalued skill to develop. It will strengthen the connections in your brain to become a master of strategy; an invaluable skill in all facets of life.
Chess is a game. People play it for fun. What better way to exercise your brain than by having fun? Plus it feels really good to win. I'm not that great, but on a handful of occasions i've beaten people (who are also not that great) in just a few moves, it's fun. You should try it.