The idea of an adult plastic brain is relatively new to science. In early childhood, an area called the Nucleus Basalis produces high levels of a neurothropic called BDNF which enables us to to learn all the fundamentals of life effortlessly. The scientific community believed that once this high growth period ends the brain becomes relatively concrete. However, since the 1960’s there has been a growing body of work which actually proves that our thoughts and habits can change the way our brain wires and fires. In business, our intelligence and focus are some of our most valuable commodities. Here are ten ways to make sure you are maximizing them.
1. Believe you’re intelligent
This one sounds obvious but the reasons aren’t as fringe as you might think. Belief that you are intelligent is a necessity in having the right attitude in approaching hurdles. It will also help you stay focused and motivated when applying the ideas below.
2. Brush your teeth/Write with your off hand
The primary way we grow our brain is by challenging it. Studies indicate that atrophy is one of the biggest factor effecting elderly brain decline. Brushing your teeth offhanded (and other menial tasks) are a simple way to force your brain to pay attention to developing a new skill which promotes healthy brain function.
3. Train your brain
There are enormous numbers of brain training programs out there now ( I use Lumosity). Brain training programs do two things. First, they exercise your brain in an a measurable and progressive way. Secondly, they divide your brain into categories, such as focus, flexibility, memory, problem solving etc which can provide insight into your strengths and weaknesses.
4. Drink water
This is my favorite reason on the list. It’s easy, you see the results quickly and it gives you a substantial edge. An estimated 75% of North American’s are dehydrated. When your brain operates, it uses a delicate balance of water and minerals to fire. Without enough water, it won’t fire optimally and with enough, you’ll have a leg up on 75% of the population. It’s a no bigger-better-faster-brainer.
Stretching is a great way to improve focus. It stimulates blood flow, can flush out organs and generates the release of endorphins crucial to maximum brain function. The nice thing is you can do it anywhere and lunging is funny.
6. Try something new
Forcing your brain to stay in development mode is one of the best long term strategies, especially, if it is something you enjoy. Language is one of best examples because it uses so many areas of the brain and you get that much closer to exotic romance.
- Photo Credit: Brain Kernels
Exercise has been widely linked to healthy brain function. It is one of the best way to balance brain chemical levels and has been shown to improve energy and concentration as well as combat signs of everything from autism to depression. Plus you’re going to look good which goes really well with the language you just picked up.
8. Don’t multitask
Studies have shown that multitasking can lower IQ by as much as 10 points while pot smoking typically only lowers IQ by 4 points. Therefore, you are better off smoking pot and focusing on one task than doing multiple tasks sober. Since paying attention to one thing when high is almost impossible, I would just stay away from both.
9. Pay attention to the monotonous
Most of the activities that get us through our day we aren’t even aware we are doing. Cooking, cleaning, driving etc. They have become so ingrained that our brain plateaus. Take some extra time to pay attention, figure out little ways in which you can improve your task. Stay present.
10. Ask questions and then listen
One of the most prominent features in highly intelligent people is curiosity. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Once you have, make an extra effort to pay attention to the answer. Pay attention to non-verbal cues. The benefits of this are two-fold. First, you brain stays wired and challenged which aids in the release of Dopamine. Secondly, you’ll improve your ability to empathize, which is crucial in being able to communicate your new found brain power effectively.
If you’re interested in learning more about the power of the brain, The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge is a fascinating, well written introduction to the topic. If you’re interested in developing your brain, Lumosity is a great program and the annual subscription will cost you less than one night at the bar. There are also controversial, natural lines of pills called Neurotrophics which many people say have aided in their neural development, though I haven’t tried them and wouldn’t without substantial research.