How to Exercise Your Mind and Brain for Better Thinking Skills
by Susan Fox, CH, AA
When you develop and commit to an exercise routine you build muscle. Similarly, developing and committing to following a brain and mind exercise routine gives you better thinking skills. To the degree improving your thinking skills really matters to you is the degree you will commit to following a better thinking skills routine.
What Are The Costs to Regularly Exercising Your Mind and Brain?
Mainly time. But the benefits outweigh the time costs. So, if you really want to develop better thinking skills, take 10 or so minutes right now to read this blog post and let’s get started.
When you think, you use mind to create those thoughts. Thoughts are invisible tools you as a human use to program your computer brain so your can use your body to behave in ways personally desirable to you.
In other words, you think with your mind to create thoughts meaningful to you. Thoughts can be seen like software for a computer. Your brain is the world’s most sophisticated, living computer. Without the correct thoughts the behaviors you desire CAN’T occur. So, learning how to think effectively can make all the difference in living the way you prefer to live.
Once we are aware of specific thoughts, they need to be interpreted so we can use them to behave in certain ways. We interpret what our thoughts mean to us by filtering them through our brain’s internal “likes” and “dislikes” filters. In his book, The Creative Brain, Ned Hermann calls a human’s “likes” and “dislikes” brain dominant preferences.
Each of us are born with natural preferences. For example, your favorite color is (fill in the blank.) A favorite color is an example of a like. Let’s do this again with dislikes. The vegetable you LEAST like or DISlike is (fill in the blank.)
Identifying your natural “likes” and “dislikes” and working with them, you can make better decisions and develop better thinking skills. Once you know your natural likes and dislikes, you can be aware of using them to effect forward movement in your life. Using your likes and dislikes in a way that biases and clouds your reasonable decision-making can result in self-sabotaging behaviors.
“Likes” And “Dislikes” Can Sabotage Your Thinking
As you go through life making decisions based on how you interpret thoughts using your brain, choose to work with your dislikes. A dislike does NOT have to be seen as an enemy to your happiness. If you feel unaware you are using dislikes inappropriately, you may use this internal “way of knowing” to inadvertently “punish” others. This can sabotage your abilities, your genuine happiness and cause you to attract the wrong people, situations and relationships to you.
For example, suppose you are in a management position. A management position could be as a parent, a supervisor at work, a business owner, a teacher or any activity requiring managing.
When you are “managing” the time you use to do tasks during life, you may be distracted in your thinking as you do those tasks by your dislikes. Unless you allow yourself enough time to focus on doing even simple, specific tasks well, (like combing your hair, tying your shoes, assigning the right task to people at work who can actually DO that task) the result of getting the task done can be frustrating. Let’s look at the three tasks I just mentioned to demonstrate how focusing on dislikes and letting them be your most important thoughts can rob you of genuine happiness.
Combing Your Hair
If you haphazardly comb or brush your hair, and your hair looks unkempt to you even though you’ve done your best to make it look its best, you may be focusing most of your time on disliking your hair instead of expressing gratitude for liking your hair just the way it is.
If you spend time on disliking your hair, you may say insulting things to yourself like, “I’m having a bad hair day. Oh, why was I born with such difficult hair to handle?! Why can’t I have hair like (fill in the blank) who has beautiful hair all the time!?” As you say insulting things to yourself, you may be contributing to lowering your self-esteem.
If you think you are unworthy of being happy, a bit at a time, it can subtly, subconsciously, pessimistically affect you. You then store these sabotaging thoughts in your subconscious mind. Each morning as you brush your hair, you develop the habit of insulting yourself.
When you repeatedly think self-sabotaging thoughts your thinking skills are used to keep you down in life. This habit of criticizing yourself shows up in other areas of your life including attracting unseemly, untrustworthy people into your life to keep the critical remarks true. But, this habit can be unlearned by simply choosing to focus and concentrate on appreciating and expressing gratitude for having hair.
So, by taking time to appreciate your hair and calmly brushing it expressing gratitude for HAVING hair, you are developing effective thinking skills. And, you are creating neurology in your brain. Those neurological pathways are like highways. Your thoughts travel down those electrical highways. Keep thinking well of yourself and your abilities and those neurological pathways stay active for respectful thoughts about yourself and your abilities.
But the subconscious mind CAN’T think critically or judgmentally. It simply stores your opinions and memories. So, each time you think happily, your conscious mind directs the subconscious mind to obey it. The result? Behaviors that attract happiness to you in your life situations and relationships through people.
And, the reverse is true. The more often you condition your mind and brain to attract situations and relationships that cause UNHAPPINESS, you regularly attract that which you DO NOT WANT.
Tying Your Shoes
Similarly to the hair combing or brushing example, by taking time to methodically appreciate your ability to correctly tie your shoes, you improve your thinking skills. When you take time to focus and concentrate on your ABILITY to do MANY things well, you appreciate what you CAN do. You develop the habit of respecting yourself and others.
People may forget your name or face or where they initially met you, but they usually remember how what you said made them feel. The same is true for your own mind and brain. When you show genuine caring for yourself and your abilities to live well, you respect yourself and feel encouraged to live well.
As you encourage yourself to live well, you are NOT competing for a limited supply of happy relationships. Happiness can be seen in infinite ways, situations and relationships. Thus, being happy the largest percentage of your time is completely acceptable!
Managing People At Work or In Your Family
If you think YOU are unworthy of being genuinely happy unless you can perform ALL tasks you could do PERFECTLY at ALL times in ALL situations, a bit at a time, you develop self-limiting or self-sabotaging thinking skills. And this shows up in your relationships, often in alienating ways.
For example, as a manager at work, you know certain tasks must be done to achieve your work goals. If you manage people well, you appropriately match tasks with people’s real abilities. If you poorly manage people, you make the TASK the priority rather than realistically matching actual ability with the task.
When you MISMATCH task with abilities of the people you direct, you actually cause relationship alienation. Your employees mistrust you, dislike you, think you only care about money or looking good to higher ups at their expense. This type of thinking destroys morale. And, appropriately matching actual ability with tasks IMPROVES employee morale.
By asking people who actually demonstrate abilities that MATCH tasks, employees feel that you genuinely care about them. This not only INCREASES morale, it improves workplace productivity, improves the workplace trust factor and shows you respect people.
When you think about and show genuine appreciation to people for what they CAN do, and encourage them to do it, employees feel like part of the company team. When you feel part of an important movement you can believe in, you naturally enjoy going to work and you also reduce cortisol levels. Balanced cortisol levels helps the immune system stay healthy which equates to lower sick days, improved feelings of security and increased profits because employees are working more than they are sick.
These same attitudes for family members sustains relationships in the family. People genuinely love to FEEL appreciated for who they are. So, by focusing on finding ways to genuinely love and care for each other, you improve your thinking skills (and your relationships skills.)
Appreciate and Respect People For Who They Are
By thinking thoughts about unconditionally loving people for WHO they are, rather than thinking how to manipulate a situation or relationship to your advantage, you develop meaningful thinking skills. These skills help you genuinely love the life you live.
Now that you understand simple ways to improve your thinking skills, will you take 1 minute today to think and say something uplifting to yourself and others? If so, you can improve your thinking skills in ways that can create peaceful situations and wonderful relationships for you and others.
Brainview Training Institute teaches students how to improve thinking skills to love the life they live. For personalized coaching about using the mind body spirit brain connection, contact me at [email protected] Or, in the US and Canada please call anytime at (740) 531-0400 and leave a message. I will call you back as soon as I can.