A few months ago, I was in the airport and, as I always do, I people watch. Sometimes I simply watch and sometimes I engage in conversation. This particular day, our flight was delayed, and I was talking with a woman about where we were both going and was it business or pleasure. She was going to visit family and I was heading out to speak at a conference. In our conversation we talked about learning and growing in our positions and how as a coach I have at least one coach at all times. She looked at me as if I said something so bizarre, she didn’t understand it. She told me that she didn’t believe in coaching. Her boss did and had a coach, but not her. When I asked why, she told me that if you have a coach, you are expected to do more, learn more and know more and she was just fine where she was. I think I was the one with the look of disbelief because I truly believe that you must feed your mind with the right nutrition.
Every day we feed our bodies. We don’t always give it the right nutrition, but do we ever really consider that when we feed our bodies, we are also feeding our minds? Let’s start with our buddy the TV. Some use it as their source for world happenings, some use it for mindless ways to relax and some use it as baby-sitters, so they can get things done. The problem is that many people see what they watch as reality and compare themselves to who they are watching. Some disappear into another dimension. Many feel the news is negative and that is like eating fast food, lots of quantity but not as much quality in nutrition. Is your mind getting the proper nutrition from any of that?
Today many people listen to podcasts. There are many ways to learn and grow from those that share information that is current and relevant. Yes, you can still choose the mindless and the unrealistic, but more and more people are turning their TVs off and turning on podcasts. You have your choice of gender, generation, entrepreneurial, personal development and growing and learning. Is your mind getting the proper nutrition from that?
Knowledge is something you can never lose. When you invest in yourself you are investing into your future. You are never too old to learn. If you stop learning your brain starts dying. And if your brain is not kept alive and stimulated, life can become very boring and dull, and that is definitely not the proper nutrition you should feed your mind with.
Research has shown that the capacity of the average person’s brain vastly outweighs what they use it for. And yet, it never occurs to us to invest in a little training every now and then!
For 400 years, scientists believed that we were stuck with the brain we were born with. Luckily for us, that theory has gone out the window. Neuroplasticity is an amazing new theory that has proven one very incredible fact: Our brains can change.
This means that if you’re not highly intelligent in one area – that’s okay! You have the option to literally change that area of your brain through a little training.
An easy way to think about it is: Your brain is a muscle – you need to exercise it regularly! You need to invest a little time every now and then.
So, what can you do?
1. Be Curious-Instead of taking everything at face value, get into the habit of questioning everything. While most disclaimers would be placed right here that it is or isn’t safe to do this at home, be careful how many questions you ask. I am often met with “Another question?” If you don’t ask, you don’t know. Think of how you would or could improve upon everyday things. By being curious and questioning everything, you force your brain to innovate and create new ideas.
2. Exercise Regularly-It’s been proven that exercise helps to increase brain function. This means that every time you exercise you are creating new brain cells! Get off the couch and get moving! Your brain will thank you for it.
3. Do Something New– When you experience something “new,” you stimulate your brain. Don’t get stuck in a rut doing the same old things; the only way to change the structure of your brain is to try new things. What have you been wanting to try? …now is the time to do it and feed your brain.
4. Train Your Memory-Discipline yourself to memorize phone numbers and other important numbers. Do you ever listen to someone rattle off their license or credit card number and wonder how they remembered that? I still know my phone number from 1960. Your memory is also a muscle that needs training, and modern technology has made us lazy! Try doing the old math without a calculator as well. You’re in for a treat.
5. Think Positive-Stress and anxiety kills existing brain neurons and also stops new neurons from being created. Research has shown that positive thinking, especially in the future tense, speeds up the creation of cells and dramatically reduces stress and anxiety. Turn around some of your thoughts and turn the negative ones into positive ones. Your brain isn’t the only place you will see the results.
6. Eat Healthy-Our diets have a HUGE impact on brain function. Our brains consume over 20 percent of all nutrients and oxygen that we consume. So, remember to feed your brain with the good stuff! While we all like foods that are not the best for us, don’t forget the fresh fruits and vegetables with a little chocolate or wine on the side.
7. Read A Book-Reading relieves tension and stress because it’s a form of escapism. Research has also shown that using your imagination is a great way to train your brain, because you force your mind to picture what you are imagining. Reading is a great way to trigger your imagination and fuel your creative genius. What are you reading right now?
8 Get Enough Sleep-Sleep is like a mini detox for the brain. This is when your body regenerates cells and removes all the toxins that have built up during the day. Get to bed between the hours of 9 pm and midnight to benefit from the most effective hours of sleep. I’m so excited to report that I am asleep by 9:12 so I’m right there with feeding my brain every night.
Remember, you are the books you read, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the people you spend time with, the conversations you engage in. Choose wisely what you feed your mind.