Boost the Power of Your Mind
In the many emails I get from subscribers to the Brainpower
Newsletter, the question of how to boost mind power is a regular
one. That makes me happy, because as much as I report on the
brain and all the ways to boost brainpower, it is really the
mind that is more meaningful to me. I use the analogy of the
brain as hardware and the mind as the software. Both are important,
but it is the software that really makes the system usable in
new ways. Here then, are some thoughts on two things that have
worked for me to boost the power of the mind.
Overcoming Bad Mental Habits
Above all else, I have found that self-observation is crucial.
This will make immediate sense to some and leave others asking
why we need to watch ourselves to have a powerful mind. I have
a simple answer to that: We have many flaws in the ways in which
we think and analyze, and to correct these - and so have a more
useful mind - we have to become aware of them.
This is largely the point of my book Beyond Mental Slavery.
In it, I take a look at all the ways we can be misled by parts
of our minds that run almost as independent entities. When we
see the nonsense that is in our heads more clearly, it is possible
to get past it or work around it.
I've had many bad mental habits over the years, and still
do. They range from taking my mind's reactions too seriously
to ignoring evidence that might argue against what I believe.
We all have these limiting ways of thinking. Learning to see
them in action in myself has been liberating, to say the least.
How to become more aware and self-observant is a topic for another
time, but nothing else I've done has been more effective at elevating
the true power of my mind.
Accumulating Good Mental Habits
If you were to simply ask "what other perspectives are
there here?" every time you looked at some situation or
some new bit of knowledge, it would by itself make your thinking
far more powerful. You would occasionally have profound insights,
and commonly have new ideas. There are many simple practices
like this that would change the quality of your thinking and
your life if you could just remember to use them consistently.
Of course we forget to do what we would like to do - unless
we have made it into a habit. Then the remembering is unnecessary,
because the process is unconscious and more-or-less automatic.
Just as some people reflexively look for all the reasons that
something can't be done when presented with opportunities, or
immediately find complaints about everything that happens, we
can also have automatic mental processes that are more useful.
Some people claim that it takes 21 days to form a new habit.
More likely it is different for each of us, and we just need
to repeat an action or thought process daily for as long as it
takes to become habitual. When it happens without you having
to remind yourself, it is a habit.
The accumulation of good mental habits is another one of the
most life-changing things I have done. This is especially true
in areas involving creativity. I routinely reinvent things that
I see and find new ways to accomplish my goals. Purposeful and
repeated use of creative problem solving techniques has made
them a normal part of my thinking - mental habits. Without hesitation
or even conscious intention I automatically challenge assumptions,
combine concepts to create new ideas, and ask "what if"
So, if you want to know how to think more creatively, deeply,
and effectively, these two practices are a good start. Observe
yourself to identify and deal with limitations or errors in your
thinking, and start developing an accumulation of good mental