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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" questions.

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 habits.

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