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Ways to Be Dumber

We don't need ways to be less smart of course, but there are two basic approaches to improving your brainpower. The first is to actively engage in thoughts and behaviors that help, and the second is to avoid those patterns of thought and behavior that hurt. The latter approach is what we focus on here.

The following are some of the things people do that either physically damage their brains or get in the way of thinking clearly. These are effectively ways to be dumber dumber. You might see some of your own habits on the list. If so, you can start getting rid of them and get smarter.

1. Over-Explaining

Having an explanation for something can sometimes mean we stop thinking. We might explain human aggression as a "survival instinct," for example, and leave the matter there. Of course, that leaves a lot of interesting questions unanswered right? (What is instinct?... Why do some have more of this "instinct" than other people?... What causes the differences?) To answer a question with "I don't know," may feel like an uncomfortable admission of ignorance, but it often leads to more understanding - certainly more so than having a ready explanation for every question.

2. Excessive Alcohol

Studies show that moderate alcohol consumption is healthy, possibly even good for the brain. But "moderate" means a drink or two each day, not four - and not heavy drinking once a month. Any more than two drinks in a day damages brain cells (and may cause other problems as well).

3. Blaming And Excuse-Making

A circumstance or person may really cause a problem for you, but focusing on blaming or excuse-making short-circuits the thinking processes that might help most. You aren't usually looking for a better approach to a situation when you are blaming, and when you make an excuse, your mind unconsciously starts to look for evidence to support your belief, instead of thinking of a solution.

4. Excessive Simple Carbohydrates

Eating too much sugar, white flour and other simple carbohydrates has long term risks, like diabetes and obesity, and possibly damage to brain cells. Although the latter isn't yet proven the short term effect is brain fog. Your brain runs on blood sugar, but prefers to take it in a certain way, however. Simply put, it dislikes wild fluctuations. Simple carbohydrates - processed flour products and sugary foods - cause wild fluctuations.

They cause sugar to rush into the bloodstream, which triggers a rush of insulin, causing a plunging blood sugar level (hypoglycemia ). Adrenal hormones can then squeeze stored sugar from the liver, sending blood sugar levels up again. This blood sugar roller-coaster, with "sugar highs"and "sugar blues," which can stimulate a neurotransmitter imbalance, causing you to feel fidgety, irritable, inattentive, and even sleepy - not the most conducive state for efficient brain function.

5. Excessive Hydrogenated Fats

The hydrogenated oils found in most packages foods cause heart disease and general clogging of the arteries. This includes the arteries that feed the brain. With less blood flow to the brain, you can't think as well, and your body can't repair brain cells as easily. Try healthier fats, like olive oil.

6. Mental Laziness

Just like the rest of our bodies, the brain needs exercise. Specific processes improve with practice (practice solving problems and you'll get better at it, for example), but there are physical changes too. With regular mental exercises, you brain grows new brain cells. Never challenging your brain, on the other hand, makes you dumber.

This list could go on, of course, and include every bad mental habit and every food or drink or drug that is bad for you. But if you start by avoiding the things listed above, you are on your way to better brainpower.

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