You often get people telling you to go to gym or exercise to keep your body in shape. But I have rarely heard someone saying something about mental exercises. Is it just because we can ‘see’ the physical beauty and not the mental beauty? Are we attracted too much with physical appearances?
In today’s age, mental strength is in fact more important than physical fitness. This post is about throwing light on many mental ‘muscles’ you have and the way to make them sharper.
The muscles of your brain
Mental strength is not about solving complicated puzzles and math problems. Just like your body, the brain has various abilities which all need to be exercised regularly to make a well shaped and powerful brain. Let’s explore some of the mental muscles and exercises.
All the exercises below are presented from my own understanding and experience. I haven’t read them anywhere, but you can try them and see for yourself if they work!
A strong memory is useful in many ways. It is a great ability to be able to recall similar patterns and events when you need them. A lot of your problems could be solved easily if you could just remember the solutions!
It is really interesting how the memory works. When you try to remember something, it all doesn’t come at once. You remember one thing and then with a bit of effort and time, you start remembering links to that event. It is as if you are digging deep in your brain and bringing out the events which you were sure you had lost!
You remember more than you know! It just takes effort and time to remember something.
- Visual memory– When you are sitting idly, observe everything around you for about 30 seconds. Then close your eyes and try to reproduce everything in your mind. Try to remember the objects and the spaces between them. The light and shadows falling on them. Remember that you are not trying to imagine, you are simply trying to reproduce what you just saw.
- Memory of words and numbers– Read a simple paragraph or a series of numbers and try to memorize them exactly as they were, word by word, number by number.
Visualization is one of the most important skills for life. When you want to move to the next level, it always helps to visualize the outcomes you want in life.
Exercise– Visualize a moment which you want to live. For example a place where you would have always wanted to go. Imagine being in that place with the person you want. Visualize as much detail as possible. Feel the comfortable temperature, the beauty of the scene and the sounds (or the silence). Involve as much senses as possible. More the senses, stronger the experience!
Visualization is a very powerful tool. It can also help you change your emotions! check out How to generate positive emotions.
3.) Creative imagination
Very similar to visualization, the creative imagination adds the element of ‘what if’ thinking. Ability to create is what makes us different, but it is rarely exercised in everyday life! This is the exercise for out of box thinking and expanding imagination.
Exercise– See something around you and ask what if it would be in a different way? I usually see the buildings on the road and try to imagine them in different shapes. What if they were designed differently?
Creative imagination is usually triggered by asking questions! Check out this post :The importance of asking right Questions to yourself.
4.) Inference/ Deduction/ Assessment/ Judgement
Logic is another very powerful tool that humans have. Applying powerful logic to come to a decision is in itself a beautiful act. As a chess player I especially love this ability of the brain.
It is the ability to think like a detective, assess the situation based on information you have, link different events and infer a conclusion.
“As always, you see but you don’t observe”-SH
Exercise- Make a habit of observing and not just seeing. If a chair next to you is placed in a certain way, ask why and how is it placed that way and not any other way? What are the possibilities? What does it tell you about the person who was using that chair? Observe and try to infer/deduce what the scene is trying to tell you!
I would say you can solve puzzles to develop this faculty of brain. But why? Puzzles are something that usually have one true answer. Your life itself is the most complex puzzle. There is no one right answer. There are many choices. You need to be able to make decisions and judgements based on the ‘incomplete’ information that you have!
You can check out Making Decisions in Life .
5.) Analysis and calculation.
The most common ability of brain is the ability to calculate and analyse. When you have a lot of data, you have to ‘Analyze’ it in order to make a meaningful conclusion.
“If this… then that, then this, then that..” a calculation of chain of events is not uncommon in life. It is most helpful in managing your money.
Exercise: As a chess player, I don’t know any other powerful exercise than a game of chess. But solving math puzzles regularly is one way of shaping your brain to calculate well.
6.) Will Power/ Self-discipline
A strong will is a push given to most difficult goals. Will-power is also a skill which needs to be exercised. Sometimes you have a lot of talent and great deal of imaginative ideas. But some bad habits may hold you back.
Will power is the tool to break through habits and get needed breakthroughs.
Exercise– Start with something small. Something about you that you want to change, which is not too difficult but still needs a commitment. For example, reducing the time of using social media. You have to commit to that and stick to that commitment till you finally achieve it. Once you can comfortably use will power for small things, start making changes in habit. Resist the temptations and do what needs to be done, have an iron will!
We have moved from brain to mind. Concentration is the key to become more and more efficient in whatever you do. Without concentration, you can’t make an impact. It is as simple as that.
Exercise – Can you concentrate fully on something for just 1 hr per day? Commit to give your full attention to an important task just for 1 specific hour of a day and do it. Slowly improve the number of hours. Use the power of commitment!
8.) Awareness/ Mindfulness
mindfulness is the ability to remain in the present and become more aware of your reality. ‘Awareness’ defines a shift from the brain to a mind. Awareness is not simply a tool like memory. Awareness is your reality. It is what you are!
Most of these exercises don’t require specific time. You can do them anywhere at anytime. Putting together all of these abilities makes one strong, powerful mind! Hope you enjoyed it 🙂