It has often been said that the brain is like a muscle. You need to train it and work it to make it grow stronger.
That being said, do you actually take the time to give your brain regular workouts?I must admit, over the years, I’ve grown lazy. My attention span is so short I feel that I must have some form of attention deficit disorder.
My brain doesn’t do exercise, it sits on the couch and watches Running Man. Sometimes my brain is on Facebook, looking at photos of what my friend cooked for dinner last night.
When I first started at my new job, my brain got a great workout, what with all the meeting new colleagues and adapting to a new environment. But after awhile, the novelty wore off, I got used to things, and there were significantly less challenges. The amount of work my brain got at work was equivalent to the workout my body gets when it walks from the bedroom to the kitchen. In short, not very much.
And when I got home, I felt too tired to do anything but, well, watch Running Man and go on Facebook.
If you don’t exercise your muscles regularly, what happens?
They atrophy and become weak, limp and flaccid. It’s the same with your brain. If you don’t exercise your brain, neurons don’t fire, neural connections aren’t made, and the brain becomes a weak, limp and flaccid thing. Isn’t that a scary thought?
Technology has made our brains lazy.
Need to know an answer to a problem? Just Google it.
Bored? Get instant gratification and kill time on Facebook and Youtube, download a drama series to watch or play a tower defense game.
Look at it this way. Even simple technologies like the calculator can make you dumber. After 5 years of heavy dependence on the calculator, the ability to calculate sums in my head has greatly deteriorated. Now I reach for the calculator even for the simplest of sums. Er, what’s 254 minus 46 again?
We don’t need to learn things anymore because we can find it anytime, anywhere. We don’t need to use our brains because technology does everything for us. We don’t even need to get off our couches because there’s so much entertainment right at our fingertips. Many of us have become slaves to the internet, switching on laptops the minute we get home, and feeling irritated or anxious if we don’t have Wifi.
And as Andrea Kuszewski put it, efficiency is not your friend when it comes to cognitive growth. She cites using a GPS as an example.
GPS is an amazing invention. I am one of those people GPS was invented for. My sense of direction is terrible. So when GPS came along, I thanked my lucky stars. But you know what? After using GPS for a short time, I found my sense of direction was worse. If I failed to have it with me, I was even more lost than before.
I’m not saying that technology is bad. Technology is great. I love technology. I can’t live without technology. But we should all be aware of how it can slowly, insidiously, lead us down the path of mental decline.
So how do you go about exercising your brain?
Andrea Kuszewski’s 5 basic principles are a good start. Exposing your brain to novel ideas and challenges, making your brain work out by doing things creatively or the hard way, and networking with others, are all things we can do on a daily basis.
I recently tried doing brain training games on Lumosity in a bid to challenge my brain. There are a lot of naysayers out there who say brain training games don’t work, and after 5 days I’m still undecided as to whether its making me smarter. But hey, it did lead me to ponder and write this article. If you’re up for it, you can try the dual and back game, which has been scientifically proven to improve working memory and fluid intelligence. Be warned though, it will make your brain hurt. Which is probably why it works.
All this may not apply to some of you out there. You might have a greatly fulfilling job that provides you with a variety of different challenges every day that keeps you on your toes. But what most people don’t realize is that the brain can greatly benefit from a regular workout, just like the body. Many can’t be bothered to do regular physical exercise anyway, let alone brain exercises.
And the reality is, a lot of people out there spend more time consuming content and being observers instead of creators.
So this 2014, make it a point to exercise your brain. Take up a new hobby, be it cooking or learning a new instrument. Learn a new language. Join a club and meet new people. Go out and exercise. Read philosophy. Challenge your brain and make it hurt once in awhile like muscles ache after a good workout. Just do anything besides staying at home with your technology.
You don’t want to become dull and dim witted before your time do you?