Your brain is an amazing organ that is constantly revising and changing itself based on its experience. As it senses your external and internal environment and processes that information, it makes new connections and strengthens old ones, allowing you to navigate your world. With its executive decision-making functions, it also chooses what it pays attention to, predicts future consequences, and decides what actions to take.
However, your brain only works as much as it needs to based on what is presented in its environment and the tasks at hand. It’s easy to fall into a rut and use the same old pathways it already has instead of making new ones.
In order for you to make the most out of your life and achieve your goals, then, you need to train your brain like you train your body to keep it limber, flexible, creative, and ready to take on any new challenge that comes its way.
This is the third out of five steps in Brain Education
, a system for personal development and brain mastery. It’s called “Brain Versatilizing.”
Through physical and mental exercises, as well as lifestyle habits, you can keep your brain versatile at any age. Although there are many of these exercises
, here is a sample you can try right now.
Make Your Lifestyle Versatile
Small changes in your lifestyle can make a big difference to your brain. To keep your brain flexible:
Pay Attention to Detail
It’s easy to glance over a familiar scene without taking in much of it, thinking there isn’t anything necessary or interesting for you to see. However, if you pay attention to the minute detail of even the things you look at every day, you’ll not only give your brain a workout, but you may notice something that will help you in that moment or in your life overall.
Put yourself in unfamiliar places and situations to form new pathways in your brain that will enrich your world view and allow you to be more creative in the future.
Break Your Routine
We tend to do the same things the same way. While doing your usual tasks, try doing it differently. It can be as easy or mundane as hanging the order in which you get dressed in the morning, altering your route to work or school, writing a letter with a pen instead of typing an email.
Talk to a Variety of People—Especially Smart Ones.
Engage in conversations that challenge your mind. Talk to people with differing political or religious views that force you to see other perspectives. Ask questions, debate issues. Trading ideas forces your mind to ask questions and stretches it in its search for answers.
A Flexible Body Makes a Flexible Brain
As you stretch and bend your body to make it more flexible, your brain becomes more flexible as well. Besides basic stretches, you can perform exercises that promote coordination and balance, which make new connections between different parts of your brain. Here are a few for you to master:
Rock, Paper, Scissors
Practice making the rock, paper, and scissors signs from the old decision-making game. Rock is a closed fist; paper is the hand flat; scissors are two fingers extended.
- Practice with each hand until the motions feel natural.
Now make signs with both hands, showing the sign that cancels the right hand on the left hand.
Now with your right hand, make the sign that cancels the one being made by your left hand.
Keep alternating in this way until you make the signs smoothly and rapidly.
To help keep your balance, focus just below your navel, inside your lower abdomen. This is your center of gravity.
Infinity Coordination Exercise
- Stand with your feet together and your palms in the prayer position in front of your chest.
Slowly bring one foot up, placing the sole of your foot as high as you can on the inner thigh. Push your knee out to the side. (If this is difficult at first, place the foot lower on the leg.) 3. Hold for 10 counts and then switch sides.
The infinity sign is used here because following its curved shape helps to calm the mind while also promoting balance. If you work at a desk for a long time and often feel shoulder and neck stiffness, this exercise will also relieve tension and promote focus—another benefit for your brain.
- Raise your thumb (pointing upward) to eye level, holding it at a point in between your eyes and away from your face. Gently bend your elbow so that your arm is relaxed. Trace the shape of the infinity sign (a sideways figure eight) with your thumb in the air, slowly and deliberately, with full concentration on the movement of your thumb. Hold your head still and follow your thumb with just your eyes.
Repeat 3 to 5 times.
Repeat with your left hand.
You can also use both hands. Clasp your hands together with your thumbs crossing on top.
This is a great exercise to do in the morning to wake up your brain. The sound and the motion will stimulate your brain.
Break the Matrix with Your Mind
- Clap once behind your head.
Clap once behind your back.
Clap once in front of your chest.
Repeat this sequence 10 or more times, as quickly as possible.
Normally, we have a lot of associations and preconceptions attached to anything we’ve seen before. Even when we look at something new, our brain tries to figure it out by associating it with what we already know. Expand your brain’s repertoire with these simple mental games so you can start to think “out of the box” and shift your perspective quickly and easily.
Look around the room and give new names to the things you see. Pick a name that normally belongs to something else, but is not associated with the object in any way. For example, rename a window “fork” and a pencil “dog.” However, the window should not be named “door” and the pencil should not be named “pen.” For more fun, play this game with a friend.
You probably have a lot of tools and objects that perform specific functions–scissors for cutting, a mallet for pounding, spoons for stirring, and so on. Take a look around you and think about what other tasks these objects might perform. For example, a compact disc might be used as a bookmark, a pastry cutter, or a Frisbee. Play with a friend and see who can come up with the longest list for each object.
Our normal habit is to rely on the information given to the brain primarily through the eyes. This habit deprives your brain of the chance to develop and maintain the full range of your five senses
. So, try focusing on your other senses, one at a time. Try tuning in to your ears, recognizing and isolating as many distinct sounds as you can. Then do the same for your sense of touch and continue with your sense of smell and even taste. This activity will help to stimulate various parts of your brain.