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Mental Training - A How To Guide

Steve Gillman

Mental training isn't necessarily like physical training. "No pain - no gain" isn't the way it works. Look, you could practice running faster, or just use a car, and if all you want is to get from here to there, the latter makes more sense. Similarly, brain "exercises" will strengthen the functioning of your brain, or you can just use better tools. That's what this brain training is about - making a habit of using simple tools and techniques.

Mental Training In Simple Rules

Simple rules, used habitually, can enhance your brainpower. For example, if you're considering investments, you can apply the "rule of 72." It's a formula for determining how long it takes to double your money. Divide the rate of return you expect into 72, and the result is the number of years it takes to double your money. If an account pays 6% interest, you divide 72 by 6 and you know that it will take about 12 years to double your money. The rule is based on the compounding of interest, and assumes that you reinvest all interest or investment income.

Real estate investors use simple rules such as "Don't pay more than 100 times monthly rent for an income property." This isn't a replacement for real analysis, but when you train your mind to use such a rule, it speeds up the process. You can eliminate properties selling for 150 times monthly rent, even while an investor with a better brain for numbers is still analyzing them.

Mental Training In Simple Questions

It's not all about mathematical formulas. Simple questions can also help you more quickly reach the result you want. For example, comedians use such questions unconsciously, and write jokes even more efficiently if they consciously use them.

Suppose a friend mentions that having children gives him a sense of immortality. The comedian's question, "What's wrong with this picture?" makes you realize it means dying, so you reply, "I don't want immortality through my children. I want to immortality by not dying!"

"Mental algorithms" for a comedian might include asking questions like, "What if I take this to the extreme?" "How would this look to a dog?" "Which words in this have double meanings that I can play with?" or "What is the stupidest part of this situation?"

Mental Training In Simple Techniques

Use problem solving techniques enough, and they become a habitual part of your thinking process. For example, try the powerful problem solving technique of challenging assumptions. It's an especially effective way to bring more effective brainpower to personal issues, where there are so many hidden assumptions.

Suppose your kids are fighting over the television, and you're tired of it. Perhaps you are assuming the following: 1. You need to have a TV; 2. Fighting over the TV is the problem; 3. The fighting needs to stop; 4. It's your problem.

The process of challenging these assumptions may suggest the following solutions: 1. Get rid of the TV, or limit it's use; 2. Deal with the general issue of the kids' behavior; 3. Leave the room, close the door and let them fight; 4. Tell the kids it's their problem, and they have a week to come up with a solution, or the TV goes.

Each human activity has it's own most useful rules and guidelines that you can train your brain to use. Then there are general "life rules" that can help you make better decisions. For example, you might train yourself to ask, "How does this advance me towards my important goals?" and "Is there a better alternative?"

We all have patterns and mental habits in our subconscious minds, but they are not necessarily the best ones, are they? Why not consciously train yourself to use the questions, rules, and patterns of behavior that are most useful? This can start with simple mental training.

Steve Gillman has been studying brainpower and related topics for years. For more on How To Increase Brain Power, and to get the Brain Power Newsletter and other free gifts, visit:

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