Mental Training - A How To Guide
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
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
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
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,
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