Popular thought says there’s something about turning 40 that makes one think, “Holy ^%!*, I could actually get old one day.” Then 50 starts approaching at warp light speed, and some start to think whole new thoughts, like, “Where did I put my keys?” And, “What did I come into this room for?” And “What was I going to write in my blog post? Wait, what’s my password? Never mind the password, what’s my domain again?”
If you can’t relate yet, good for you, and I hope you never do! In fact, this article is meant to inspire you to avoid such mental collapse.
No matter what your age, you can benefit from a better brain. And I don’t mean trading your brain in for a new one, although that could be awesome. I mean growing your own brain so that it functions better, makes new connections and thinks up creative new ideas constantly. Just like there’s weight training and cardio for the body, certainly there must be ways to improve how your brain functions so that everyday tasks like running your online business and finding new ways to make it profitable become like child’s play. At least, that’s what I was hoping to find.
So I started doing some research into the brain and how it works and what a person can do to improve it. And you know what? You have to be a brain scientist to understand all that stuff. So I took a shortcut – I bought a book by a brain researcher with 20+ years of experience in actively building or growing his own brain. The book is called Whole Brain Power, and the exercises he recommends are not at all what I was expecting.
First discovery I made – the brain actually does grow from nurturing and training it. Second discovery – left handed people have more brain mass and a more flexible brain structure than right handed people. You might be wondering how they know that: UCLA did a study of 70 pairs of identical twins where one twin was right handed, the other left handed, with an average age of 70. The lefties almost invariably had better brains.
Put these two pieces of information together, along with a lot of scientific data I won’t get into, and you find that by using your non-dominant hand to do things like write and play sports, you are actually growing your brain. Plus memorization can work wonders, too.
Here’s a tangible example of brain growth: London’s famous black-cab cabbie drivers must store a mental map of London, including 25,000 street names and the locations of all major tourist attractions. It takes 3 years of intensive study to pass the test, and three-quarters of the applicants drop out. When they studied the brains of these cabbies, they found their hippo-campus had grown. In fact, the longer they spent on the job, the bigger their brains. This and other studies prove you can physically improve your brain if you work at it.
Doing these exercises have side benefits as well. Within 3 to 4 weeks of consistent training you’ll notice you’re more alert, you have greater focus and your attention span improves. Work will become easier, you’ll write blog posts faster, and you’ll begin seeing possibilities in your business that were all but invisible to you before. Plus your memory will get better, you’ll experience more energy, your chance of getting Alzheimer’s decreases and other benefits as well.
So what are the prescribed exercises for growing your brain? I’ll go over some of them briefly.
For purposes of explanation, I’m going to assume you’re right handed. If you’re left handed, just reverse what I say.
Anything that you normally do with your right hand like brushing your teeth, combing your hair, eating with a fork, etc., try doing with your left hand every day.
Write with your left hand. Get a notebook and write something on the right page with your right hand. Then write that same thing on the left page with your left hand. Your right hand (left brain) is actually training your left hand (right brain) using this method. If you like, use mirror writing when writing with your left hand. That is, write from right to left in such a way that the writing is legible when viewed in a mirror. Leonardo Da Vinci did this and he was no intellectual slouch.
By the way, it’s no coincidence that Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth were all ambidextrous.
Memorize and recite things forwards and backwards. For example, learn to say the alphabet as fast backwards as you do forwards. Memorize states or countries in reverse alphabetical order. Memorize long poems, speeches or soliloquies. While you’re at it, learn a new language. And memorize number sequences such as the powers of 2 all the way up to 30 or beyond (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16384 etc.)
Do hammer drills. To start, get a lightweight (1 pound or so) rubber mallet and using your right hand bounce a tennis ball on it. Bounce once and catch, bounce once and catch. When you get good, bounce twice and catch, then three times, working your way to bouncing 5 times and catching the ball. Now transfer the mallet to your left hand and repeat. Be patient, your brain wants to learn this new skill. Move up to using a golf ball and increase the number of reps. When you can do 100-300 on either hand, place a mallet in both hands and bounce the ball from the right to the left and back again. Once you can do this successfully for 100 reps or more, get a heavier hammer. Sounds crazy, but the benefits – both to the brain and the body – are enormous. Here’s a helpful video on hammer drills: