Staying healthy as a man requires more than just picking stuff up and putting stuff down.
52 Week Plan to Completely Turn a Man’s Life Around: Week 6
Being a World Strong Man— now, wouldn’t that be something? Never to have to use two hands for groceries again! Able to open any pickle jar with just a flick of the wrist!
How empowering it would be to possess all that strength (obviously ignoring the insane upkeep). But what about being a world “smart” man? What if you exercised your brain as well, instead of just your body?
And now you are asking yourself the question: Is it even possible to exercise your brain?
I’m sure you’ve all heard of sites like Luminosity or BrainMetrix. These sites are specifically designed to test different parts of your brain, engaging those sections that aren’t used as frequently and challenging the use of multiple sections at the same time.
Your brain is a wonderfully powerful and immensely intelligent supercomputer. Between memory and imagination, we are capable of so many great feats. However, for all it’s prowess, your brain is also fantastically stupid.
Light your right foot off the ground and begin swinging it in a clockwise direction. While you are doing this, raise your right hand and draw the number six in the air. Notice anything strange when you try?
If your left foot decided half way through that it didn’t like to listen and turned around to go counterclockwise, don’t worry, you aren’t the only person. The left side of your brain, which controls the right side of your body, is responsible for timing. It can’t deal with operating two opposite movements at the same time and so it combines them into a single motion.
Why is this important?
You can, with practice, train your brain to do the things it inherently doesn’t understand.
You remember looking at optical illusions when you were younger? Perhaps you still do. Well, those “optical illusions” should just be called “brain errors” because that’s all those pictures are. They are the many, many, many ways our brains simply can’t function.
In order to train your brain, you must spend time working it out just as you would any other muscle in your body. Except instead of lifting weights, you are solving puzzles.
I’m going to talk about one of the most beneficial brain exercises you can do, and how with the never ending increase of social media, we are doing this activity far more than we think.
Here are my top 8 benefits of reading and how they can help you train your brain and better enjoy your life:
Knowledge is power. Knowledge, when all is said and done, is how we as humans exist. We only get from A to B by knowing something. Direction. Distance. Danger. When we are engaged in our reading, we are constantly in a state of learning. And that doesn’t mean you have to be reading textbooks. You could learn something reading The Catcher in the Rye, which if you love books like me, your probably will. Even though half of you reading this just got a terrible taste in your mouth remembering that book from high school.
II. Critical Analysis Skills
I’m sure at one point or another you have been watching television or reading a book and you figured something out long before the characters did. Congratulations. Reading improves your critical thinking and deduction skills. (It also turns out that if you pay attention enough, humans are pretty easy creatures to predict)
III. Stress Reduction
When we dive into the words of another, we are lost in their story. We are consumed and often become lost in the world we read. Articles and poetry make us think, but they can also engage us and suck us in.A well-written novel, however, can literally take you to another world.
It’s 2015. If you spend time online you are probably a master of mental multi-tasking. For instance, in the span of just a few minutes, the average person will divide their time between work, checking email, chatting with people online, watching Twitter/ Facebook, checking their smartphone, and interacting with co-workers. This lowers productivity and increases your stress. When you read a book, however, 100% attention goes to the text in your hands. The world evaporates and you drift among the clouds of mental condensation. If you spend twenty minutes reading before you get to work, you will have far better concentration and focus throughout your day.
V. Mental Stimulation
Recent studies have shown that keeping your mind stimulated can slow down (or even prevent) mental illnesses like Alzheimer’s and Dementia. As I mentioned, the brain works like any other muscle in the body; if you keep working it out, it will get stronger and quicker. You just need to know how to train it. Reading keeps your brain engaged. Not only interpreting the words and their meaning, but actively imagining the story you are reading brought to life. You can see it and you can hear it and sometimes you can even taste and smell it (if you really let your imagination run wild).
VI. Memory Improvement
Above all things, reading improves memory most of all. When we read, we have to remember so many things: Characters, their stories and dreams and goals, the history of the world we are in, allusions, side arcs, the main plot, motives, names, places, etc. This may surprise you, but every new memory you create manifests new synapses (brain pathways) and strengthens existing ones. This assists with short-term memory, long-term memory, as well as stabilizing your mood.
VII. Vocabulary Expansion
As you devour the gratuitous diction blanketing each page of the book of your choosing, you will inevitably manifest these words in your everyday vocabulary. Viz, as time passes, the words you learn will slowly work themselves into your speech and your writing. Being articulate in both, is a massive boost in any profession. Those who are well-read, well-spoken, and knowledgeable on a broad variety of topics tend to be moved up quickly in their career. These are the traits of intelligent and motivated people. In the business world, striving to learn means that you deserve to rise.
VIII. Writing Skills
Alongside increasing your vocabulary, the more phrases and sentiments you interpret, the more well-shaped your brain is. Reading allows your brain to interpret the fluidity and styles of other authors inevitably influencing and improving your own. Just as other artists and musicians and craftsman are influenced by their predecessors and contemporaries, so are writers.
There is something out there for everyone. Regardless of your literary taste, I guarantee you can find something that interests you; whether it’s poetry, fiction, scifi, biographies, textbooks, romance novels, mysteries, magazines, fashion blogs, self-help lit, or young adult books, there is always going to be a text that can capture your interest.
Sometimes getting your hands on a piece of writing that interests you is difficult. Hit up your local library, which has books and in most cases PDF docs or ePub formatted works that allow you to use your e-reader, iPad, tablet, or computer. You can also download free books on line, as well as go to a bookstore (Yes, those still exist)!
So grab a good book, find a place to settle in, and let it take you far, far away.
If you missed the first five weeks, you can check them out here!
I’ve already been working on my health, my physical limitations, my happiness, and my career— now it’s time to keep going and to make even more progress!
If you are thinking about making some changes in your life, pay attention to the little things that you do (or don’t do). Often times we let ourselves slip into comfortability and convenience because we are afraid of work, or a challenge, or the unknown.
Expand your mind. It’s the tool that helps you interpret the world around you. Through it, you see and feel and smell and taste and hear all things— so why not make your experience the best it can be?
Photo: Flickr/ Susanne Nilsson