Personal growth happens faster in the right environment. This environment shapes our mind, body, and character in a positive way.
Do you think of the Internet as an environment? If you’re like most people, you find this a stretch. For most people, the Internet is nothing more than a massive networking infrastructure. All across the world, millions of computers talk to each other. That’s all.
Yet, a small shift in perspective can change your life.
When you start thinking of the Internet as as environment, you see it in a different way.
What is an environment, anyway? It could be a city or a country. In any city, there are good and bad neighborhoods. Around the world, there are peaceful, prosperous countries and countries that are ravaged by war and famine. If you have a choice, you’d rather stay in a city or a country that enhances your wellbeing.
Now, think of the Internet as a conceptual environment. Real people populate this virtual world. They communicate through images and text, audio and video. They collect in groups. They voice their opinions. They help you or they hinder your progress.
A real environment has bright and dark sides. The Internet offers the same contrasting duality. A real environment can shape your thoughts and feelings about the world. The Internet offers the same type of transformation.
Still, there is one significant difference. In the real world, you might be stuck in an environment. You don’t have the means, resources, or permission to leave it. In the virtual world, you can leave a bad neighborhood at the click of a mouse button.
What is better than a good, clean, wholesome environment? It’s an enriched environment.
A school can be an enriched environment. A playground, too. Or a club. Or a Dojo. An enriched environment is any place that improves your life.
In essence, an enriched environment enhances your brain. As a result, you become more intelligent. And with more intelligence, there is a higher rate of adaptation and success.
In an enriched environment, you experience an increased rate of neurogenesis. This is a complicated process of brain growth. A simple way to understand brain development is by comparing it to exercise.
When you lift weights, you develop bigger and stronger muscles. When you do yoga, you become more flexible. And when you run, you improve your level of physical endurance.
Good things happen when you exercise your brain, too. You’re able to increase cognitive speed and flexibility. You’re able to expand your attention span and memory. And you get good at analyzing problems and coming up with ingenious solutions.
Here are some things that happen during neurogenesis:
The activation of your neurons, glial cells, and capillaries encourages your cortex to thicken. In other words, your biocomputer builds a faster processor and a bigger hard drive.
Research on animals has shown that enriched environments can help with brain dysfunction. They can mitigate or heal aging, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
There is also something known as the cognitive reserve — a resilience to brain dysfunction. An enriched environment helps here, too. By contrast, the lack of an enriched environment creates impaired cognitive development.
Social studies and brain scans on human beings also show similar results. Humans who live in enriched environments have higher mental acuity. They also enjoy better brain health.
You can use the Internet as an enriched environment by using it in a more intentional way.
Most people use the Internet to check their emails, do work, or join social media. This is fine, but it’s not using the Internet as an enriched environment.
Here are 7 suggestions on how to use the Internet as an enriched environment:
1. Limit time-wasting activities. There are many ways to waste time on the Internet. While they stimulate your brain, you don’t receive a lot of cognitive benefits. Limit how much time you spend on low-value activities or websites.
2. Increase social networking. Join groups or associations with likeminded and like-hearted people. On Facebook, for example, join groups where you can learn and share ideas that enrich your life.
3. Sign up for a MOOC. MOOC stands for “Massive Online Open Courses.” You can learn anything from the top Universities in the world at no cost.
4. Join a brain gym. Neuroscientists have found many ways to increase cognitive abilities. Brain gyms offer games and puzzles that stimulate your speed of comprehension and memory.
5. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks. Some of the leading experts in your field share their knowledge during interviews. Eavesdrop on life-changing conversations. You don’t even have to be on your computer — you can be walking in the woods and listening on your smartphone.
6. Read blogs. Blogs can give you bite-sized information in a few minutes. You can read in minutes what it took someone hours to research, organize, and summarize.
7. Watch documentaries. Video-sharing websites offer some of the most cutting-edge documentaries. You can find out about anything. Study the biographies of leading thinkers. Catch up on the latest findings in quantum mechanics.
Of course, these are only suggestions, but you get the idea. If you use the Internet with deep intention, it can become an enriched environment. You will not only develop your brain, but you’ll also improve your life.
Think about it. Never before in the history of the world have you been able to learn so much. Why not take full advantage of the opportunity to nurture your personal growth?
Featured photo credit: Bench Accounting via unsplash.com
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