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15 Apps To Train Your Brain

15 Apps To Train Your Brain

As the ever-expanding world of technology mercilessly propels forward, people have begun to urge us to stop and smell the electric current. Every day, we become more dependent on the machines that we created, and it’s easy to condemn the likes of the smart phone for the way in which it transforms so many of us into hunched, shuffling, grunting, zombie-like creatures.

But having your head buried in your phone isn’t always cause for concern, as the brain-training app industry so aptly proves.

The popularity of these applications proves that human beings’ thirst for knowledge and mental well-being is still alive and well, as people seek to give their brain a thorough workout through the medium of smart phone technology.

Only problem is, there’s now a heck of a lot of these apps to choose from, and selecting which one to download can sometimes be the trickiest puzzle of all. Listed below are the main apps that sell themselves on their ability to get the mind sweating, each one reviewed and analysed for your benefit.

1. ReliefLink

ReliefLink doesn’t train your brain in the conventional sense by making you sharper and faster, but rather in a way that soothes the mind, and acts as a conscious, calm digression away from dark thoughts. ReliefLink is focused on improving the mental health of its users who possess troubled minds.

It allows people to log any suicidal thoughts they might have had on any particular day, and hooks them up with a whole host of help numbers and hotlines to prevent tragedy striking.

Offering a variety of soothing exercises that train the brain to steer itself away from the pitfalls of dark ideas, ReliefLink has actually saved lives. If you’re ever in a bad place, it’s an app that really is worth looking up, and you can download it free of charge.

It might just be the best thing you ever do.

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    2. Eidetic

    An incredibly useful app that actively improves users’ memory skills, Eidetic unabashedly throws pieces of information at you at a rapid rate so that you can’t help but remember it.

    Say you need to remember a phone number or date for future reference, all you need to do is enter it into Eidetic, and the app will hit you with constant reminders so that the piece of information remains burned into your memory forever.

    The creators call the technique “spaced repetition” – a startlingly simple and effective way for the user to remember important snippets and facts. You’ll have to fork out $1.99 for the upgraded version, but for the simplistic, limited edition, Eidetic is absolutely free.

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      3. Positive Activity Jackpot

      A simple app with admirable intentions, Positive Activity Jackpot alerts users to all the fun stuff going on in the area around them, and allows them to pull a virtual lever to randomly select an activity to attend or register their interest in.

      Aimed at curing people who are wallowing in depression, Positive Activity Jackpot acts an inspiring app to tentatively push users out of the house and into the world where they can meet other people and partake in activities that’ll boost their serotonin levels.

      Completely free of charge, this app can get you enjoying life again.

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          4. Happify

          Designed specifically to make you feel better about life, Happify does what it says on the tin. The app has become a bit of phenomenon for the way in which it boosts its users’ morale through science-based activities and questionnaires, and claims that the five essential elements of happiness are to Savor, Thank, Aspire, Give and Empathize.

          Available for free on iTunes, Happify is definitely worth a glance at the very least.

          appshappify

            5. CogniFit Brain Fitness

            Another app that prides itself on boosting its users’ cognitive skills, CogniFit Brain Fitness offers a variety of training games, mind-expanding challenges, and the opportunity to communicate with other users through the function of an IM chat system.

            CogniFit Brain Fitness focuses on improving your memory, focus and attention skills through a selection of games made up with vibrant graphics.

            Free from the off, this is definitely another brain-training app worth giving a go.

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              6. Elevate

              Winner of the coveted App of the Year title in 2014, Elevate is certainly one of the snazziest brian-training applications currently out there today. Boasting an intergalactic-like interface, Elevate promises to boost users’ memories, speech skills, number crunching abilities, and general mind speed.

              With more than 25 different games to play on this handsome app, there really is something for all users to enjoy. Available for free in its simplest form, users have the opportunity to upgrade to Elevate PRO for £4.99 a month.

              appelevate-app

                7. Sudoku

                The famous number-grid game in digital form, Sudoku offers users the opportunity to improve their maths skills on the go. Fast, free, and largely absent of bugs and crashes, this a handy little app to keep you occupied on long commutes, although depending on your personality, it can become frustratingly addictive.

                appSudoku-Free-iPad

                  8. Think-O-Meter

                  A little different than ordinary brain-training apps, Think-O-Meter focuses solely on improving the user’s critical thinking skills. Instead of offering a selection of colourful games to play, Think-O-Meter doesn’t fool and around and gets straight to the nitty-gritty of it all – throwing up questions and scenarios for the user to try and solve.

                  After using the app you might find that the skills acquired are able to help you in real life – especially when it comes to the difficult task of decision making.

                  Free to download, Think-O-Meter might be worth a punt if you have a little time on your hands and fancy improving your critical thinking abilities.

                  appthinkometercritical-thinking-university-think-o-meter

                    9. Brain Fitness Pro

                    Brain Fitness Pro makes the bold claim that it is capable of not just making you sharper, but actively boosting your IQ too. Tough and uncompromising, it’s an app that appears to do its statements justice.

                    After just a few thirty minute sessions of brain-tingling exercises, you might find that playing strategic games like chess become much, much easier.

                    Available for anywhere up to £5 in original form, but that’s a small price to pay for the effects on your mind power that this app can have.

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                      10. Brain Trainer Special

                      A mind-boggling assortment of math games, word puzzles and provocative memory sequences, Brain Trainer Special offers what you’d usually expect from a brain-training app, coupled with a sleek interface to boot.

                      Available on Google Play as opposed to iTunes, this is an app that non-Apple users can enjoy to expand their minds.

                      Usually listed with an initial price of around £.99, with optional expansions available.

                      appbrainfitnesspro

                        11. Personal Zen

                        Clinically proven to reduce stress levels, Personal Zen offers some relief for those who have the urge to bite off their own tongue after a horrid day in the office. Operating on a simple, albeit strange principle, this app works by showing two blue faces on a lush, green background – one happy, one angry.

                        The two faces then disappear underneath the blades of grass, and the user’s task is to trace their finger along the same path as the happy face. It may well reduce stress, but Personal Zen is incredibly weird and certainly takes some getting used to.

                        Completely free and offering achievements after high scores, the app has several mental benefits…even if it is a little bizarre.

                        apppersonal-zen

                          12. Lumosity

                          A free app that enhances a user’s brain speed by offering a diverse range of cognitive games, Lumosity creates a brain-training schedule separated into the five categories of Problem Solving, Memory, Attention, Speed, and Flexibility.

                          Designed and developed by an amalgamated team of neuroscientists and psychologists, Lumosity certainly has credibility on its side, and is a widely popular app with more than 70 million users.

                          Challenging, stimulating, and boasting a colourful interface, this is a free app that’s worth your time.

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                            13. Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock

                            A great little app for helping you feel refreshed every single morning, Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock analyzes your REM sleep patterns and prods you awake at just the right time in your snoozing cycle.

                            This is a cracking app for those who have trouble clambering out from under the duvet in the mornings, and allows you to go out into the world and perform at your very best all day long.

                            Available on iTunes. for just £.79.

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                              14. Memory Trainer

                              Available on the Google Play store, Memory Trainer is designed to help you improve your memory skills through a variety of puzzles and mental sweat exercises.

                              Some of the games require you to recall telephone numbers that flash up on screen, whereas others ask the user to find the odd one out.

                              Available for free, Memory Trainer is a great app for those who find themselves stumped when they’re asked to remember specific information.

                              MemoryTrainerbest-apps-for-improving-memory-memory-trainer120508

                                15. 10Plus

                                A brain-training app tailored to the younger generation of smart phone users, 10Plus accentuates and enhances children’s number-crunching skills by way of colourful, engaging cross-puzzles.

                                Made with cartoon graphics to help kids retain interest, 10Plus acts as a race against time against the computer, and ought to act as a fun, stimulating challenge for children who struggle with numbers.

                                Available on iTunes for free.

                                app10plus

                                  Featured photo credit: picjumbo Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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                                  Gareth Lloyd

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                                  Last Updated on March 21, 2019

                                  11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                                  11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                                  Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

                                  You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

                                  But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

                                  To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

                                  It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

                                  “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

                                  The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

                                  In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

                                  Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

                                  1. Start Small

                                  The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

                                  Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

                                  Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

                                  Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

                                  Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

                                  Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

                                  It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

                                  Do less today to do more in a year.

                                  2. Stay Small

                                  There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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                                  But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

                                  If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

                                  When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

                                  I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

                                  Why?

                                  Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

                                  The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

                                  Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

                                  3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

                                  No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

                                  There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

                                  What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

                                  Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

                                  This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

                                  This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

                                  4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

                                  When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

                                  There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

                                  Peter Drucker said,

                                  “What you track is what you do.”

                                  So track it to do it — it really helps.

                                  But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

                                  5. Measure Once, Do Twice

                                  Peter Drucker also said,

                                  “What you measure is what you improve.”

                                  So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

                                  For reading, it’s 20 pages.
                                  For writing, it’s 500 words.
                                  For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
                                  For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

                                  Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

                                  6. All Days Make a Difference

                                  Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

                                  Will two? They won’t.

                                  Will three? They won’t.

                                  Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

                                  What happened? Which one made you fit?

                                  The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

                                  No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

                                  7. They Are Never Fully Automated

                                  Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

                                  But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

                                  What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

                                  It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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                                  The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

                                  It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

                                  It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

                                  8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

                                  Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

                                  Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

                                  When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

                                  The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

                                  Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

                                  9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

                                  The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

                                  Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

                                  You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

                                  But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

                                  So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

                                  If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

                                  This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

                                  The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

                                  Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

                                  10. Punish Yourself

                                  Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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                                  I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

                                  It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

                                  You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

                                  No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

                                  The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

                                  But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

                                  11. Reward Yourself

                                  When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

                                  Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

                                  The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

                                  After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

                                  If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

                                  Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

                                  If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

                                  In the End, It Matters

                                  What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

                                  When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

                                  And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

                                  “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

                                  Keep going.

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                                  More Resources to Help You Build Habits

                                  Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

                                  Reference

                                  [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
                                  [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
                                  [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
                                  [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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