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How To Overcome Confirmation Bias And Expand Your Mind

How To Overcome Confirmation Bias And Expand Your Mind

All of humanity lives with some degree of bias — it cannot be helped. Bias is forged into our minds from our formative years, passed down from parents, siblings, teachers, and friends. Many biases are not detrimental, but there are some that are harmful and will keep you from finding your true potential, from finding truth and from expanding your mind. The most limiting type of bias is confirmation bias, which simply means that when you look for information about something, you are looking through the lens of your preconceptions about the subject. When this happens, you will keep on searching until you find what fits with what you already think or believe.

People who want to expand their minds need to re-learn how to search for and process information without confirmation bias. Here are a few good ways to overcome confirmation bias to expand your mind.

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1. Don’t Be Afraid

Sometimes, when people hear the phrase “expand your mind,” they automatically think they will be brainwashed into believing some weird ideas, but it simply means to acquire the ability to think more deeply about ideas and beliefs. There is no need to be afraid of new ideas or someone else’s opinions. Expanding your way of thinking doesn’t mean you have to agree or disagree with someone or something — you will be able to think more critically about the world around you, and the world needs more deep thinkers!

2. Know That Your Ego Doesn’t Want You To Expand Your Mind

Ego gets in the way of so many things. It is beneficial to know who you are, but be on the lookout for your ego. Humility is not a virtue that is celebrated much today, but the world would be a better place if it was. When you try to eliminate confirmation bias, it is guaranteed that your ego will be put to the test. When this happens, remember you do not know everything, and even when you are 100 years old, you will still have lessons to learn about life. Practice humility when it comes to listening to others. We were given only 1 mouth, but 2 ears. Listen twice as much as you speak and you will be well on your way to expanding your mind.

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3. Think For Yourself

This is also a much-needed quality in today’s world. The internet is full of information, social media is full of opinions, and we are so busy that we end up quoting someone else’s thoughts without making sure we agree with what we are quoting. Think for yourself. Do not depend solely on what people are telling you — find out for yourself. If you have to do some thorough research, do it — you will be better off for it. It may mean you will need to tell someone you can’t give an answer right away because you need to take some time to think it over, or it may mean you will never have an answer to a problem. People who expand their minds know that some questions just don’t have answers.

4. If You Want To Expand Your Mind, You Must Be OK With Disagreements

Have you ever heard the phrase “devil’s advocate?” If a person believes something, a friend might come along and test those beliefs by asking pointed questions or making strong statements about the subject, usually from the opposing standpoint. If the person really knows their stuff, this does not pose a threat — it gives them a chance to really show how much they know about the topic! But for others who have not been thinking for themselves, someone playing devil’s advocate really points out the lack of an expanded mind. This point goes hand in hand with points 1and 2; be humble enough to seek out disagreements and don’t be afraid of opposing viewpoints. You can learn a lot from someone who disagrees with you. Arguing and fighting are never good ways to expand your way of thinking, but debate is a great way to exercise your brain “muscles.”

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5. Ask Good Questions

Remember when your teacher told you the only dumb question is an unasked question? That was true then, but you are older now, and if you want to expand your mind, you must not only ask good questions, but better questions. A good question is “what do you believe about this topic?”. A better question is “why do you believe this?” or “what led you to believe this?”. Asking questions that lead to deeper thought and conversation will help you to broaden your way of thinking.

6. Keep Information Channels Open

If you want to expand your mind, don’t close yourself off from new information. If philosophers, astronomers, and scientists had been closed to new information, we would still believe the world is flat, we wouldn’t know about gravity, and we would have no cures for any diseases. Keeping yourself open doesn’t mean following every new idea that comes along; it simply means being humble enough to know that no matter how much we learn, there is still room for more!

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Last Updated on October 17, 2018

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

1. Meditate

We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.

Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

2. Get plenty of sleep

If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

How much sleep should you be getting?

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Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

Yes, there are.

Try these three things:

  • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
  • Don’t eat too late
  • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…

3. Challenge your brain

When was the last time you challenged your brain?

I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.

To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

  • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

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4. Take more breaks

When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!

At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.

However, I was wrong.

Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

Let me explain.

Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

What’s the answer?

Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

5. Learn a new skill

I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

Let me give you an example of this:

Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.

Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

6. Start working out

If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.

Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

“But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

Not a problem.

A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

Interested in getting started?

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Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

  • Join a gym
  • Join a sports team
  • Buy a bike
  • Take up hiking
  • Dance to your favorite music

7. Eat healthier foods

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

This applies to your brain too.

The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

  • Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
  • Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
  • Nuts – improves memory
  • Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus[3]
  • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

Final thoughts

I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

Reference

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