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How To Use The Internet As An Enriched Environment For Rapid Personal Growth

How To Use The Internet As An Enriched Environment For Rapid Personal Growth

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.

How Is The Internet An Environment?

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.

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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.

Does It Get Any Better?

Absolutely!

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.

The Primary Benefit Of An Enriched Environment

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.

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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:

  • Your brain has a higher rate of synaptogenesis.
  • Your brain develops much more complex dendrite arbors.
  • Your brain has more synapse activity.
  • Your brain creates more glial support cells.
  • Your brain has more capillary vasculation.

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.

What Research Says About Enriched Environments

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.

7 Ways To Use The Internet As An Enriched Environment

You can use the Internet as an enriched environment by using it in a more intentional way.

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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.

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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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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems, why?

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

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The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

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The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

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It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

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For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

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Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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