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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 July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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