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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 January 2, 2019

Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

The end of the year is the time when everyone tries to give you advice on how to live healthier, look better, and earn more money.

It’s understandable if you find yourself lost among all the tips and opinions. Sometimes you no longer know what you truly want to achieve next year – and what’s just imposed by society.

To help you out, we’ve made this article about the things you should remove from your new year’s resolution list – instead of adding to it – to make your daily life more harmonious and peaceful.

So just make sure you cross these off your New Year’s to-do list – your body, mind and soul will be thankful.

1. Stop Buying Meaningless Gifts

We all know the sense of obligation – when we have to buy a gift for an event or celebration that’s already tomorrow, but we still have no idea of what to give.

Take these tips close to heart for all upcoming holidays, including birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc.:

Stop focusing on the material objects

Instead of focusing on what material object to give, think about the emotion you want to evoke[1] in the gift recipient, and then pick a symbolic gift that can support or represent that emotion. For example, you can gift coziness by presenting a “comfort set” with warm socks, tea, candles, etc. Or give motivation by presenting a beautiful planner or notebook.

Plan gifts in advance

We know this is easier said than done. But if you try to plan which gifts you’ll need in the upcoming months (try making a list three or four times a year), ideas will more likely come to mind and you’ll avoid that last-minute shopping. Not to mention, you’ll be able to keep an eye on sales to get the best prices.

Suggest a better way

If you’re tired of exchanging gifts for birthdays and holidays, initiate a different approach. For example, draw names among family members and agree that each one only buys a present to that one person they got. Alternatively, you can agree not to share gifts among adults, and only give presents to kids of the family. Or, ask friends to donate to charity instead of buying a gift for you.

Go for common experiences instead of exchanging gifts

You can agree (with your partner or the extended family) to go on a common trip, dinner or another activity, instead of spending money on gifts.

Sometimes you’ll have to be the one who initiates breaking the rules that have been accepted in the family for years. But if you suspect that you’re not the only one in the group who’s tired of gift-hunting, you’ll surely find support for your suggestions.

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2. Don’t Exaggerate with Diets and Fitness Resolutions

It’s no secret that TV shows, article headlines, and ads (not to mention our healthy diet-obsessed friends) make us feel like we need to look better, slimmer and younger than we actually are. But going on yet another diet or starting a fitness plan with the wrong motivation rarely leads to great results.

If you are like many people, you have probably signed up for an annual gym membership at least once in your life – only to drop it one month later.

How do you balance a good resolution for a healthier life without pushing yourself into commitments that won’t last?

Here’s what you can do:

Set a healthier pattern

For example, do meat-free Mondays or reduce meat consumption to three days per week (less saturated fat for you and better for the environment). Or choose to eat only healthy food at least three days a week or only on weekdays (e.g. make sure your meals contain vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy products, and protein). This way you’ll already have a healthier diet while still being able to treat yourself with a snack on weekends or parties.

Get a fitness watch

Fitness watches like Fitbit or MiBand are tiny accessories that will count your steps, calories burnt and will serve as an excellent motivator to move – or to take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Find a physical activity that you enjoy

Even if you are not that fond of doing sports, you can definitely find an activity that you’d do with pleasure. Think about what you’d like – from taking up Nordic walking to pilates or even exercising at home.

Try intermittent fasting

This is an alternating cycles of fasting and eating. For example, stop eating at 8 pm and restart not sooner than 12 hours later. This approach has been proven to have numerous health benefits, in addition to weight loss.

Skip cabs or driving to work and opt for cycling or walking instead

You’ll burn calories, breathe some fresh air, and save money – win-win!

3. Put a Cap on Your Daily To-Do List

In today’s busy world, planning your day in a stress-free way is actually an art in itself. It’s natural to want to be a loving parent, a diligent employee, an active member of the local community and probably several other individual roles.

But playing all these roles requires energy and meticulous planning. How not to lose yourself amidst all the appointments and responsibilities? And – most importantly – how to still find time for relaxing and recharging yourself?

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These daily planning tips will help you have more stress-free days:

Leave bigger intervals between meetings

If you schedule too many appointments or chores in a day, you’ll probably end up late at some point, and as a result – more stressed. There are many different reasons why people are late, but poor planning is a major factor too.

Plan time to relax

As weird as it may sound, you should try and schedule your resting time. For example, if you only have one free evening this week, and a friend tries to squeeze in a meeting, feel free to say no. Don’t feel obliged to specify the reason for your refusal, just say that you are busy.

Try to be a little pessimistic

We’re often packed with plans or running late for errands because we tend to be overly optimistic – about the traffic, the time it takes to do things, etc. Instead, try an opposite tactic — assume you’ll hit traffic or the meeting will take longer.

Try waking up earlier

Sometimes even waking up 30 minutes earlier can give you the much-needed head start for several errands of the day. But remember to get enough sleep every night, even if it means going to bed earlier.

Plan your day the day before

Chances are your day will be much better organized if you pack a lunch and lay out an outfit before going to bed.

Designate a time for checking emails and social messages

If you start checking your messages between appointments, you risk getting lost in a sea of messages that need replies. Designate a time for this activity or do it in case you arrived early to a meeting.

4. Let Go of Unhealthy and Time-Consuming Habits

If there’s one thing we should get rid of in the new year, it’s the habits that steal our time, provide instant gratification but don’t offer any value in the long term. Or even worse, leave a negative impact on our health.

Here are some common (and pointless) habits along with tips on how to get rid of them:

Binge-watching TV series

Even if most online television platforms offer you lists of “Best TV Shows to Binge Watch”, being addicted to series is a major time-waster.

You can manage this addiction in several ways, for example, watch one episode per day (or a few per week) as a reward, only after you’ve finished an assignment or done a house chore. Or try replacing this habit with exercise or reading a book – this will be hard at first but should stick after a few weeks. You can also try to track how much time you spend on TV or movies – seeing how much of your life you are wasting might urge you to do something about it.

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Running on coffee

Being a coffee addict is kind of a stylish addiction nowadays, but it’s not that innocent as it may initially seem. Besides addiction being a problem in itself, drinking too much coffee (more than 500-600 mg of caffeine a day) may lead to nervousness, insomnia, an upset stomach, a fast heartbeat, and even muscle tremors.[2]

As a solution, try switching to tea or edible coffee – a more sustainable, healthy, and productivity-enhancing alternative. For example, Coffee Pixels are solid coffee bars that generate a more even energy kick throughout the day without the coffee-induced abstinence and dehydration.

Procrastination

Fighting procrastination requires some serious willpower. If it is a problem in your daily life or work, try ”eating the frog” in the morning – get over your biggest or hardest tasks first, then tackle everything else.

Alternatively, use time tracking software to monitor exactly how much time you waste on unproductive actions, websites or apps. Once you know exactly how much time you’re spending unproductively, try to limit your time on social media, for example to just 20 minutes per day.

If nothing else works, try bribing yourself — promise yourself to do something fun or pleasant when you finish your assignment.

Whichever habit you want to give up, consider using some habits building tools to make a contract with yourself and reward yourself for milestones achieved.

5. Stop over-consuming

We live in the age of consumerism – huge manufacturers with their promise of a comfortable life on the one hand, and growing environmental threats – that are the direct result of our modern lifestyle – on the other hand. There’s only one solution – try to consume less whenever and wherever you can.

Before making additional purchases, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I really need it? Did I need it yesterday?
  • Can’t I buy it used or borrow it from friends?
  • Can I rent it?
  • Can I make it myself?
  • Am I buying the most sustainable version of this product?

For example, check if the brand you chose is conscious about the environment, for example, are the products they manufacture energy efficient? Do they try to use less packaging?

Also, if you often find yourself buying too many groceries, promise to buy only the amount that fits in one shopping bag (that you bring along). If you often forget to take your shopping bag with you, get yourself a 2-in-1 wallet with a built-in shopping bag for more eco-friendly shopping.

6. Learn to Unplug from Your Phone

Today’s world is crammed with information, and many people struggle to keep focus on what’s truly important. There’s just too much going on in the world – too much to read, to watch, to know, too many conversations to participate in.

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But how to refuse the temptation to check the phone and start using social media in a controlled, not a compulsive way?

Some tips for managing your phone-dependency:

Spend only a limited amount of battery per day

For example, start your day with 50% battery life, and manage your phone usage so that you’ll make it till the evening.

Block distracting apps and notifications on your phone and computer

Choose one-hour, two-hour or longer blocking sessions and enjoy the positive impact this will have on your mood and productivity.[3]

Set your phone on flight mode

When you start doing an important task that requires full focus, set your phone on flight mode so that nobody can disturb you.

Leave your phone at home or in the office when you go for lunch

You’ll see that the feeling of being unreachable for a moment is actually very liberating.

The Bottom Line

As a new year begins, we’re all excitedly looking forward to what adventures await ahead of us.

But this year, promise yourself this:

Instead of having a never-ending list of tasks and commitments, focus on the truly meaningful ones. And cross-out all the rest without feeling guilty.

Less is more. Make this year count. We’re all rooting for you.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Lark via unsplash.com

Reference

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