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If You Want To Be Smarter, You Need To Use This Phrase Carefully

If You Want To Be Smarter, You Need To Use This Phrase Carefully

Learning new things is one of the best ways to better ourselves and implement self-development and growth. But when you’re expanding your knowledge pool are you doing it as efficiently as possible?

How often do you come across an article, book or any kind of instruction tool that goes towards gaining better knowledge in the area you’re expanding your mind, and see the phrase “for example”? After all, examples are the best way to apply your new-found knowledge to a real-life scenario, helps connect the dots and makes things much clearer. Or do they?

Why “For Example” Isn’t As Helpful As You May Think

Don’t get me wrong, throwing examples into the mix can go a long way in spelling out what you’ve learned. Seeing a way that the fundamental theory can be applied practically helps the brain put it into context.

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However, this isn’t exactly the smartest way to do this and here’s why.

While “for example” creates a pathway in the brain to understand the concepts, it’s coming from the mind of somebody else. In other words, an example doesn’t really teach us the underlying mechanisms or allow us to come to our own conclusions. We may read the example and get the ‘light bulb’ moment but we tend to accept that one example instead of thinking up several more of our own.

Thinking up different, unique examples and even making them more applicable to yourself is much smarter than taking in analogies cooked up by someone else.

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Reasoning By Analogy Versus Reasoning By First Principles

There are two ways we can make decisions and come to conclusions; one is reasoning by analogy and the other is reasoning by first principles.

Reasoning by analogy is when we base our conclusions and decisions on pre-existing ideas. Examples that are fed to us only allow us to apply what we’ve learned to an already established idea and what others are telling you. However, this is how most people work – our mind often finds the easy way out by building on an idea that is already out there. As a result, we take on problem solving from a space of assumption rather than questioning.

Reasoning by first principles is something Elon Musk has been an advocate of and praises his success on. This is when you take the basis or fundamentals of what you’ve learned and come up with your own application. In other words, come up with your own ideas free from any of the pre-existing ideas and allows us to potentially see something in much finer detail.

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The Difficulty Of Putting Examples Into Practice

You could be given all the examples in the world, and while the writer or teacher is trying to be as helpful as he or she can, it’s not allowing you to easily put these into practice. For sure, it’s helping you to remember the concept but when it comes to applying it, you could become stuck pretty quickly undoing the work you’ve put in to thoroughly learn the subject.

To really understand the concept, come up with multiple examples that fit the rule to confirm in your mind that you have fully understood. In addition, don’t use “for example” when explaining things to others. Encourage them to think up examples of their own and watch how they begin to formulate the new ideas themselves.

So next time you come across “for example” when learning something new, take it onboard but be cautious with it. Make sure you think up different ways you can transfer it into different situations and see it form a new angle breaking free from limited, existed thinking.

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Featured photo credit: tookapic via pexels.com

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Jenny Marchal

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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