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10 Books That Will Change How You See The World

10 Books That Will Change How You See The World

Henry David Thoreau once said “a book should contain pure discoveries.” Some books can do even more and change how you see the world. Here are 10 eye-opening books that might just do that for you. Many of the themes in these books connect and while reading any one will give you some new insights, reading all of them may just revolutionize how you see the world and your place in it.

The Invisible Gorilla and Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us Christopher Chabris & Daniel Simons

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    You don’t see everything you think you see. Through a series of experiments Chabris and Simons show that, due to attention blindness, we often fail to see what is right in front of our eyes. The implications of this are important. We may be missing very useful information and failing to make connections. Fortunately, there are steps we can take to improve our intuitive and observational skills.

    Think Like a Freak Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner

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      To solve problems you need to be willing to change how you think. This entails changing how you see the world in several important ways. Among these, they discuss the importance of thinking like a child, saying you don’t know, and learning how incentives work to affect behavior. Their tips often seem counter intuitive because they are based on seeing connections among events in non-obvious ways. As you learn to think like a freak you will learn to see these non-obvious connections everywhere.

      Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions Dan Ariely

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        Everyone assumes they act rationally most of the time, but as Dan Ariely points out there are many cases where we do not.  We base our decisions not on rational considerations but irrational ones.  Often our mistakes are simple and predictable.  That means knowing more about them can actually help us create rules and incentives to improve our lives.  We can learn about how we make decisions and how to improve them by seeing our lives as experiments.

        The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives Leonard Mlodinow

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          We think what happens to us is the result of our education, skills, and deliberate decisions. We often see patterns to events where there are none and we see causes and work when the reality is much more random. It is difficult to see randomness at work not because it is rare but because our minds are biased to see order, correlation, and causation. However the role of chance and randomness in our lives is much greater than we realize.

          How Should We Live? Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life Roman Krznaric

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            We’ve all been taught that we can learn how to live from studying the past but this lesson is rarely taught in concrete ways, which makes it difficult to see the truth in this. With concrete examples of ideas from the past in such areas as love, work, dealing with death, raising children, and travel it becomes clear that the past is a wealth of knowledge that we can use to improve our lives.

            The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine is in Your Hands Eric Topol

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              Major disruption is coming to health care and you will benefit. One of the biggest changes this will bring is that you will collect and control your own medical information using your smartphone. Armed with this information you will have greater control over your health decisions and greater choice about how to improve your health. Doctors will have to adapt or patients will choose other options. The doctor will no longer be in control of your health, you will.

              Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes Mark Penn

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                On an individual level it is almost impossible to see trends as they unfold because we mostly base our ideas about what is going on in the world on our own limited perception. The places we go and the people we know serve as our data set. But, since many large social changes start out as small micro-movements we often miss these trends until they explode on the scene seeming to come out of nowhere. By examining these microtrends up close we can learn more about how societal change happens and how to predict which microtrends will become major social changes.

                Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think Viktor Mayer-Schonberger & Kenneth Cukier

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                  We can now see the world in vastly new ways because we now have the ability to collect and analyze massive amounts of data. This data will show us how seemingly unrelated events are connected, help us determine whether those connections are mere correlations or cause and effect relationships, and even allow us to predict future events in ways we’ve never been able to before.

                  How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World Steven Johnson

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                    We have a very linear view of history – especially the history of inventions. But these inventions rarely arise in a completely deliberate fashion as the result of intentional effort. As often as not, they arise as the result of accident or chance connections. Innovations in one area of life can trigger changes that seem entirely unrelated. The most ordinary things in our lives such as glass, the clock, and air conditioning not only arose in surprising ways but led to surprising changes as well.

                    The Knowledge Web James Burke

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                      Schools teach us that academic subjects are discrete entities with no relationships between them but this is untrue. In reality, you can pick any person, place, or event and connect it with virtually any other because they all exist together and connected on the knowledge web. The internet reveals this better than ever but it has always been so. Seeing how the stories of the past relate to each other helps you see that you too are connected to these same people, places, and events. You are part of the knowledge web too. Creativity and problem solving both involve making connections. This takes good examples to draw upon, practice, and an awareness of our cognitive biases and how to address them. Each of these books provides insights and examples to help improve your ability to make connections. The more connections you can make, the more knowledge you have. And, as James Burke once pointed out, when a big enough part of your knowledge changes how you see the world also changes.

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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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