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How Mind-Mapping and Books Go Hand in Hand

How Mind-Mapping and Books Go Hand in Hand

Most of us know about mind-mapping already; we know that it can help us create amazing overviews and give us a lot of clarity. Today I would like to talk with you about the wonderful synergy between mind-mapping and books.

The way most people create mind maps is by taking notes or by jotting down their thoughts and ideas, and that’s a good method, but there is an additional way you can use mind maps to your advantage.

Mind Mapping and Writing

Have you ever written a book? More and more people are walking around with the idea of writing a book (or at least sharing their ideas and thoughts with the world), and you can do that as well—but where to start, right?

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There is a very easy method for writing books with mind-mapping strategies. The first thing you need to do is outline your ideas in a mind map. One easy way to do this is by creating a number of chapters, each represented by a new branch. Then, you add subjects you’d like to discuss in that chapter as topics to that branch.

Here’s the smart thing that most people won’t do, but can actually let you save a lot of time and energy: open the notes section of each node in your mind map. Next, start explaining your idea in that text field. Is it ready? Then you move on to the next one. Are you stuck? Move on anyway, making the text of the previous node bold (so you know the text isn’t ready). Proceed until you have all nodes discussed and you have your document ready.

You’re almost done—all you need to do is transform it into a proper book format. This is done by exporting it to Microsoft Word, for example. Most mind mapping tools can do this: the topics on the branches are turned into headlines, while the note text becomes the paragraph text.

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There you have it! Your own book, based on the mind map you created.

Mind Mapping and Reading

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the books you read? Are you highlighting all the text except for the page numbers? There should be a more effective way to do this, and there is. A quick and simple way to read books and remember more of what you read is by mind-mapping your notes.

The next time you read a book, create a new mind map. Make branches for the chapters (or paragraphs) you will be reading first: this is done without actually reading the book yet. Simply take headings and create a mind map structure of the book. Then you start reading the book, adding notes to the map as you go. One simple way is by taking the paragraph and other headlines, and adding highlighted, bold, italic, or other keywords to the map.

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Before you know it, you have a summary of the book. (If you’re doing this the smart way, it could even be without actually reading the book itself!). Then, take your mind map and keep it as a guideline for reading and studying. The map itself gives you the big tour through the book, and you just need to add new ideas and thoughts when you are doing more comprehensive reading.

And Now it’s Up to You

There you have it: a way to write your own book (or document, report, article, etc.) and a method for transforming books into practical and useful mind maps. What will you do with this knowledge?

Here are some action points to help you start applying this theory in your own life:

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Action Point 1: If you don’t have a book waiting inside you yet, write the story of your own life. When you would write such a book 30 years in the future, what branches and subjects would it include? What would the story of your life tell, inspire, and show others?

Action Point 2: Grab a book that you should read and outline it using the mind map method I shared with you. Do you have a better sense of the content now?

Action Point 3: Think about a book you don’t really want to read, but have to. The book might be difficult to understand—how would you use the two techniques to make a version of it that’s easier to comprehend? (Hint: use both techniques for this.)

Good luck mind-mapping, writing, and reading. I am confident you will be able to save a lot of time and get a good sense of your books and information this way. Below, feel free to share how you would use this technique in your life. Remember to use it at least once, and know when to stop mind mapping as well.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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