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Think Like A Genius: How Cleverness Can Save Your Life

Think Like A Genius: How Cleverness Can Save Your Life

You may be the type to constantly push yourself to stay on the cutting edge. You work out your mind and body everyday so you can get more from life and stay in the zone. But, with everything you do there’s still a little something missing. You may not know exactly know what “it” is, but you can feel it: The spark, the zest, the quick wit.

You probably know people who can flip the script of life on a moments notice. Now it’s time to cultivate these skills for yourself.

To some, cleverness means manipulation. Instead, we’re gonna reframe that expired meaning to mental flexibility and gut instinct.

The little known story of Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa was a musical genius and constant innovator of his craft. A little known trait of his, however, was his quick, intuitive thinking.

One day a stranger showed up on Frank’s doorstep, waving a revolver and a bloody bag. As Frank reached for the bag, the man aimed a revolver at his chest.

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Without hesitation, and fueled by a brilliant impulse, he rallied everyone in the house to head outside to the lake, including the armed stranger. When they were all standing by the shore, he suggested that everyone start throwing things into the lake. The stranger threw his gun.

The secret to his success was his lightening-fast mental reflex; a muscle he had built up over many years.

A deeper dive into his mental life

Zappa’s success had to do with the way he perceived the world. As a naturally creative mind, he allowed his creative processing to seep into his life. Most people would see this situation and immediately react, either cowering in fear or reacting with anger; instead, Zappa saw the situation from multiple angles. Disarming the stranger would be his ultimate goal.

Through building your own creative muscle you can learn to process the world in this open ended manner. It takes time, but the exercises are simple and can potentially save your life.

Zappa also had a unique bond with his gut instinct that many of us take for granted. Granted as an innovative musician he had built up the ability to trust his gut, leading him towards new musical avenues. This connection with his intuition proved vital. It allowed him to turn his creative thinking into reality with lightening speed, bringing the situation under his control and saving his life.

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When you build a connection to your own intuitive muscle it might feel strange. After all you’re simply trusting in a feeling or a hunch, but over time you’ll become a master. Couple this intuitive trust with creative thinking and you’ll have lightening fast mental control over your life.

The Zappa Equation: Intuition + Creative Vision

To infuse your life with cleverness two elements need to be present:

1. Creative Vision

Having a creative view of the world is the ability to perceive multiple realities in one situation. It’s easier if you prep ahead of time, so you’re ready when life deals you a tough hand. To cultivate this gift try the following exercise:

Whenever an event just happened in your life, pause for reflection: maybe it’s a conversation with your boss, or a decision to take a trip to Europe. Use your imagination to come up with alternative ways it could have gone. Use the golden phrase “what if”. Get playful with it, this should be fun. You’re awakening your imagination with your creative juices.

By playing with different realities of a situation your brain will become used to applying this kind of daydream like thinking to everyday situations.

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For some it helps to keep a journal with you so you can jot down events and how they could have gone differently. After a while you’ll start to program your mind to see the world this way.

2. Intuition

A lot of us have an unhappy relationship with our intuition. Either it’s weakened to the point of decay or we confuse the feelings of our gut with anxiety or indigestion. We need to cultivate this bond with our inner guidance system so it can steer us in the right direction.

Imagine trying to navigate your way through a dense forest with a broken compass—you probably wont get very far.

Let’s get your compass in working order. Give this exercise a go:

Any time you walk into a room try and sense the overall feeling. Ask yourself: is there any negativity present? What about positivity?

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Give yourself permission to try and feel out the room with your intuition. It should only take a few seconds. After a couple of times you’ll have a better sense about the world around you and have the ability to feel into situations before they happen.

When can I use this?

All this is great but how does this translate to your daily life?

Your life is made up of moments. The greater mastery you have over these moments the more beauty you can inject into your life.

You’ll be like the artist at her canvas, using your cleverness as a brush to paint the life of your dreams. By experimenting with these simple cleverness practices you’ll develop a river of cleverness throughout your life. A set of tools that can be used on moments notice.

The tools are simple, and the results are profound.

More by this author

Kevin Wood

Kevin Wood is a passionate writer who shares mental and spiritual advice on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 24, 2020

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

2. Use the Pareto Principle

Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

3. Make Stakes

Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

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However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

4. Record Yourself

Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

5. Join a Group

There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

6. Time Travel

Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

7. Be a Chameleon

When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

“Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

8. Focus

Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

9. Visualize

The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

10. Find a Mentor

Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

11. Sleep on It

Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

Check out his video to find out more:

13. Learn by Doing

It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

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14. Complete Short Sprints

Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

15. Ditch the Distractions

Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

16. Use Nootropics

Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

17. Celebrate

For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

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The Bottom Line

Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

Reference

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