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What is Something Useful You can Learn in 10 minutes that Would be Useful for the Rest of Your Life?

What is Something Useful You can Learn in 10 minutes that Would be Useful for the Rest of Your Life?

Here’s a great answer we found on Quora by Raj Rai who provides some valuable tips on learning something that would be useful for the rest of your life.

How to speed-read. Following along with your finger is excellent if you want to read a little faster, but speed-reading is a different ball game.

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Brief background: I learned how to speed-read after some googling. I did this search because I had AP Bio and AP Econ summer reading due in about 12 hours, I hadn’t even begun, and I did not want to spend 12 hours reading. I tried to find the page, and I’ll add it in as an edit if I can find it. I learned to speed read because of my own laziness, but on a bad day I read at least 5 or 6 times as fast as I used to.

Let’s start with basics.

Most people read word by word, and often say the words to themselves using the voices in their heads. Why do we do this? I fully blame kindergarten reading programs, which force children to read out loud both in class and at home. Who thought of this? Anyway, that is not at all the most effective way to read, in terms of both speed and comprehension. Therefore, the first thing you need to do is eliminate the voice inside your head. This took me at least 1 hour to do.

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Read with your eyes. ONLY.

Whatever you do don’t use the voice inside your head. As you learn to do this part go ahead and read word by word and go over the lines with your finger. Just work on eliminating the voice. Why? You cannot say words nearly as fast as you can comprehend them, believe it or not. Don’t limit your reading speed to your speaking speed. This process really sucks, by the way. If you really believe that the voice in your mind is your enemy, you will probably be extremely frustrated for the first half hour of your journey. You may get better, then get a snack, then come back to continue your training and realize you are back where you started. Feelings of hopelessness will arise. Be a man/woman, and push on.

A tip for those who are having trouble not subvocalizing is to hold your breath as you read. As Sean O’Connor pointed out, we breathe out as we read, even when we do so silently, since we’re used to speaking the words aloud. A lot of the time, you even notice yourself making movements with your mouth, though it’s closed. Hold your breath as you begin trying to eliminate subvocalization. Breathe in when you need to. (Don’t force discomfort or anything) Once you feel that you’ve effectively eliminated that voice, try to return to normal breathing. Remember to use breath-holding as a crutch whenever you are having trouble. It has no noticeable effect on your speed or comprehension, and it helps immensely when you are having a rough time.

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Once you are able to pretty much eliminate the voice inside your head, you have unlocked a huge amount of potential in terms of how fast you can now read. Since you’re reading with your eyes, try reading two or three words at a time, and then move up once you get comfortable. Trust me, if you don’t skip the voice elimination step, you will make progress fast. After a couple days I was reading pages out of an assigned novel within 15-20 seconds, the book was The Guide, and with full comprehension. I am not exaggerating. This is when I got really in the zone of course. Not having the initial tunnel vision can be frustrating but after about 10 minutes you get it down and you fly through pages. I was reading about a line at a time. One tip I have that helped me read more words at a time is to think about opening your eyes REALLY WIDE. Actively try to take in as many words at a time as you can and try to move along the lines as fast as you can while doing this. You’ll build your own rhythm eventually.

Hopefully this helps someone. It really helped me. I was able to finish estimated hour-long reading assignments in 10 minutes or less. I’m out practice right now, but I want to get back into it this summer so I can complete the books listed on the answer wiki for Books: What are some potentially life-changing books?

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P.S. Here’s a link (thanks Mike Stenhouse) that teaches you a lot of about speed-reading technique. The explanation it gives encompasses a lot of what I’ve said, and I found it pretty useful in cleaning up how I read and in increasing my reading ability generally: Scientific Speed Reading: How to Read 300% Faster in 20 Minutes

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Brian Lee

Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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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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