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Big Brain Boosts

March 15, 2019 by  
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One of my favorite things about the brain is how a new, unique, or novel situation – seeing something totally new or having a new experience – can pump your brain and your body up and suddenly make you feel fantastic. The brain seeks and loves novelty. Novelty really does do great things to our brains. This brain stimulus is what motivated me to travel the world, to see new countries and cities, and to meet new people in different cultures. Even when I’m a bit fearful to visit a rough, semi-dangerous and poor country, like some that I’ve visited in Africa and the Middle East, I push myself to follow the advice in Susan Jeffers’ great book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.

When I see and experience all the unique and novel neighborhoods, cities, countries and people in my travels, it gives my brain and life a huge boost. Even our short trip to the Indian Wells tennis tournament last week, watching guys like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, was a good brain booster, partly because we stayed in a new place, in a beautiful big house with friends, met and befriended new people, and drove through unfamiliar areas of the wonderful desert towns of Indian Wells and Palm Springs. Even the super oversized palm trees they have there (they are twice a tall as Hawaiian palms) turned my head and gave me a rush.

You don’t have to go out of the country, or even out of your city, to get a big brain boost from seeing and experiencing new and novel things. Just taking a walk or a drive through a totally new and different part of your city, or going to a big game or competition with new friends (maybe one that features a sport or some big event that you have never seen in person), can perk up your brain.

A big reason I go on so many hikes in the mountains is that I almost always see something novel. Even a totally super twisted tree, or an oversized or undersized deer or elk, will give my brain a rush. And, if I see a bear, yikes … my brain gets a rush but my adrenaline is instantly overloaded too. I don’t like that as much.

The bottom line is, don’t ever let up on seeking out new and different places, people, and experiences if you want to stay excited and turned on by life. Keep your brain and body excited and curious and you may not only live longer, but you will probably be healthier and certainly more fulfilled and content.

One more helpful hint – if you are not already signed up with a travel service like Kayak, Expedia, Hotwire, or Priceline, you should do that inasmuch as they send you many super deals on airlines and hotels. I’ve seen prices as low as $390 round trip to Paris from Salt Lake City and under $200 to Hawaii. Also look at sites like TripAdvisor or the experiences listed on Airbnb to find unique tours and guided experiences doing things and seeing stuff you might never have known existed. By the way, I have just scheduled a trip to Cuba this summer which will be country number 92 that I have visited!

Our Indebtedness to the Past

June 17, 2016 by  
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I just watch a wonderful documentary narrated by Robert Redford called The Barnstormers which told and showed some great pictures of the history of how the game of tennis was changed from an amateur to a professional sport and how after that changed its popularity grew at an enormous rate.  I was particularly impressed at the end of this wonderful production when the great world champion Roger Federer said how much he and all the other pro tennis players of today owe a huge debt of gratitude to the players and key figures who brought about the big changes in tennis.

It got me to thinking about how all of us today owe a humongous debt of gratitude to so very may people of the past that did so many things to make the world a much better place and made our lives so much easier today.

Think about it … how would our lives be without those many people who over time collaborated with many others to bring us the automobile, the airplane, advanced medicine and medical procedures? We can cut open and fix a human brain and cure terrible diseases. And just look at the advances in technology.  From computers to cell phones, rockets to space probes, and on and on and on.  I couldn’t begin to build even a basic radio or TV, let alone figure out how to do open heart surgery.  And so much of these incredible advances have come in just the last 100 to 150 years!  Going back 150 years we didn’t have even a simple telephone or an internal combustion engine or even a simple light bulb.

We are so very indebted to so many people that have lived before us. We all could do with being a bit more grateful as well as taking a look at our own lives and seeing how and where we can put our efforts and talents to work to help others and make this wonderful world even better than we found it. Let’s not only do it for those around us now but for future generations.

There is also an extra benefit for you. I’ve seen studies that show that the more a person shows and has gratitude for others, the more it lifts that person’s level of satisfaction and happiness.

In my upcoming blog posts, I will attempt to acknowledge and give thanks to the people that have contributed to my life, both in my financial life, my personal life and in my self-development. Who do you have to thank for the wonderful advantages you have?

 

The Brain and Robot Tennis

March 4, 2016 by  
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Sometime ago I read a book about The Secret Lives of the Brain which was actually the subtitle of the great book entitled Incognito by David Eagleman. The part of the book that really grabbed my attention was what he said about the part of the brain that you can teach exactly how to hit a tennis ball almost perfectly every time without even thinking about it.

Being an avid tennis fan and sometimes tournament player myself, and with my own experience pretty much backing up and proving what he was saying, he had my undivided attention. Many times while playing, I’ve surprised myself when I am running full speed to get to a tennis ball coming at me at 65 or 75 miles an hour, then to arrive at the exact right spot and hit the ball back to the place I was aiming. Wow, I’m thinking … how did I ever do that?

Eagleman, a neuroscientist, makes the case that tennis shots are made almost entirely without using the conscious mind. Of course, to get to the point of great non-thinking tennis shots, anyone who wants to be that good needs to use the other part of the brain–the conscious part that is the part that thinks through what goals a person wants to achieve. So with the conscious brain a tennis champion wannabe sets the goals to fulfill their dream tennis performance.

The author of this book is not just talking about these two parts of the brain being used to be a great tennis player either. You can use both parts of the brain to become very good in many areas of our lives, whether it’s to become a great public speaker, great writer of books, making a fortune, or creating super health for yourself and others. It will work for whatever you really want to do and be.

But that’s just the first part, because after you use the conscious part of your mind to set your goals, you then need to practice and drill over and over again. If you do that for many, many hours over a good length of time you will begin to program your unconscious mind so eventually it will perform for you without your thinking about it. It will be automatic. It might take thousands of hours but studies have shown that anyone that spends 10,000 hours doing one thing they most likely will become one of the best in the world at that one thing.

Under the chapter subheading “The Robot that Won Wimbledon”, David Eagleman concludes that, “The competitors at Wimbledon are rapid, efficient machines that play tennis shockingly well. They can track a ball traveling ninety miles per hour, move toward it rapidly, and orient a small surface to intersect its trajectory. And these professional tennis players do almost none of this consciously. In exactly the same way that you read letters on a page or change lanes, they rely entirely on their unconscious machinery. They are, for all practical purposes, robots. Indeed, when Ilie Nastase lost the Wimbledon final in 1976, he sullenly said of his winning opponent, Bjorn Borg, ‘He’s a robot from outer space.’”

Today I would say the same thing about Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. But remember folks these two parts of our brain can be used for many more things than tennis! Let’s all work on that.