The mind is very comfortable when you follow your old habits, you eat the same food, you wear the same colours, you take the same familiar route to work. For most of these things in our daily lives, the body is on auto pilot, you do not have to apply a lot of thought. For instance if your drive to work then you do not have to navigate the route consciously, your sub-conscious takes care of it. You might notice that if you happen to get a phone call on the way, your sub-conscious takes over the driving while your complete attention is on the conversation with the person on the phone. You do not even realize what you saw on the way but you reached your destination.
The moment you introduce anything that is different from what you usually do, the brain becomes alert and starts to takes notice of all the new inputs. The new inputs could be being aware of the neighbourhood through which you are driving or making note of the landmarks on the way if you took a different route from the usual to reach your destination.
The point I want to drive home by the above example is that for the mind, routine is boring and anything new makes it excited. So if you want to keep your mind active and develop the ability to think on your feet, you need to provide new inputs to the brain on a regular basis.
The idea is to keep your brain sufficiently challenged and active. Step out of your comfort zone – just a little bit once in a while for example you can use the below for starters and then develop your own –
- At every opportunity do some mental math. Resist the urge to use the calculator for simple calculations. For example, If your milkman has sent you the bill for the month, see if you can do the math mentally or at least on paper before reaching out to the calculator.
- Every once in a while take a new route to the mall you frequent or to work. See how your brain suddenly becomes alert
- Try your hand at a new activity or skill for example try solving the Rubik’s Cube or a Sudoku or Crossword
- Pick a different author or genre of book from what you usually prefer
- Watch a movie from a foreign language
It is by continuously giving new inputs to your brain you not only enhance your knowledge but also become a more confident person in the process. It helps tame your fears and makes you more adaptable and open to changes.
Also by trying different things you develop empathy and humbleness. Empathy because we get a chance to look at things from the other person’s point of view – understand a different perspective. We become more accommodating as our world view widens. Humbleness because when we understand that the world has so much more that our limited view of things, it is a truly humbling feeling. We realise the vastness of knowledge and what we know in comparison – it is akin to standing at the sea beach and realizing the endlessness of the ocean in front of us.
What are the interesting things you do that excites your brain? Please do share your inputs.