8 Tips from the authors of The Winner’s Brain

The Winners BrainThe brains of highly successful people function differently from those of the average Joe, according to the authors of the new book, The Winner’s Brain. Assistant neuroscience professor Mark Fenske of the University of Guelph and cognitive behavioural psychologist Jeff Brown of Harvard Medical School, say you can rewire your brain:

  1. Self-awareness: Train yourself to interpret other people’s facial expressions and body language by watching scenes from a movie on mute. Then watch the scene again, this time with volume, and compare how well your interpretations matched up. You can improve this skill over time.
  2. Motivation: If you have a problem with procrastination, make large tasks feel more manageable by breaking them down into parts.
  3. Focus: Like playing Whac-a-Mole, sometimes you can actually perform better when you’re not concentrating too hard. If something’s not coming to you despite your best efforts, try relaxing and letting the brain work on autopilot.
  4. Emotional balance: Practice managing your emotions by changing your perspective of a situation. Research shows that if you think of a highly emotional event as a challenge rather than a problem, you can stay calmer and retain a better memory for details.
  5. Memory: “Edit your brain,” the authors say. Recognize and consciously purge useless information. Imagine sweeping it away, so you can concentrate on more useful data. (I’d like to know how you can do that.)
  6. Resilience: When you’re in a tough spot, think of a “resilience role model,” a parent, teacher or mentor, and ask yourself what they would do in your situation. That way, you’ll have more than your own resources to draw upon.
  7. Adaptability: Try a few minutes of meditation a day to calm your thoughts. Studies show “regular yoga and meditation can increase cortical thickness in as little as eight weeks.”
  8. Brain care: Research suggests that 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, three times a week, can help strengthen your mind.

My tip is to add arts engagement to the list, as a means of developing resilience and achieving flow states.

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