Wednesday, 11 June 2014


Let every man or woman here, if you never hear me again, remember this, that if you wish to be great at all, you must begin where you are and with what you are. He who would be great anywhere must first be great in his own reality.

Your poor, overwhelmed brain. In today’s multitasking, success orientated world, it operates at a ridiculously fast pace, bouncing tirelessly from one thought to another. This non stop mental activity can be harmful to your mind and your body, but too few people know how to properly care for their mental muscle, according to specialists.

A healthy brain gives you the capacity to think clearly and be creative and innovative, you will also be more resilient to everyday stressors and feel happier overall.

 A recently developed, what is termed as, Healthy Mind Platter, includes seven daily habits your brain needs to function at its best today, and which may stave off dementia and other serious health issues later in life. Just as the right balance of fruits, veggies, grains, protein, and dairy helps fuel your body, this mix of activities helps bolster your brainpower.

1. Focus Time
Has a co-worker ever called your name three times because you were concentrating so hard you didn’t hear him? Your mind loves such focused moments because they help you learn. The brain continuously reorganise itself through experience. Paying close attention keeps the connections between brain cells strong and continually growing.

Footprints on the sands of time are not made by sitting down.

Getting your brain to focus is like keeping tabs on a toddler in a toy store. The brain is very easily distracted, constantly flitting from one thing to the next, so you have to make an effort to eliminate disruptions. When you need to focus on a work project, turn down the volume on your email so the notifications don't divert you. Tuck away your gadgets when you’re reading for pleasure so you can dig into the novel’s plot without distraction.

2. Play Time
You’re a long way from the playground and make believe days, but adult minds still crave the stimulation that comes from being unstructured and spur of the moment. Play time literally means just doing spontaneous things, which sparks new connections in the brain, it's really about novelty. Actually new activities stretch your brain in different ways, which may help stave off age related cognitive decline.

You don't always win your battles, but it's good to know you fought.

Start by simply saying yes more often: Take your family or friends for coffee, instead of your automated too busy lifestyle. Try a Zumba class instead of your usual treadmill routine. Scrap your typical Saturday round of errands to check out a new museum exhibit with your family.

3. Connecting Time
If you’re staring at a computer screen right now, you know that people spend so much time disconnected from others and nature, we’re online, driving, watching TV, or doing any number of things that don’t involve responding to the emotions on someone else’s face or listening to the wind as it moves through the trees. Such personal connections release stress-busting, mood-boosting brain chemicals like oxytocin and serotonin. And spending time in nature can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. People need to connect to other people, and to the Nature. Studies have even linked social isolation to a greater risk of dementia and breast cancer, and more damaging and deadly strokes.

A fair request should be followed by the deed in silence.

Make a phone call or visit a colleague’s desk instead of firing off an email. Plan a date night with your partner, no peeking at cell phones allowed. Simply sit for five minutes before bed petting your dog or cat and watching his face grow more content with each soft stroke. Embrace nature by eating dinner outside or walking in a neighborhood park instead of hitting the gym.

4. Physical Time
Your brain on exercise is a healthier, happier one. Aerobic activities flood the brain with its most important fuel: oxygen. The result is a flush of mental energy. Exercise also releases chemicals that help the brain produce new cells, which may improve memory and learning. It also reduces the risk of stroke and can improve memory.

We must lose ourselves in action, lest we wither in despair.

Even if you’re not an avid gym goer, simply walking 40 minutes three times a week can combat age related memory loss and improve cognitive function. Make a walking date with a girlfriend and you’ll get connecting time and physical time at once. Take the stairs at work instead of the elevator, and make a point to get up from your desk to stretch your legs (and mind) every hour or so.

5. Time In
We feel things all day long, frustration over the traffic jam on the way to work, a twinge of envy over your sister’s fancy vacation plans, but are often too busy to really think about why we feel the way we do. Time In is a moment of internal reflection to contemplate your feelings. This practice also helps build those neuronal connections that could reduce your risk of dementia. It’s just another way of putting your brain to work.

Begin where you are; work where you are; the hour which you are now wasting, dreaming of some far off success may be crowded with grand possibilities.

Activities such as meditation, yoga, and prayer encourage focus on internal thoughts. People who meditate regularly have more brain activity in the areas responsible for empathy and memory. If that’s not your style, pick an issue to ponder when you’re walking or resting in bed before you fall asleep. Be warned: The mind likes to wander, so this is harder than it sounds. But the brain does love a challenge.

6. Down Time
During down time, the opposite of focus time, you let your mind meander. Down time is passive and unstructured; it allows the brain to rest and recharge. Think of your muscles after a strenuous workout, they need to rest in order to repair and gain strength. The same is true for your brain circuitry.

Doing leads more surely to talking than talking to doing.

Let your brain savor down time when it naturally crops up. When your mind wanders after lunch, indulge that daydream for five minutes before you return to the project at hand. Down time is when you’re completely non goal oriented, sitting in the back of a car staring out a window, just allowing thoughts to just occur.

7. Sleep Time
Anyone who’s ever felt sluggish and cranky after a spotty night’s sleep knows how desperately the brain needs sleep to function optimally. Sleep deprivation spikes levels of cortisol, which lowers immunity, fogs memory, and stunts creativity.

The person of intellect is lost unless they unite with energy of character. When we have the lantern of Diogenese we must also have his staff.

Give yourself a firm bedtime so you’re not tempted to cram in just one more chore. If you tend to toss and turn before falling asleep, making a list for what you need to get done the next day may help you feel less overwhelmed. 

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.