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Mental Training Suggestions

Cognitive training doesn't have to be like physical training; the idea of "no pain - no gain" need not apply. You can practice running faster, or use a car, but if all you want is to get from here to there, the latter would make more sense. Similarly, you can do brain "exercises" to strengthen the functioning of your brain, or you can just use better tools. That is what this mental training page is about - getting into the habit of using simple tools and techniques.

Simple Rules

Using simple rules is one easy way to enhance your brainpower. For example, if you're considering investments and want to know how your money will grow using them, you can apply the "rule of 72." It is a relatively accurate formula for determining how long it takes to double your money. You divide the rate of return you expect into 72, and the result is the number of years it will take to double your money. So, if you are putting your money into an account that pays 6% interest, you divide 72 by 6 and you know that it will take about 12 years to double your money. The rule is based on the compounding of interest, and assumes that you reinvest all interest or investment income.

Real estate investors use simple rules like "Don't pay more than 100 times monthly rent for an income property." It isn't a replacement for real analysis, but once you train your mind to use such a rule, it speeds up the process. You can safely eliminate properties selling for 150 times monthly rent, even while an investor with a better brain for numbers is still analyzing them

Simple Questions

It isn't all about mathematical formulas. Training yourself to use simple questions, for example, can help you more quickly reach the result you want. Comedians use such questions unconsciously, and write jokes even more efficiently if they consciously use them.

A friend mentions that having children gives him a sense of immortality. Asking the comedian's question, "What's wrong with this picture?" you realize it means dying. You reply, " I don't want immortality through children. I want to have immortality by not dying!"

Other mental algorithms for a comedian might include asking questions like, "What if I take this to the extreme?" "How would this look to a dog?" "Which words in this have double meanings that I can play with?" or "What is the stupidest part of this situation?"

Simple Techniques

Use any of the dozens of easy problem solving techniques enough, and they become a habitual part of your thinking process. For an example, try the powerful problem solving technique of challenging assumptions. This is an especially effective way to bring more effective brainpower to personal issues, where there are so many hidden assumptions.

Suppose the kids are fighting over the television, and you are tired of it. You might be assuming the following: 1. You need to have a TV; 2. Fighting over the TV is the problem; 3. The fighting needs to stop; 4. It's your problem.

Challenging these assumptions may suggest the following solutions: 1. Get rid of the TV, or limit it's use; 2. Deal with the general issue of the kids' behavior; 3. Leave the room, close the door and let them fight; 4. Tell the kids it's their problem, and they have a week to come up with a solution, or the TV goes.

Every type of human activity has it's own most useful rules and guidelines that you can train your brain to use. Then there are the most general "life rules" that can help you make better decisions. For example, you might train yourself to always ask, "How does this advance me towards my important goals?" and "Is there a better alternative?"

We have patterns and mental habits in our subconscious minds in any case, but they are not necessarily the best ones, are they? Why not consciously train ourselves to use the questions, rules, and patterns of behavior that are most useful? This can be done with simple cognitive training.


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Other Relevant Pages:

The Intelligence of Self Observation

Self Awareness

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