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.
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
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
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?"
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
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.