A pragmatic short introduction to reconcile body & mind and live a better life.
Among all the human body organs, the brain is the less known yet probably the most enigmatic and fascinating one.
Research has shown that we can improve our brain’s cognitive abilities and become better functional human beings.
Here are five science-based life hacks to upgrade your brain.
1. Understand your chronotype and circadian rhythm.
Everyone is different: some people are early risers, others are owls, and the vast majority of the population is somewhere between these two types.
A good night of sleep is the root of everything: from memorization to body healing, all that magic applies under the hood when you are asleep.
Finding your natural cycle and amount of sleep that best suit us plays a crucial role in having good nights of sleep.
20-min power naps can be added to your schedule to make you feel energized if you experience a drop of energy during the day.
Adapt your productivity sessions to your mood, energy level, and schedule.
- Use a smart clock app to wake you in your lightest sleep phase (or a physical wake-up light clock).
- Buy a sleep tracker to monitor your sleep habits and adjust them (I use an Oura Ring).
- Schedule your productive ‘deep work’ during morning hours (especially around 10 to 12am).
2. Extend your Neural Plasticity
We’re all navigating through life, taking diverse paths, and approaching things differently.
To enjoy life at its fullest, you need to maintain a balanced body and mind.
By stimulating our brain regularly, we rewire it by changing the nerve cells' connections in our neural pathways.
- Body workout: it will increase your blood flow, which will produce new blood vessels and growth hormones. That helps your body better functioning.
- Brain workout: you can stimulate your cognitive abilities in different ways. Whatever you do, the trick is to stimulate your mind by challenging your brain’s problem solving and creative skills.
3. Expand your intellectual curiosity
Try to observe your environment from various perspectives, be a good skeptic.
You don’t have to be right all the time. The ego is only an illusion of the mind.
Instead, try to be wrong less often by seeking truth, not trying to prove your point to win the argument.
- Grow an experimental mindset (Plan, Test, Review, Iterate).
- Take challenges.
- Learn new tools & methods to be more efficient.
4. Do HIIT
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves getting intense bursts of exercise in a compact format (as short as 7 minutes per day) while receiving significant physical activity benefits.
- Watch an Online video while exercising at home. No gym membership required!
- Download an app on your phone (I use the “Seven Workout” app at the moment).
5. Try meta-learning
If you’re interested in learning a new topic effectively, you can use the meta-learning method.
The key to meta-learning is to look at the big picture of the topic you’re interested in, then break it down into subtopics and then understand how the information is structured.
For instance, let’s say you want to learn programming.
An example of the procedure might be:
- Search on programming (big picture).
- Narrow down a programming field in particular: for example, Web development (break it down).
- Write your learning roadmap based on what you’ve discovered from the previous steps.
Now, let’s see some memory recall hacks.
Your brain tends to remember images than words best. That’s called the Pictorial superiority effect.
However, you can enhance the information-transfer system of the brain with multi-sensory experiences and learning tools.
- Joseph Joubert, a French moralist once said : “Enseigner, c’est apprendre deux fois“ (i.e. to teach, is to learn twice). Find someone and teach them.
- Listen, read, write, and explore other senses while learning to boost your memorization (multi-sensory learning).
- Use Flashcards to test your knowledge.
- Practice from day one. Start with a simple project, exercise, or even interactive courses. If you don’t feel in the mood practicing, you may take an active reading session.
- Review what you’ve learned at a regular interval.