Updated: Sep 24, 2021
When you see that colleague that seems super smart and you wonder how she does, or when you listen to podcasts of extremely successful people that managed to get all they wanted soon in life and you think you will never get to that point, I must tell you, you're wrong.
Nothing is most wrong than beating yourself up for not having "that brain," you can have it, too. You simply don't know how yet!
1. First thing top performers do is to get a healthy night's sleep. Science established that a good night's rest takes between 7 and 9 hours per night. That's the time your glymphatic system, the equivalent of the lymphatic system for the brain, takes to cleanse your brain from the toxins it developed during daily activities. As reported by Dr. Tara Swart, neuroscientist and MIT Sloan lecturer, sleeping less than that can compromise the cleansing process that's so important to avoid the insurgence of brain diseases. Need help to fall asleep? Meditate, gently stretch, leave your technology in another room, create a pitch dark environment, drink golden milk before going to bed.
2. When your brain gets enough sleep, it will do wonders, provided that you feed it with the right food. Your brain is a powerful system that consumes about 20 to 25% of your calories, while it's only 2% of your total volume. Your diet directly impacts the efficiency of your brain—the healthier the diet, the easier it is to focus on one task. Accessing the infinite data bank of your brain will be easier as well. Nutrient-dense foods, like dark foods, blueberries, dark chocolate, avocados, broccoli, nuts, arugula, olive oil, salmon, and sardines, are key nutrients for your brain. Avoid processed and sugary food.
3. Drink as often as possible. Your brain is 78% water, compared with a mere 66% for the rest of your body. As such, you need to keep it hydrated. Science has proven that a 3% dehydration impairs your ability to think clearly. How do you know when you're dehydrated? Well, when you're thirsty, you're already above the 3% threshold. Grandma's advice to drink at least 2lt of water per day is always valid; you might need more than that, though.
4. Oxygen is what allows you to read this article right now. Your brain needs a lot of oxygen to thrive. It's proven that when you exercise, your brain develops a protein, BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which supports the maintenance and development of neurons. The more you move, the better it is. Jim Kwik says: "when your body moves, your brain grooves." Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity 3 times a week, and if you really want to maximize its benefits, get busy with a HIT training, where you alternate faster pace intervals to slower ones.
5. Finally, your brain needs to be focused on the task at hand. Noise, chaos, and general clutter consume brainpower that otherwise could have been used for higher value-added jobs. Clean your desk, clean your home, make sure to build a habit of order and cleanliness. Meditate, as it helps to declutter your mind, especially from those ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) as per Dr. Amen definition. Your brain will thank you for it and you will be astonished by the improvements your decision-making process will experience.
Your turn now.
Choose an area of your life that's not brain-friendly and start building the habit of transforming it so that your brain can begin helping you improve your life in ways you cannot even think possible.
Some pro tips:
1: If you're out of shape, walk for 30 minutes, possibly in a park.
2. Leave your technologies in the living room. Your room must be pitch dark
3. Get rid of all unfriendly food you find at home. Cross them with an X and be ready to get rid of them.
4. Start cleaning one room at a time. Small, consistent daily actions produce great results.
5. Meditate. It's the foundational activity your brain needs you to do to thrive.
5. Bring water with you at all times. Hydration means sound reasoning, and you know how important it is.
1. Heisz et al. 2017 - The Effects of Physical Exercise and Cognitive Training on Memory and Neurotrophic Factors
2. Swart Tara. 2019 - The Source: Open Your Mind, Change Your Life. London, UK: Penguin Random House.
3. Kwik Jim. 2020 - Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life.
4. Amen Daniel. 2015 - Change Your Brain, Change Your Life (Revised and Expanded): The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Lack of Focus, Anger, and Memory Problems