“The more we train our abilities, the stronger they become. The difference is that, unlike the body, when it comes to training the mind, there is no limit to how far we can go.” Dalai Lama
Every day we are bombarded by things associated with keeping our bodies in good shape. We see advertisements for gyms, health foods, supplements, healthy cooking strategies, and how to get great abs/legs/buns/biceps in only 10 minutes. Physical health is important, and we should absolutely take care of our bodies. However, our minds are equally, if not more, important for our well-being and success. So, why don’t we spend as much time, effort, attention, and energy on improving our minds as we do our bodies?
To ensure that our minds are in the best shape they can be in, we need to focus on at least three areas: 1) What goes into our minds, 2) Exercising our minds, and 3) Allowing our minds to recover.
Just like what goes into our bodies affects our bodies’ well-being, what goes into our minds affects our minds’ well-being. Nonstop exposure to the nonsense spewed on social media is not helpful. Instead, we should read books that make us think, watch shows that expand our minds, take a class in which we learn something new, and engage our friends and family in meaningful discussions about topics we believe are important.
We also need to make sure we regularly exercise our minds. Puzzles; pondering and discussing life’s big questions; memorizing text from plays, poems, or books; doing creative things like painting, sculpting, or gardening; and writing fiction, nonfiction, or in a journal are all ways to exercise our minds.
Finally, we need to make sure our minds have sufficient time to recover. The best way to do this is to get plenty of sleep. During sleep, our brains flush out toxins and organize neuronal pathways based on what we’ve experienced while awake. This helps us remember more easily and learn more efficiently. In addition to getting plenty of sleep, we can help our minds recover by meditating and by reading fiction books we find entertaining.
To be at our best, we need both our bodies and our minds in tiptop shape. Today and over the next week or two, pay attention to what kinds of information enters your mind, deliberately set aside some time to exercise your mind, and allow time for your mind to recover. If you do, you’ll quickly notice some big differences in your attention, memory, mental agility, and overall sense of well-being.