OpenMindPortal is a multi-media on-line information hub about leading a fulfilled life. We create and aggregate various content to cover 4 main areas of personality formation: Intelligence, Emotions, Body, and Experience.
If the brain could brag that’s pretty much all it would do. It’s easily the most complicated organ in your body, and, more than that, the nimblest computer that has ever existed. But the brain has a bug and everyone knows is: memory. No matter how powerful its operating system becomes, its storage system stinks.
Even in childhood, when the brain is as clear and uncluttered as it will ever be, memory is still imperfect, given to random failures, depending on how rested we are, how attentive we’re being and a range of other things. Now, a new paper published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests an unusual strategy for improving it: drawing.
As long ago as 1973, investigators were studying the memory-boosting advantage of so-called dual-coding—the way that a combination of both thinking about an object or activity and drawing a picture of it can make us remember it better. Research did show that the strategy worked, but the studies were both sparse and flawed, failing to account for the mere fact that it takes longer to draw a picture than, say, write a word, and whether writing the word in a more time-consuming way—using elaborate calligraphy, for example—would thus boost recall too.
In order to tease out those and other variables, a group led by psychologist Jeffrey D. Wammes recruited sample groups of students and ran seven different trials of essentially the same experiment on them. In all of the trials, the scientists started with a list of 80 simple words—all nouns and all easy to draw, such as balloon, fork, kite, pear, peanut and shoe. A random series of 30 of those words were flashed on a screen along with instructions either to draw the object or write down its name. After the 30 words, they would perform a filler task—listening to a series of tones and identifying whether each was low-, high-, or medium-pitched. That task had nothing to do with the study, except to get the subjects’ minds off of what they had just done, so that the memories could either consolidate or, just as often, vanish. Finally, they would write down a list of as many of the objects from the first test as they could.
In most of the trials, the subjects got 40 seconds to draw their picture, but in one they got just four seconds. In another variation, they would draw the object or write the word or, as a third option, list its descriptive characteristics. In another, the third option would be to visualize the object. In yet another, they would write the word as elaborately and decoratively as possible.
But no matter how many variations of the test the researchers ran, one result was consistent: Drawing the object beat every other option, every single time.
We observed a significant recall advantage for words that were drawn as compared to those that were written. Participants often recalled more than twice as many drawn words.
said Wammes in a prepared statement.
Just why this is so is not clear. One past theory had been that drawing requires what the researchers call a deeper LoP—or level of processing. But the trial in which the subjects were required to list the characteristics of an object went pretty deep too, and it didn’t make a difference. Another theory had been that drawing simply takes longer, but the four-second trial appeared to debunk that.
For now, Wammes and his group are speaking only generally, concluding that drawing encourages
a seamless integration of semantic, visual and motor aspects of a memory trace,
as they wrote in their paper. It will take more work to put flesh on those theoretical bones. For now, however, they only know that the technique works—providing a long-awaited software patch for the computer inside your head.
When you wake up with a smile on your face it is good indication that you are doing something right. Our simple emotions are like litmus paper – the best indicator of what is going on in our lives. But what if you wake-up drained, apathetic, scared about your future? There are five crucial fields you should check daily.
The body reacts first
The body is born to serve our basic needs and act as a box for the soul (our essence or spirit). Ayurveda practitioners believe that the body is “older” than the mind. Indeed, when one is born he/she is not able to analyse things, because cognitive skills are as yet undeveloped. This is the probably the best period of our existence, as we are still free from that constant, irritating and uncontrollable churn of thoughts that plague us later in life.
The body is the only real means a new-born has of indicating his or her feelings. Being adults we always put rationality first, not paying enough attention to our body’s signals. This is a huge mistake, as the body never lies! All the signals it sends us should be accepted, acknowledged, and taken into account. So, if you suffer a lack of energy, poor focus, or constant fatigue – it is time to change your routine.
Sufficient Sleep + Healthy Eating + Physical Activities + Fresh Air + Sex = Body Wellbeing.
It’s a pretty simple equation, but at the same time, one which is surprisingly difficult for most of us to put into effect.
However, this apparent complexity is just an abstract construction of our mind. If you walk instead of taking the train, car or bus, you have already met two fundamental needs at the same time (activity and fresh air).
Sex is the most well-known source of both endorphins and serotonin (happiness hormones). Of course, not all of us have the possibility to have regular sex – but this isn’t a problem. I don’t believe it was an issue when you were 15 (at least for most of us!). There are so many other ways of getting your daily dose of happiness: Weight training, yoga and deep relaxation, 5 HTP (naturally occurring amino acid acting as a precursor of serotonin), deep tissue massage, and proliferations of other methods, to name a few. You should aim to a rule of thumb to get two separate happiness experiences a day, topping up your levels of endorphins and serotonin.
Healthy Eating is also fundamental. Doing nutrition consulting over years I realized that 99% of people have difficulty in telling apart basic carbs, fat and protein sources. Very frequently we suffer from minor and major food intolerances: Major intolerances can inflict a great degree of pain, and so we are usually aware of them. Minor intolerances are not so obvious, but could nevertheless cause serious health problems. The best way to tackle the problem is to conduct an allergens and food intolerance test to identify the core problems, and then hire a qualified practitioner to design a well-balanced flexible diet to meet your needs. Even if you have a perfect body and don’t plan on losing or gaining weight, a balanced bespoke flexible diet could help you to maximize performance, boost your energy and immune system, and even extend your youth.
So, keep your body in good order and always listen to its signals: It will definitely pay off!
Monster in your head
Have you ever caught yourself thinking almost obsessively about something very unpleasant? I bet your answer is yes.
You are not alone. Obtrusive thinking is a major “defect” of the human brain.
Eckhart Tolle, the author of bestseller “The Power of Now”, and “The New Earth” compares this trait of human cognitive processes with the concept of original sin. In other words, all of us suffer from obtrusive negative thinking. It could be snippets past conversations, fighting with invisible “enemies”, or simply anxieties about possible future events that, most likely, will never happen.
It has been scientifically proven that obtrusive thinking is very energy-consuming. I compare it to a hungry vampire, sucking out your energy, draining you of life. You should remember that this ugly, greedy vampire only exists in your own head.
To many of us it seems like a trap from which we can’t escape, but wait: There are some people who are able to beat the Monster, for a while, at least. How? By focusing exclusively on the present moment. All your negative feelings, fears, anxieties and regrets dwell in the past (which you can’t change) or in the future (that you can’t control). So the present moment is the only safe place you have. Next time when the Monster attacks, do something that immediately requires your full, undivided attention. According to Zen principles and cognitive behavioural therapy practitioners, humans are not really able to successfully multitask, as we tend to believe. It’s an illusion. We are really able to do one thing at any one time, and this is a potent weapon in battling our Monster.
My personal method of combatting my inner, negative voice was to start lifting heavy weights, for instance, and counting reps. Doing this slowly, by flexing my muscles for 10 seconds during every rep, didn’t allow me to pay much attention to the Monster. Try this technique, or your own, and send me feedback.
Through controlling your emotions and managing that inner Monster, you will be able to save your energy for far more exciting and inspiring moments in life.
Just do it
When living each moment, try to extract maximum value from the present. Try to accomplish more, try to get new experiences, learn something relevant and useful to your life, visit new places; do something that you’ve never done before.
You’re probably thinking that you could be disappointed, that the experience may not live up to expectations. You might also worry about being put down by negative people, or failing in some way. Those possibilities exist, certainly, but why don’t we simply accept them, move on, and focus on the positives instead? There will always be experiences in life that disappoint us, which may be unpleasant or cause us to be upset. Your Monster is waiting for these feelings to surface, never sleeping, always ready to thrive on negative emotions. So be smarter than your Monster, and collect only beautiful pictures for your life album. Would you keep an ugly picture next to your bed? I don’t think so. Why are we so selective for our physical environment and not as selective for our inner peace?
Don’t be afraid, and open yourself to new and exciting experiences:
A life filled with wonder is a wonderful life.
Vampires feed your Monster
Celestine Chua, the author of the bestselling book Personal Excellence, states that your level of consciousness and energy levels are an average of the 5-10 people you interact most often.
Keep in mind that having negative, greedy, jealous, judgemental, aggressive or constantly moaning people in your circle is not good for you for three key reasons:
They drag down your level of consciousness. Remember, misery loves company. If you see that someone is suffering from personal problems, and you are in a position to help, don’t hesitate. But in majority of cases such people don’t need your help at all. It is ultimately their life choice to struggle. Try to help, but don’t get stuck in fighting a futile battle – if after a month or two you’re making no progress, walk away. They are simply draining your energy, benefitting neither of you.
Such people feed the Monster in your own head, multiplying anxieties, fears, jealousy and complexes. Have you ever noticed they are always keen to give you so much negative ‘food for thought’?
If you interact with negative people too often, you may also start to perceive other people negatively. If your close ‘friend’ is never grateful, doesn’t appreciate what you do, always tries to diminish your achievements – run away. Otherwise, very quickly, you will start seeing the world as a place full of people like them.
The Power of Words
Words have an incredible power to form our reality. Even the Bible begins with the sentence:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.
Nowadays all of us are drowned in information. We read countless meaningless articles, snippets of news here and there, newspapers, magazines and text messages. We absorb all of this noise, again providing sustenance for the Monster.
On the other hand, books are the best teachers. Reading meaningful texts from positive and reliable sources could help you to acquire new useful knowledge and deeper insights. So, read, read, read, but be selective at the same time. Try to minimize your exposure to negative and meaningless information, or things written by negative people. Take care of your health, energy and purity, and spread positive vibes around to make our world a better place.