January 1 seems such a long time ago – remember that was the day you promised yourself you’d start working on a number of things? The annual resolutions to eat healthier, exercise more, drink less …
Most people I know are gung-ho the first month with the excitement and motivation fizzling a little by the end of February. Come March, the New Year smell starts fading and life starts coming in the way of keeping those resolutions. The really resolute ones power on.
A simple Google search shows the following five recurring resolutions topping the lists:
- Lose weight
- Quit smoking
- Spend more time with family and friends
- Drink less alcohol
While many people vow to get in shape physically, not many commit to exercising their mental muscles.
What does exercising your mental muscles even mean?
It means expanding your horizons, opening new doors, looking at different possibilities, stretching your mind…It will help you grow as a person. Give you a new outlook on life. And set you on a path to feeling a little more fulfilled. For isn’t that the ultimate goal of any resolution? A sense of accomplishment. Pride. Satisfaction.
There are three simple things you can do to ensure a robust, active, open mind:
- Read something new – If you’ve always been a fiction lover, pick up a non-fiction book today. Give it a try. And don’t just read … digest it. Think about it. Look up what you don’t understand. We process different writing styles differently – the premise of fiction is it’s not real; and when it isn’t real it doesn’t really matter that much, does it? It’s entertaining. Non-fiction tends to be more thought-provoking. If, on the other hand, you enjoy the grit and the drama of real life, lap up all the news you can, and read every journal, take the weekend off to indulge in some fantasies. Let your mind embark on a new voyage. Get out of your comfort zone – let those neurons snap new connections.
- Change sides – Believe in something staunchly? Ready to debate it to death? Try reversing roles – take the opposite side. I’ve found that the best way to really understand an issue is to be objective and put myself in the adversary’s shoes. Research the subject, gather the information, arm yourself with the various viewpoints, and then figure it out. You might still continue to believe what you originally did, maybe even more strongly, but it’s after you’ve analyzed all aspects of the issue. Go ahead try it – it’ll feel like you’re feasting on an intellectual buffet.
- Observe people – there are so many things you can learn about your own behavior simply by observing – not judging – other people. Eye movements, body language, frowns, smiles, laughter, posture. Notice how they converse, the inflections in their voice, the tone, the pitch. See if they’re really paying attention or feigning it. Put yourself under the microscope. Hold a mirror. See through the exterior. Maybe you’ll learn something new about yourself. It’ll give you some food for thought and perhaps even be a good source of entertainment the next time you’re sitting by yourself outside a coffee shop.
It doesn’t cost any (or much) money. It’s easy. And it’s fun.
Just as it’s important to keep your body fit, it’s equally important, if not more so, to keep your mind limber.
Don’t resolve to do it.
Just do it.
Got other tips to broaden your mind and give those muscles a workout?