We expend tons of energy on keeping our skin young and healthy, on toning and building muscle, and making sure our hair is clean and crisp. Our physical appearance is fundamental to how we see ourselves, so it makes sense that we would spend as much time on it as we see fit, but what about our fundamental selves? What about the part of us that is us, but that no one can see? What about our minds?
There is nothing wrong with living the main course of life with a side dish of vanity, in fact, I’d argue that a healthy dose of it helps us stay, well, healthy. It keeps us wanting to look good and feel good physically, which in turn helps us feel good emotionally. But it’s super important that we expand the purview of this vanity to include our minds.
Whichever way you slice it, not maintaining our minds is a sure-fire way to guarantee we won’t be living our best lives. In light of that, and in hoping that we can make it through this chaotic world with happiness, let’s make it a point to keep our minds fresh. Here’s how:
We live in a world that is full of attention-grabbing stimuli. Every website we visit has an ad that screams at us, every store we walk past has neon signage begging for our attention, and every 30 seconds our phones remind us to play with them again. Engaging in these stimuli is like putting our minds on autopilot and just following the pretty thing wherever it wants to take us. We need to do this less and actively engage our minds more.
One way we can engage our minds is by playing mind games. Websites/apps like Lumosity and Sporcle are great places to start. While Lumosity uses science to help understand and improve cognition, Sporcle is just a website to take quizzes on any topic imaginable.
Neither of those look all that appealing? Let’s get some mind reps in with puzzles, number games, or crossword puzzles. Let’s just have some fun doing it.
As humans, we have a tendency to overthink things, and when we do, we create realities that don’t exist (I can’t believe Fred didn’t laugh at my joke! He’s probably mad at me.) and we brew up a nice tall glass of stress. Stress is really bad for the mind, and a good way to combat it is to disengage our minds, and reduce our stress with meditation.
Finding a meditative practice – it doesn’t necessarily have to be sitting with your legs crossed in a quiet room – can help keep our minds clear, which will diminish the risk of stress popping up and rearing its ugly head, which, like we said, is not the best.
Another way we can disengage our minds, and one we don’t give a lot of thought to, is to sleep. Sleep is our bodies chance to recharge and repair. That goes for our bodies (healing cuts and bruises) as well as our minds. All we have to do to understand the benefits of sleep for our minds is to think about those all-nighters we pulled in college and remember how foggy and slow we felt the next day. Remember that? Wasn’t fun, was it? If meditation, or physical activity, or brain games aren’t in the cards for us, the least we could do is tap into our biological needs and give our minds the rest and recovery they need.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to keeping our minds sharp, but taking the time to find what works for us as individuals will set us on the right path. It could be art, or science, or math, or mindfulness, or even engaging conversations. Whatever it is, let’s make sure we keep our minds as sharp as possible because, without our minds, who are we?
Until next time – Want to do a puzzle?