Your brain is like a muscle and it will become stronger the more you challenge it. By making learning a lifelong habit, you can grow your mind and fulfill your full potential in life.
Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck coined the term growth mindset to explain how you can develop your talents and skills through experience and hard work. The fact is there is nothing about you that is fixed.
Your brain is always changing in response to experience and its environment. It is designed to become stronger and more powerful. Whatever skill you want to build, you are born with the ability to master it.
How to Challenge Your Mind Daily
Your mind grows when you challenge it. Nerve cells in your brain called neurons create new connections every time you learn a new skill. The more you practice a skill the stronger these connections become.
Connections in your brain strengthen with practice to help you learn and master any skill. The key to reaching your potential is to make a commitment to acquire new skills and knowledge on an ongoing basis. A mindset focused on growth and continuous learning will help you to become stronger and more confident.
Here is a list of 7 powerful ways you can grow your mind every day:
1. Read for 30 Minutes a Day
A commitment to lifelong learning can transform your life. Reading 30 minutes a day might seem insignificant but this is a habit that increases intelligence, minimizes brain decline, and might even help you live longer. A recent study found that readers live an average of two years longer than non-book readers. 1
I mostly read non-fiction books to learn new things and gain the knowledge I need as a writer and entrepreneur. And though my passions and interests might be different from yours, there are many great books and choices we have today on just about any topic.
Find great books worth reading that interest you, fuel your passions, and give you wisdom each day. The knowledge you acquire will expand your mind and might transform they way you think about the world.
2. Start a Side Business You Love
Have you ever dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur? It is possible to grow a successful side business while keeping your day job. In fact building a business will challenge your brain and help your mind grow in ways a job can never do.
One of the best decisions I made was to start a business while working full-time. In 2014, I began my journey to create a fitness and weight loss center for kids and teens. It was not easy but building my business constantly challenged me and helped me to grow as an entrepreneur.
If leasing a location is too risky, you can use the power of the internet to build an online side business. Nowadays, there are many options to earn money online with minimal expenses.
You can even start small with the free time you have and scale as you learn.
Just don’t be afraid to turn your passion into a business. The truth is no entrepreneur has all the answers and most figure things out as they go.
Creating a business is full of risks and uncertainties. But if you approach the journey with a growth mindset, mistakes and failures along the way are simply opportunities for you to learn from and grow in your knowledge.
Even if you start small, building a business will push you to become an expert in your field and learn things that a job can’t teach you. And often the best way to reach your potential, find purpose, and transform lives is to do what you love.
Starting a side business might help you do that.
3. Develop a Daily Exercise Habit
Regular exercise not only gives you more energy and makes you stronger but it also improves your mind in many ways. According to neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki, the most transformative thing you can do for your brain is to exercise.
Suzuki points out that exercising for only 30 minutes a day makes your brain perform better and helps you become smarter by improving “cognitive abilities, such as learning, thinking, memory, focus and reasoning.” 2
Daily exercise also protects the brain from aging and neurodegenerative diseases by making it stronger. And best of all it’s free.
There is no need to become an athlete or pay for an expensive gym membership. You only have to exercise regularly and incorporate aerobic and strength training into your daily routine to get all of the brain-changing benefits.
Studies show that aerobic exercise like running, brisk walking, swimming, and cycling gives your brain the oxygen it needs to promote cell growth. While lifting weights helps to protect the brain from degeneration and memory loss. 3
Convert your garage or a spare room into a gym and your body and mind will thank you for it.
4. Get Plenty of Quality Sleep
Sleep deprivation and busyness used to be considered a badge of honor in our society especially among entrepreneurs. But in recent years more people are realizing that lack of sleep leads to impaired judgment and poor decisions.
In fact lack of sleep can harm your brain and lower your resistance to stress. Researchers also believe that depriving your brain of sleep impairs your ability to focus and learn efficiently. 4
Your brain needs sleep as much your body needs water and food. According to neuroscientists, sleep restores the brain and can help improve your learning, memory, problem solving, reasoning, and creativity.
Getting at least 7 to 8 hours of regular quality sleep boosts brain health and is critical to cognitive function. It also gives your brain a deep clean by flushing out toxins that build during waking hours. 5
Your mind needs sleep to think. Without enough of it you can’t form or maintain the neuron connections that let you learn and create new memories. 6
So instead of working harder focus on the quality of work you do.
5. Enjoy a Big Bowl of Vegetables
According to the CDC, 90% of us don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. Instead, ultra-processed foods make up over 50% of what we eat. Half our total calories come from foods that are low in nutrients and high sugar, oil, and salt. 7
Eating vegetables is not only essential to maintain a healthy weight but we need them to boost brain function and keep the mind sharp. Research shows that green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, collards, kale, and broccoli improve memory and slow cognitive decline.
Vegetables also prevent many chronic diseases. They are full of disease-fighting antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber that actually help you live longer. People who eat 7 or more daily portions of fresh vegetables reduced their overall risk of death by an incredible 42 percent. 8
Vegetables pack a powerful punch and are irreplaceable. Eating them is one of the best ways to keep your brain healthy and give your mind the power it needs.
By using the 50 Percent Rule you can make eating vegetables a habit.
6. Do What Gives You Passion
Everyone is different. Your talents and passions are unique to you. And doing what you love will not only make you happier but it will also change your brain.
Research shows that when you perform activities you enjoy you have less stress, a lower heart rate, a better mood, and a positive attitude. Learning something new also challenges your brain and helps your mind to grow stronger.
During a recent study, neuroscientists observed that people who are passionate about what they do are more motivated and willing to work harder. Doing what you love is important since mastering a skill is difficult and it takes time.
Passion is what gives you the fuel to stay the course during difficult times. When you push yourself to overcome challenges it forces your mind to think and grow.
Practicing new and challenging activities that energize you also make you mentally stronger.
7. Build Strong Social Connections
Feeling socially connected is more important than ever today. Especially since loneliness increased substantially since the outbreak of the global pandemic.
Research shows that strong social relationships are crucial to your brain health. In fact, getting together with friends protects you from depression, boosts your memory, and strengthens neural connections in your brain.
Loneliness has the opposite effect and can hasten cognitive decline due to a lack of intellectual stimulation.
Take some time off and spend it with friends. It is good for your brain.
Power Up To Grow Your Mind
Your mind controls your thoughts which are the beginning of everything you do. All your beliefs, actions, and habits start with a thought. And together they become your destiny.
Growing your mind is the first step to master your habits.
Think of your brain as a light switch. Whenever you turn on the power your conscious mind is fully awake and engaged. When you turn the switch off your mind is on autopilot and your subconscious is working on habits formed.
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- Compared to non-book readers, book readers had a 23-month survival advantage. Bavishi, Slade, and Levy (September 2016), A chapter a day: Association of book reading with longevity.
- Exercising is one of the most transformative things you can do to improve cognitive abilities. Wendy Suzuki (October 2021), A neuroscientist shares the 4 brain-changing benefits of exercise.
- Lifting weights has been able to slow and even halt degeneration. Vivienne Reiner (February 2020), Strength training can help protect the brain from degeneration.
- Lack of sleep impairs a person’s ability to focus and learn efficiently. Hedy Marks (August 2021), Sleep Deprivation and Memory Loss.
- Cerebrospinal fluid (blue) flows through the brain and clears out toxins through a series of channels that expand during sleep. Maiken Nedergaard (October 2013), How Sleep Clears the Brain.
- Without sleep you can’t form or maintain the pathways in your brain that let you learn and create new memories. NIH Publication No. 17-3440c, Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep.
- Ultra-processed food consumption grew from 53.5 percent of calories. ScienceDaily (October 2021), Americans are eating more ultra-processed foods.
- Seven or more portions produced a 42 percent decline in the risk of death. Lenny Bernstein (April 2014), Mom was right: Eat LOTS of veggies. They’re even better for you than fruit.