Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Reaching Just Above

'One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one's greatest efforts.' —Albert Einstein

Einstein was onto something when he posited that we should always strive to learn new concepts with persistent effort. A guest blog for Scientific American by a behavioral therapist provides an excellent framework of five strategies for improving one's fluid intelligence.

Several excerpts:

1. Seek Novelty
'...When you seek novelty, several things are going on. First of all, you are creating new synaptic connections with every new activity you engage in. These connections build on each other, increasing your neural activity, creating more connections to build on other connections—learning is taking place...'

2. Challenge Yourself
'...Once you master one of those cognitive activities in the brain-training game , you need to move on to the next challenging activity. Figure out how to play Sudoku? Great! Now move along to the next type of challenging game. There is research that supports this logic...'

3. Think Creatively
'...Creative cognition involves divergent thinking (a wide range of topics/subjects), making remote associations between ideas, switching back and forth between conventional and unconventional thinking (cognitive flexibility), and generating original, novel ideas that are also appropriate to the activity you are doing. In order to do this well, you need both right and left hemispheres working in conjunction with each other...'

4. Do Things The Hard Way
'...Technology does a lot to make things in life easier, faster, more efficient (such as GPS), but sometimes our cognitive skills can suffer as a result of these shortcuts, and hurt us in the long run...'

5. Network
'...By exposing yourself to new people, ideas, and environments, you are opening yourself up to new opportunities for cognitive growth. Being in the presence of other people who may be outside of your immediate field gives you opportunities to see problems from a new perspective, or offer insight in ways that you had never thought of before...'

The essay encourages one to think about how one can keep those synapses firing for potential growth.