Here are seven quirky habits from geniuses that will make you smarter
There’s a fascinating link between geniuses and eccentric behaviour. Einstein picked cigarette butts off the street and used the tobacco for his pipe; Benjamin Franklin sat naked in front of a window every morning and let the air circulate over his body. He called it an “air bath”.
Their eccentricity isn’t completely without explanation; there are mental benefits behind some of their madness.
Surround yourself with 24-karat gold
Every night, Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu, who patented more than 3,300 inventions including the floppy disk, would retire to his “Calm Room” — a bathroom tiled in 24-karat gold. He explained “The gold blocks out radio waves and television signals that are harmful to the imagination.”
He’s onto something. While the link between radio waves and cancer is still debated, the cognitive effects of overexposure are undeniable. You probably can’t surround yourself with 24-karat gold, but you can step away from the “smog” of radio waves we live in — computers, WI-fi, cell phones, Bluetooth headsets.
To boost your mental performance, give your mind a reprieve from the technological buzz by taking a walk in nature or meditating. Schedule daily time to mentally disconnect and recharge.
The chill factor
Benjamin Franklin went for daily swims in London’s chilly river Thames; Theodore Roosevelt went skinny-dipping in the cold waters of the Potomac River in Washington D.C. every winter.
Being submerged in water of various temperatures for physical and mental benefits is an ancient practice. The Greek sage Hippocrates said that water therapy “allays lassitude” (physical or mental weakness).
When you take a cold shower or swim, the shock causes your blood to move to the core of your body, and bathes your brain and vital organs in fresh blood.
Finish your showers with turning the temperature as cold as possible to give your brain an invigorating boost. If you’re brave, you can try an ice bath.
Don’t season your food. Yet
Thomas Edison had a rigorous interview process for any potential employees. Besides requiring they are well-versed in random subjects, Edison gave them “The Salt Test.”
He’d invite them to have a bowl of soup, but anyone adding salt without first tasting the soup failed the test. Salting before tasting was a clear sign of making decisions based on unfounded assumptions.
Intelligent minds are critical minds. Never jump in without testing the water; or in this case, tasting the soup.
A hunger strike
Pythagoras, the ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician, would systematically starve himself for 40 day periods. He taught his disciples his strict water-only fast in the belief that it boosted mental perception and creativity.
Modern studies have shown that fasting increases your Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which aids in memory functioning and can stimulate the growth of new brain cells.
The acute stress caused by fasting also causes the brain to release endorphins, which leads to feelings of well-being and euphoria.
Two popular forms of fasting are: 1) Intermittent Fasting, also known as alternate day fasting. This is where you abstain from food every other day for a period of time. 2) Calorie Restriction: consuming 30-40 percent fewer calories than usual each day for an extended period of time.
Cry me a river
If you want to be as creative as Steve Jobs, start letting your tears flow. Jobs’ authorised biography reveals that he cried incessantly when he was frustrated and didn’t get his way, but also happy tears when he had experiences he described as “purity of spirit.”
Crying reduces stress. Tears remove stress-causing hormones and lowers your manganese levels, which regulates your mood. The emotional release of crying also leads to a mental balance; a sense of calm after the storm.
Rather than suppress the wave of emotions that triggers the tears, let them flow. The catharsis will lead to mental clarity.
Be a dropout
Being a dropout doesn’t mean you despise education, rather, you have a thirst for knowledge that is hindered because your goals don’t align with your institution.
The list of notable dropouts includes Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and the youngest female billionaire, Elizabeth Holmes. They all reveal three key lessons: 1) being autodidactic (a self-learner); 2) identifying patterns and making successful predictions; 3) making bold decisions.
It’s a big risk to leave any commitment, not only college. Being a successful dropout means you’re constantly training your mind to look for patterns; to see the trajectory of multiple paths, and shifting to the one that aligns most with your goals.
Don’t rush to write it down
JK Rowling’s billion-dollar Harry Potter series came to her as she sat on a train; she was too embarrassed to ask anyone for a pen, so she just let her mind wander for hours. Instead of drawing premature conclusions on her characters, she gave her ideas time to marinate, develop and evolve.
She unknowingly engaged her mind in the creative stage called “incubation.” It’s when your unconscious mind synthesises all the information you encountered through your conscious work.
The mental detachment and “mindless wandering” allows all your knowledge to marinate, leading to the “light-bulb” moment.
Let your ideas set until they jell before taking any major action or make any final decisions.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
5 Inspiring Quotes From Madiba To Stir You Into Action On Mandela Day
In honour of Mandela Day, here are 5 of Nelson Mandela’s most inspiring quotes.
“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
25 Bad Words That Make Other People Feel Inferior
If the harshest thing you have to say about someone is partly true, say the other part.
Did you know that in every language, there are more negative words than positive ones? It seems we need lots of words to describe our negative feelings, but we’re content with a handful of positive ones.
For instance, researchers have found that most cultures have words for seven basic emotions: Joy, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, shame and guilt.
That’s one positive emotion, and six negative
It’s no wonder so many of us have a hard time keeping our negative comments in check. Over the past six months I’ve been working on the verbal language that I’ve been using that I don’t even realize hurts others and in some cases makes them feel inferior. I even noticed that I’ve used a couple on my personal and business website. This is a “no-no” that I needed to fix.
This post will list 25 negative words you should avoid…so that you stop hurting, belittling and intimidating those around you!
How To Control What You Can And Influence What You Can’t In Your Life
Every day you need to get up and face numerous challenges. Here’s how you can keep your head in the game — even when all you want to do is quit.
On Monday you wake up ready to take on the world. You’re focused, determined and business is doing well. Tuesday feels like you’re invincible and things could not be going any better. Wednesday, your world collapses. You doubt your ability to deliver to your clients. You wonder whether you should still pursue the same business. You think that quitting at this stage is easier than dealing with the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. And you are dramatically reminded that entrepreneurship is hard.
Mix in human nature and it becomes borderline insanity to try and build a business. And yet, the reward is worth it. I therefore want to share three strategies that might help you cope with this tough but deeply rewarding pursuit.
Influence and control
Most of the things in business and life are out of our control. You cannot control how other people react to your service or product. You cannot control how your employees will show up. You cannot control how the market will react and how that will affect your business.
Related: How You Can Do Big Things
This makes it very important to control what you can and then influence the rest to the best of your ability.
So, what can you control? You can control your actions, reactions and perceptions of the challenges you face. Meaning essentially, that you can control yourself and your efforts.
Do this with excellence and you will automatically influence the people around you and the situations you find yourself in.
Override your moods
If we only did the hard work when we felt like it, we would hardly get anything done. Our moods fluctuate like the tides of the ocean. Not because we are temperamental but because the external world has a profound impact on us.
When you wake up to news that the economy is in recession, it has the potential to plant seeds of doubt in your mind. When you receive an email from a disgruntled customer complaining about your service, it has the potential to ruin your day.
The fact is that you can receive a hundred testimonials singing your praise, but you will obsess and become despondent over that one negative comment.
This means that we have to move beyond our emotions. Sure, they are important in the decision-making process and for fostering meaningful relationships. But you cannot allow them to dictate when you will do work.
In other words, work hard, irrespective of your moods, especially on the days when you don’t feel like it.
Create a calibration practice
One of the best ways to deal with this rollercoaster effect is to create a daily calibration practice. I am a big fan of any action taken on a daily basis. Not only because of the accumulation effect that occurs over time, but also because it keeps you focused.
So, what does a daily calibration practice look like?
It differs for everyone. It could range from meditation to a vision board to journaling to listening to a specific playlist of songs. My suggestion is that you give journaling a go.
Because it’s sometimes difficult to start a new calibration practice, I have included my journaling template for you.
It’s called ‘J1G’ (pronounced as jig). I use Evernote or a notebook from HumanWrites for journaling purposes.
For the first few minutes, simply allow your hand to run across the paper. The idea is for you to dump as many of your thoughts onto the paper as possible.
Some questions you can answer in this section are:
- What am I currently excited about?
- What am I currently worried about?
- Where am I currently winning?
- What can I learn from what happened yesterday?
1: The one thing that you want to get done today
In this time, I usually have a look at my to-do list and decide which one action I want to get done today. Write it down and then expand on why it is the most important action. How will it move you or your business forward?
Related: Better Thinking For A Better World
In the last section, you simply write down three things that you are grateful for. Trust me, this is an important daily practice, but even more so on the days when you feel as if life is beating you down.
When you focus on the things that you are grateful for, you crowd out fear and shift your state of mind to a more positive and productive one.
The punch line
If you can stick to the three ideas I outlined above, I guarantee you will develop more resilience and perseverance. You are an entrepreneur because you chose to be one. Do not allow life to impose its will on you. I have no doubt that you will be better off because of all the challenges you face. Not in spite of them.
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